surfsensei

Reflections and observations on life in general.

All these.. moments

If asked for the title of my favourite film, I would have to say “Blade Runner “, which I saw on its first release back in 1982. Something about it struck a deep chord in me; it is one of the few films I have on DVD and which I have watched several times over the years.

It is also one of those that I thought was an improvement on the book that inspired it (“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K Dick). It is more than just another dystopian sci-find action movie, it has depth and an ambiguity too rare in mainstream films. The characters are neither simply “bad” nor “good”, they are driven to terrible deeds by the desperation of survival and the fear and pain of not knowing how much time they have left, yet they have the potential for change and compassion within them.

Rutger Hauer’s portrayal of the main and longest-surviving “villain”(or should that be “prey”?),  Roy Batty, moves me still with his mixture of menace and fragility in a futile mission to extend his four-year lifespan.  His soliloquy, (you can find it on YouTube easily) delivered to Harrison Ford as the hunter (“Blade Runner”) Deckart captures for me the essence of the impermanence of all our experiences, however profound or solid they seem.

It came back to me, today, as I worked alongside some less-highly-motivated pupils in an art class, asked to sit with them and give gentle encouragement and example.  I had a go at the same painting exercise, watercolour versions of the single eye motif that seems to be a feature of much teenage art and doodling.  As I blew and trailed the wet paint, the last line of the monologue seemed appropriate:

“all these… moments.. will be lost, in time, like… tears in rain”

I’ve been experiencing this a lot, recently, the understanding growing from a logical thought and observation to a powerful experience that can hit me suddenly, like somebody turning on a bright light in the middle of the night; it’s a similar shock.  The realisation, no, a different word would be more appropriate, perception? … that suddenly the things I’ve just done, whether over the last few years or days or hours, are gone, completely, existing only as echoes in my memories.  I’ve had this when returning home after holidays or from visiting friends, almost like the fleeting shock of seeing the ‘not there’ of a familiar object that has been moved from its accustomed place.

At one time I found these moments almost unbearable, I had to sing, shout, find a distraction, seek out company, look at the photos or sketches or letters, anything to try to verify the ‘reality’ of those past moments or relationships.  Now though, something has shifted in me, these feelings arise, sometimes intensely, but I notice them passing much more quickly too, almost the moment I see them for what they are. I notice the same with the painful and frightening experiences, too, and I’ve had a few of them in this last year.

Some might think this a callousness or detatchment or devaluing of people or things, but this is not the case for me, I know those feelings too and they are not it.  It’s more a feeling of not needing to or trying to hold onto them so tightly in order for things to feel “right”.  It’s more like being able to appreciate  them while accepting the inevitable shift in circumstances; after all, everything we meet and have goes, in one way or another, sometime, we can see that even if it doesn’t hit home until it happens.  No, I value those experiences and love those people just as much, sometimes that’s difficult, but how things are now is simply how things are now.  And I’m fortunate to be able to say there have been a lot of wonderful moments.

Yet I’m still getting used to this subtle but significant shift in my experience, it’s like I’m getting used to the rain, maybe seeing that it’s all water, too.

 

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Thought for the day, 1 of …?

I received an unexpected present a few days ago,  a calendar from the Netherlands, that has inspired me to draw some cartoons again, as well as helping me with my Dutch learning. 

It comes at a time of adjustment to changes and a review of my life situation and direction.  While I go to redraft a letter I hope will be a catalyst for a move forward, here’s a thought for today:

Poppies – in memoriam

I saw a link to this article by Robert Fisk, in the Independent, on Facebook this evening, a well-written piece that made me reflect on the issue of the wearing of the red poppies around the UK Remembrance Day (11 November):

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-do-those-who-flaunt-the-poppy-on-their-lapels-know-that-they-mock-the-war-dead-6257416.html

I replied to the post after considering my own thoughts and feelings about this, including my own short and undistinguished military career, fortunately between conventional wars and at the end of the Cold one:

I’m happy to give a donation, even wear a poppy on the day in memory of the “poor bloody infantry” and others who are mostly being told to do the dirty work for politicians who keep well away from the consequences of their actions, particularly in the last generation or two, but I want to see this Remembrance grow to include ALL the casualties of war, such as the 14-year old boy in Aleppo today orphaned by two separate rocket attacks [[BBC radio 4 World Tonight 2200 3 Nov 2016 – grim report from a hospital] and many others …

At 1100, on the 11th, I pause to reflect on those in and out of uniform, all of whom are harmed deeply in many ways by this continuing stupidity.

 

 

Munro with cancer #80

Goodwill hasn’t gone…

“Whatever happened to goodwill?”, said somebody in exasperation to a friend of mine some time ago.

