To learn

To learn you need to go towards that which you like least;

It is no good sitting in comfort.

If you like the summer, pursue the winter,

If the light is your preference,

Go to the darkness.

 

Growth can only occur through a connection with the unfamiliar

the strange,

that takes us away from conformity

towards diversity

and

Seeing the world in all its different dimensions,

Stepping out of your pool

Into another.

 

Not battering someone over the head

for thinking differently to you,

for seeing

Blue as yellow or green or red;

 

Nothing is real;

we all exist in relativities,

in relationships

to one another

with each other.

 

When people move towards politics,

Things start to fall apart,

Whether nationalism or patriotism or whatever system

of belief that

shoehorns

The world.

 

To be free you must understand bondage;

emancipation, slavery.

 

When the world is served to us on a plate,

when

there is little struggle

when things just

are,

We are left

Not quite knowing

What is right

What is wrong

What we have worked towards

and what is a gift.

 

Take for example

Hunger –

All food tastes better on an empty stomach;

we are able to appreciate the variations,

the subtleties

of savoury and spice

When we are not overwhelmed with excess.

 

This is more than a study of the opposites,

It is an interpretation of

the world.

an analysis of how best to live,

how best to grow.

On the basis

On the basis of not being able to write a full sentence

About

the homeless

people I saw on the streets of Glasgow this week;

It is probably

easier

for me to reflect my thoughts

thus…

 

Costa* cups,

the receptacles.

 

Drowsy men and women,

some with swollen livers

others,

dead-eyed,

sedated by opiate cocktails

and ground-down benzos.

 

Some asking for change,

although most.

just sitting there.

 

Some with placards

explaining their situation;

Others with just

the tattered cups.

 

And the irony of £2.80 for cup of coffee which we accept as being OK

and folk on the street

without

Anything.

 

Likely kicked-out of accommodation

for failure to pay

or comply with requirements

of whatever pathway the social services have dreamed-up

to keep the statistics at bay.

 

A mixing-pot of mental and physical health

needs

and

dependencies.

A concoction of misery,

their dirty,

chipped fingernails

and thickened skin.

 

Matted hair,

Some with Irn Bru to hand

as if

that is something for them to identify

to, relate

to.

 

And

the homeless of Glasgow

seem to be better tolerated

than those of other places;

 

I see well-meaning folk,

Stopping to chat

to enquire

about circumstances.

 

The overpriced coffee is not obscene,

yet

we distance ourselves from these people

who are merely

representative of

the cracks

in our society.

indy-costly-coffee

*I am not specifically getting at Costa – I suspect they are amongst the best of a bad lot; they seem however to be the favoured collecting cup used by people in Glasgow in 2017.

 

 

Non-narrative

It’s odd.

 

When I try to write anything about my past –

childhood or later years;

It always comes-out like this.

 

I cannot seem

to string a sentence together that reaches the end of the line;

or,

at least not consistently.

 

It is as if

the past is encoded as fragments

as specs of

hiding in the woods in Huntly Park

or

smelling the damp of Rouken Glen;

the

dust of road behind school

becomes mixed with scene

where I am sitting with Annie & TV on wall

in pub

is telling us

that Diana has died.

 

There are these discrete entities that do not exist;

we call them

long

and short

and medium term

Memory

but

In reality

they are just

sparks of action potentials

coalesced in my brain.

 

and I wonder

whether

the head injuries I have experienced

over the years

Have already contributed to the loss of memory

to road-blocks between my synapses.

 

‘Men at work’

says the pathway

that takes me to the first days of school

for I know it happened,

yet,

it is in a void.

 

The first years are quite patchy

with the exception

of the odd

photograph

faded red and navy blue

ties

Nervous fingers

and

plaster over my knee

from the fall

that became infected

and

I can remember

my mum

tending the wound,

the pus/

Gravel mixed-in

and limping

although

not making too big a thing of it.

 

&

Looking backwards

to my ancestors

huddled in Shtetl,

who got by without polaroid aides to memory

and forwards

to my children

who have moment by moment

recorded

on my phone

hanging in the cloud;

how will this affect their view of the past,

tomorrow?

school sports day

Maimonides and Bruce Lee

What links the 12th Century mystic/philosopher/physician with the 20th Century martial artist/philosopher/actor?

They are joined through their philosophical interpretation of improvement, learning and growth.

This all started with me writing about a recent incident at work and was followed by a discussion on quality improvement and learning.

