Saturday, 7 January 2017

A Very Crowded Mind

I’ve watched reality shows about hoarders and wondered how on earth they exist like that. There is no clean pathway from one place to the next in their residence. Their possessions are piled deep in absolute chaos. Long lost as to where or what they have collected, once seeing them again, they become very precious items and cling to them as their lifeline to reality. I’ve sometimes shaken my head at their choices until I realize, that mere millimetres just beyond my cranial protection the same thing is going on.

A crowded, spaghetti-like scrambled place that is made of long strands intertwined, tangled and touching but not directly connected. Visual and thought impulses race up and down these strands to the core, connect and then run off in another direction. Bouncing around, back and forth, up and down they are like a roller coaster mixed with a pendulum ride. There are no neuropathways that cleanly lead with logic from a to b.

This is my mind, which is at least partially ADHD among other things!

My head is full to the brim, layered with boxes of data collected lifetime long. I’m rooting around there in a constant battle to find some lost thought or its distant cousin, possibly a better thought, amidst all the tangle.

It is common in my life to find myself in a social situation wanting to respond to a comment or idea. Often there is a long pause while I go digging. People think, oh, he is struggling with a simple answer, poor guy, let me help him by giving him what they think I want to say.

In fact, I’m a ‘slow processor’, which is not the equivalent of ‘slow’ but rather someone who is decidedly complex and interested in finding a deeper thought rather than the trite so often trotted out. I’m not one for filling in blanks in some study guide for instance. I am interested in finding the best solution to the thought at hand. If and when someone steps in with an ‘answer’, then my search is instantly broken. I shut down. They feel they have saved the day to my supposed humiliation, but I’m left with multiple thoughts and frustration that I haven’t been able to verbalize any one of them.

I have a friend who has often said, ‘how exhausting it must be to live inside your brain’. I’ve never noticed it overly exhausting, but certainly it is a busy place. It is to be sure a rabbit warren of constant ideas, hopes, regrets, dreams, longings, memories and yes, struggle.

I have always been one to take visual photographs of an image with my mind and then visit them from time to time over the years as if they were happening right now. In many ways conversations are like that too as I tend to collect data more or less verbatim and then spit it out when the argument seems to warrant it. Some would say I should have been a lawyer instead of an artist.

The same thing happens when I’m painting. 

I often have 5 or 6 paintings on the go at once. First of all, I get bored with the same old thing or the same technique. Often as I begin a painting, other images emerge and off I go on a different tangent. The bottom line, the painting is never done until it’s done, and even then…I’m often picking up old ones from years before and before long, well, it’s a new day. A painting for me is seldom planned and if it is, I’m usually less than satisfied. 

Going with the flow is much more my style!

In attempting at becoming a healthier human being, the hoarding of negative, legalistic ideas or lies about myself, others or God, are what I’m attempting to drag out of the hoarders heap bit by bit and throwing them in the proverbial dumpster. 

Apparently this is called gaining ‘freedom’. It is however, a challenging journey to find out what that really looks like when the old baggage often leans in and collapses on you over and over.

I’m forever welded in a place of gratitude for the very few intimates in my life, who help scrape off the clutter again and again and give me grace, hope and light to keep on growing and not to give up!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

In the Valley

"In the Valley" J. Douglas Thompson, 2016

Yes, I’ve painted it yet again…another iconic tree.

One would think maybe I’d be bored with the same subject matter after so many attempts. A theme that has run through my work since the earliest days of drawing five decades ago, I’ve always been attracted to their twisted gnarly examples.

Charcoal Sketch, 1969...5 decades ago
The most interesting ones are those who have endured intense and lasting struggle. They display the striking dynamic shapes that make me stop short, turn around and spend time in their presence…a place to come aside, rest awhile in their shade, sketch, while pondering the storms that brought them to become such rugged, ragged beauty.

