restless peasant: life, changing :

Inertia

I have been struggling with inertia. I have many years worth of existing projects and ideas for other projects, but on many days, I just can’t make myself work on them and I sit endlessly consuming content on the internet, checking email, reviewing share prices and drinking tea.

One thing I had let slip from my life was regular walking, until one day last week, I forced myself out in the rain with the dogs for a long walk. The next day I did it again and again the day after that. It easily became a habit again, one I am grateful for and one that I’d almost forgotten the power of.

Walking has always been a big part of my life since, well since I learned to do it! I didn’t realise the significance of such a simple thing until quite recently, but over the last few days I have walked for at least 5 miles each day and the results are quite remarkable.

First of all, the mental fog I have had lifts almost immediately. Then I begin talking to myself, something I hesitate to share, but nonetheless a seemingly positive trait for me, as I don’t do a great deal of talking to anyone else usually.

After the first of these walks I scribbled down a hand made version of the mindmap attached to this post very quickly and without having to wait and think about what the branches should say…except for Boredom, which I think might have been added for the sake of symmetry, it didn’t feel right as soon as I added it, but I’ve left it there for now.

The first branch came out quicker than I could write it…Purpose. The failure to identify a purpose for my life makes me think that everything and maybe anything is futile. Is there a purpose strong enough to make me move and create again, or is everything we can conceive of as humans just trivial and pointless?

My plan is to expand on each branch of the mindmap over the next few posts to see if I can make any firm connections between these traits/issues and my inertia and lack of creativity of late.

Before that though, 2 pieces of content consumption have been revelatory this week.

A tale of two Bruces

The first of these is Bruce Springsteen’s beautiful new film, Letter to You, which is a kind of thank you from Bruce to the E Street Band and documents the recording process of their new album also called Letter to You.

At the beginning of the film Bruce asks the question “What makes me continue to do this?” followed by a long, stream of consciousness list of possibilities, including of course Purpose, Recognition and Ego…he concludes “All of the Above”

In this statement, Bruce illustrates a fine point of what makes some people achieve outward, obvious and evidently huge success, such as 50 year rock and roll careers and massive back catalogues of wonderful music. Ego was included, the desire for recognition was included and of course Purpose was included. These also immediately jumped out as candidates for my mindmap.

My second bout of positive consumption was Warner Herzog’s film about his friend Bruce Chatwin and his relationship with him, called Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin.

I’ve long been a fan of the work of both Herzog and Chatwin, but I hadn’t picked up on the fact that almost all of Bruce Chatwin’s successful literary output was secondary and almost incidental to an underlying project that remains unpublished called The Nomadic Alternative, in which he points to walking as an innate urge that holds within it more than the obvious benefit of transportation. The suggestion is that somehow walking is an important tool for our mental well being.

The change in my mindset and the clarity that 4 long walks with my dogs has brought, after a long period of inertia when I couldn’t make myself work on any of my self developed ideas or projects is quite remarkable. It has provided me with an immediate focus (whereby I’ve written this blog post after a prolonged silence, for one thing) and a bigger picture aim of sharpening my longer term focus on projects and mindset.


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Hyperlinks

I’ve described before, the serendipitous wandering from point to point of interest that can be so rewarding when you have time to absorb and act upon some of what you can find online. In more recent times, unfortunately, this is less and less likely to happen due to the corporatisation of the world wide web…it was bound to happen of course.

Recognising the same effect, BrainPickings author Maria Popova often points to the power that books have to lead us to discover ideas, other books, art and music, and as far as I’m aware, she is the first person to point out not only the similarity this has to the now ubiquitous hyperlink in the online world, but more specifically to the kind of hyperlinks that used to be better stumbled upon in the earlier times.

Ridiculous, I know, that I am already hankering after the good old days of the internet, days when it was less tainted, more free and fluid and you could frequently happen upon something that was perhaps slightly out of your zone, but that somehow piqued your interest or even intrigued you. These were the magical online hyperlinks that really could be the entrance to a rabbit warren of delights.

