Sunday, 20 July 2014

Swifts and Stories

Swifts are ‘screaming’ above me as they dart though the warm July evening sky. I am inspired by the speed and agility of these birds that are rarely seen in close up. I wonder how they perceive the world around them? When I watch small birds and insects moving with such apparent speed relative to their size it almost seems as though they adhere to different laws of physics. They seem to be able to process information about their position in their environment so much more quickly than we humans can. They can run, fly or move with lightening agility between, what might seem to us if we were that size, such difficult terrain. I know that it is probably all down to ratios of size and mass and other things, but even so their perception of their environment must be quite different to ours. At the other end of the scale are plants and trees. How do they interpret their environments? I am not sure I would really class them as conscious individuals but they are still seen by us in human terms as living things. For an old oak tree living for potentially several hundred years in one place there is not the need to rush around like an ant might do on the woodland floor, but it still is ‘aware’ of its environment in terms of light, shade, moisture, nutrient availability etc and is able to adapt to changes where necessary.

Our perception of the world is unique in the way that we as human kind sees it and also how we see it as individuals. Our lives are spent trying to make sense of the earth we walk and attempting to build a sustainable life for as long as possible. On our journeys we each build upon our unique personal story and it is that story that creates a framework for how we view our lives too. Like all other living things we have to find food and shelter and yet we have evolved to do so much more. We have become a species that seeks constant innovation: the desire to better our place in the world. These are our own individual stories.

I have returned to my journaling again. This is an exercise in writing three pages of A4 longhand each day on anything that springs to mind. My motivation this time is to seek healing from what I think is a partly anxiety related illness. I have had chronic tummy problems since childhood and I decided to revisit my writing as a way of opening up a communication with myself and to try and break out of some boundaries that were closing in.

After a month and a half of writing two of the themes that have emerged are these: the need to recognise that each of us (humans and others) has a story - a story that has shaped the way that we think, act and live. Perhaps I don’t always recognise the stories that shape and form others around me. Also, I am trying to revisit my spiritual life. This has struggled a little recently due to a lack of suitable inspiration and motivation, but now that the summer is here I feel more refreshed and willing to explore a few things.

My personal artwork had to take a back step whilst I began the journaling. I can’t do everything I want to do and I have a whole bunch of ideas that I am awaiting to forge into something cohesive.

When meditating and appreciating Nature, observation and reflection comes alongside slowness and being more aware of the environment around me. There is an appreciation of space: the empty space and the space taken up by the humans and non-humans who belong in it. There is a language of discovery, a sense of beauty and awe and a feeling of belonging in the natural world. This is part of my story and after a good few years on this earth I feel I should open the doors and walk out again and discover new things. For me, it is a slow process. Things happen over weeks and months, time is almost like a natural time - a time that flows differently from the minutes and hours that govern commercial deadlines and the demands of family life. Like an oak tree that stands in a field, I just need to wait and see what happens.

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