This painting above is a result of a set of some newly discovered techniques. I recently had opportunity with a good friend to visit the works of the master painter of atmospherics, J.M.W. Turner at the AGO in Toronto. I had sat decades earlier in front of these and other of his masterpieces during my time while living and working in London, England. Now, after fifty years of painting, at least I can begin to see something of what he was achieving technically. It was so inspiring that I went back a second time and sat for several hours of rapt attention with them.

Reichenbach Falls: J.M.W. Turner, 1804
One technique I’m subsequently employing has and is leading me from the style of a graphic illustrator to one who has found more light and motion and is becoming more painterly. It involves the act of whipping paint onto the substrate with rags or paper towels. Lots of mediums are pre-mixed with the paint and employed to break open and separate the paint to deliver motion and texture. It is the act of hitting it hard with impact, surface to surface that produces the natural formations to work up from there. This of course is true in nature as trees and rocks are also whipped by the elements of wind, ice, snow and sand among others to produce the wonderful textures and patterns we can enjoy or yes, pass by without a second glance. I’ve been searching for this ‘look’ for decades…such is the reality of being more or less self taught.

In this piece, “In the Valley” after ‘whipping’ the paint across the canvas, a subtle shape of the tree sat tangled amidst blue brown chaos. While pondering the mess it began to emerge in the bottom corner perfectly situated one third in from side and bottom. As they say, 'a happy accident.' It had potential but could it be rescued from all that entangled it? I set it aside for weeks and came close to overpainting it with something else. It kept calling me back. I’m glad I listened. The reality was that it needed help to be freed from the surrounding barrage and brought to a place of prominence and peace. It needed a friend to rescue it from the mess that entangled it. It took inordinate time with lots of re-working to gain its place of well-being in the world.

Whipped Texture
Often we are caught in life’s web of circumstances that overwhelm and have us trapped. I certainly was! The circumstances often are not our own doing but nevertheless we are trapped and feel insignificant and full of shame. There is no way by ourselves that we can extricate ourselves from the reality of being so slough mud stuck. Often we are completely unaware of our own tangled-ness or how we arrived there. It takes another who sees with patient skill to bring light to the dark valley and separate us from our chaos.

If you find your life a tangled mess, it is worth searching and asking for the help of someone who can see hope and light through the chaos and invest the time and effort to help free you, so that your beauty can be fully revealed.

My personal testimony is that it is worth the long journey to find a new life, hope and reason to be vertical, even though there is no doubt I remain a little twisted.

J. Douglas Thompson
“Awakening Awareness, Encouraging Endurance and Blessing Beauty with Wild Creativity”


Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Joie De-Vivre

It was February during last winters brutal longness, I found myself beach strolling Florida’s Atlantic Palm Beach. I am blessed!

The coastal sun wrapped my bone chilled weary soul and body with southern warmth. Breezes floated, flitting across skin like a masseuse’s gossamer touch brings relief from physical and emotional stiffness.
Waves rolled constant, east to west, moulding sand as potter forms then reforms moistened clay. Foam swirled like key lime meringue, teasing shorebirds in Latino salsa’s sensuous dance, circling one step forward, spinning sharp in crisp retreat two steps back.

Breakers roared thunder and then retreated in silent intermission brief. Piccolo calls cried high, raucous gulls in symphonic rise rolled adagio to agile, crescendo to calando’s quiet cadence of momentary interlude when toes intersect golden sand.

A trio of distant verticals suddenly broke stages horizons line. Surrounded by tall grasses this cadre of perpendicular perplexity brought me pause. My recently reduced far sightedness raised a mysterious air of disbelief.

I slowly strolled close to clarify the obscure. A small huddle of standing Pelicans rested quiet in intermission. They seemed awkwardly out of place just off stage with the moving  dance of oceans dance floor just behind. Their beaks hung elephant trunk heavy and reminded me of my oft stiff neck. Flat foot webs seemed to hold them horizontal in hesitation. Head feathers poked upward in hopeless disarray like mornings mirrored reflection often mocks. 

Sometimes in mornings immobility, everything seems out of focus and thoughts pass that homely seems a kind descriptor and moving from that horizontal thinking seems irrational at best.

