Tuesday, 24 September 2013


There's a programme called Gogglebox that is a recording of people watching tv.  

That's it.

They sit at home watching TV and they are filmed and then that is put on TV.

And then we sit at home and watch them watching TV.

You see where this is going?

One day they won't need to make TV programmes any more. They'll just film people watching other people watching other people watching yet more people watching them.  

And in the end we'll all be watching each other watching us watching them.

A bit like those mirrors in either side of lifts that reflect to infinity.  

Or a mobius strip.  The mobius strip of TV viewing.

And then they'll be able to run re-runs of people goggleboxing.

How long before all that will be left will be goggleboxing.

People won't do anything or go anywhere.  They'll sit at home on padded recliners, with built in self-flushing toilets.  Food and drink delivered by conveyor belt straight into the TV room (which will be the only room) with the screen the entire size of a wall.  And each screen will record you watching it and relay it out to all the other screens.  And these goggleboxers will be able select who they watch watching them.

But that would be ridiculous, wouldn't it?

Thursday, 19 September 2013



I read this today - or something very similar.  For the life of me I cannot remember where - so if it was you let me know, and I'll credit you.

Walking on the beach with the dog last Sunday, after skwadging ankle deep in tarry quicksand on a deserted tide-out stretch of sand, I gave up the idea of a fantasy afternoon watching the dog bound across flat sand into a late summer surf.  Within 20 minutes we were both wet, dirty and harassed by impolite dogs that hadn't been taught proper boundaries re my dog's ownership of a dubious bit of driftwood (TBH, I think it was a fossilized piece of sea alien), I trudged up the pebbly beach, two feet up and one step back up the hundreds of thousands of rocks and pebbles.

A little flat stone with some writing on it caught my eye.
Picking it up I couldn't immediately work out what the marks on it were.

Slowly I deciphered the strokes.

"Vivs rock, 12.09.97"

My name is Viv.  

My wedding anniversary is 12.09, and in 1997 had been married for 10 years.

I shit you not.

I have no idea what interpretation to put on that other than it's a very strange coincidence.  Viv is not a particularly common name. The date I found it was 15/09/2013 and I suspect, but have no way of knowing, that a girl (or could have been a boy) called Viv who was born on 12/09/97 was sitting on the pebbles on their 16th birthday, chucking them randomly into the sea when she/he decided to claim one amongst the millions along the coast and inscribe their name and date of birth on it as a way to mark being sweet sixteen.  

Or maybe whoever they were with, someone achingly in love with them (as only 16 year olds can be) said 'One day I will give you the world.  I'll start today with this little rock - this is yours.  See, it's got your name and birth date on it.  But one day I will give you the moon and stars as well - you will be queen/king of everything - because I want you to have it all, that's how much I love you.'  

And then they tried to plant a kiss, but Viv pulled away, chucked the little rock down and shouted: 'Idiot - is that all I get for my birthday? Some stupid little stone with my name and birth date on? What a loser.'  

And by that unthinking ungratefulness Viv's adorer's world turned and the bubble that contained their romantic dreams and imagined future with Viv exploded and scattered on the pebbly beach.  

Silly Viv.  She/he could have had the universe, if they'd only returned the kiss and cherished the birth stone and held on to it - a talisman for everything they'd ever wanted; the beach, the sea, the sky, the world and everything in their sight - freely given with a love that worshipped them absolutely.  But they couldn't see.

So I found the little rock 3 days later and wondered at the strange coincidence of name and date.  And that other Viv will never have the universe because I have the little rock and now it's mine.

All of it.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


(Part 1 is here)

Yeah.  So.  Dreams are non-directed.  They are complete and whole AS a dream.  The character and events in a dream are not separate FROM the dream.  It's a night-film.

But there does seem to be some common aspects of dreams.  The first is that they are bizarre.  Compared to waking life, strange and far-out things happen.  So much so, that it's impossible to convey to someone else exactly what happens in a dream.  When you try to recount, I bet you find yourself saying things like "I was in my house, well it wasn't the house I live in now, it was kind of different, but the same".  And they nod and pretend to be interested but let's face it, other people's dreams are B.O.R.I.N.G.  

Another common aspect of dreams is that the rambling, tedious account we give can even hint at the reality of the actual dream.  For the simple reason that no words, however eloquent or descriptive, can convey a dream with any accuracy.  WHATSOEVER.  All people hear is 'blah, blah, house, blah, blah, flying, blah, blah, purple dragon with false eyelashes, blah, blah.'

It's not like describing a film that we've seen (which is, TBH, equally as boring), because at least we can go watch the film and see what they were talking about and then either agree or disagree.

But once the dream is over, there is no way, NO WAY, that it can ever be recalled or recreated or repeated.

Which means that it's exactly like life.  Nothing that happens in life will ever be EXACTLY repeated or recreated.  And the map is never the territory.  And we can never know another's experience of reality. Either in their dreams or in their waking living.  All we have to go on is what we experience, whether it's a dream of waking reality - though it's interesting that we take waking reality to be more real than a dream.  Whilst we're dreaming, we may take it very seriously indeed.  Two nights ago I dreamt that I missed my footing on a ladder (yes, I know - you've already stopped listening..) and I fell from a great height.  As I fell towards the ground, I thought "This is going to hurt".  Then I woke up.  And that's when I stopped taking it seriously.  And started taking the awakeness of the morning seriously.  

Which one is more real?  Which one should be taken seriously?

Thursday, 12 September 2013


I've been thinking a lot lately about entitlement.  And I've come to the conclusion that it's the base for most, if not all, the discontent, unhappiness, and strife that is a feature of human living.

Take one of the most important aspects of most adults' lives -  a job, work.

There is this insidious and automatic expectation that everyone is entitled to a good job and that, furthermore, we should be happy in our job.

But generally, most people don't seem to be happy at work. There's a scale - a range - to that unhappiness, certainly - from downright miserable and downtrodden to relatively ok. But I can't think of one single person that I know that honestly says "I LOVE my job".  I've read books by people who say they love what they do.  But these people aren't employed.  They are artists, creatives, authors, musicians and they get paid to do what they love by people who love what they do.  These people as a percentage of the population are in a minority.

And yes, I know that the society/culture that we have couldn't operate in the way that it does unless most people worked at a job that pays them a wage to make goods or provide services for other people to spend their money on that they've earnt by making goods or providing services for other people... etc., etc., etc.

"It's how the system works", I hear you cry.  Yes.  Yes, it is.  But it doesn't make it conducive to happiness, does it?

