How a shift in consciousness brings about more us and less them

How a shift in consciousness brings about more us and less them

.The world is changing fast, in ways we cannot predict and people are waking up. Waking up to what matters. We need to adapt to what is coming (whatever that may be). Already this year, we are facing challenges, previously unseen for many in the richest countries.

The shocks coming thick and fast are exposing systems that are not fit for purpose: economic systems, healthcare systems, criminal justice systems, food and farming systems, the media, our relationship with time, ageing, dying, systems of relating to our fellow human beings, the natural world and most of all how we relate to what and who we really are. Countless people know at first hand how unfit these systems are but they adversely affect us all (even those who appear to benefit from them)

We live as if we are separate entities who must exploit, belittle or destroy those we deem less than us and flatter, worship and ingratiate ourselves with those we deem to be more powerful. We search endlessly for security and status in the material world all the while knowing that is not what really matters. It looks as if we must constantly fight to get and protect resources for ourselves and our loved ones.

It seems we live in an age of judgement and separation which taken to extremes will destroy us

From this standpoint we look like crazed animals fighting for a piece of a finite pie. Dog eat dog. And the big dogs get the little dogs to do their dirty work. It seems like a world where everything is evaluated on its worth based on narrow and soul destroying criteria. In the richest nations, we are a product of this culture whether we know it or not (and mostly it is invisible).

There have always been cycles of birth, growth, decay and destruction but now it looks like we are witnessing an acceleration of the destructive phase without a corresponding rise in the rate of birth and growth: birth of new species, new ideas, new depths of being. Things appear to have got badly out of balance. And we all know this in our hearts. But there is hope.

There is another way. A way to live generously with love in our hearts. To live in wonder at the fact of being alive. To live from abundance of spirit. To engage fully in life with all its ups and downs. To extend compassion to the hurt and hurting. With love in our hearts we are open and curious to the richness on offer when we engage with others. Other people, other cultures, other religions, other beliefs, other species, other times, other stages of life, other world views, other skills, other experiences. And this is not for when we have fixed the problems of hunger, poverty, violence and destruction. This is urgently needed in order to experience a different world.

Witness the popularity of natural history programmes, where skilled wildlife presenters give us a window on the world of species from the tiniest to the most majestic. The lens they invite us to look through, is one of wonder and curiosity.

What kind of world would we experience through this lens?

Everything, means everything: including the atrocities, the genocide, the cruelty, the violence and destruction that humans inflict on each other, other species and the land. What might we see if we really looked?

There is seeming unbearable pain and horror there. Something we don’t want to see. Something it is easier to look away from. Our hearts may already be hardened against touching this suffering.

  • If you see children in cages and see only a good lesson to the parents, your heart is hardened.
  • If you see a homeless person on the street and see only a blot on the landscape, your heart is hardened.
  • If you see refugees risking life and limb in leaky boats and see only stolen jobs and benefits, your heart is hardened.
  • If you nurse bitterness and blame about family estrangements, your heart is hardened.
  • If you wring your hands in the face of injustices and then judge your neighbour for the way they voted, your heart is hardened.

What happens if we get curious about our hardened places? What might we discover?

We might discover we all have those hard places. How the hardness of heart shows up varies. Often we can’t see our own hard heartedness. These are our blind spots. They look to be ‘just how it is’. Our reality. If challenged we would come up with all kinds of logical justifications for treating others as less or more than us. We might begin to realise we learnt that hardness as a coping mechanism, from our families, our communities, our cultures, our leaders. We might realise that hardness of heart comes from fear and insecurity. We might realise that anxiety about our place in the world, our past, our future drives all kinds of behaviour that reinforces the idea of separation.

Yet for every moment our hearts are hard, we might also notice there are other moments when we experience the joy and connectedness of an open heart. And so does everyone else. Those who beat, murder, oppress and orchestrate and perpetuate systems that hurt others, also feel moments of love and understanding for their loved ones, for animals, for ideas, for nature:-

  • When your heart fills as the sun sets behind a hill, your heart is open
  • When you take your child in your arms as they cry their heart out, wanting only to reach out to them, your heart is open
  • When you sit at the deathbed of a loved one and feel profound, timeless peace and love, your heart is open
  • When you catch the eye of a stranger and laugh at the incongruity of a passing scene your heart is open

How do we do more of that?

