Friday, 15 October 2010

One from the Heart

Years ago I read a book called The Dancing Healers. In it the author, a psychologist, goes to work on a Native American reservation in New Mexico and meets an old medicine man who tells him: "the true healer is not there to fit his patients back into society but to help them recognise their dance. That the most healthy, most meaningful thing in life is not a person's function, status, nor even their family, but their dance, the unique pattern they weave as they go through this changing world."

I wrote that last sentence in a book published in 1994. It was my last published work. When I created this blog with my fellow Transitioners last October, it was a kind of liberation. Suddenly I was no longer alone.

Life on earth, I learned, is a dance and nothing makes you hear the music, find your steps, like writing. Nothing busts you out of your isolation quicker, puts you in contact with your fellows, with the creatures, with the plants, than finding words for your experiences and communicating them. You write to dig deep, to sing praises, to honour everything you see, everyone you meet. Turning everyday struggles into gold. How I see it, this blog is like a dancing floor. Each post is not just a solo act. It's people learning to dance together. Weaving another pattern. Creating our own culture.

What's that got to do with climate change and peak oil? Because we live increasingly in a monoculture that controls, diminishes and flattens life. It's the wheat fields of the Mid-West. Life lived as competition. Bio-diversity celebrates and communicates. The forests of the world, our small gardens. It's life lived as co-operation.

Creativity is repressed by monoculture. We are taught instead to control the world with our wills and justify our acts with unkind thoughts. If we are to survive and flourish and regenerate the planet however we're going to have to bust out of our rationality and start creating new pathways and connections. Not just in our minds but between each other. We're going to have to remember our unique dance that reflects the diversity of this earth.

I could choose so many posts within the fabric of the year - all those already mentioned, plus others not yet selected. But the three posts I've chosen today are by my fellow "regulars" who have kept the rhythm of the blog going through the year:

Jon: because he has a great eye for detail and can turn any everyday object or encounter into a Transition story. The A&E department, a kettle glowing in the dark, baking buns with his daughters, a road trip to Ireland. Sartre on the Tube is a brilliant example of how ordinary life can reveal great treasures.

Mark: Because he writes truthfully and boldly and sometimes with poignancy - from oil tankers on the horizon to the medicine flowers at our feet. Because he is naturally inclusive and generous, and has the courage to show his face (literally!). The People in the Room weaves baking bread, the Strangers' Circle and a Permaculture course together with great humanity.

Helen: because she has during a year consistently sung a song of neighbourhood, bringing people together to create something beautiful - from knitting a huge rainbow scarf to organising the Magdalen Street Celebration. Because, like Mark she takes really lovely photographs. Because, as this post shows, she mixes the suffering and joy of creaturehood (and climate change) into three short paragraphs.

Here's to all of us who dare to dance. May our next year be as wonderful!

Me at The Wave, holding the Norwich Climate Emergency banner, December 2009

do you believe in dog? by Helen Simpson Slapp - 29 April

I found out the other day that my contribution to global warming is much greater than I realized. I was minding my own business having a nurse take blood from my arm as part of a drugs trial. Anyway she says to me ' i will be back in a minute, I just have to give this sample to the courier he's waiting outside to take it to Gatwick'. Part of me thought ' I cant give up the drugs trial so i might as well forget the whole green thing as i will always be part of this project that relies on flights to Geneva'. It got me thinking about how much we rely on the pharmaceutical industry and how that relies on oil.

What is my inevitable positive response? Well I have invented a new therapy that does not rely on oil ( I should say that i may have invented it or i may have been told about it and forgotten that it was someone elses idea).

All you need is a dog. Preferably your own or one that you can borrow for a while without the owner wondering where it is. Get yourself in a comfortable position and snuggle the dog into you so you can feel him breathing. Close your eyes and focus your attention on the dogs breathing. Ideally you can feel the breath on your skin (with our dog is it better if you cannot smell the breath). While you are doing this note the feeling of his fur and the weight of his body against yours. Simple! Gradually become aware of the room again and try to keep the feeling of relaxation with you as you go about your daily life and coping with the evil look from the other dog you own who did not get the same quality time with you.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you revived Helen's dog meditiation piece Charlotte. One of the more original ideas of the year!

    Not having a dog, I have to make do with the cat, which is OK so long as he has not recently eaten a rat - which can lead to indegestion.