If you step sideways, you can connect the ideas behind ‘Teach thy tongue to say I do not know,’ and Bruce Lee’s philosophical tale.

As to who originated the story I don’t know, this is the essence:

Enthusiastic student, after travelling for many years finally reaches the Master’s house hidden in the depths of a forest.

‘Master… at last I have found you – how wonderful!’ He proclaims, ‘I have been searching for you for such a long time… Please teach me your ways.’

And so, Master starts to explain his philosophy.

Before he is able to complete even the first sentence the student interrupts, ‘But, Master, I have been taught like this,’ or, ‘Isn’t it easier if we…’

After some time, the Master becomes exasperated. He thinks to himself – this guy is so smart, it seems he want to teach me!

The Master then calls for tea.

The student, still full of energy and eagerness, happily accepts; he holds-out the cup and the Master pours the fresh brew.

He pours and fills the cup and continues pouring. The tea overflows. Yet, he keeps pouring.

‘Master – the cup is full! Stop!’

The Master responds, ‘The value of the cup is its emptiness, you cannot learn unless you also become empty.’

And so, the connection.

It is not enough to ask the question. We must also be responsive to the answer.

Don’t just arrive at the class – listen.

The noise and mess of our pasts can drown any sound of tomorrow.

I do not know.

My cup is empty.

Let us break bread tonight.

mountains and water

What makes networks work?

I think it is now established that the only way to meaningfully achieve anything new or novel, at scale, is through networks.

One person going it alone, battling away at whatever is not enough to change the world or create a movement; equally, although there are some very bright, creative people out there, the only way to move beyond the current moment is through the power of our connectedness.

One and one equals three or four;

The existence of Mallard Ward is a case in point – is it the result of incredible team working, a scintillating culture of care and support and a network of passionate individuals who have come together to create something special.

Yet, not all networks work.

Just having the people or the shared goal or sense of meaning is not enough; there needs to be a glue which holds things together. A website or homepage is inadequate, nor is money or fame, innovation or enthusiasm;

It is ineffable; it cannot be grasped.

You can’t hold-on to the magic that allows certain stars to align – to fit together in the best of best possible Goldilocks worlds to generate something special. There is no recipe book or field-guide that point the way.

We potentially stumble into these things.

Networks simmer with energy as they take the talent of one and combine with another and joining two to three to create eight, then 64 connections; exponential fizzing.

Some folk seek to destabilise the networks.

There are nutters out there who see something good, yet, because it doesn’t align with their interpretation of the world, seek to tear the bonds apart, to demolish. Yet, the network, when it works, is always greater than one or even two or three feral extremists.

Look at Al Gore.

I read an article about him in today’s Observer – he describes the way that democracy has been hacked by the likes of Trump and Johnson – egotistical bigwigs who bully their way to power and stay afloat by keeping people down.

Yet, Gore is fighting back.

He has established The Climate Reality Project, a global organisation to take-on the oil and fat-cat syndicates who are screwing our world; he is teaching lessons in un-doing the double-speak.

This is network generation to save our planet.

And, this is just as vital as the network of health and care which supports my patients, which keeps going despite the thinness of the air.

Good begets good, which lets us survive.

There is hope, there is tomorrow, there is coming together, holding hands or social media accounts; I am convinced that Facebook despite its malevolence in relation to the US elections was beneficial in the recent UK vote.

We just need to understand the power.

For social media and the networks they support are tools of fearsome influence;

Come together, right now.

come together

Planet

I just read Planet of the Apes

By Pierre Boulle,

Written in 1963 originally as La Planete des Singes

And released in ‘73 as the movie with Charlton Heston

(Now deceased, gun lobbyist).

 

I had read it many years ago

And returned to the novel

After my recent confusion over the War for the Planet of the Apes

Which I found

Underwhelming.

 

The novel twists reality,

Manipulating past, future and present,

Relativity

And time-travel

All coalesced

Into a hectic

Dystopia.

 

The movie I found merely odd

I even

Nodded-off in the middle,

Which is never a good sign.

screenshot-lrg-09

99 +

Today, I met an old lady.

To say old

Is no exaggeration

she is one year off 100.

 

She was lying in bed,

in blue and white

hospital gown,

crumpled,

her skin soft,

fingers delicate –

shaped into a century-old pattern.

 

She struggled to hear

or perhaps better

Understand

What I was saying.

 

She looked across at my colleague,

at the end of her bed;

‘doctor’

Her awareness intact.