We move between open heart and hardness of heart all the time and that is natural. One comes from being in contact with our essence and the other from the illusion of insecurity. When we recognise that, really see it and experience it, then we experience a shift. A shift in our relationship to our own experience.

This shift does not come from trying to be compassionate or kind, from writing in a gratitude journal, from striving to be a ‘better’ person than your ex, your neighbour, your parents or your adult children. It comes from a shift in consciousness. When we get a glimpse of what is beyond our sense of separation. When we feel, really feel life coursing through us, unadulterated, unfiltered, without judgement or commentary. When our sense of self expands to include all life. Then, then, we cannot help but feel compassion, love and gratitude for all life: the rocks, plants, insects, algae, animals, trees, humans, living and dead.

Does it come all of a sudden? For some. Mostly, it is a gradual movement towards wholeness and away from separation. The fear and insecurity the progeny of separation that creates and experiences so much suffering begins to look less real, so we pay it less mind.

Made as it is by the incredible, infinite power of thought. The same power of thought that creates a symphony, feeds the hungry, opens shelters when homes are shattered and which we can experience as profound and timeless love on looking into the eyes of a newborn.

At any moment, we can wake up to our humanity

The word humanity is from the Latin humanitas for “human nature, kindness.”

As we wake up to our humanity, we naturally do less harm to ourselves and others. There is more us and less them. Day to day, just as the tide ebbs and flows, we can move in and out of a sense of our humanity, a sense of something beyond our temporary ever changing states of mind. But every day we have the opportunity to wake up, over and over, deeper and deeper.

If this article gets you curious, follow where that curiosity leads you.

© words and artwork Juliet Fay 2020 Artwork: detail from ‘Heartfelt’, acrylic on canvas 30cm x 30cm

Juliet Fay is a poet & Three Principles Facilitator living on an estuary in West Wales, UK. She is dedicated to exploring and appreciating the wonder and power of the human spirit. Going deeper, beyond what we know. To do that she engages in heartfelt conversations pointing back home; mentors pioneers, creatives, community leaders, helpers and healers; hosts regular gatherings around books or topics close to her heart (by invitation only) and creates soulful poetry, podcasts, illustration, artwork & prose to awaken the heart. She welcomes curious new subscribers to her email list ~ subscribe.

Reflections on Discernment

Reflections on Discernment

Discernment is one of those less fashionable attributes. It’s not showy or pushy. It doesn’t demand the limelight and slips in quietly without an entourage. Appropriate for these times.

When the foundations of western society falter as we realise they were built on sand, it can be a disorientating time. And this is where discernment is an ally.

Discernment is an attribute we can cultivate

It’s easily overlooked. In the incessant din of opinion and counter opinion, who needs discernment when you can open any social media feed and be told what to wear, what to eat, what to do and what to think depending on your inclinations.

And this, this is something at the heart of our predicament. We have outsourced our wisdom to those who shout loudest or flatter our egos the best or reassure and soothe our fears in the most dulcet tones.

Discernment comes to our rescue, giving us pause before we jump on someone else’s train

Insecurity comes in many forms. Not knowing what to think and asking others to do that for us, is just one form. But it infantilises us.

Now more than ever, it looks to me, we are being asked to grow up. To use our powers of reflection and contemplation so we can discern where to put our attention, where and how to spend our time and money, when to act and when to pause.

In learning something new, in my case about anti-racism work, it can be tempting to jump in with the right phrases, the cool memes and a show of activism but we know when it feels off (and so do others). When it is about being seen to be or do something simply because that recognition shores up our ego or fragile sense of self, then our actions are at best hollow and at worst counter productive or damaging.

