jusummerhayes

Shaken but not stirred

"[I]f, after my best efforts, the scholars find that on balance all of this is no big deal, that the first apology is all bombast and bile, signifying nothing, that they can return to a life unchanged or unblemished by these considerations, shaken a bit perhaps, but in no enduring way stirred, curious but fine, that they can simply pick from the School’s offerings as it suits them and wedge the pickings into an undisturbed life and leave the rest where it lies, on the killing floor of opinion, then I have failed them utterly and wasted their time. There’s been no learning." Stephen Jenkinson, Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble (my emphasis)

Yesterday, was a fairly quiet day. A bit of letter writing, reading and a couple of walks around the village. But I did make time to listen to Stephen Jenkinson's remarkable book, Come of Age — hence today's heading and quote.

Think about it.

How often are we shaken but not stirred?

Stirred into meaningful action.
Stirred into meaningful speech.
Or anything more than a repeat of the previous week, the previous year — in fact, all of our life.

I can only report on the compass of my surroundings and experience but you'd think with a pandemic still in our midst that as well as the need to act responsibly, we'd have started to properly reconsider the life that came before — at least to the extent of asking if it was and is sustainable (or something bearing the same or similar rubric).

I don't see or hear that. 

Sure, online there's plenty of exhortation and well-meaning, mellifluous verse how we could make permanent change but it's not filtered down to my neck of the woods. Yours?

Likewise, all the climate change news. We know there's a disaster headed our way — people are going to die but, I suspect, on an even bigger scale to Covid19 — and what are we doing? Not much or not nearly enough to abate the problem. In fact, we're still driving our cars, using fossil fuels and masses of energy and, frankly, carrying on as if there was nothing to worry about.

And, as to the workplace, well, I see lots of discussion about the egregious effects of (at least) a generation of command and control, discrimination and the ill-treatment of human beings (not human resources, please) and, yet, here we are still turning up to our place of work living under the yoke of a faux culture that cares no more about our welfare or well-being than it did a century ago. To be clear, this isn't a slight at my employer but I can level that charge at all the previous ones — particularly or more especially the law firms who are trying to wash away years of ill-treatment by playing the well-being card. Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but it doesn't amount to a row of beans.

But most of all, what about our search for the truth? The truth of who we are at the deepest, most profound level — i.e. true self. We're shaken to bits by our dodgy thinking but rarely stirred sufficiently to question who or what we are? I hear all this talk about "I'm this" or "I'm that" but I rarely, save in a few discreet circles, hear anyone brave enough to say, "Yes, but who's the 'I' that's so troubled by X, Y or Z?" Nah, it's all too woo-woo, too spiritual, too nonsensical. 

What am I really saying?

Perhaps, me included, we're just not very serious people or not enough about the things we say we're troubled by. I could be very wrong — and I probably am! — but if the world is a manifestation of our thoughts and actions, then you don't have to go very far to realise we've not made a great job of things. 

Sorry, I realise that comes across as holier-than-thou and self-aggrandising but it's how I feel right now. I really am sick to death of hearing myself and others say the same things day after day to no effect. But then again, and not to duck or avoid any of the words or sentiment in this post, that's the way (sadly, qua humans) we're expressed. We simply can't help being this way. We talk up the willpower thing or change agenda, but if we were going to change then we would — no ifs, no buts, no maybes.

As I've already said, I could have this all wrong. Here we are, the most important, powerful species on the planet (or so we think) and there's nothing that we can't fix. Do you really buy that? I don't. I mean, at the risk of appearing harsh and/or churlish, look how a little virus has taken hold and reaped such grief-dealing havoc through the population. Imagine a few more of those, heaped together with global warming, rising sea levels and a shortage of food. OK, for the select few they might have it all sorted but, as for the rest of us, well, I don't see a very bright or any future. Sorry folks, but I just don't think being smart or resourceful is enough, not where nature is concerned. In fact, I think she'll have the last laugh.

Oops, what a negative note to end on. But then again, I'm willing to bet there are many people who will tell me I'm stark raving mad and a few degrees of warming here or there won't make a jot of difference to our lives. Shame on me for not seeing it that way. But I suspect neither of us will be around to see who's right!

Anyhow, it's Monday. 

Time to buckle up and get with the work programme.

Take care.

Blessings and much love ❤️, Ju

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash


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