Sloely does it

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© Spirits Beacon Wait til they’ve gorn black before tweeking from stems

Up in North London where slugs have had a bonza year but the voles seem few and far between, it’s been a mixed nosebag, too, for the early risers. Too late for Haylage, Hay’s been lumped rather than baled for some reason and mounds lounge carelessly for anyone to settle into for a read in the rising sun.*

Unlike Elderflowers whose pollen benefits from a full day’s sun before picking, elderberries, redcurrants and cherries are most succulent after a drench by dew and before the sun has winked, warming their fruity boughs.

A complete washout for Blackberries; have you noticed? Ush. No bramble jelly this year alas. However … and this is the point … sloes are having something of prodigal return to favour. Previous couple of years were somewhat lean. But, but, but: suddenly great fat blackthorn berries burst out in the joy of last week’s Indian Summer.

With so much gristle on our plates with narry a crust to mask the grinding nature of getting through the next six months, it is really heartening to be reminded that so long as we can just hang in there, there’s hope for better. We can and will get through the testing times ahead. Sloes can do it: so can we.

* But this morning was the start of what is going to be a long, long … long haul to careless, cheerful Spring 2022. Dank and howling, crackling leaves dropped by age, crispend by warmth are soggy markers, reminding one that if we are to persist through and vanquish what lies ahead, compassion is going to be a strong weapon in the armoury of endurance. Remember: each thing gives birth to itself. Kindness builds muscles for kindness.

madeleinebaird.com/blogos

Holyrood screen

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© MBM                               Not quite the Holyrood Hills, but Edinburgh Castle

It wouldn’t be remotely surprising were it to win big at the Oscars. Surely someone’s already started on the screenplay as this sorry saga unfurls? To what do we refer? The mighty demonstration of hubris by movers- & ex-shakers at Holyrood, the Scottish Assembly’s historic hub, of course.

We know none of the facts which helps directing focus on responses as, how we do something is how we do everything.

You know when a pal asks for your help – they tell you they’ve messed up and need you to back them up on something? And because the two of you go way back, you agree for the sake of friendship though it means putting yourself in the firing line should things turn sour.

Isn’t it infinitely disappointing when – and it’s happened to all of us – your pal begins to delude themself of their innocence and defends their actions by attacking yours?

In Hollywood, it’s usually the case that the bad guy gets his come uppance and the good guy is recognized as having taken the route of discretion the better part of valour. Alas, as the curtains part on Holyrood’s dismal theatrics, we hope integrity, honour and truth ventillate the souring scene before us as there’ll be narry a rude screen as protection from the flow of dessicated trust and kindness.

madeleinebaird.com

Amazin’ foresight

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© Madeleine Baird Materials

It’s the thing everyone [well, creatives at least] wants to have: the idea which goes viral, launches crescendo fireworks, assures the bathing in asses milk for life. How to share that?

Entrepreneurs have sizzling ideas: all work their socks off; all surround themselves with clever people possessing the skills they lack; all are convinced theirs is the solution to the intractible problem de nos jours. But those who take their idea into the market place and persuade others to buy [into] it must also have amazin’ luck.

Tapping into the ZeitGeist is a spooky matter of … [clue being in the title] timing. Foresight: a wondrous gift but get there too far ahead of others and prescience evaporates in a wilt of incomprehension. Wait too long and it’s sunk before even being launched.

This has been ‘a rather complicated year’. All of us have been viscerally, physically, financially, intellectually reshaped by medieval blight: the reality of its avalanche, a woeful avalanche.      Though mean-spirited, 2020 vision might be accurately repurposed as 2020’s anakusis in light no executive ear listened to what was crucially foretold: not found credible.

Does the Nature of Balance laugh at foolish haughtiness of thinking ourselves the controlling arbiter of our surroundings? If we’re lucky, this apocalyptic 2020 will have brought reality into sharper focus; made our planet’s scream audibly discernable; caused a drive to lessen Nature’s suffocating suffering.

It seems we’ve already set the world alight: Australia’s ablaze once more, alas; pestilence months away from beaten-into-submission; unemployment and all mad complications that follow ambushing millions.

May Christmas be bliss and 2021 a bright new Beginning.

Wouldn’t it be amazin’ to leave this year behind wiser, kinder and more empathically disposed than we entered it, cascading out warmth and wellness? Be lucky.

madeleinebaird.com/blogos

Memory Day celebration

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©  Hanna-Barbera Productions

You know how rosey it is when you hear others say in a public forum what you know to be true? That visceral ease in knowing your mind and heart chime with others about things that matter?