Unlearning old habits of thought can be uncomfortable at times, but discernment is our ally

Just as we know when we are tired and hungry our mood is likely to drop and in that state, our judgement gets clouded; so too, when we discern we are wanting to act from a place of insecurity, we can pause and wait for a settling that will allow an action to arise that promotes connection rather than taking us further away

Pausing, allowing ourselves to settle, allowing love to fill us, can have far greater impact than a load of social media shares done in a rush of ‘I must do something.’

Discernment is not something to learn or acquire; it’s always available when we settle and get intimate with that felt sense that tells us we’re home.

Note: Written 6 August 2020, published 18 August 2020

 

‘Everything I do is dedicated to exploring and appreciating the wonder of the human spirit. Going deeper. Beyond what we know. I do that through heartfelt conversations, sharing the 3 Principles as expressed by Sydney Banks, pointing people home and through writing, poetry, art and illustration.’ Juliet Fay – For the curious, subscribe to my list, that’s where you get to hear about upcoming gatherings and get original content direct to your inbox
 

Reflections on being in service

Reflections on being in service

This article has been bubbling up for 5 days now. At first a jumble of confused ideas were jotted down, explored a little in the Daily Gathering, but now on this sunny Sunday morning I am starting fresh.

Tears are close for me today a sign, not, of the times, but of the vibrancy of this human instrument, feeling depths, as yet, unfathomable.

Feeling deeply has never seemed more of a gift than it does now. When tears and laughter tumble one after the other like children chasing a stray ball, there is an expansion of the heart that allows our perspective to be blasted open, and take us far above our usual worm’s eye view.

There is something that wants to be said, and I’m not at all sure what it is, but here goes……

Helping and serving

The helping/service instinct never dies. It lurks close by, ready to surface whenever the murk clears. It can hibernate; sometimes for years and then all of a sudden it blooms like one of my Grandfather’s home bred orchids that threw a single bloom after a drought of 15 years.

Stories of service are spreading around the globe faster than the virus. And sitting here in a small village in self-isolation, they are coming thick and fast; in all shapes and sizes; from a myriad of sources: virtual and physical.

A hot meal on my doorstep, covered with tin foil; a neighbour’s wave up at my window as they turn their car; daily video chats with my love, 10,000 miles away; the much loved sound of an old friend’s laughter on the phone ; a daily online gathering bursting my heart open again and again.

I feel the dilemmas of those wanting to serve yet being fearful, for themselves, for those they love, wondering about their capacity, their resilience. Those in confusion; those who are lonely; those who are scared; those who bridle at the restrictions; those who want to shout and scream and those who want to hide.

I see the ebb and flow of emotions through me and all around: now, more than ever, in glorious technicolour. Frenzied activity; crying in the toilet; dazed; desolate; arguing; stressed; moments of peace and joy; tenderness; tantrums; bonhomie; nostalgia.

The disorientation on waking and forgetting, then remembering. Guilt over stolen moments of peace and joy as if these times call for seriousness and worry.

And through it all, rather than seeing right or wrong; appropriate or inappropriate; helpful or unhelpful; I feel my horizons being expanded, all the while in confinement, and I am invited to wonder at how things are in service, even when, especially when, I cannot see how.

Service ~ an act of help or assistance

The more acts of service I see; the more I am open to look for the act of service in what I see.

In the impossible dilemmas facing so many of us: helping ourselves versus helping others; helping strangers versus helping our families; not helping others lest we become a burden; fearing others versus accepting help; keeping our distance when our hearts want to throw our arms around those we love; keeping our distance because our hearts can’t bear to do anything else; striding towards the front line because we come alive in the service of others; exhausting ourselves with frenzied activity; the unsung carer, quietly sitting by the bedside of a 91 year old at home with Corvid19 symptoms, well versed in the care of the sick and dying.

The old codes of sacrifice, moral duty, greater good do not go far enough.

For at this time; the old parameters and measures of what is helpful, what is in service are to be thrown up in the air.

It is a time to question what we are ‘in service to’? What impels us to act or not act.