In today’s web, you are ever more likely to be trapped in a capsule of intricately targeted, demographically aligned content, largely of your own making. The wild swimming of the past, where I ran into Abbey Ryan’s wonderful paintings, Cabin Porn, Charlie Parr, Caught by the River or The Tuesday Swim is largely not likely to happen any more. You’ve probably noticed this, but maybe thought it’s just you who has lost the knack or energy to surf the web…it isn’t, it’s the filter bubble in action.

All is not lost if you still make the effort to pick up a book however, which brings me back to the start where I mentioned Maria Popova’s observation on the hyperlinks in real texts. These are altogether richer and more diverse than any algorithm is likely to set up for you and can lead you again down those glorious burrows and underground trails of yore (1998). Here’s my most recent yet vividly beautiful experience of this:

I subscribe to the very real print magazine Idler, edited and published by Tom Hodgkinson since 1993 and in a recent newsletter (email) from Tom, he mentioned his own delight in other, old fashioned print magazines. He named a few of these including The Land magazine, which I liked the sound of enough to immediately subscribe to it myself.

The first edition I received was focussed on the land issues surrounding the production and use of fibre for making textiles, cloth and clothing. I discovered a new term and the concept of the Fibreshed and gained many other insights into land issues. Incidentally, the magazine has a vivid and rousing Manifesto that I like a lot.

Anyway, there was an article within my first edition called Foxfire Revisited, describing a monumental DIY magazine project conceived by an Appalachian school teacher called Eliot Wigginton in order to inspire, excite and educate his pupils, many of whom he was in danger of losing due to their boredom with the traditional classroom and old fashioned teaching methods. Monumental, because it grew to become an intensely interesting, as well as an indispensably useful and valuable project. With every storyline sniffed out, thoroughly researched, written, edited and illustrated by the pupils in a fairly rural high school over a long period of time, it worked and lasted through many student cohorts.

You might think that such a project is a fairly easy thing to get going with pupils these days buzzing with technical nous and bristling with iphones, macbooks and seamless internet access, but Foxfire was a project conceived and executed when cutting and pasting meant just that, starting in the mid 1960s.

Foxfire was anthologised from 1972 onwards into an annual book of articles, the depth and usability of which will astound you. There are 12 books in total and they are still in print today.

The school pupils went out into the Appalachian mountains and met people with stories and skills that were even at that time old fashioned. They encountered many isolated homesteads where the inhabitants were living close to self sufficient lifestyles including making or growing just about everything they needed, including clothing, food, tools and houses.

And so it unfolded that having followed all of these real life, non algorithmic hyperlinks, I found myself sitting, during this weird lockdown, in my garden, on a warm, sunny April afternoon enjoying a bottle of Black Sheep Ale, reading instructions on how to build a log cabin, so detailed, entertaining and so well illustrated that I feel confident I could do it myself and would be doing so if I had the logs to hand…one day soon!

Written and illustrated by high school pupils in Georgia, USA, who are, strangely, all older than me, the log cabin article was written in 1969, when I was 4 years old and yet I remained unaware of this wonderful and compelling resource for all of 50 years…thank you Tom H and of course who or what-ever led me to the Idler, but that information is lost in the mists of time!

In Foxfire Book One, a few pages further on from the log cabin article, there’s another on the skills of a mountain chair maker called Lon Reid. The young reporter closes as follows:

“It’s hard to leave at the end of an interview like this one. One is tempted to stay a moment longer, wondering at the fact that here, in December of 1969, men still live as this one does, oblivious to the fact that others are bouncing about the moon.

The Twentieth Century is here, bellowing like a bull; but in quieter coves, families still make do with what they have-or do without.

It’s a big country, ours is.”

I implore you to pick up any half read or long ago finished and forgotten book from your shelf and to start following the hyperlinks. You won’t regret it.