"No, no", I hear you concur, "But it's the way things are."

Well then, my retort is "Then the way things are, is stupid."

A system that means that most people are generally unhappy, frustrated, bored, and miserable at work is a stupid system.  Because only a few people benefit.  We don't really know who those people are.  But they are the ones who do very little work and profit massively from a system that pays most people just enough to live on to produce the goods and services that will be sold to everyone at a price that means that, after the wages and the other costs of production have been accounted for, will result in a huge surplus of money.  There are many books and blogs which set out how and why this system works, so I'm not going to go into that here.

The point I want to make though, is that the notion of entitlement keeps people stuck in these jobs that deliver, at worst, misery and, at best, mild boredom.

And this is why:

People think they're entitled to a job because they've been conditioned and brought up to believe that if they work hard at school, get a skill or trade, then they will get a 'good job'. This good job will pay them a fair wage with associated benefits in payment for the skill or trade that they have. They sign a contract which sets out the obligations on both sides, relating to duties, hours, payment, benefits etc; which details precisely each side's entitlement.  But nowhere in that contract is there explicit or implicit reference to happiness or satisfaction from the arrangement.

Ah, except there is.  There are two parts of the contract which relate to happiness and satisfaction.  There is the appraisal or disciplinary process, which allows the employer to take action if they are not happy with your performance.  

"But what if I'm not happy? I can't discipline or appraise my employer."  I hear you protest (you're very vocal today, aren't you?).

You can, though.  Very, very effectively.  It's called resignation.  And that's a very apt word.  Because when you reach the point where you realise that you're not happy in your work, when you resign yourself to that fact, you do something about it and you leave.

But all too often - really, all too often - people have an expectation that if they're not happy in their job then someone or something else is to blame.  I have no idea where people got this expectation from.  I can't ever remember anyone telling me that if I worked hard at school and worked hard in my jobs that I would be happy and satisfied and fulfilled.  They told me that I would get a good job, with decent pay and benefits.  But I can't remember anyone, ever, telling me that I would be happy.

Isn't that strange?  We somehow conflate a job with adequate pay and good benefits as automatically resulting in happiness and fulfillment.  As though a wage and free lunch and private health insurance will mean that we find our work meaningful and fulfilling.

But, see - here's the thing:  It's not your employer's job to make you happy.  Unless by ensuring your happiness you produce more.  But if it makes no difference to what you produce or the service you provide then... fuck it, why would they bother?  Their job is to make sure that the company/concern they run/own makes money.  That's it. They couldn't give a gnat's willy whether or not you're happy.  Really.  It's not that they hate you.  They don't really care about you one way or another (unless you're one of those whining complainers who's always coming to them with their problems - with their entitlement to happiness - in which case, you'd better have something on them, cos if not you'll find yourself being appraised out of a job or surplus to requirements.  Because those people they DO hate).  

You're a unit of production to them.  A human resource.  That's it.  They may 'blah, blah', about employee satisfaction and work/life balance and investing in people but these initiatives are, by and large, box-ticking exercises.  

Although, if we think that our employers care about our happiness and fulfillment then they have already gone some way to achieving that objective, because if it looks like they care about our happiness, then we'll feel valued and happier!

Make no mistake, if making you happy costs them but doesn't result in increased profitability then they won't care either way.  It's like the whole private medical insurance thing.  Most employees think that companies provide this as a benefit because they want people to have better health care when they're ill or injured.  They do.  But not because they want you to be happy.  Or because it makes them upset when you're ill and ailing.  They care because they want you back at work.  Toot sweet.  Honestly.  I know - I used to work in the private medical insurance industry.  They don't want to have to fork out sick pay for six months whilst you languish on an NHS waiting list because you've got a bad back, and a pay a temp meanwhile to do your job.  It's much more cost-effective to pay for a bulk corporate medical insurance policy and get you treated and back to being productive as quickly as possible.  Plus, of course, it has the nice side-effect that you think they care about you; that they value you.  And they do - providing that side-effect of caring is commercially and economically viable.  Because that's their job. To make money, to make sure that the company makes money or, at the very least, doesn't make a loss - that everything gets paid.  End of.  Whether or not they're happy and fulfilled while they're doing it, is neither here nor there.

It's not their job to make you happy and it's not your job to make them happy.  It's a financial transaction you have - not a relationship.

It's your job to turn up, fulfill your contractual obligations, don't whine, don't give them problems that don't need solving, then take yourself off at the end of the working shift to replenish and amuse yourself until you're required on the next shift to go through the whole thing again.

(And, yes - I know there are some companies that don't appear to operate like this, but very few - if you can come up with one company/concern that has at the heart of it's mission statement 'We want our employees to be happy, regardless of how much profit we make', then you'll be showing me a rarity and probably an impossibility too!). 

Even those companies that put employee happiness high on their objectives only do so for a reason.  This from one of the companies in the Times' top 100 companies to work for: "As a result, we have built up a team of enthusiastic, talented and experienced xxxx with extremely low staff turnover.  This gives us a clear return on the investment in our employees and gives you an unbeatable consistency of staffing and of customer service."

Did you notice the key component of this blurb?  The only reason they want their employees to be happy is because it gives them a market edge.

And, why not?  Of course, that's how it is.  When everything is geared to profit then that becomes the definer and everything else is secondary if it isn't contributing to that one end.  So whether people are happy is only relevant in relation to the profit it produces.  If profit is dependent on happy workers, then they will ensure that you're happy.  If profit is dependent on efficiency and quick, nimble actions (such as assembling smart phones, say) then they'll make sure that what's those workers are able to do.  Happiness then becomes irrelevant (unless being happy leads directly to measurable increases in efficiency and quick, nimble actions).

So,whether it's making x widget in x minutes, or typing x letters in x hours, or serving x customers in x hours, or answering x calls in x minutes whilst adhering to the script, or curing x patients in x months, or returning x amount on investment - whatever it is, most of us are on a conveyer belt.  A conveyer belt that churns out money - money for someone else - then it's hardly surprising that we're not happy.

So, where does that leave most of us?  Stuck in a situation that puts money as the top dog.  Because we've got to be realistic here.  We live in a consumerist society.  And that's what a consumerist society does.  It consumes and it spits out money as its end result.  And we all know that money doesn't make you happy.  It might make you more comfortable and give you more choice, but it doesn't make you happy.  It doesn't fulfill you.  It really can't buy you love. The stupidly successful, very talented and very rich Jim Carey said: "I wish everyone could experience being rich and famous, so they'd see it wasn't the answer to everything." And what he's really saying here is that being rich and famous doesn't make you happy.  So, what does?