Beyond service to self and loved ones, community, country, the natural world, there is being in service to Life.

What is Life?

Whatever you imagine it to be.

That which stirs your heart. The mystery that animates all living things.

How could we ever know what is or isn’t in service to Life? For every act in the end is an act of Life. Life in motion. Life expressing through us all.

It is only our judgement that says an act is cruel or kind, helpful or unhelpful. But how could we know? How could we possibly zoom far enough out to get a perspective vast enough to see how all the threads of every action of every living creature make, unmake and make the whole over and over again.

And what if we began to trust that every cross word, every loss, every change, every reaction, every action, every thought, word and deed is part of a bigger picture that we can never see or understand?

And what if it is all guided by an unseen hand?

Am I talking about God?

No, not in the sense I understood God, as a young person attending Protestant Church of England services. Not an external deity.

I’m talking about the mystery behind life which I don’t understand.

So what is the point of looking in this direction?

Some may call it delusional but if it is, for me, it’s a helpful delusion.

The sense of Wisdom at play does several things for me.

It allows me to relax more into whatever is happening in my head and just go about my day.

After all, inside our mind is where the drama of our lives plays out

Realising I don’t need to understand, nor do I need to make sense of my experience in terms of analysing, explaining or justifying it, gives me welcome permission to simply experience whatever is running through me at any given time. To act or rest with less and less comparing, judging, analysing and drawing conclusions.

Worrying less about the tumult of feelings running through me, means I sometimes, get to pay less attention to them, and when I pay less attention to them I start noticing some interesting things:

  • How changeable my experience is: one moment, still and contented, the next teary, comic, manic, reflective, insecure. Like xx men lining up.
  • My experience is not directly related to what is happening out there (what is even happening out there? All I can see from my window is a peaceful sunny street).
  • How thankful I am that my experience keeps changing regardless of circumstances, as my mother used to say to me when my children where toddlers and I was tearing my hair out about the latest phase, ‘if you don’t like what’s showing up now, there’ll be a different phase along soon’. That alone is a huge help. Short hand – this too shall pass.
  • When I begin to trust that every experience is brought to me by Wisdom, my own bespoke navigational system, it takes a big load off. It’s not all up to me, I don’t have to fix/control/sort out everything.
  • I don’t have to like every experience; that’s not the point. If I think of Wisdom in action it can get me wondering how being uncomfortable, scared, confused might be ’in service’. That can lead to some shedding as I get radically honest with myself. Perhaps feeling like I can’t cope is protective, stopping me from taking on too much.
  • A productive day is nice and I’m grateful
  • A day of feeling lost, weepy and wandering round my place, not knowing what to do, is probably also a gift, even if I can’t see it. A ‘step off the bus day’, allowing my system some down time and much needed release and reset.
  • Feeling guilty about my privilege is a herald of gratitude
  • Wondering about how everything is ‘in service’ expands my heart.
  • The story of a woman complaining loudly about the socially distanced queueing in the local food store, reminds me we do not know what is going on in people’s heads nor what might be awaiting them at home or work. Following this woman’s reactions and actions (trying to sneak into the front of the queue) led another woman to offer her place in the queue.
  • Seeing others’ heartache and vulnerability shared openly and honestly; touching a place in my heart that floods me with compassion one day and walling up against the flood the next. Both gifts to self and others
  • My human system, our human system, the system of life moving, shifting, creating, sustaining, destroying over again responding, reacting, and interacting simultaneously in billions and billions of unseen movements from the cellular level to the level of continental drift.
  • Seeing service in the sunny days and the wet. Service in the arguments and the love. The possibility of service in the violence and the loss (yes, that is hard).
  • Looking for and trusting in the unseen hand of Wisdom and wondering about the act of service inherent in every breath of life, doesn’t lead to passivity or not caring, on the contrary it opens us up to ever richer, more high definition participation in the web of Life.
  • Knowing we cannot see the significance of our tiny part but just knowing that it has significance. Knowing only that we are part of something far bigger, far more beautiful, far kinder than we could ever know.

