Thursday, 26 June 2014

Farewells and Returns

When one chapter ends, another one begins. So it is in books, and so it is in life.

My time in Brighton has come to a close after four years. I regret that while I was there I didn't allow myself to feel that it truly was my home - having itchy feet stopped me from wanting to feel like I was putting down roots. What I have come to see in retrospect is that I did put down roots, and these roots provided me with the nourishment I needed from the people and places around me. The wonderful friends, the vibrant city, the almighty sea, the blustery Downs and the embracing forests.

But Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, but can recapture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty in it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties.
From 'The Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame

This change has reminded me of the need to live more mindfully, alive in the present moment and respecting and enjoying what is around me, rather than spending all my time imagining or fretting about the future. 

I have now returned to London, a world away from the life I have been living and a past life I left behind purposely and eagerly. But I am here once again. And I must accept and make the most of my time here, in case I miss the roots growing, however temporary they may be...

There is always joy and wonder to be found, whether we're by sea and sand, amidst cars and crowds or alone on windswept moors.

And certainly with Luna, hiking the Downs...

And that is how I want to live my life: with joy and wonder.

And O most constant, yet most fickle Place,
Thou hast thy wayward moods, as thou dost show
To them who look not daily on thy face;
Who, being loved, in love no bounds dost know,
And say'st, when we forsake thee, 'Let them go!'
Thou easy-hearted Thing, with thy wild race
Of weeds and flowers, till we return be slow,
And travel with the year at a soft pace.
From 'Farewell' by William Wordsworth

Let's see how this chapter begins...

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Dawkins vs. Fairy Tales

Once again Richard Dawkins is causing controversy, this time on the subject of fairy tales. He recently called them 'pernicious' and speculated at the damage they cause to children's minds. After the (completely unsurprising) backlash, he retracted his statement and instead said that on balance they were probably OK because they could help with critical thinking skills. There's an article in The Telegraph about it here.

Critical thinking, and then some. At the heart of it, both science and fairy tales can help us to find answers about ourselves, in their own way. Both have the ability to fill us with a sense of wonder and awe. If a scientist had never been able to exercise her creativity and imagination, would she still be curious about the mysteries of the universe, and want to find answers?

If we had never imagined, wondered, been struck dumb by awe - if we had never dreamed and dared to ask why and how, there is no way we would have evolved to this point, to know so much. If we lived a life of facts and nothing else, how would we know to look beyond them?

The Mermaid, Howard Pyle, 1910. From ArtMagick.