I think it's this: Find what you love and do that regardless of the pay and benefits.  Because if you do what you love, and find people that love what you do, then it won't matter what your pay or benefits are, because you'll be happy and fulfilled.

And it may be possible to do what you love and be employed doing it.  I do think there are some people (not many, but some) that are fortunate to be paid by an employer to do what they love.  But because the system isn't set up with this end in sight, then that's not what it produces.  So, what's the alternative?  Well, the alternative, obviously, is to leave and do what you love.

But we say things like "I can't leave, I've got a family to support"  "I can't leave, it's too convenient".  Or the real killer, the real immobiliser: "I can't leave, it's the only job I can get."

This is the real 'go straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect £200' statement.

And it's just not true.

It's not the only job they can get.  It was the job they did get. They applied for it, interviewed, got offered and accepted. And yes, it may have been the only job they were offered at the time.  But it's not the only job they can get.

If they could get that job, it's a fair certainty that they could get another one.  True, it might be comparable to the one they've got (or it might even be slightly worse!), but it's not the only job they can get.

And if it is true that it's the only job they can get, they might want to look at the reasons why.  Just why is it that out of all the millions of jobs available there is only one for them.  If it's true then either it's their dream job, or they are so utterly crap at everything else that this is the only thing they can do, so they might as well accept it and enjoy it.

But I don't believe that's true.  Not for anyone.  I don't believe there's anyone who only has one limited and specific ability that means they don't have options.  

People might not want to be be bothered.  They may not want to face up to the truth that they're too lazy/afraid/complacent to do anything about it.  So they blame everything and everyone else precisely because they don't want to do anything about it.  And again there's that word: stupid. It's not right or wrong, it's just downright stupid and it makes for so much unhappiness.

To get bogged down by fear and convenience and security (which is an illusion anyway) in exchange for happiness is stupid and sad.

So.. do we want to be happy?  Or do we want to be safe/lazy/unhappy?  Do we want to go on believing that we have an entitlement to expect someone else to make us happy?  Or can we just go ahead and do what we love?

Hardly anyone reads this blog.  I don't make money from it. I just do it because I love reading, thinking and writing.  It makes me happy.  Will it lead to me being able to earn my living from it? Who knows?  But unless I keep doing it, unless I keep doing what makes me happy, I'll never find out.  And if I still have to earn enough money to pay the rent and the bills by trading 8 hours a day for a barely-adequate amount of money to do that, then I'll carry on.  But I'm making a commitment now to spend as much of the rest of my time as I can to doing what makes me happy.  There, I've said it.  I choose myself.  (A thank you to James Altucher and his excellent book "Choose Yourself").  

I choose to do, as much as possible, what makes me happy. Because that's my job.  I get paid, at the moment, to type letters and answer phone calls and administrate.  But that's not my real job. My real job is to do what makes me happy.

And your real job is to make you happy.  If you happen to get paid for it - great.  If not, then do it anyway, because you might find that doing what makes you happy, doing what you love to do, makes others happy because they love what you do too.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


I was recently part of a lunchtime conversation where in the space of a few minutes those assembled had decided that seagulls, deer and badgers 'needed' to be culled because there were too many.  I made a comment something along the lines of 'much like humans, then'.  

There was nervous laughter.  

According to the lunchers' logic, there are too many of these species (seagulls, badgers and deer) which means their population is too large to be sustained (although I'm not aware of being over-run by any of those species. In fact on a day to day basis, I may see/ hear a couple of sea gulls, one dead badger, no deer [unless I'm out walking in the forest or driving and they happen to cross my path - but that's a rare occurrence] whereas, I come across literally dozens of humans every day - thousands if I'm in a city!). 

I refrained from further comment since I had already been labelled a do-gooder - although why doing good should be construed as a bad thing, is beyond me.  (As an aside it's an interesting observation that the word 'do-gooder' has become a snide insult. On some level the actions of a do-gooder are recognised as being 'good' i.e. beneficial, but when their actions do not ally with the requirements of a convenient way of living, then they are derided and scorned and ridiculed - such dissonance!) 

Anyway, the case put forward for these species needing to be culled went like this:

Seagulls - there are too many of them and they take food out of the hands of humans.  Seriously.  That was the reasoning.  Personally, I find it funny when a seagull does that - someone's sitting by the sea troughing down their greasy fish and chips and a seagull swoops down and nicks a chip. I love their audacity and daring and the comic look on the face of she/he who has a chip nicked.

(A little side story here:  very recently we were having lunch outside at a pub by the sea and had put a piece of ham on the wall next to where we were sitting because of the wasps that kept settling on it anyway, so we thought to entice them away. Also on that wall were two Jack Russells.  Suddenly a seagull flew in and landed in order to take the ham.  One of the dogs was immediately alerted and and stood staring at the seagull and then started advancing (this Jack Russell was barely bigger than the seagull, but that's Jack Russell's for you).  The seagull looked a bit nervous, thought better of it and then flew off.  We added some bread to the ham on the wall and watched the seagull as it circled the patio and food.  The skill and precision in its flying was fabulous to watch.  It never got up the courage to land again and take the bounty and eventually it got bored and left.

Perhaps this particular seagull wasn't as bold as the seagulls that my lunchtime friends had encountered or perhaps it was the dogs that it was really scared of - whilst a few shrieking humans wouldn't put it off.

So, seagulls need to be culled because they sometimes take food from humans.  That's a bit like the recent view that we should bomb Syrians to stop Syrians killing Syrians.  Same line of thinking, really.

O.K. - so the next species that we need to cull are badgers. From what I understand, this is because badgers have and spread TB to cows and then farmers lose money.  So, essentially, it's a financial thing - badgers may interfere with the income of farmers.

The third species is deer.  Apparently, they're way too successful as a breed and eat too much ... forest, woods, grass - whatever deer eat.  So we need to control their numbers.  I really can't see the logic in this one (I can't with the other two either, but at least I can see that people make the connection between 'they take our stuff, so we need to get rid of them' in the case of seagulls and badgers).  But in the case of deer, they don't even get in the way of humans, don't take food from us and don't spread disease to cows owned by farmers.  But in our megalomaniacal way of needing to control everything and see it as a resource owned by us, we seem to think that we know the best way that a forest or wood or meadow should be.  And that in order to do that we should 'manage' these areas and control the population of each species.  Where on earth will this kind of thinking lead?  Are we going to end up having to manage everything?  The ants and the worms and the fungi and the flies and the dragon-flies and the spiders and the foxes and the flowers and grasses and rivers and streams and clouds and heathers and wasps and bees - to name but an infitessimally tiny, tiny portion of the 'natural' world.  How could we possibly do this?  What kind of status quo would we be aiming for?  Who would decide?  How would they know?  Are they able to see the entire picture?  Of course not - no-one can see the entire picture.