Well, earlier Rethink on BBC Radio 4 mused over qualities leaders will need to support levitation from the mire into which Covid-19 has plunged most countries.

Were I to give you a synopsis of the programme, you might not bother to listen. Thus, Listen.

The picture of an emotionally intelligent world that emerges, one inclined to Listen makes radical sense: yet there’s nothing radical about a thing promoted for over twenty five years.

Today is Memory Day: celebrating the day a six-year anteriograde amnesia episode retreated and new life began. There couldn’t be a better moment to rethink how to recover from – and hear how important Listening will be to comb through – the tangle de nos jours.

Yabbadabbabloomin’doo.

 

madeleinebaird.com/blogos

It really is Appalling

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C3P0 comforting R2D2                               Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker

Amid a plethora of aphorism to cascade from the tall Irishman, one which constantly delights is I can resist anything but temptation. Bless his heart, Oscar Wilde.

Well, it’s been a struggle since hearing it and has now proved impossible to resist howling … cackle-ing even … at this no-brainer news.

The Health Secretary announced this week the Covid-19 contact tracing app trialled on the Isle of Wight would be superseded by a different model: seemingly, it bombed.

It’s plausible to say only a minority of the professional population take account of the impact the emotions have in determining the decisions we make: which still strikes me as odd as it ain’t a new idea.

Genial and rotund David Hume in the 18th century would tell you no decision was made without reference to emotion – “reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”

Expecting a Brit to obey a script received on a phone issuing life-style limiting instructions was not a plan in which emotional intelligence ever played a role.

How proud Mrs Hancock senior must be of her son’s vision, empathy, compassion and humanity. Such foresight into the hearts and minds of the population.

We are the human beings. Our phones are the Android. Seems vacuous even to have to say that.

By the by: Prince Philip who gives us the headline above, has been a life-long adopter of cutting edge technology. Mebbie he should be consulted on this?!

The nature of our nature

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©  Basic Elements Photography / Getty              Walls in Antelope Canyon        The smoothly eroded walls of both Upper & Lower Antelope Canyon are slot canyons located on land belonging to the Navajo Nation, near Page, Arizona.

Is it just me or do you idly anthropomorphize objects – you know, see human form in clouds, trees, … rock? Well, take a look.

The couple locked in an impossibly forbidden kiss simply breaks my heart.

To restore things, therefore, cheer yourselves up with this exquisite demonstration of virtuosic performance by Renaud Capuçon and Guillaume Bellom, musicians whose joie’d’vie simply splooshes over the brim.

Look at how they Listen to one other.

Bringing joy builds muscles for bringing joy. Listening builds muscles for Listening. …

Blinking marvellous

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© NASA                                           From 2016, a ‘supermassive black hole’

If a thing winks, so it declares itself to be an eye. Today, the Hubble Telescope, a miraculous gazing object which sees into an infinite past, celebrates its Thirtieth birthday: it is also the start of Ramadan.

© NASA, ESA, M. Sun (University of Alabama) and W. Cramer and J. Kenney (Yale University) via Yale News                                                                     The spiral galaxy D100, on the far right of this Hubble Space Telescope image, is being stripped of its gas as it plunges toward the center of the giant Coma galaxy cluster.    Hubble’s picture shows a colorful and poignant scene – the last of the galaxy’s gas being ripped out from its center in a massive stream of star-stuff that’s twice the length of the Milky Way Galaxy.
“It’s a 200,000-light-year-long tail of gas that you can see is very narrow connected to the center of the galaxy. You’re really seeing this galaxy in the last stages of its lifecycle of producing stars.”

Scale is incomprehensible: 200,000 light-years long? 1 light-year stretches 5.6 trillion miles. If I understood what that meant, it’d make me weak at the knees: “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment” (thankfully, happened on my behalf shortly before birth!)

With Ramadan, Rūmī waltzes and whirls to mind.

Persia brought early understanding of the Heavens. Rūmī, born in Afghanistan at the start of the Thirteenth century, would have had closer proximity to all things celestial than do we by virtue its principles informed the basis of life. Not surprising then, he stiffens the sinews with exquisite shatterings, en-couraging those who hear.