This was a time to stop and join their intermission and look beyond the obvious single initial dimension. As I spent time with them they seemed in no rush. They were contented in their stillness, satiated in just being. They were not in the least concerned that their next meal would be provided. They knew no inhibition as I crept close to capture the comic relief of their offbeat outlandish design.

They understood intuitively the value of restoration. To be onstage in constant acrobatic performance is the door to Dante’s personal inferno, or in our century the curse of infernal burnout!

They also knew the truth about personal acceptance! They knew who they were far more than the insipid shallowness of first impressions mocking glances. They were far more than one dimensional. In human terms they would often be seen to be socially marginalized and even bullied as not fitting into the norm of those who belonged to the club of the ‘beautiful people.’

As I watched, an almost imperceptible incremental movement...wings moved slightly out and forward...a bending tower of Pisa moment, leaning toward what would seem to be a sure awkward crashing topple and then, majestic transformation took flight. They broke free, rising with floating magnificence. Not just any flight, but a rapturous glide circling high on helium like drafts and then swooping low circumventing shifting troughs skimming just above the turquoise rollers.

Ungainly in one form became grand fluidity of grace in flight. The wings spread to massive support. The elephant beak now fully proportional to the rest of the bird both in functionality and form. At first glance this seeming comic looking creature judged in preconceived reproach opened the curtain to purpose and pleasure. Pleasure for itself and pleasure to watch it transform, rise and glide.

We are often much more than what is first preconceived by ourselves and others. Sometimes, not aware we can fly at all, we sit in our stately stoic vertical station and think of ourselves as misfits. Often we look at others and ourselves through eyes of jaundiced filters thick with the years of grime that have told us we are worthless, valueless and flightless.

Let me encourage you today that you were fashioned as one among billions. I am now finally becoming aware that I am!

You, that one very particularly beautifully created person, presents both the statuesque and flight that no other else can ever fly in the same manner.

So, rest in your intermissions and dance in flight in an act of joie de-vivre that only you can give as your gift to all human kind.

Choose both rest and flight today!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Beauty Surrounding Brokenness...

This morning on my wanderings I came across this broken down old house. I've always been prone to slam on the brakes for dead trees or dilapidated structures. To me they tell stories of dreams held long ago or memories forgotten long. They speak of effort, endurance, perseverance and yet the reality of loss and disappointment. 

Today as I rounded the corner, I was struck by the powerful juxtaposition of beauty wild, and forlorn brokenness. In the eye of, at least this artist, there is great beauty in both images that some don't necessarily see. For me they were well worth the 5 minute vacation to briefly ponder and also maybe bring awareness. This set of images is also personal as it reminds me that if I'd passed this way during the long winter, it would have been completely numb, barren, cold, lifeless and seemingly hopeless. 

There was, however, deep under the ice and snow the seeds of life ready to be restored! 

Spring has arrived and with it the framing of light, colour, joy with hopes gratitude. There were times often in the midst of a lifetime struggling with the blue black dog called depression that I believed flowers or leaves would never ever come back. I was always 'very' surprised by the new life that arrived each spring. This series describes through these photos and winter words where I was and now shows that when dilapidation is surrounded by life saving beauty, patient grace and unconditional love it can bring reason to rebuild and repaint a life. 

One, however, still has to choose!

I bring you these little anecdotes from time to time as to the reason why I paint, write or take photos. It is to  'Awaken Awareness, Encourage Endurance and Bless Beauty with Wild Creativity which is by the way, my last quarter mantra. Each of us faces the challenges of life. Some are affected by some of these realities far more deeply than others! 

I'm hopeful that maybe this little series today will encourage someone that there is hope and it is worth taking a small incremental step toward savouring the scent and colour of life!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

A morning Psalm...July...

...and so, late this July morn, I wrested self from all that covers warm. A cool front spread south from north across the blue black night, and all today is crisp and bright...

...not far at all from cocoon’s warmth I arrived close at waters edge...sun edged higher...drenching soul and wrapping my broken human spirit with warmth of deep embrace...