But we think we do.  Because we think we have a right to. We actually believe that we know best.  We really do.  And so this belief in our unassailable position of knowing 'how things should be' means that we're entitled to do ..... well, whatever we want, really.  Merely because we can.

That belief in entitlement is such a big thing.  It's huge.

It gives us the reason to believe that we can kill anything we want for the most spurious reasons.  The underlying reasoning being that we are the most important, superior, entitled species on earth.  We own it all.  We have a right to control, and cull, and use.  However we want, whenever we want.

And if you express an opinion counter to that belief, then you're a do-gooder.  A woolly-liberal-leftie who thinks that it's ok to let things take their natural order. 

I don't see what's wrong with that.  And I'm not actually saying that it's wrong per se for humans to kill and control. We're just as much a part of the natural world as badgers and deer and seagulls and forests and woods and farmers and cows and profits and wars.  I get that.  Life makes us in the same way it makes everything else.  It just does.

So, no, wanting to kill badgers and seagulls and deer because they cause us inconvenience and because this inconvenience gives us a belief in our entitlement to do so isn't wrong.  It's just stupid.  Because if you continue in that line of thinking then you'd certainly have to cull humans for their over-population, because they spread disease and take from other humans and other species.

Oh, wait.  Yup.  Of course, we already do cull humans. Every day, in so many awful ways.  In deed and in thought. And at the very base of this culling isn't greed, isn't hate - it's a basic belief in ENTITLEMENT.  Writ large and surrounded by lights - the basis of everything we do.  If you don't believe me, next time someone gets upset about something have a look to see why they're upset.  I bet your sweet bippy it's because their entitlement was thwarted - usually by someone's else's entitlement!

Somewhere along the line we took on the idea that humans as a species have a right to do exactly as they want, as they see fit.  That somehow we ought to fix things so that they fit our limited viewpoint - because we don't see that viewpoint as limited - we see it as the one true viewpoint, the correct way of looking at the world.

Maybe this way of looking at the world arose with religion or maybe religion arose from the viewpoint that we have a right, an entitlement to do as we wish.  And again, it's not wrong - it's the way we are.  But it is stupid.  It is insane - literally meaning unhealthy (in = not, sane = healthy).  Because if we follow this belief in entitlement we'll end up destroying everything that we believe causes us inconvenience, everything that we believe doesn't fit in with our way of 'how things should be'.  So, we'll continue to cull badgers, deer and seagulls.  And we'll continue to kill other races of people to stop them from killing themselves.  We'll go on taking what we want in order to make things we don't need, can't afford and which never make us happy.

Why?  I don't know.  Not for sure.  None of us do.  Not really. We're all experts in 'making it up as we go along'.

And we do that cos that's how we're made.  It doesn't make it right. It doesn't make it wrong.  But it does make it stupid if we want to continue to survive.  Because, we'll end up self-culling, which isn't good or bad - it will just be the natural order of things.  Ironic, really, that the natural order may end up in our own extinction - the one thing we won't be able to control because of our excessive and addictive need for our belief in our entitlement to control!

But, I think I'll keep that view to myself at any future lunchtime discussions.....

Sunday, 4 August 2013


There's something going on in a small village about half an hour from where I live.  A company called Caudrilla (a UK-owned, but mainly financed by Australian and American investors - how's that for global co-operation...) has obtained a licence from The Department of Energy and Climate Change and temporary planning permission from the local council to test drill for gas, in a process which has become known as fracking.  The end result being that they will use this technique to extract gas which they will then sell, at a profit, of course.  

Nothing too controversial here, I hear you murmur.  After all, people have been banging on about peak oil for a couple of decades now; so we all know that oil is running out and we need to find alternative energy sources in order to continue to live life in the way we do.  Because, of course, it (almost) goes without saying that our lifestyle, i.e. corporate-led consumerism is "A Good Thing".  Were it not, we wouldn't all be so happy and satisfied.  And the world, but particularly, our little bit of it, wouldn't be so perfect.  Would it?

Ah, and here's the crux of the matter - because other forms of energy are running out, in order for civilisation to continue operating the way that it does - which is to say by consuming - it does need to find other forms of energy.  And it would appear that one of these forms lies in the extraction of gas from underground rock formations through forcing water, and other substances (and depending on what you read, these substances range from sand to those listed here) through the underground rocks to cause fractures that allow the gas to be released and 'harvested'. And Cuadrilla believe that gas is located in the rock formations beneath a middle-England village called Balcombe in West Sussex, South-East England.

But the residents of Balcombe aren't happy about it. Well, judging by the last poll of all village residents, 85% of them aren't happy with it (9% don't know, 6% are happy).  So they are protesting.  And the protesting has garnered the attention of the media (here for instance, and here, to name but two of the current stories).  Because not only have the villagers come out in protest, but they have been joined by environmental activists who are opposed to any form of activity that they see as being detrimental to the environment, including Bianca Jagger and Chrissie Hynde's daughter; about which there has been some dissent, since it's not deemed appropriate that 'outsiders' and/or 'celebrities' involve themselves in protests in areas where they don't live, i.e. it's nothing to do with them.

There are several points I want to make:

The first being that I was in a local shop and the young man serving me automatically put my 2 purchases in a plastic bag.  I said 'I don't need the bag thanks.' and he replied 'Saving the planet?' and I responded 'It's not really going to have an effect is it?'. To which he countered 'We need to save the UK first.'  Says I: 'We could start with Sussex' (since this whole local fracking thing has been on my mind a lot).  His come-back was 'There are lots of places in the UK much worse off than Sussex.  We're very privileged."  And he's right.  We are.  

So, here's one of the points (I'm getting there...).  We are privileged.  We look out of our windows and all appears very well with the little bit of the world we inhabit.  The sky is blue, the sun shines, rain falls intermittently but copiously, enough to help grow the trees, and the flowers and the grass and the bushes and the veg.  And the bees buzz and the butterflies flutter by, and there are insects and birds and it's all very fecund.  But now, that could be under threat, since two of the side-effects of hydraulic fracturing is that it poisons the aquifers and that it causes earth quakes (as reported here)  So no longer is damage being wrought elsewhere *waves hand in vague over there manner*. Potentially, the damage could be wrought right here; it could poison the local water system (the drill site is 1.6 miles from one of the water reservoirs that serves the South-East of England); it could cause earth quakes (the drill site is yards from the London to Brighton rail line - so it wouldn't just affect local residents, but could also disrupt the commuter population going into London and the southern rail network). 