“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”

© NASA                                                       Hubble capture of “Pillars of Creation” The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has revisited one of its most iconic and popular images: the Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation. This image shows the pillars as seen in visible light, capturing the multi-coloured glow of gas clouds, wispy tendrils of dark cosmic dust, and the rust-coloured elephants’ trunks of the nebula’s famous pillars.
The dust and gas in the pillars is seared by the intense radiation from young stars and eroded by strong winds from massive nearby stars. With these new images comes better contrast and a clearer view for astronomers to study how the structure of the pillars is changing over time.

In these uncertain days and weeks, I wonder if pondering the place of the heart in the universe of our soul might melt the barricades we build against life?

“The wound is the place where Light enters you.”

Quotes are Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī‘s, 1207 – 1273

Begging for Giveness

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Epiphany: dissolving the veil of perception behind which floats understanding. The Twelfth day of Christmas is when three magi, wise enough to make a detour on their return to the Orient, happed on the stable in Bethlehem. Today marks the end of the sacred fortnight.

This fresh Decade started violently. That don’t bode well.

However, if we learnt anything from the last twenty years, it is that evolution has quickened its pace and we aren’t catching up: melting ice-packs, smelting forests, oceanic plastic, drastic resourcelessness. We’re choking ourselves.

Consumption: de-link consumption from status and we augment the quality of what we produce in virtue of needing less of it. This gives the Earth a chance to catch its breath.

If I knew how to beg, I would sink to my knees and encourage all within earshot to look inside and share what they find. Giving of oneself opens the windows in ventilation of being meaningfully useful. Call it prudence or self-interest or humane or kind: all terms apply equally.

Giveness is not yet a word: might it become a deed?

Listening to what the inner life murmurs seems never more apposite by virtue of what, ever more clearly we discern, awaits us.

madeleinebaird.com/blogos

Gorillas missed their calling?

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Ndakazi & Ndezi                Twin, 12yr old Congolese female orphan Gorillas

The longer I gaze at this image, taken in April by their keeper, Mathieu Shamavu at Virunga National Park in the DRC, the more I tremble inside.

These pages are forever banging on about the dignity of animals, their intelligence, their de anima: but this?

This is different.

(Aristotle’s work Of the Soul (de anima) pertains to biopsychology, thus seems irresistible to acknowledge that Animal psychology is a thing.)

What is going on here? Are these adolescent females mimicking him; or stretching: or thinking ‘what the hell is he doing with that box?’; or saying to each other ‘Ooh, pucker up: a Selfie’. Whatever it is, there is thought behind it.

Mebbie by virtue of language, sentience – the capacity to reason – has been linked to sensory perception – taste, touch, smell and so on. Amid the scientific community, it is seemingly presumed that if unable to speak the Queen’s English (or all other national equivalents) an animal lacks the neurological network that transports signals of pain to the brain. This appears to justify inflicting annihilating misery on creatures with impunity. (Best not get me started on that one.)

So what are we saying here? Do you know, I’m not entirely sure. What seems important to highlight is that humans are one species of creature, gorillas another. The characteristics, biochemistry and physicality we share are largely self-evident. If two species of living creatures share functions essential to sustaining life, it’s not an extrapolation too far to posit all living creatures possess such corporeal operation. Pain is not a function of reason but a consequence of neurological pathways. If you step on a cats foot, the scratches up your leg will tell you it felt it. So, if we’ve the developed intellect to be kinder to all animals, why aren’t we?

Twelve year olds, of whatever species, appear happy to copy grown-ups. What else might we learn were they enabled to observe & experiment? Call it gorilla tactics.

Untangling the web

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Image                                                                          Funnel-web spider’s crib

One of the scintillating qualities the mind possesses is that of sieve. It allows the stuff of life to fall through until such time as we’re ready to see it or feel it … or hear it: know what I mean?

A wonderful mathematician & computer scientist was speaking of how she mustered support to save Bletchley Park by means of connecting with like-minded strangers through the twitosphere.

I’m not sure if being ‘very very pants’ is something that can be said in sentient company: nonetheless, it is an accurate description of my techné in this area. Her words had me dashing to squint at @emotionalresilience and #Empathy and … all those aspects of existence on which these pages comment.

It was a depleting experience: seems there ain’t many of us who reason these matters … matter.

The Materials that we supply – not only here but in universal encouragement to let lives speak – inform how generously we can contribute to the wider world. What’s done becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy: being gloomy causes one gloom just as a kind act ignites kindness.

It’s not rocket science: it’s more sophisticated than that.