“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.” (Carl Rogers)

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Reasons to be Cheerful (Part Eleven)

Tearful. Dad's memory issues took an unsettling turn early in the week when he began speaking but only random words were forming - wow! The tone and intonation were normal, yet the meaning was elusive, unpossible. Looked it up and I find something called a 'word salad', which is a perfect name for it, although the 'proper' name is apparently 'schizophasia', which just sounds like a crazy combination of terms. Along with this turn seems to be failing ability to order everyday tasks and functions. Still, having touched base in my previous employment whilst envisioning idea showers going forward, dad's newspeak is incentivised, pre-planned low hanging fruit and my door is open on this issue.

Cheerful. Fabulously indulgent easter weekend of drinking, eating crap and playing and singing with the very talented Plain Joe Smith - and a truly fantastic discovery of a regular folkie circle in the cleethorpes pub, the Nottingham. This was begun by Dave Wagstaff (see video below of one of the great songs he played), who just felt that it would be great if a group of open-minded people might sing and play together over the course of a day and evening, so he set it up. And I was in company also with friends from brum and the best of my family, my nephew Phil, and I REALLY enjoyed playing for such a welcoming audience.

Still, it was also very nice indeed to wake up without a hangover on wednesday, too...

Cheerful. I tried to get somebody to come and sort out dad's garden a little better this year. I love and appreciate the beauty of nature and of human handiwork therein, but don't have much idea how to go about it myself, and need to prioritise my writing. So, I tried two or three possible avenues for help, but it didn't work out. So, my punk fuck-it attitude kicked in and I just went out there and did what I felt should be done in my guts. If it ain't perfect, then that's closer to nature anyway. So, I got hold of dad's seed stock and planted vegetables and flowers both. And 'watered them in'. I've made a little bit of 'work' on a daily basis, watering, which should ideally be done in the morning, whilst the heat of the day is not strong and the plants can feel the water run down to their roots. Look at me, I'm flying! Wheeeee! I'm actually real excited to see how they grow...

Another chapter of Freedom to Learn summarised - I found the chapter a little dry, the writing was methodical in the manner of the scientist that wrote it, perhaps. However, I also think it is an important chapter in the whole spectrum of person-centred education, as it does show, as Rogers points out, that person-centred education is not just for the softie subjects.

And I finally get to bid Mr Thoreau adieu. The end of Walden is a meditation about the deeper meaning of his experimental time in the woods. By the end, I was ready to let go of him, just as he was ready to leave the woods and let go very easily simply by recognising that it was the right time. He encourages his readers to go out and make our own lives newer, finer. Pre-empting Aldous Huxley and the the inner explorers of the 1960s, he talks of exploring our own interior 'dark continent', as well as letting go of the paralysing past, and fight, evade, resist the deadness of conformity:
Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
I keep you with me as I let you go, Mr Thoreau, as I walk onwards, walk forwards into the sunshine of the future:
Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.


  1. I am sad to hear about your Dad and I wonder of his experiencing in the midst of all of this? I imagine it can't be easy for either of you yet I still hear Billy that there are "reasons to be cheerful". Having looked after someone with azheimers for years and then recently (2013) accompanied someone on their journey through a brain tumour, these less than cheerful moments, or perhaps these more challenging moments to cheerfulness I have found to be far from easy process , the 2013 experience still weighing heaviliy in my being.

    Easter weekend sounds rich and full with the added bonus of no hangover :simply more reasons to feel nourished and cheerful :O) And then you took the bull by the horns , and putting aside any sense of rights or wrongs and expertise you entered the garden (inspired perhaps a little by Mr Thoreau ) and started to create a garden in the midst of the all and all, walking, guitar playing, writing, your Dad, Green politics (and the challenges of UKIP) and now freedom to learn and experiment in the garden from which I am sure you will be richly rewarded with plenty of reasons to be cheerful. And I wonder if you and your garden and maybe even your Dad, are enjoying any of this early spring warmth up in your part of the UK? Sadly my older bones (joints) are getting less and less compatible with gardening but this time of year always gives me such a buzz even to see all the weeds pushing up into the sunshine of the now. :O)

    I must return to Mr Thoreau's woods myself and be re-inspired in the letting go of conformity even as I am more of a punk-fuck-it kind of gal, I know I am struggling with conditionings/self-imposed limits etc etc all getting in the way of seeing that the only day to ever dawn is this day within which I/you/we awaken so this is the only moment I/you/we have to step into the day and make this moment newer, finer in the living of it fully in whatever ways we can

    Thanks again Billy for the contd inspiriation and for sharing your life moments so beautifully within this space. This book (in fact 6 volumes) was drawn to my attention the other day : http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0374534144/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A3JDDP2A9LEKAK . I can't imagine finding the time to read it (with dozens of books already calling ) but I look forward one day to reading "My Struggle (to include a multitude of reasons to be cheerful" by Billy Miller :O)

  2. Thanks Kat - I think it's hard for him and he has developed a number of coping strategies without actually admitting that there's anything wrong. It makes it harder because his upbringing doesn't easily allow him to talk about things much (mine, too!). I carried that unsettling word salad moment with me all week, but things balanced out again. Unlike your 2013 experience, which has left a deep impression on you. I hope you can find a way to become easier with it.

    Thank you to you, Kat, for your ongoing writings here, and elsewhere - it brings sunshine to all my weeds!


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