...the water lies unhurried calm, as distant cobalt melds toward turquoise opaque...a breeze but brief, flits to kiss liquid green as diamonds explode in brilliant white hot silver and dance a dance no human ever staged... water closes over land, opacity morphs translucent and transparent green gold molten liquid grows to curl and swirl near shore...

...a short few steps from waters edge a small cafe...the clatter, resounding walls and ceilings ancient tin, revealing delicate human hand crafted lattice like design, carved bas-relief into surrounding air...wafting conversations laughter reverberate contented, like a choral societies afternoon rehearsal...

...and then it comes...a simple bagel in the round, dripping cheddar, years in patient wait to fulfill its purposes and butter crisped deep brown broiled, just right...

...the red astounds...strawberry triangular perfection fresh off the field aside invites...its skin embedded with life for further generations revealing grace so oft ignored...

...and coffee wafts...Guatemalan pride encased with water clear from nearby spring slides rich cross palettes taste receptors of which I must admit is oft ignored with quick swallow and unthoughtful run...but not today!

...a slice of orange...colour reverberating just one side left of primary, lies in segmented wonder...taste intermingling the sweetness of joy and tears of bitter tang...

this...yes this is breakfast and a moment taken to ponder...

...and all of this by mere happen chance has come my way as our blue orb races in constant rotate, not too close to obliterating fire and not too far away to freeze all into everlasting ice aged oblivion?, just right...

...for me and my human, time constrained limited mind, is not at all concerned of how the creator chose to speak void into reality and in what time frame per se he brought light to paint the darkness of eternity past and how it is sustained now and eternity forward...for me, the simple act of a brief shore line stroll and the wonders of breakfast is enough to see beyond mere DNA dancing on the head of a pin, and so, accept it all with moments gratitude! 

J.Douglas Thompson, copyright 2014

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

High Country Reality Check!

Life encapsulated at ten thousand feet in the Andean Mountains of Ecuador was breathtaking...quite literally...the crisp mountain air only contained approximately thirty percent of the oxygen found at sea level.  

Gleaming in every direction stood some of the worlds tallest mountains such as Cayambe, Antisana and Cotapaxi. Chimborazo the giant, rises dramatically to the south with stature similar to Everest’s height, it’s monumental cousin far to the east!

Quito, that high magical old world city, lies enfolded high in the palmed hands of an extinct volcano. It was here, additionally to my day job of designing  literature for an international missionary radio station, I painted wildlife each evening. Before this particular Latin American adventure, I had been involved in showing my work in a well known wildlife festival and continued this endeavor, even though I now found myself thousands of miles to the South. 

Many artists find it fulfilling to paint their experiences first hand in the environment of the story they are describing. ‘PleinAir’ or ‘on location’ painting gives the artist the thrill of doing quick ‘live and on stage’ studies at the place and time they are experiencing the wonder. This is a substantially different experience than studio work which avoids contending with the many natural elements. 

Having heard from colleagues in the engineering staff at the radio stations hydroelectric plant located even higher in the Andes, that Pumas or otherwise described mountain lions wandered near the area above the plant, my adventurous senses were aroused. My hope was that I would hike and photograph this proud elusive cat in the wild, and then paint her as part of my inclusion in an upcoming show to the North.  

Thus began one simple day’s journey that would change the entire sweep of my life! 

We were dropped off at the continental divide at the giddy height of 14,000 feet. I have stood in the Rockies at the continental divide, but that was nothing close to this awesome altitude. The Canadian Rockies loftiest peak, Mount Robson, is the highest in that range at 12, 972 feet. This was exactly as if I had arrived at that spectacularly high peak, added another one thousand feet and then began my ‘afternoon stroll.’ At this altitude there is less than forty percent oxygen than at sea level. 

Now that idea was completely nuts, and yet that is what I did!  

We began to hike toward the dam which lies above the hydro plant approximately ten miles away. The first leg of the journey was into Lake Loreto, after which we needed to veer right, following the valley to Papallacta, our final destination.  