Which leads to the question: What are you willing to put up with in order to have cheap energy, or indeed, any energy at all?  What are you willing to sacrifice in order to continue buying what you want, when you want and where you want? 

Is it o.k. to sacrifice the environment of someone else, somewhere else - is that o.k.?  Out of sight, out of mind, out of conscience, out of consideration?  Not my fucking problem, mate....  Are you willing to sacrifice YOUR water supply?  YOUR land?  YOUR children's health?  Or is that too much of a sacrifice?  

See, this whole protest isn't about the danger to the village of Balcombe and its surrounding area - the real issue is really about what sacrifices we are willing to make and to inflict on others - and by others I don't just mean human people, but on everything - the land, the rock formations, the atmosphere, the air, the water, the wildlife - in short, the entire planet which gives us life.  We are not born into the world, we are born out of it.  And if we are willing to sacrifice it in order that WE can continue to live in the way we are, then we're signing our own death warrants - because by trashing the environment, the land, below ground, the air, the atmosphere, the water, wildlife, we're fucking up everything that allows us to live - at the very least.  So, this isn't just a local issue.  It's a world-wide issue.  What Caudrilla has done is ignited these people's awareness - see this group for evidence of people's feelings - and made them conscious of the issues involved with energy extraction. Made them curious about the issues, the pollution, the poisoning - the consequences, in other words.  And they are getting angry and they are waking up to the facts.  They are beginning to see that if it's an issue for them, then it's an issue anywhere and everywhere else.  And those people - those 'outsiders' and 'celebrities' are merely evidence that the use of energy and 'resources' is not a local issue.  Ever. It's a global issue.  You may enjoy the fruits of others labours and degradation in your own back yard, but now it's becoming apparent to people that it is that very back yard which may now be subject to degradation and spoiling itself. It's now in their back yard.  And whilst that's a shocking and distressing thing for people to deal with, it may also make them realise that wherever these resources are taken from is SOMEONE'S back yard.

The second point is that even if we manage to safely extract gas out of the deep ground through fracking, it's still not very likely that we will be able to continue to live this way for very much longer. That gas won't last forever.  And yes, there's a lot of talk (insert the words 'wishful thinking' here) about 'Alternative Energy Sources' which technology will somehow produce out of a hat to save us all, halt the destruction and plundering of the land, and all above and below it.  Maybe that will happen - maybe science and technology will win the day and find some magical, renewable, cheap or free, minimal impact form of energy that will allow us to continue to have what we want, when we want and at the price we want it.  But that won't stop us using up the world's 'resources' in order to continue; i.e. wood, metal, minerals, water, soil, fish, animals, vegetation. It will just mean that we won't be using so much oil, or gas, or coal in order to convert those things into products - stuff, basically, that we don't need but which we're persuaded we do.  It won't stop people being paid a pittance to produce those products.  It won't stop the population growing, it won't stop starvation.  It might halt global warming or slow it down. It might stop drilling for coal, oil and gas.  It might stop or decrease chemical spillages and poisoning.  But, I doubt it. 

In order to produce we need raw materials to convert into the stuff we think we need.  And those raw materials (read; the entire world), are not endlessly renewable for a population that continues to grow and continues to spread its story of 'Consumption is Good'.  In fact not just good, but eminently desirable.  In fact, not just eminently desirable, but absolutely necessary. Because we have bought into the story of progress and growth, at all costs.  At any cost.  Most of us don't even question it.  We're raised within a culture that believes, for whatever reason, (and the reason for the existence of that belief may actually be the $64,000 question - although with inflation it's probably something more like the $1,000,000 question!) that we need to consume, to inflate, to grow, to progress, get more, be more, have more.  And it believes too, and this is it's greatest flaw and downfall, that this growth/progress/consumption can continue indefinitely, without the so-called resources that we churn into goods and products being used-up, depleted, spoilt.  Gone.  And that sorry belief can best be summed up by this alleged Native American saying: “When the last tree is cut, the last river poisoned, and the last fish dead, we will discover that we can’t eat money…”

At base, though, in the end it all comes down to whether or not you/we/I care in any real and meaningful way.  Whether we are willing to wake up and face the fact that we're trashing our home.  And if it takes the local water supply to be poisoned, and local earthquakes, then so be it.  The information and evidence is there for anyone to access - has been for decades.  And in this age of easy and convenient global access to information from anywhere in the world, nobody has an excuse to say they didn't know what was going on. 

Unless, of course, they really don't care.  And that is what it finally comes down to.  Whether or not we care.

That's it - in a nutshell.  Even if we do wake up to the facts, the reality - if we don't care, then we'll just carry on.  Do we care more than we value convenience?

What, if anything, are we willing to sacrifice?  Will it really take your water to be poisoned, and local earth quakes through fracking to force you to care, to convince you to make a sacrifice.  Because, necessity isn't a sacrifice - it's unavoidable.  If it's your land-base and environment that's being ruined, not someone else's, then you no longer have to consider whether or not to sacrifice your way of life - because the decision will already have been made.  Your way of life will be ruined.  Too late for you to make a choice.

But as things stand at the moment, you may still have a choice - but not for very much longer.  That's why it's important that not only local people protest and get active and curious about what's going on in their own back yard, but that we all get curious and active and protest about what's going on in our entire back yard.  This is not a local issue.  It never was.  

Sunday, 21 July 2013


So, have had an allotment for about 3 months.  It's going great guns!  Spinach, courgettes (oh, my lord, courgettes - I know everyone told me, but they really are a riotous force of nature), lettuce, curly kale, broccoli, potatoes.  Everything has sprung into action.  The green and french beans, and the beetroot, and the onions, and the peas, and the leeks have still to mature - but it's exciting watching them flourish and do their thing.

So much so, that I've taken on another one!  I've decided that I want to grow fruit too.  There's an empty plot next to ours but one row down.  Digging has begun and weeding has commenced.  And hopefully, by September we'll be in a position to mulch and feed and get ready for next Spring.

But I was a little (a lot!) taken aback tonight.  I cooked a plate of produce straight off the lottie - steamed potatoes and curly kale, stir-fried courgettes with chili.  I settled down and started to eat with relish.  Someone asked me 'Wouldn't that be better with gravy on it?'  