What if, at every turn, our rage, our despair, our hopelessness, our joy, our tenderness, they are all in service. Our judging, our taking offence, our numbness, our reaching out; they are all in service.

What if our fascination with our small selves and others fades, as we get to wonder at the marvel of Life in motion, ever ceaseless motion, and wonder at the gift of consciousness, that allows us to have a sense of that motion. Every twinge we feel in muscle, heart or gut, is a note in the human string section, that is joined with the grand orchestra of all living creatures.

NOTE

This article was written 29 March 2020. Since then I have begun an exploration into uncovering my hidden biases around racism and so I pondered about whether to publish this article now or not. In the end, I am publishing it as a record of what I saw at that time. Every moment feels like the moment to look unflinchingly at what we are up to. Consider if words, thoughts and deeds are self-serving, protecting our ego, our privilege or are they in service to something bigger than us? Are we willing to open our hearts, to surrender, to be wrong, to discover new horizons?, to surrender, to be wrong, to discover new horizons?

What are you seeing around being in service? What are you curious about?

Reflections on loss

Reflections on loss

Photograph © Juliet Fay San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge 5.30pm Thursday 19 March 2020

Author’s note: I’m now safely back in the UK, and in a period of 14 days of self-isolation, though feeling fine.

As is I sit at Gate 6 tonight waiting to board one of the few flights departing San Francisco, bound for London, the mood is subdued. It’s a ghost town.

The lack of tannoy announcements emphasises just how severe the curtailment of air travel has been in so very few days. A shadow of its former self, the daily commute over San Francisco bridge had melted away.

At the airport, face masks and gloves are common on staff and passengers. A little more distance is offered and sought. The much loved hum of a busy transport hub is eerily absent.

Tears today as I leave my love in California, not knowing when we’ll see each other again. Wanting to stay yet knowing it’s time to go (while it’s still possible).

Feeling such gratitude for all the unseen hands that made this journey possible: the gentle telephone operator at British Airways, the staff at the airport and the crews who are taking so many of us home.

Suddenly so many in the frontline are becoming visible to us all

Yesterday my 16 year old daughter called me, in shock at the announcement of school closure and the sudden cancellation of the summer exams.

Something she, and many like her, sitting milestone exams have focused on for many months. She was in a turmoil, as were her friends. The future they’ve imagined dissolved by the utterance of a few words carried on the airwaves from a distant seat of government, just one of the myriad responses to a threat we cannot see.

It reminded me of when I lost my father suddenly 20 years ago. ‘Your father has died’; four small words whispered into my just waking ear, and my world spun, dissolved and I lost two weeks as my mind tried to catch up with the new reality that didn’t include my Dad.

I’m struck by how we are collectively reeling from loss upon loss, as the world we know transforms before our eyes. And this will continue. We are losing loved ones, mobility, function, jobs, routines, pay packets, income, contracts, goals, freedoms, trips, hugs, closeness, autonomy; we are losing our certainties and the security of our imagined futures.

And this can feel scary, like being in free-fall

And you begin to see that loss is a universal human experience from the seemingly minor; losing keys to what we consider major losses, like redundancy and bereavement. The emotions we feel at times of loss can be heightened, contradictory and obey no rhyme or reason.

Feelings of shock, disbelief, numbness, anger, despair, frustration, black humour, hopelessness and profound, heart wrenching sadness tumble through in no particular order. We catch our breath at the force of the waves of emotion crashing under our ribs.

And I am seeing anew the wisdom of our body mind system in the face of what can feel like a ceaseless battery of loss.

When our minds shut down, it is wisdom gently and beautifully saying ‘enough’ with trying to think your way through this. You can’t.

The body wisdom takes over to give your poor system a much needed breather. When tears fall at the security gate, the body is releasing pent up emotion that wants only to wash through. When the noise of unexpectedly ‘at home’, arguing children feels unbearable and you get propelled outside to breathe the cool night air, that is wisdom nudging you to minimise harm in the moment and give you a mini refresh.