Many years working as an artist had exercised my right arm, brain and fingers but had ill prepared me for the physical challenges of traversing this version of the high country. Previous high altitude hikes in younger days subconsciously warned me there would be challenges, but my mind tended to give foundation to the delusion that I was in ‘fine shape,’ certainly capable within myself to accomplish whatever I chose. I should just get out there and go for it. So off we went! 

A recent meal for the giant Andean Condor, the remains of a large jack rabbit raised a sense of premonition. 

The vistas spread colossal!  

Mini lakes necklaced like fine diamonds laid soft across the nape of the valley’s deep neck. Waving grasses caught soft in ecuatorial magic morning light, bent low in the vast sweep of the highland Páramo. The Páramo, made up of lakes, peat bogs and wet grasslands is found at high elevations of between 10,000 feet and 17,000 feet in the Andes.

My ‘companion guides’ were two Quechua Indians. These mountain men had extraordinary lung capacity adapted over years of living with severe oxygen depravation. The Quechua’s are the indigenous Andean people that are the direct descendants of the ancient Incas. 

It wasn’t long before they were pin dots in the distance, rushing ahead to enjoy the excellent trout fishing that surrounded us on every side. 

I should have known that any endeavor of value should be considered and prepared for thoughtfully. The implications of not being in the position to complete it well would be disastrous. It became obvious quickly, that careful planning and preparation hadn’t gone into this days endeavor.

Legs jello’d instantly...light headed...dizzy, I recognized that I was quickly in serious trouble. It was impossible to turn back! Only wilderness lay behind and ahead, our ride having long since left. 

Several arduous hours later I arrived at Lake Loreto meeting up with my ‘guides.’ I recall that they left just as I arrived. I collapsed in a heap of exhaustion in the small shelter at the dam. I’m not certain how long I remained sleeping there, but I recall waking with a start, knowing I was alone in the wild with several miles still to hike and late afternoon shadows casting long, cold dark fingers toward me.

Rubber stilts wobbled unsteadily under me as I began to follow the valley downward.  

Almost immediately fifteen-foot high reeds completely enshrouded me in murky darkness. There was little chance now for seeing a Puma. If one had noticed me and had any inclination whatsoever, I was easy prey. 

Breaking out of the reeds, I ran into a bog-like area. The quicksand like mud sucked at my legs, occasionally above my knees. I used my hands to pull one leg after another out of the bog. A cold high mountain squall barreled down the valley lacing me with snow and ice. Again, thoughtlessly ill prepared for this harsh environment, I found myself dressed lightly. During those next hours, numbing cold, and hypothermia began its work bringing physical and mental exhaustion. Numerous times I considered laying down and quitting. The only thing driving me to persevere was the knowledge of my wife and son at home and my need to get back to them! 

In utter darkness I staggered into the camp at Papallacta...hypothermia’s toll was thigh muscles were irretrievably damaged having been robbed of oxygen’s life.  

This day’s journey would lead me through decades of physical and emotional trauma. During ensuing days, I found myself collapsing as my legs gave out randomly and I began to experience what would be a regular occurrence of complete blackouts. 

The logical first order of business was to get to a doctor to identify the reason for this regular loss to semiconsciousness. The doctor I saw, who was working at our organizations hospital expressed to me that his primary obligation was ‘ministering to nationals’ and so, rather than investigating my situation fully, he sent me to a local national doctor who was apparently a ‘specialist.’ The specialist, almost in an off hand manner, incorrectly diagnosed me as experiencing epileptic episodes and put me on a long term regimen of ‘Tegretol,' a strong drug used in helping patients who were having grand mal epileptic seizures.  

By trusting in the ‘care’ of those doctors, I spent the next approximately two years, staggering in a drunken stupor experiencing double and triple vision. With a highly increased heart beat, constant nausea, muscle weakness and various other symptoms, I very slowly made my way each day to my little office, functioned as best as I could, stumbled home, spending a brief time playing with my son after trying to eat and then crashed until the next day. Due to this physical impairment, I withdrew from community, spending all my time sleeping when not at work. I was physically and emotionally undone...crushed and completely desolate! 