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Corona Virus makes an irrefutable case for people centred Socialism

Since this virus madness started I’ve been revisiting some of the inspirational stuff I’ve dug up and stumbled upon in the past and I’m now committing to a series of activities in the morning, which I’ve collectively called my miracle morning and which aims to boost my immune system and induce and maintain a positive mental state throughout the day. This is loosely based on an idea I read about on holiday in the USA last Easter. The Miracle Morning Book bases this idea on a mnemonic SAVERS…made up as follows: Silence, Affirmations, Visualisation, Exercise, Reading and Scribing (W for writing wouldn’t work!).
Recently I’ve had a strange tension pain in the right side of the back of my neck and head that can be excruciating sometimes and when I’ve meditated on why this might be happening, I can only conclude that it is stress related…most recently quite obviously related to the scary stories we are being subjected to due to our western Governments’ failure to believe scientific experts in favour of the market. We now know conclusively that this is Pish to use a good old Scots word.
George Monbiot has summarised this very well here
Unless everybody is totally mad, and I am convinced that most ordinary people are not, then I believe this horrific situation will almost certainly lead to a complete re-think of how government works and a renewed commitment to protecting nature and our social well being. I predict a near future where massive investment is made by a socialist government in the NHS to make it stand so tall that it will finally be seen as the most miraculously humane thing any national government has ever conceived, coupled with a Universal Basic Income for all citizens and an end to market led, idiot public school boy/failed entrepreneur led governments that ruin the only planet we can live on.
Unfortunately for our own political cause, I also predict that the Coronavirus will save the Union due to the above.
All that said, I want to make sure we all survive to see that so I’m encouraging my family to join me on my own Miracle Morning which goes like this:
  • 6.00 – (Silence) Mindfulness of Breathing Meditation
  • 6.15 – (Exercise) 5BX  (5  Basic Exercises for Captured Airmen of the Royal Canadian Airforce)
  • 6.30 – (Exercise and Immune System Boost) Wim Hof Method for Immune System Boosting
  • 6.45 – (Visualisation, Exercise) Dug Walking
Take it easy and stay healthy!

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powerless

That feeling of Powerlessness only applies if you try to play the same game as the powerful. That’s the intention of Power. If we all felt we had it, then it wouldn’t work.

It’s a bit like Poverty in that respect. If everyone was financially wealthy, then there would be no wealth. You can only measure financial wealth with a yard stick that compares Wealth with Poverty. If there are no poor people, then there are no wealthy people.

If you are feeling powerless, it’s probably because someone has stacked the odds against you. A common experience of this is when we get mixed up between what’s Lawful and what’s Legal.

The concept of what is Lawful is just known by everybody instinctively, it’s common and natural. Even the bad guys in the black hats know this, but they’ve chosen to confuse kindness with weakness and exploit someone else’s good nature. Lawful is defined by society as a whole and of course it changes overtime, but that change is a slow consensual process…you’re unlikely to get caught out by it.

Legal on the other hand is much less clear, intuitive or instinctive and it can change at the drop of a hat. That’s because Legal has been invented by the powerful, the wealthy. And it is being constantly re-invented and changed to allow those powerful and wealthy people to keep the upper hand.

You can tell that something is invented or corrupt by asking what happens if? over and over again until you get to the root of it. For example

Q1. What if I steal this food?

A1. We’ll take you to court for trial because that is illegal.

Q2. What if I don’t want to do that?

A2. Then we’ll raise a summons in court and you’ll be compelled to attend court to be tried.

Q3. What if I just say ignore that?

A3. We’ll send a Police car for you and make you come

Q4. What if I say I’m not coming?

A4. The Policeman will bring you by force

Q5. What if I resist his force?

A5 Then more Policemen will come and beat you up and bring you forcibly to Court to be tried!

 

There you go…Violence. If it ends in Violence then it’s invented to protect someone else’s interests and kind of fucked up in lot’s of ways don’t you think? This is the Legal System invented by the already powerful and continually tweaked to scare and tread on those they seek to exert that power over. They’ve created all of the rules and they’ve even created a new language so that you have no chance of navigating their system without the help of one of their Minions who speaks Legalese.

This happens because you’ve chosen to play the game of the powerful. If you are going to have any chance of losing your feeling of powerlessness, then you’ll have to stop joining in with games that are stacked against you from the outset. Just refuse to play and if that seems difficult start inventing your own game.

If you keep it lawful, you can largely ignore legal. Keep away from the games of the powerful and be free!


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Mara, The Evil One

Enlightenment, or simply clear vision and freedom from, or at least deep knowledge and understanding of the force of the duality in everyone of us can bring about a mind state that just can’t be bothered by anything or anyone, regardless of their deviousness and trickery.

Such a person, probably a regular meditator will immediately recognise the tempters, the demons, darks skies or booming oceans, all of which of course are within rather than out-with us.