I am, literally, speechless.  (Well, I'm not, as you're about to find out.)

Let me repeat that - this is what they said:  "Wouldn't that be better with gravy on?"

Really?  They were asking, in all seriousness, whether this organic,'tended with love and patience', produce - no, not produce, but living plants, magical life - could be improved by the addition of a chemical, additive-laden, preservative-riddled, mass-produced, salty, sugary gloup?  

I seriously don't know how to respond to that - other than to say - that, right there:  THIS is what is the problem is.  This is why so many people work at jobs they hate and get into debt to buy things they don't need to impress people they don't even know - much less like.  Because when it comes down to it, THIS is never good enough, is it?  

Take something sublimely gorgeous and natural and add to it: Make a blue rose. Persuade a teenage girl that she'd look better if she fixed her teeth, wore make-up, dyed her hair, Mow the grass to make a lawn.  

It's never enough, it would seem.  We always want more. Bigger, better, brighter.  And in the end it all comes down to one question:

"Wouldn't that be better with gravy on?"

Would it?

What would happen if we didn't ask that question?  Or even more importantly, we asked ourselves why we want gravy? Asked ourselves if it might be ok, in fact, fantastic, if we left the gravy off.  Stopped even considering that gravy is necessary, desirable.

What then?

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


Sitting on a sunny evening in June. Looking out of the open window; the sky is blue, the sun shines, birds sing, trees grow verdantly along with grass and vibrant flowers, the air is clear and fresh and all around life is burgeoning and thriving.

But down in the basement, an electrical fault - a design-glitch in an old and ill-maintained boiler - sends a small flame along a length of wiring, and a tiny spark shoots down and smoulders slowly and falteringly in a pile of stacked, dry and aged newspapers. The fire fails to take hold and the red edges fade to black. But a puff of breeze breathes across the pile of paper, blown in through a broken pane of glass in a small window at ground level. And it's enough, just enough, to fan and nurture, to persuade that still just-lingering speck of heat to leap into life and eat a hole into the top page of a 1969 edition of the Times which headlines the amazing feat of man's first walk on the moon. Slowly and haltingly the flames immolate the stack of kindling paper, until a small fire burns confidently and increasingly.

Up on the other two floors of the house the percolating coffee smells good and birdsong is still heard - lucid and sweetly clear. The dog lying by the back door sniffs the air and whimpers a little, and a bee buzzes bumblingly across the open door. All is very well. Is sublimely perfect.

Down by the foundations of the house the dust has began to spark and catch alight, and here and there hotspots ignite and blaze, pushing their flaming tendrils across and upwards into every part of the space, until the entire basement is a ferocious burning pyre.

Upstairs, the smell of a baking apple pie wafts through the kitchen and into the hall, blown along by soft puffs of warm, sun-soaked early evening air. A chilled bottle of wine runs globules of clear condensation down its jewel green sides and dust-motes sink, glittering in the evening sunlight. The air calms and slowly cools in peaceful serenity.

At first the only sign that the house is in dire and catastrophic danger is a sneaking fog of grey smoke that pries its way under the basement door. Gently and silently it rises and dissolves, spreading out into the still, warm air. The dog lifts its head, alert - nose twitching. He stands with ears cocked and eyes wide - aware that something is amiss.

Still the sun goes on shining and the pie is crustily brown, with oozing apple leaking from between its crimped edges. Someone smiles as they walk in from the garden with a basket full of early Summer strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes and courgettes. They place the new-picked produce on the table and sip from a glass of wine, savouring the apple-pie smell that fills the kitchen air as they turn down the heat underneath the bubbling coffee on the Aga.

Now, not only smoke, but a blazing flash of flame lights the gap under the basement door and heats the floorboard there.

The wine-drinker walks out into the summer night garden to enjoy the abundant bounty of the country garden; the peaceful and soothing sounds of a day winding down. A woodpecker urgently drums on an old oak tree, and a frog splashes into the pond from a mossy rock placed at its edge.

Despite the raging inferno that is destroying everything in the basement and is now advancing into the house through the basement door - a door that is turning brown as its paint crackles, curls and blisters off - nothing in the garden or the house changes. Only the restless dog is aware that there is danger and destruction building.

As the flames dart out from under the door they draw intensity from the polished, aged floorboards and, as these start to burn, the flames advance across the floor and spread to the skirting boards and bottom of the walls, singeing and catching the paper. Up above, mounted in the ceiling, is a smoke alarm. But its cover is open - the battery removed because it kept screeching when toast or bacon was cooked, and this irritated the householders. So the simple early warning system is disabled, and the fire advances, unchecked.

In the sitting room, a man dozes. Laid out on a velvet sofa, ivory damask curtains half-pulled against the early evening sunset. A drained cut-glass tumbler has been emptied of its third large malted scotch. A smoke tendril grazes into the room and is pushed further by a billow of air. Slowly, but inexorably, the smoke grows as the man sleeps on, until the room is half-filled by the black, billowing clouds of acrid fume.

In the distant night-sky lead-bullet clouds gather and build, and rumbles of thunder prowl around the sky, growling out a warning like a dog who knows that a dangerous stranger has come to the doorstep.

The family dog starts barking and running from the back door to the edge of the deck. Back and forwards, barking and then whining -agitated and growing more frantic as he is ignored. He is hushed and told to calm down - there's nothing to worry about. The woman of the house frowns at the dog's grating yelps that are ruining the peace of the sublime summer evening - ruining the atmosphere of perfect, graceful, opulent and easy living that the householders have worked so hard to build and maintain. The beautiful house and garden, furnished with the best furniture and paintings, the finest cloths, quality fittings and finishes. When they had been advised to replace the boiler and heating system they balked at the cost and the inconvenience that would have meant floorboards being ripped up, pipes re-laid and radiators re-sited and re-fitted. And instead opted to wait another year or two and paved over the front garden to use as extra parking for the motor-home they'd purchased to use on weekends as a getaway to the great outdoors. For adventures away from the responsibility of their luxury lifestyle with its ever-gnawing need for upkeep and maintenance, cost, work and worry.

But this evening, even with the growls of a broiling, churning storm in the distance, everything was perfect - was the gorgeous example and justification for all the sacrifices made; friendships and family ignored, endless stress-filled hours working, holidays forsaken and children put into expensive child-care facilities. But this evening vindicated all the regret and worry. For this sublime and perfect picture was the reality of the dream they had worked for.