In a relatively small community made up of expatriate missionaries, people began to comment about my ‘attitude’, which know doubt resembled someone in severe burnout, which indeed was the case. I fell into an emotional tailspin that led to deep depression, despair and a spiritual quagmire lasting many years.  

During this time I recall throwing my Bible against the wall and complaining bitterly to God that I felt totally abandoned by him. Why, after leaving a lucrative career in advertising, spending two years raising financial support, a year of language school, was I to find within a few short years this dream crumbling around me? I was devastated and the withdrawal continued to envelope me. My intentions of serving God had been admirable and in this case well thought out and planned for many years. 

In her desperation my wife arranged for me to fly home to Canada for further evaluation. A doctor who ironically had founded the same mission hospital in Ecuador years earlier, evaluated me and immediately sent me to the Chief of Neurology at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital for a battery of tests. Within a short time their diagnosis came back that I had done serious irretrievable damage to my muscles from the hypothermia and that many of the symptoms were caused by the two years of taking a very strong incorrect medication...returning to the high altitude to live was not going to be an option as the thin air would exacerbate the symptoms. 

My career in missions was over! I felt washed up and alone! 

My single day’s ‘fun’ excursion...a seemingly small indiscretion of hiking in the Andes had led to the loss one of the most important dreams of my entire life! One little fork in the seeming insignificant act of play changed my life direction forever. 

A long trail of dry desert years followed as I struggled to break out of the crusty soil of disillusionment, shame and deep disappointment. Life’s disappointments can throw their full weight at us from time to time and often demand more than we can handle, certainly by ourselves. As a result, we often revert to our natural instincts for survival, and pull deep into our shells of numbing and distancing. 

We all make daily decisions that we don’t consider life altering in any way...taking a swim, jumping on a horse, or crossing the street. Life is risk whether we stay in bed each day or go out to face the world. Each decision brings consequence. Most of them are not given a second thought, until our fragility shows up! 

The deeper questions came to me as conundra.  

Thoughts of doubt about the reality of a sovereign loving God. Is he a God who is there? Is he ultimately interested in my personal wellbeing? Is he, as He claims, genuinely good? Does he care for me as much or more than the sparrow that falls? Is his desire really to redeem beauty from ashes? Is he interested more in what I want to accomplish for him versus how deeply he wants to interact with me as his child in intimate relationship as a giving loving father? Just maybe ‘my’ plans of serving him are not the ultimate end game but a step toward something else. Personal disappointment of losing whatever I hold dear and important, can possibly bring me to more sensitively engage in binding up the poor and brokenhearted that are sent my way.  

His purposes often seem only to come clear once we have been sent through a crucible of fire, leaving maybe one or two useable nuggets of beauty. To encourage others from darkness toward light we need to know where the rim is around the clouds. Light is often seen more dramatically when in contrast to the darkness. To extend comfort, we need to have faced mourning deeply. To extend a crown of beauty beyond ourselves, we need to humbly accept the gracious blessing of others who, warmly choose sacrificially to place in our hearts the gift of restorative love care and grace.  

So be encouraged fellow traveller. All is not lost in your personal pain today. All is not forgotten. Our Father allows each of us to travel through some version of dark valleys and wild storms to bring us to a place of fuller participation with him in helping to bind up others in their confusion and pain. 

In James chapter 1 we are encouraged toward keep on going despite the challenges life throws our way. 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything…blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1: 2-4, 12 NIV 

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5: 3, 4 NIV 

So, keep on keeping on...‘joy comes in the morning if we faint not’...I know, I know...sometimes the morning seems like it’s never going to arrive...but as surely as spring and new life follows the cold of winters does. 

J.Douglas Thompson...SDG...Copyright 2013

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

...on trying to catch the bus...

During my twenties I lived in London England for three years!

One famous icon of London living was the relationship with the double decker bus herds. They came from every direction, thundering red, snorting blue, nostrils flared, galloping Piccadilly. The rear flank lay open,  platform yawning wide...a vertical cylinder gleaming yellow, grew stage centre mocking any attempt to run, jump, grasp and ride!