All of these distractions are the Ego, the Resistance, the Monkey mind trying to outwit our instinct for what is right and true and loving. It’s all the stories we’ve ever been told. It’s Adam and Eve and their banishment from Eden, the Yin and the Yang. It’s the wicked witch, the ugly sisters and all wrapped up in our little divided heads. Sit under a tree for a while and find your true self…Fuck It!

 

So here we are at Mara, The Evil One, purportedly from ancient texts known as the Gospel of Buddha:

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Mara, The Evil One

THE Holy One directed his steps to that blessed Bodhitree beneath whose shade he was to accomplish his search. As he walked, the earth shook and a brilliant light transfigured the world. When he sat down the heavens resounded with joy and all living beings were filled with good cheer. Mara alone, lord of the five desires, bringer of death and enemy of truth, was grieved and rejoiced not. With his three daughters, Tanha, Raga and Arati, the tempters, and with his host of evil demons, he went to the place where the great samana sat. But Sakyamuni heeded him not. Mara uttered fear-inspiring threats and raised a whirlwind so that the skies were darkened and the ocean roared and trembled.

Oh no it’s the midnight hour
Don’t open the door
Don’t go to the edge of rainbows
Don’t sleep any more
You’ll dream evil

Dream Evil, Dio

But the Blessed One under the Bodhi-tree remained calm and feared not. The Enlightened One knew that no harm could befall him.

The three daughters of Mara tempted the Bodhisattva, but he paid no attention to them, and when Mara saw that he could kindle no desire in the heart of the victorious samana, he ordered all the evil spirits at his command to attack him and overawe the great muni. But the Blessed One watched them as one would watch the harmless games of children. All the fierce hatred of the evil spirits was of no avail. The flames of hell became wholesome breezes of perfume, and the angry thunderbolts were changed into lotus-blossoms.

When Mara saw this, he fled away with his army from the Bodhi-tree, whilst from above a rain of heavenly flowers fell, and voices of good spirits were heard: “Behold the great muni! his heart unmoved by hatred. The wicked Mara’s host ‘gainst him did not prevail. Pure is he and wise, loving and full of mercy. As the rays of the sun drown the darkness of the world, so he who perseveres in his search will find the truth and the truth will enlighten him.”


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Hidden in plain sight

Sometimes the answers to finding freedom and the arguments for change are hidden in plain sight.

The 30K job and it’s real cost to you

When we say we have a 30K, 50K or 150K Job, what does that mean. Most wage slaves would jump at a 30K Job offer, but the true costs make that 30K worth a lot less.

When you work out your true hourly rate once you take into account the times you don’t get away on time and the extra hours spent travelling to and from the job and add them to the costs of the list above…you should only be doing it if you truly love every part doing it.

The gee gees as a career choice

Some people make a good living from horse betting every day…they are true enthusiasts and are doing exactly what they love to do. No Career Adviser is ever going to recommend this strategy, but some make it work.

The monthly car payment and the alternatives

The monthly car payment is a shackle, a comfort blanket and a liability. If it wasn’t for that 30K job would you really need such an expensive car? What about:

  1. Well chosen old car £1000 one off payment, plus £200 a year maintenance? 5 Years motoring for £2000?
  2. No car
  3. Shared car
  4. Bike?

The £100 a day lifestyle and how it compares to out and out capitalism

Imagine you could start something up that generates £100 profit a day, 7 days a week…that’s £36,500 actual cash and when wrapped up in your business, a lot of your expenses, including the car can be paid from that before tax.

168 (hours in a week)

The way you spend your hours is the way you spend your days is the way you spend your life; Where do pensions, mortgages and car payments fit into this?…discuss…

Equity release

Finally, the big reveal you’ve been dreading about the lie you’ve been sold on home ownership. Most people won’t ever own the home they are paying a mortgage (translation=death pledge). Equity release is the new norm, meaning you slowly but surely rent more and more of your home from a money lender in order just to make ends meet in your retirement. At the end, there is no home, the money lender owns it and all of that worry and effort about the property ladder was for nought…Ownership is false and chasing it is futile.

The dreams of the fathers may be visited on the daughters and sons if they’re smart enough to notice what they were in the first place!


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