From My Sketchbook – 35

Another venture of mine in to Zen artistic endeavour.

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Posted in Art, Contemplation, inspiration, Nature | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

The Wound Of “Toughness”

Some two years ago Sky News reported that 306 soldiers from World War 1 who were court-martialed for cowardice and executed, had been pardoned by the British Government. The cemetery where these men were buried was also shown. Isolated rustic looking poles, each with a plaque with the man’s name, protruded out of the ground. There was something rather tragic about this cemetery with its statue of a young soldier standing blindfolded waiting to be shot.

There was an interview with the daughter of a man, Private Harry Farr who was sentenced and shot for cowardice. It was desperately sad to watch the pain of this woman as she told the story. During a particular battle Harry Farr began to experience a bad attack of what was then called shell-shock. He was hospitalized for a period of six weeks. When the doctors diagnosed him as being well enough, he was sent back to the front straight in to the battle of the Somme. In the engagement he once again had an attack and refused to go over the top. He was court-martialed for cowardice and sentenced to be shot.

The execution was carried out and his parents received notification that on such and such a date he had been shot at dawn for cowardice. His father, an ex – military man and his brothers, who had also fought in the war, never spoke about him. The daughter telling the story shared how difficult this was and also spoke about the shame and abuse that was heaped on them as a family. His name was not placed on the roll of honour and his military pension was cut off, leaving his family destitute having to eke out an existence through all sorts of menial and degrading ways.

The last ten years had been spent by the daughter trying to get him a pardon, which finally came through together with 305 others. One could see the relief and joy of her success. It was extremely touching. Let it also be said that there were three seventeen-year-olds among those who were shot. When you think of your own son at age seventeen it boggles the mind.

What kind of structure and perception did this to that man and the others and their families? It was a structure permeated with unredeemed masculine energy, which firstly, believed the lie that war is the only means of negotiation, and secondly, that when the true humanity of one of its own revolts against the insanity, you destroy it because it wasn’t “brave” or “tough” enough.

It’s striking to note that it was a woman, positive female energy, who finally restored sanity, stability and compassion to a situation and a memory that was totally warped and unbalanced.

Posted in Differences between men and women, Family, history, inspiration, Life, Male and Female responses, Men and Women, Warfare | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

From My Sketchbook – 34

I’ve been doing a bit of Zen art which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Here’s a quick Zen like sketch I did yesterday. I’ve been fascinated by the role of the line, the space and simplicity of the art form. I’m trying to learn the art of creating and seeing a steady line which is such an important part of Zen art.

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Posted in Art, From My Sketchbook, imagination, inspiration | 23 Comments

A Man’s Story

I remember visiting an elderly man who had lost his wife suddenly. He lived alone in a small flat and had a daughter and son-in-law who popped in regularly just to make sure he was coping.The times I spent with him were rich, and listening intently to his story, touched me deeply.

I can only describe his history as being that of a “man’s man.” He grew up in a traditional family where the roles of men and women were clearly defined, and after his marriage he was quick to apply these roles in his own home and family. He went on extended hunting and fishing trips. He became emotionally detached and distant from his wife and children leaving her to do most of the nurturing in the family. He spent hours making knives, drinking heavily and visiting the club which kind of became a second home. However, in spite of all this, he was materially a good provider and often prided himself in that.

In the later years, because of ill health, he became more and more dependent on his wife. He was plagued by guilt for things he did and didn’t do. The more she helped him, the more guilty he felt. Then, one night as they got ready to go to sleep, he reached across and kissed her. The following morning he woke up with her dead beside him. She had died of a heart attack in her sleep – who could ever grasp what she’d been through. His struggle to recover from this was at times unbearable and deeply painful.

I saw him sometime ago. He has taken to planting and nurturing the most beautiful African Daisies. Seeing this hard man with his gnarled fingers planting and stroking these beautiful little flowers has done something to me. He also has a little dog now which he dotes upon.

Why is it that so many men only discover their nurturing capacities late in life? If only this man’s family could have received just something of what he now gives to those little flowers and that little dog. But I celebrate that little dog and those little daisies; in their own healing way they have touched something deep inside of him, hence the tears that often well up in his eyes.

I think male nurturing is as natural as the rain. We’ve just forgotten how and the world is the poorer for it. But, having said that, the change I see in the younger men around me today, gives me great joy and hope. :)

Posted in Communication, Differences between men and women, Family, Life | Tagged , , , | 32 Comments

Extracts From My Journal – 1

Sunday, 15 February 2015 at 23:16

No one disputes the need for morality, but I’ve often asked myself if there aren’t moments in life when we are so full of morality that there’s simply no space left for compassion. I know there are. I saw an example of one such moment today.

Posted in Life, My Journal | Tagged , | 43 Comments

Back From London

We have finally arrived back from London. Had a wonderful time there with the family. I have missed you all and will, as of tomorrow, make contact with your blogs. I so look forward to that. Hope you’ve all kept well.

Just to share some personal news with you:

We’ve been visiting our family every year, sometimes twice a year, for approximately 14 years now. Leaving London and coming back to South Africa has always been a bit traumatic for us, especially for Jane. This time it just seemed more intense and difficult. I’m not sure why. Perhaps all our times of leaving have finally caught up with us.

So, we have made the decision to move to the UK, which in a sense has become a kind of second home to us. We want to be closer to our family to share just a little more in their lives. They have often urged us on to make this decision, so now we have and hope to be in the UK by June this year.

We are extremely excited about it and are looking forward to another challenging and exciting chapter in our life together. We are under no illusions, it’s not going to be easy, but we are extremely positive as we begin to launch out on this venture with confidence and a sense of new vision.

So there you have it, we’ve made what is possibly the biggest decision of our lives.

Good to be chatting with you all again. :)

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See You Next Year

We are off to spend Christmas with our Kids in London. We have a lot lined up this holiday and can’t wait to be with them. I won’t be blogging until I get back in the new year. May I thank all of you who have participated in and supported my blog, and for your nourishing and life-filled posts throughout the year. You have all been such a gift and source of inspiration to me. May I also wish everyone a bright and celebrative Christmas and a New Year filled with hope and fulfilled dreams. All the best,  and I’ll see you next year. :-)

Posted in Blogging, Life | Tagged | 50 Comments