Red paint swaying wild, full in roaring gallop rounds the bend, bears down hard and I begin the sprint. The double storied scarlet mane flows horizontal heady... taunting...catch me if you can. Being young and not to be outdone, I make a flat-out mad dash for the back platform’s solicitation, grab the gleaming pole and swing on and around with victory’s laugh.

Reality now, decades later, is that if I were to run after that same mount today, my mind would actually engender the idea of lessening my years by at least twenty or so and I would believe that there would be a good chance of reaching my goal. Focus would quickly become clear that no matter how fast I would run, the red stallion would gallop away, leaving my legs glued in the wet cement of reality!

In young, middle age and sometimes later on, we chase our proverbial red stallions to carry us off to our dreams. Tying our very self esteem and ideas of success to saddling the next platform, we often strive with drive and dash to ‘make it’ grab the next pole and swing upward to find life’s fulfillment. 

So, what of chasing platforms, goals, dreams and desires? Are they inherently wrong? Of course not! We all have been given gifts and talents to develop and nurture for the betterment of our lives and the larger community. We should be continually dreaming dreams, big and small, risking opportunities red platforms and golden poles to grab no matter what season of life we find ourselves.

Engagement however, isn’t always the constant flat out rush of risk taking and goal setting. We also need the rest of green, space for peace and the sounds of silence to imbibe all that is beauty, swirling it slowly and well, squeezing out all the flavour of pleasure we’ve been given to enjoy! 

My personal tendency throughout life has been to be forever running after the next red bus, looking for the next platform instead of living fully engaged in the moment at hand...recently a couple of special friends have suggested to me the idea of ‘unwrapping the present of the present.’ Slowly, senses fully alight, press me to enjoy just today, savouring the mystery of what lies just below the colourful paper of the ‘right now’ and peel it back with revelled anticipation, enjoying this very moment with expectancy. I often forget or sometimes am just too lazy to climb up to life’s second deck saddle and enjoy sitting quietly as the breezes of now blow through my hair. 

How many of the millions who’ve climbed on and off red line London buses, took time to explore the wonder of the multitudinal nooks and craneys of one of the worlds most exciting cities? Not too many, as I watched them stare into the hollow grey nothingness of complete detachment...seeing only grey!

What of the idea of just sauntering slowly...or...purposely missing the next bus so that we could stroll a while, smell the lilacs mauve fragrance, listen to identify the birds song as they dive, rollicking above the Thames or breathe deeply the air of joy at being enveloped in Big Ben’s reverberating ring!

I know, I know...all of my younger friends are saying, ‘give me a break...That’s easy for you to say!’ We have to make a living! And yes, some of my older friends look at me sideways with the disdain of what to them is unintelligible thinking!

I concur that these days are slightly less deadline driven, although for me, deadlines keep me sharp! In my tendency toward drivenness however, the passion to succeed and develop further, which I’m afraid will be my modus operendi until I drop, I am learning that purposely missing the bus occasionally and taking ten minute strolls helps me keep some balance. A good camera personally sends me to another place where I sink behind the viewfinder and compose! 

It may be that waiting to catch the next bus could bring more profound and greater value than running after the one that has just sped away. Too often in later years where tendency gives rise to give up all hope of ones deep heart longings ever being fulfilled, we can walk completely away from our life’s work, contributions to others lives, turning our back on the idea of waiting for any bus at all. 

For me...I’ve been on a long and yes, sometimes painful, arduous journey. I never want to stop catching the excitement of the next ride, the next corner to explore and risk to take. Simultaneously however, I am trying to choose to watch the giant red thunder come galloping from a distance, smiling at its power and magnetic pull, but intentionally letting it pass. In so doing I choose to ponder and process so that when the next mount arrives, I can more fully engage in that experience rather than just numbly reacting and just exisiting.

I’m choosing to chew and taste deeply, working through both the full bodied sad purple ports of life, that sometimes lay heavy and thick on my palette but also learning to revel and let roll the newer sweet perfumed light and bubbly Rosé experiences around the tongue of life today!