Thursday, March 20, 2008

A thought


"Whoever would make of himself a distinctive individual must be keen to perceive what he is not." Friedrich Schleiermacher

Friday, March 14, 2008

India


"Everthing in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself" Rumi

Rumi is almost classified as one of the Hindu Gods he's so loved for his poetry. Everything about India is so intraspective that you can't help but question and analyse yourself constantly whilst there. Even the graffiti plays to this inner searching. "Become the angel you are" - I saw this written on a wall in the holy village of Rishikesh.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My Travels


Talk like a local

I’m learning Spanish at the moment. After my first trip to Latin America I vowed I would not go back unless I spoke Spanish. Well, what happened? Two years later I was back there travelling around like a fool unable to communicate. Frustration beyond belief.

I had heard that Richard Burton, the 19th Century explorer, translator of the Arabian nights and the Karma Sutra, and just all round genius extraordinaire, taught himself 17 languages. So whilst reading his biography I was able to glean the technique which enabled him to accomplish such an outstanding feat. Absorbing not only the language but the culture in which he was immersed made him truly remarkable and set him apart from his counterparts. Whilst in India he passed himself off as a local, mastering amongst others, the difficult dialects of Urdu, Hindi, and Marathi in order to infiltrate the Indian goings on during the reign of the British Empire. Along the way he managed to have a very good time indeed.

So the learning is that it’s easy to pick up the local language when travelling, if you listen and observe the way of the local people. This is precisely what I tried to do on my recent month long trip to Chile and Argentina. As I was travelling with the Baqueanos (local horsemen, similar to an Argentinean Gaucho) I was able to pick up words and descriptions of our daily life, in particular all things to do with the horses. So for those of you that are interested I’ve compiled a little ‘Diccionario de Gaucho’ with the help of Carlos and Ingaill. Some of the spelling may be way off but it will give you a flavour at least.

Diccionario de Gaucho, from the heart of Patagonia:

La boina – a beret
El panuelo – a scarf
El pasa panuelo – a scarf pin
La faja – woven belt for riding (these are god’s gift for a happy days riding!)
Las bombachas – riding pants
Las botas – boots
El rebenque – flat whip (love this word)
La montura – saddle
Las piemeras – long chaps
La manea – hobble
El cabello – horse (the pronunciation differs between Chile and Argentina)
El paso – canter
El sombrero – hat

The list goes on…

I’m now far away dreaming of a daisy field, a stream, the Andes and a cup of mate.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Living it



I saw a poll recently which asked, who will die first;
Amy Winehouse, Pete Dougherty or Britney Spears?

I laughed thinking that really is a stupid thing to ask, then thought what a shame it would be if Amy Winehouse died. She does have an amazing talent. Like all true artists, living or dead, the ones that really stand out from the crowd are those that live in their element. History has a place for those that revel in the glory of all that they can. Just like the interesting person who left an anonymous comment said, when quoting Nietzsche, that "The secret of a joyful life is to live dangerously."(Look for the comment under the Frontier section on my blog - thank you for being the first to get in touch with me, an armagnac is waiting for you ;)

The uniqueness of Winehouse lies not only in her voice but in her desire to be herself, which might be the very reason she puts herself in danger in the first place. Some people seek the path of destruction in order to truly know themselves.

Its seems Christopher McCandless, aka Alexander Supertramp, might very well have know that to be true when he too wrote; “It is the experience, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found.” Now this is coming from someone who traveled to Alaska to live off the earth and after 112 days was found dead. He died from supposed starvation, but I’m not convinced that he sought an end like that, rather lusting for the true spirit of a free life. A most intriguing and fascinating story, one that I can’t get out of my mind.

So whether its destruction or true realisation that we seek, the answer seems to be the same; live it large, dangerously or anyway you can. Just make damn well sure you are living it.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Freedom

Brother Bob got it right.
"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds" R N Marley

Freedom begins with a journey. Some people stand up for nations, some stand up for causes, some to get their voice heard in the hope that things change for the better and some just stand up to test their legs. I’m testing my legs, my sense of purpose legs. I’m standing up for myself and it feels good.