When tempers flare and fights break out over toilet rolls in the aisles, or cereal at breakfast time, that too is a kind of wisdom, the misdirected survival instinct grabbing onto what looks like it would bring some comfort and security in these times of blindly charting the unknown territory ahead. The power surging through our systems, reminding us forcefully that we’re alive and being alive is a precious gift.

In some of the programmes I’ve delivered at a local mental health charity, loss is a recurring theme, but so too is renewal. As we adapt to living without the thing, function, person or imagined future we held so dear (and let’s admit, took for granted often), something gently beckons our attention.

It is the space that holds the loss. As we loosen our grip on the loss, our focal-length changes and the space comes into view. It is the space of the not yet known, the space of possibility, the space of infinite wisdom. The space where something new can flourish and grow.

And something new, always, always begins with a fresh thought

Throughout our lives, we have faced loss after loss and sometimes, without us even noticing that loss is transmuted into something achingly beautiful.

In the stinging freshness of raw loss, like lemon juice in a cut, we can’t conceive how this event could feel anything other than piercingly painful and yet, and yet our minds refresh our perspective again and again sometimes over years until one day, we think of the loss with gratitude and tenderness, as the kaleidoscope of experience is seen from the distance of months or years and its wondrous pattern is revealed.

And too, among the losses we think we cannot bear, we notice losses that leave us lighter of heart. Losing grudges, bitterness, jealousy, resentments, worrying, comparing, judging, criticising, competing, self-importance, fascination with our selves and being constantly offended or outraged. Finding the trivial and petty gently releasing its grip on us. These things lose their importance as the bigger picture comes into sharp relief.

And in their place we discover a new found kindness, compassion, humour, warmth and wonder spontaneously arising at this being human business.

And it gradually dawns on us we never did have control and our futures were never certain, we just told ourselves they were.

And while we have been going about our days, every day, millions have been experiencing loss and renewal over and over again. Because this is the nature of life.

These losses, the gentle falling away of beliefs, concepts and ideas that keep us grasping blindly for certainties that do not exist, these are the treasures. These are gifts. Like scales falling from our eyes, they enable us to feel our shared humanity, our intimate interconnectedness.

As our sense of separation recedes, the world can transform before our eyes

And transforming it is.

As the world’s foot eases back on the accelerator of intense human activity we notice losses we can marvel at: the loss of air pollution letting great swathes of urban populations breathe easier; the loss of noise pollution, as that background cacophony subsides, we notice birdsong and the sigh of wind in the trees; as the waterways of Venice are recovering from years of pollution, stories of sparkling clear water; as the rush of the commute grinds to a halt, couples, families, neighbours and communities are discovering each other, as if for the first time.

And as with any adjustment, at first it may be bumpy, but as we collectively re-set, we may uncover something extraordinarily beautiful in the ordinariness of just being, being alive, loving each other, helping each other, caring for the earth and all its creatures.

We are already seeing things that looked inconceivable just last week (some countries are ahead of others with this, but surely more will follow?): financial support for the vulnerable, sharing of resources more equitably, care for those who are scared, failing, lonely or sick. Businesses turning their resources towards the common good, people offering their skills, time, expertise or funds to help others.

A collective reset on what we value: the carers, the teachers, the healthcare workers, the trash collectors, the childcare providers, the farmers and growers, the volunteers, the millions of helpers who have always been there. And that’s just in the short term.

A volunteer working on our organic veg box scheme in the 1990s, wisely observed (having grown up in Chile):

‘the two most undervalued roles in the Western world are: raising children and growing food; yet they are fundamental to life’.

Volunteer Tony

Perhaps that is about to change.

Imagine what this upheaval and loss may open up in the longer term. New ways of working; new types of economies, new ways of caring for ourselves, each other and our planet.

Now at this time of accelerated loss, let’s collectively join hands in virtual solidarity as we open our hearts and eyes wide to the grief yes, but also to the unimaginable vastness of the unknown which has always been before us.