“It doesn’t pay the bills”, she replied. She was beginning her career as a self-employed photographer. They had asked her to do some publicity photos and she had, quite reasonably, asked for payment.

I remembered this incident recently when I had a similar request at work – my experience and skills for free for something I am not employed by them to provide and which I do as my own business outside my contracted time. I explained that I would charge a fee for this, I doubt they will ask me to do the work. I am not disappointed, I like my weekends free at the moment. If they are not willing to pay a proper rate in exchange, it can’t be that important to them or they will find another way.

There seems to be a widespread expectation that, if you do work that is creative or adventurous and perceived as “enjoyable” or “worthwhile”, then that is surely reward enough and you should be providing it cheaply, if not free, and certainly on a basis of “goodwill”. I pondered this the other morning, while I guided a razor carefully over my too-early-morning face, and a new view of the issue emerged.

My reply to the complaint “where has the goodwill gone?” is this: it hasn’t gone, I provide all my labour and skills and experience on the basis of “goodwill”, there is no charge for that.

However, I am faced with a problem, I also need the “goodwill” of others, to take food from the shelves of their shops, get them to service and put fuel into my car, allow me to sleep and keep my things in their property and so on. They are nearly all generous and helpful people, all happy to do these things but they need to know that I am also part of the “goodwill” exchange system and I can only do this by providing material proof of my having also given my “goodwill” to others; as is the nature of our society, some paperwork is involved.

The administration has grown complicated, over the years, but the basic idea is simple; I do something in “goodwill” for you, you give me an officially and socially recognised receipt that confirms my act of happy generosity and indicates the amount of effort I have donated to your organisation or your quality of life, I can then give this receipt to others and they will reciprocate with an equivalent quantity of their “goodwill”.

To save us all having to make our own, these receipts or vouchers are ready-made and are really quite beautiful, combining aesthetic qualities with good functional design, they even feature a nice portrait of our illustrious Monarch, to confirm their authenticity ( clearly, a lot of “goodwill” has gone into the making of them ).

So, as long as we both agree on the quantity, nature and duration of the “goodwill” that I will give, and the type of vouchers to be exchanged, then I am entirely happy to help you!

Shaving safely completed, I made my way to turn on the kettle and the radio, which announced the news headlines and something about executive pay; they must be very generous people indeed, given the great quantities of “goodwill” vouchers they receive.

My employers need help today, I cannot bear to stand by and watch them struggle, I have no other commitments…

0-point-double-zilch…

It is one of those days when the institutional disincentives to saving return to my awareness…

2016-3sep-adayalife

Brexit: Burning our bridges

This is one of the most clear and articulate articles I’ve read, please read and share…

Just an anglophone

It’s hard to know where to start on today’s result. Like many, I’m still feeling regular waves of shock, horror and nausea when I think about what we’ve declared as a nation, and what impact it could have on our future and others’. I’ve refrained from blogging on the subject previously, because I’m not as politically informed as the many people whose posts I’ve shared, but now it’s become the only thing I can think about, I’m going to have a stab. Because I’m angry.

I’ve seen a lot of people on my social media requesting that we stop verbally abusing leave voters and tarring them with the ‘bigot’ brush, and that’s fair. There’s already been too much anger and personal hatred in this debate; in fact, that’s probably one of the reasons we’ve made such an insane dangerousludicrous unprecedented decision. There are various reasons to vote leave, not all of them xenophobia, and I…

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In the harsh light of day…

This article is worth reading:
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/06/i-want-my-country-back

So now, after a cup of (Indian) tea, I will go to the market. There I will join the people from Britain, Carribean, India, Pakistan, Middle East, Far East, Australia and elsewhere as we find the things we need and like. We will buy vegetables and fruit from local farms, the mainland of Europe, the Carribbean islands and the more peaceful Middle East.
All of us, from my point of view, will be fellow citizens, whatever our paperwork says.

Resilience

image

I am returning south empty-handed, narrowly missing selection for a new job, just in 2nd place.
So, after some rest, I will review my plan of action and persevere. I will also continue to work towards employable competence in another European language (NL); I want a key, however small, to another country.
I have been hosted by kind friends and would have stayed longer had I not had another commitment already this weekend.
Outside, as the train passes the Lake District, the clouds are billowing and beautiful, appearing close enough to touch.
England is a beautiful country, tainted by narrow and xenophobic views.
It feels a more foreign land, now.

Earth, water & fire.

image

Vases, stoneware, 9 & 14cm.

I made these, recently, among my better wheel-thrown pots. My skill level is basic, I do too little of this to become fluent, there are other, higher priorities in my life right now. However, I like them, they will do what I want, for now; when they no longer do, they will become gifts.
Now I just need flowers.