Thursday, 30 October 2014
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
. . . of all things I seek equanimity . . . peace of mind . . . daily life provides plenty of opportunities to practice . . . the sitting and walking help settle the mind and the interactions with other people sometimes stir it up . . . perhaps progress is in the time it takes for the agitation to settle . . . and then to decline the triggers, walk away from dramas which no longer serve and meet the world with a smile . . .
. . . friends sometimes say they prefer the vicissitudes to "flatlining", accepting the lows for the sake of the highs . . . then there is the conflation of equanimity and psychopathy . . . both, after all appear as emotionless states . . .
. . . these questions arise because people are saying, we will miss you, will you miss us, will you miss Stanhope, the beautiful fells . . . and I ponder, what is the compassionate response . . . the truth is, I love Stanhope, its friendly folks, its wonderful scenery . . . and I am grateful for all of it . . . and I am letting all of it go gladly . . . this doesn't feel like flatlining or psychopathy . . . just inevitability and equanimity . . .
Monday, 20 October 2014
. . . in the 3rd year of secondary school, the geography teacher explained how running water eroded rocks . . . this is great material for Taoism and I recruited a few friends to form the stonewatchers society whose purpose was to sit beside streams and observe the process of erosion . . . Barney, our teacher, declined the post of honorary president, sensing his reputation could be at risk in this surreal society . . . it was summer and we enjoyed the game for a while, not realising that if we had sat long enough and quiet enough, we may have transcended linear time and seen the rocks become sand . . .
Saturday, 18 October 2014
. . . the headteacher of Wimborne Grammar School (or Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School I think they called it . . . founded in the time of the first Liz so you can imagine the historic pride we were supposed to feel) was "Neddy" Neil, an effete Cambridge chap, who taught me philosophy in the lower 6th . . . the school was actually run by a sergeant major type called Joe Kerswell, with whom you did not mess . . . as for the philosophy, I remember two quotes: to thine own self be true and follow the argument wherever it leads you . . . I thought they were ancient Greek, but the first appears to be Shakespeare and not presented as a rule for living, since the words were given to Lucretius, who seems not to have been intended as an heroic role model . . . whatever, they resonated with me and confirmed my growing suspicion that my school days were over, so I spent a week or so having an existential crisis at home . . . Dad, who had always of necessity worked hard and elevated that need to a principle called Protestant Work Ethic, gave me the option of returning to my studies or getting a job and paying my way . . . within a week I found myself holding a pole for surveyors on the new road Wimpeys were building from Ringwood to Bournemouth . . . last time I looked, the road was still there, so I must have held the pole pretty straight . . . a month or two later I went off to Scotland to work at the Breadalbane Arms in Aberfeldy and some time after that set off on my first adventure, to Spain and Morrocco . . . of which more later . . .
Thursday, 16 October 2014
Solitude is such a blessing, an opportunity to feel the connection to everything .... intimacy with a special other has been harder to sustain and I am grateful to the women who taught me about love, and set me free ... this journey to the Dao has to be taken alone to deepen the solitude and paradoxically to open the space for others to fill ... and whilst I am not walking all the way, I will be walking alone a lot and that is the time I sometimes manage to lose my mind for a while .... which is an experience hard to describe but delightful to know ...
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
. . . readers please be aware I embrace paradoxes, which gives the appearance of sometimes contradicting myself . . . this began when I inadvertantly suspended the operation of the left hemisphere of my brain, having walked for several hours alone across the fells . . . in an instant I saw two things, clearly opposite, as both true . . . one: I am the centre of the universe (as are we all), two: I am completely insignificant on a cosmic scale . . . of course, playing with these extremes is the fun part . . .
. . . another thing I saw was that everything is interconnected . . . which is very mindblowing, though I don't spend much time thinking about it . . .
Monday, 13 October 2014
... and unlike hard core travellers, I have some money for food, the occasional train, maybe a bed for the night ... this is thanks to an amazing system I seem to have paid into almost incidentally whilst driving buses in London (this was a cover for my revolutionary activities) as well as working on play-buses in Gateshead ... it's called "pension" and over £350 a month arrives in my bank account whether I work or not ...
.... as for method, there is no plan ... just one step at a time and leaving all options open. . . with plenty of time and space for reflection to allow the journey to reveal itself . . .
. . . structure of the blog . . . grammarians may have noticed my unusual punctuation . . . which I favour, since it somehow flows better without.full.stops. life has no full stops . . . just flow with pauses . . . even at death perhaps . . . however, I do prefer to spell words correctly (English version, despite the encroachment of U.S. versions along with their expressions and cultural values) and have a slight obsession with apostrophes . . . feel free, dear reader, to pick me up on any errors you spot . . . and if I use the word "awesome", rest assured it will be describing something quite spectacular . . . well, that should trigger some American readers ( yes, Google knows where you are folks) . . . to reassure liberal friends, I do know plenty of fine Americans . . . and plenty of shallow Brits too . . . and will be reporting back on national stereotypes as I go along . . .
structure of the journey . . . is to be as free as it can be . . . without limit of time . . . without detailed plan . . . mostly one step at a time, leaving options open . . . a wonderful wander, though not always walking . . . and maybe not arriving at Rio Dao or even Portugal . . .
Sunday, 12 October 2014
... in the way of things, the cottage has been such a place and many have visited to sit in circle, share food, silence, ideas, books and most of all, love ... which, after all, is the universe in ecstatic motion ...
... and since change is always to be embraced, the Wear & Dao journey is also an APtB journey .... wherever the journey takes me, there will surely be places to be and people creating them .... and you will see them in this space .... some may even be seeking new folks to join them or a whole new team to get them going ... in this way the original modest vision will grow and play its part in creating the new earth of which we dream ....
. . . interesting that there is no resistance to leaving this idyllic little cottage by the river in the friendly village of Stanhope . . . and no pull towards any new place particularly . . . it seems like a journey that wants to happen and is happening in the space between aversion and desire . . . with three weeks to go before I set off, with my life in my rucksack, there is no discernible excitement . . . only equanimity in the inevitability . . .
Saturday, 11 October 2014
Friday, 10 October 2014
. . . who knows where these schemes start . . . this trip has been brewing for a while . . . over three years ago, I had the idea to declutter my mind and my stuff . . . the mind is a tricky one and likes to be busy . . . mindful meditation and plenty of walking over the fells helped and continues to do so . . . as for the stuff, the thought was to only have what would fit into a rucksack . . . and at the time the rucksack was quite big, with a baby day bag which zipped onto it . . .however, whatever is in the rucksack has to be carried and plenty of walking is likely . . . so I have reverted to my old and smaller one . . . three t-shirts, three pairs of boxers. three pairs of socks, spare trousers, waterproofs, spare shoes, sleeping bag, washbag, towel, survival bag . . . and the tablet for blogging of course . . . the rest, which is not that much, is going or gone . . . and I feel lighter every day . . . developing the art of mitigating gravity, known to Tibetan Lamas, will be one of my practices along the road . . .
Saturday, 4 October 2014
Well, here we are at Stanhope, a village in the North Pennines of England, a few miles from the source of the River Wear and the starting point of this trip ... and the best place to start, since this is where I live and it is always best to start where you are ...
... and this is the Rio Dao, where I am headed .... slowly ... I have never been there before, but I have been to Portugal a few times (of which, more later) and the word Dao or Tao resonates for me, being one of my philosophical influences ... and whilst I am not attached to getting there soon or at all, it helps to have a direction of travel ... and since winter is on its way in Stanhope, south seems a good idea ...