The result of all this standing up business is that, as of today, I’m home on gardening leave after ten years of mental slavery. Voluntary mental slavery, I might add. Terrified of failure, I have slave driven myself to the top of a career only to discover when I got there I didn’t like the people around me. It so happens that I did not have to wait long for fate to take a turn and an exit light to burn bright above the door of opportunity.

All this has got me thinking about those split second moments in which you have choices. I have realised it’s the choices made without absolutely clarity of the end result that are often the ones that really change things. When you can feel the end result, rather than see it for what it may be. I’ve often wondered over certain choices I’ve made in my life, for example; what made me leave my home country 14 years ago? I have no idea to be honest, other than I just knew it was the right thing to do even though, where I was going, I knew only one distant cousin and had the bare minimum in my pocket. But the choice I made was right wittingly or unwittingly. I just could sense it.

It’s now that I’m faced with a similar feeling. It’s that feeling, rather than 100% optical clarity, coupled with the fact that it’s been actively chosen that makes for a fresh start.

So yes a journey has begun today. A journey to rediscover my identity, away from a title, a corner office and board meetings, a journey to get to know myself without the restrictions that I’ve placed upon myself. I may even have the privilege of meeting my feared nemesis, Failure, for it is only now that I can truly say I am ready.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Here's to the Crazy Ones


The following statement made by Apple in their 90s TV commercial is genius. Not only does it move the brand on, but makes a statement about society that can't be ignored. Fear of those that question the status quo, who act and live differently. Fear of how that makes us feel about ourselves. These are things that interest me.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Books



Photo credit:Old book bindings at the Merton College library. Date: 25 August 2005
Source: Taken by user (Tom Murphy VII)





My devotion to books is extreme. Not only do they fill my everyday with their presence, but my mind rarely strays far from thinking about what I'm to read next. Imagining what I will find in that little book shop on the corner or wondering who owned the book before me.

Getting children to read is always a challenge, we do have JK Rowling to thank for solving that problem for us recently. My mother used to read to us as children, it was a very special moment in the evening when we would settle down to listen to her bring Anne of Green Gables or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn alive. Being the youngest, that time did not last long.
My father however came to the rescue with a cunning plan. He said that for every book I read he would buy me another one. Now that appealed to my desire for success and succeed I did without looking back, book after book was consumed and with that my world opened and the plans began to form for a life I wished to lead.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

America


America: The Rage of Atlantic City
What a disappointment it is to discover that we as human beings have created such appalling, vacant place like Atlantic City. I was there two weeks ago on business; that in itself is a story. My hotel was a casino, so when I arrived I walked into the foyer which was the casino, from the check in desk to the elevators I walked through the casino, up to my room then back down again only for the doors to open and I’m back in the casino again. Horrifying! There was no escape; I could find no way out, I tried. I asked for directions three times before I located the restaurant that I was to dine in that evening with colleagues.

Mindlessly I wondered around the slots machine, roulette wheels and wishful thinkers amidst the blackjack tables, passing four rows of ATM machines en route. The place was jam packed, it was a Monday evening. The rank smell of sadness and desperation hung around me. I could feel a rage building within me against the empty materialism of America.

To make matters worse at dinner I sat next to a colleague with whom, for that sake of polite conversation, I engage in a discussion about sport. I discovered that his baseball team had won the Superbowl the day before.

“Wow, that’s wonderful for you. You must be really phyched?” using the local vernacular in an attempt to have something to discuss with this man. “What does that mean to win the Superbowl? I asked.

A look of condescending surprise crossed over his face and in tone of ‘you silly women’ he replied “It means my team are the world champions”.

“Really, like wow (again) that’s cool so, how many countries competed?”

End of conversation.

After that the rage burned brighter within me and I found myself on an eloquent magic carpet bringing up topics such as the impending election and the race between White Women Clinton and First Black Man Obama. A few of the other opinions that got stated by my loud voice was that we should all be ashamed if we were to allow another Republican in the White House. I bought up the war in Iraq, Bush and eventually left them reeling in the aftermath of a debate on Christianity and the rights of single mothers vs. fathers.

Phew. Not gracious, but boy it was fun shooting fish in a barrel.

The rage continues….