And the flames catch on the rug on the polished oak floorboards in the hallway. A rug brought back from a trip to India - made by the hands of a dozen weavers, over endless hours, from the finest silks. Gone in 15 seconds - its succulent silken colours fuel for the glorious fire that devours and uses it to gorge its flames. A prescient blast of wind from the gathering thunderstorm on the horizon blows through the back door, the kitchen and into the hall sending the flames out and up, engorging the fire, blowing it up to three times its size in a moment, and sending it raging down the hall and into the door of the kitchen; its ferocious and startling flames roaring its way through the house now. Up the stairs and into the dining room, catching curtains and carpets, burning books and magazines, devouring picture and photographs. The TV explodes and the laptop melts - its black cover like oil spreading over the coffee table and onto the carpet, billowing out noxious, toxic fumes.

The door to the sitting room where the man was sleeping is now blocked by flames and the room is thick with smoke. And it's impossible to tell whether he is still because he sleeps on, or is unconscious or dead.

The woman wanders to the edge of the garden as it slopes down and looks across to the other side of the valley. She watches the advancing storm and feels a seed of unease and irritation. As she lingers she smells an evening bonfire that she supposes has been lit by a neighbour. It has the scent of wood and she guesses that someone has cut some trees back and is disposing of the branches. She can hear no crackles though and, as yet, she can see no smoke. From a few streets away she can hear the cawls and mewls of cats circling for a fight and the doleful and fearful cries end the peace and perfection. All at once everything feels wrong; the storm and darkening sky, the smell of the bonfire, the caterwauling coming closer as the warring felines advance down the road.

The dog cowers under the gap beneath the shed, his haunches quivering in terror. A murder of crows flap a cacophony as they whorl out of the ancient oak tree which shades the top of the garden.

She swallows a mouthful of the wine in the glass - wine that has warmed in the night air and no longer tastes of chilled oaked tropical fruit and vanilla, but now has a slight acid tang to it. She turns and walks back up the mowed, neat lawn and, as she reaches the deck, a bright flash catches her attention from inside the kitchen and an uberous billow of smoke belches out, mimicking the growing thunder clouds which are towering closer now.

Does she rush in, see the advancing fire and grab the phone by the back-door and call the fire brigade? Does she run to a neighbour's and ask them to alert the services? Does she frantically panic when she realises that her husband is inside and the only way through the house is now a storming rage of fire and smoke? Does she grab the fire extinguisher by the back door and douse the encroaching flames with futile sprays of foam? Does she turn the outside tap on and run the hose into the kitchen dousing the flames?

Does she shut the kitchen door and turn and walk away, telling herself that since it’s all lost and ruined there is no point in trying to quell the fire. Does she stand and watch the night-show as the thunder explodes with ear-cracking claps, and the brilliant, searing lightning reveals the landscape with the clarity of a blinding summer sun.

Does she turn her back as the basement and the house and the neighbourhood burn.

Does she sip on the ruined wine as the world burns?

What does she do?

What would you do?

Are our backs already turned as the basement burns?

Tuesday, 28 May 2013


A quote:

"When I observe some of our behavior, it really looks to me as if human beings want to suffer. Judging from the way we act, we do not seem to be truly interested in being happy... We seem to want to keep the painful experience of anger alive and close, and keep kindness and happiness at bay. We act as if we treasure suffering, so whenever we find it, we don't want to let it go.

... We are operating on the mistaken assumption of who we are is really this angry, disturbed person. But we do not have to be that person... At any moment, we have the option of being different; we can be a person who is not angry or disturbed. Let yourself be that other person - a person who treasures true happiness, kindness and tranquility."
- His Holiness 17th Karmapa, from The Heart of Noble,

I've encountered this quote, and several others, over the past few days which tie-in with the recurring theme of stories. Because we love a story; stories about ourselves, stories about our humanity, our culture, the world, the universe and life itself.    I'm beginning to see that the single defining ability which drives human behaviour is story-telling.  That's a bold statement, I know.  But it underlies and drives what we do, who we think we are and how we define everything.  We tell stories about HOW THINGS ARE.  

And stories are beautiful. They entertain, they inspire, they educate and inform, they thrill and scare, they allow us to visit new worlds, and to get to know people and foreign landscapes. They can take us forward into the future and deliver us back in time, and provide a narrative of the present.

Trouble is we don't always see stories as stories.  We fail to see that everything that we tell, print, sing, paint, draw, film, compose and think is a story.  It's a depiction.  It's the map - not the territory.  If you believed that a novel, or a film is real you would be shocked and surprised when it ended to discover that it was just a fantasy.  And who hasn't had the experience of not wanting to finish a novel because you want to go on being immersed in the story and the characters; because the story that you're reading is more exciting and absorbing than the life you're living?

And more and more I'm seeing that what we do is defined by the stories we believe.  If you change the story, you change change the experience of reality.

But it's not as easy as that, is it?

Wouldn't it be great to change the record?  When we're feeling pissed-off and dissatisfied, to metaphorically take off one record and put on another, stop watching one programme and watch another, put down one novel and pick up another much more inspiring, absorbing and exciting one.  

But we can't.  Can we?  We're stuck with this.  THIS story.  This narrative.  This version of events.

Or, are we?

Maybe you've heard about - and tried - positive thinking, meditation, CBT, NLP, counselling, self-help, self-development, hypnotherapy.  They're large and burgeoning movements.  And, at their heart they all have one goal - to make people happy.  Or happier.  When people have exhausted the other options that are supposed to deliver happiness - money, success, relationship, family - getting, growing, doing - when those don't produce the promised happiness, then people start looking at other options.  They try to find a better, alternative story.  They try to make themselves better, or to still their mind, to re-programme their behaviour, change their thoughts, investigate their past.  And these have a varying degrees of success.  But if one of them was the holy grail - if one of them really 'did it' then we'd all be doing it, wouldn't we?  It would very quickly be apparent that if one of these methods definitively worked and could make you happy, then it would spread like wild-fire.  So, like success and stuff and careers and money and the latest relationship - they work for a while for some people some of the time.  But they're not a guarantee.

Why not?  Are we really wedded to our anger and unhappiness?  Do we really not want kindness and happiness, as suggested by His Holiness 17th Karmapa?  It does seem like it's the dominant state - unhappiness.  If it weren't, we wouldn't spend so much of our lives looking for it!  But is it as easy as saying that we want suffering?  If we wanted it why would we seek to end it?  

There's something very cynical and dismissive about the first part of  M'sieur His Holiness's statement.  For if we treasured suffering and didn't want to let it go, then we wouldn't seek to do so.  We'd just enjoy it, wallow in it and not try to find ways to be happy.