We like to make up certainties because we imagine that way safety lies. Those certainties obscure the fact that your next moment to moment experience is entirely unknown and up for grabs. Not what’s going to happen out there but what your ever changing experience is inside.

And change does not have to take years or be hard.

Innovation is the offspring of chaos

And what initiates innovation? Simply, a new thought that takes you not just to an adjustment but to an as yet unknown reality that can arrive in the mind of a person or a group in the blink of an eye.

And innovation creates its own momentum. Instead of seeing reasons why not, we begin to see possibilities we never imagined.

Now is not the time for timid steps, but for giant leaps of faith

As those certainties dissolve, we may discover in the midst of our grief, something extraordinary and yet so simple. Something we’ve always known.

Certainties are false idols

They do not provide the security we crave. That comes from within. From a deep knowing that we are intimately and intricately connected to all life. A knowing that what arises in us and through us comes from a far greater intelligence than we can comprehend.

A knowing that life is a mystery and that’s what makes it so profoundly awe inspiring. Knowing too that change is the only constant. Experience is life in motion. All the ups and downs, highs and lows, that’s what life is, a wild ride and we are asked simply to surrender to it.

Feeling the pull, following the thread of what our hearts know is true, grounds us into a quiet knowing, a knowing that ‘all shall be well, all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well’ (Julian of Norwich) even as we grip the rails for this white knuckle ride. When it neither looks nor feels okay.

As we begin to wonder at what powers us, and all life, we begin to see certainties are nothing more than a figment of our imagination. Let’s face it: sometimes things work out as we planned; mostly they don’t. In the end, there is nothing but this present moment.

The past has gone; the future will never happen. The present is all you can ever lose

As we reel from loss upon loss, take heart dear ones, open your heart to all of it: the outrageous grief, the disbelief, the dismay the howling hysterics as toddlers, teenagers and adults with jangled nerves throw tantrums right, left and centre and let those things course through you like the storms they are.

And as they subside, let your heart overflow with the unbearable tenderness of memories of loved ones, moments of raucous laughter, sunlight falling on the kitchen sink and inappropriate belly laughs that lighten the weight of fear.

And notice, just there, just out of focus is a sense of peace, amid the cacophony of unchained emotion. Look to it.

Know that all this is just the ride, not the essence of what we are. Take your time, be gentle, wrap yourself in love and more love; care for yourself as if you were indeed just getting over ‘the flu’.

As I sit, high above the clouds in an Airbus flying over Greenland, appreciating the magic and the mayhem of air travel (and wondering how the industry may evolve), I recall the lovely story of the Chinese farmer. This is how I remember it….

There was once a poor Chinese farmer who had a horse he used to plough his field. One day, the horse escaped and ran away. The farmers’ neighbours rushed round when they heard the news and said, ‘how terrible!’ The Chinese farmer replied,

“We’ll see”

The next day, the farmer heard the sound of hooves approaching. His horse had returned bringing with him a wild horse. The farmer opened the gate and in they came. When his neighbour’s heard about this great good fortune, they came rushing round to see the new horse. ‘How wonderful’, they said. The Chinese farmer replied,

“We’ll see”

The following day, the farmer’s son, excited by the arrival of the wild horse, decided to try and ride it. The horse bolted and the young man was thrown to the ground, breaking his leg in the fall. The neighbours, eager to commiserate at this terrible bad luck, came to visit saying, ‘how awful, what will you do?”. The Chinese farmer replied

“We’ll see”

The country was at war and the very next day the local recruiting officer arrived to conscript the young men from the village. The Chinese farmer’s son was not fit for duty and so they passed him over. The neighbours heard the news, and were eager to congratulate the farmer on his good fortune. But the Chinese farmer replied, you guessed it,

“We’ll see”

Wishing you all well at this time.

Love Juliet

Afterword: As I opened my front door after 24 hours of travel, I marvelled at how the inspiration to write this came through and occupied me on and off through the long, long journey, away from my love, towards home. The kindness of wisdom can be breathtaking.