The second part of his statement suggests that all we have to do is let ourselves be happy,  kind and tranquil and let go of the suffering and unhappiness.  Well, good luck with that.  That's tantamount to waving the magic wand of wishful thinking.  Don't work, does it?  Would that it were that easy.

But, perhaps it is.

What if you didn't need to change anything - your thoughts, your reality, your success, your appearance, your financial situation - none of it.  It would all just keep going exactly as it is and exactly as it does.

What if, all you had to do was see that everything that is said, thought, believed, projected, written, painted, drawn, filmed, commented on, blogged, is a story.  

What if, you were believing a story that says you need to be happy.  That one day you WILL be happy.  

Now, I know that at first sight this sounds like what His Holiness is saying.  But this isn't just saying that you have to change what you think.  What I'm saying is that you need to see through all stories.  ALL stories - including the one that says - "I should be happy."

Because we do, don't we, we think we should be happy, and loved and useful, and happy, and have purpose and make a difference and be happy....

You get the picture.

Why?  Why do we think that?  We think it because we're told that is what is going to happen.  One day, we will be, and do, all these things.  Providing we play our part and work hard and be good and do as we're told and show respect and love well and be helpful..... then we will be happy.

And we do these things.

And... we're not happy.  And maybe we question why we're not happy.  And we're told 'ah, don't worry, just try a little harder, be a little better, do a little more.'

So, we do.

And still, we're not happy.

We've got the stuff, we've married the person, we've had the gorgeous children, we've given our all, we've done our duty, respected our elders... blah, blah.  And yet.... we're still not happy.

And then we don't where to go or what to do.  We've done what we were told to do.  We've followed the formula.  We've carried out the instructions.  So...it must be us.  We must be doing it wrong, because the alternative is too radical to consider - that maybe the story is not correct. It's got a fundamental flaw it.  It's a flaw that ignores reality.  It presents a picture that isn't representative.

Look, take the ubiquitous story of santa.  We tell little children, children that we say we love and cherish above all else, that the presents that we buy them for Christmas aren't bought because WE want them to be happy (as if that stuff COULD make them happy, but we've been playing our part to the tee and for quite a long time, so we've bought into the story too).  We tell them that some man is going to deliver presents to them and ALL the children all over the world... providing....  providing they are good.  So we abdicate the opportunity to let our children know that we give them presents because we think they'll give them pleasure, in order that we can control their behaviour with a threat of non-delivery of presents by some fat, old geezer.

It doesn't occur to us that if we told them that there is no such thing as santa clause, that if you get a present it's because people buy it for you because they care about you and want to give you pleasure.  It doesn't occur to us that if we were just honest then it might be a much more effective way of relating to our children.  And if we did this, then they might not be so inclined to display what we deem to be bad behaviour and so eliminate the need FOR a story about some creepy old bloke who squeezes down chinmeys.

See, the thing is, we set our kids up to be disappointed.  Because, at some point, we have to spill the beans.  And then,  there is a major mind-fuck disappointment coming up.  Except, we've told them that we are not liars, and yet we have to tell them now that we have been lying and THIS teaches them is that the way to get what you want, the way to control people's behaviour, is to lie.  

What kind of fucked-up message is it that we're giving them?  You'll only get stuff if you're good.  I don't love you enough to give you gifts.  I'm gonna let you believe in a lie.

Oi, oi, oi.

<deep breath>

It would be so less screwed-upif we didn't reward childrens' behaviour either with lies or stuff.  If we loved them for what and who they are.  Stopped buying them off.  Stopped trading their uniqueness for some kind of homogenous ideal of conformity that means that they behave against their nature in order to get things that they never knew they wanted in the first place.

We can't help it though.  We were collectively fed the same stories, and until we can see them as lies and believe that there can be an alternative, then we'll continue. We'll do the things we're taught, because we're taught that it's the best way, the right way - it's not done with malice aforethought.  It's done in a communal belief that it's 'The Way Things Are Done'.  And it IS the way things are done.  But is it the most effective way?  Is it a way that lets people be themselves and value what is valuable?  That their abilities and talents and energy and liveliness is what is really precious - that they don't have to get anything and attain anything in order to be themselves.  That they have something to give and contribute and enjoy without having to constantly chase after some state called happiness.  That happiness is just seeing that the stories that we tell are just that - stories.  

And when you see that it's all stories, what's left is reality.  Life.  This livingness.  This liveliness.  And the stories can continue, but if you don't take them to be the territory, but see them as a depiction, then you can explore that territory and enjoy it - the uphills and the potholes, the storms and dry-beds, the springs and the raging gorge. 

And it really is that simple.  Stop believing the lie that life is a story.  Life is this.  It's what is happening right now.  What you are, right now.  And when you see the story for what it is, that's where the pivot is.  The fulcrum.  Because then... then you're in free-fall - a free-fall of possibilities without constraints - because you're not bound by fiction anymore, but have the entire availability of potential.  Anything.  You can do anything.  You don't have to be in thrall to any story.  Because reality is not limited by fiction or belief but is woven from the ever-changing reality of dynamic living.  

And the narrative now comes from shifting, pulsing, morphing living reality and it's what you are.  It is fluid and responsive and inquisitive.  It reacts and queries because it recognises that there is nothing definite, no truth that stands immovable, no promise that cannot be broken.  This is shifting sands. And that is very good news because it means that you, nor anything, have to cling to certainty.  You never need be sure of anything.  You don't have to defend your position.  Because there is no certainty, no surety and no position.

All there is is the shifting sands of reality and there is no longer any absolute story to uphold and defend.  No beliefs to protect because the only basis they have is in fiction.

So where does that leave you?  What happens when you realise that the story is a fiction?   Well it means that you can stop being defined and restricted by an unhappy story.  You can immerse yourself in the endless possibilities.  The story doesn't have to be unhappy and morbid and depressing.  You see, if the story is just that - a fiction - then that leaves you in a position of being able to write a new one.  And this isn't just about saying - I'm going to pick up a different book with a different story, it's about seeing that however we define what is happening - whatever we say, however we describe it, is a story and so we have the option to write a different one.  We can see things as they are and narrate it differently.  this isn't about ignoring reality - it's not about re-framing it - it's about reacting to it and working with it. Seeing the bare-faced facts and using them to create a different story.  Taking the raw materials and using them to create something more inspiring, more sustainable, more robust, positive and resilient.  

You can't change reality, but you can re-write the narrative - tell a tale that is much more uplifting, creative and inspiring.

"Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life".  Mary Oliver.

What, indeed?