Posts Tagged ‘anger’

I begin with an apology to those who have downloaded my story “Winter on the hill”. I’ve been going through it in recent days and discovered it’s riddled with more typos than usual. This is embarrassing. There’s a fresh copy on Smashwords now which tidies it up somewhat. Still, there’s no getting away from the fact I’ve been a bit distracted this year. We all have, I know. But worse, I began the year angry, and that’s never a good sign, and certainly not a good start.

It suggests there were more shadow issues inside me than I’d thought. This is always the case, the shadow leading us on a merry dance all our lives – a blessing when we can spot his tricks, a curse when we do not. The trigger for my anger was the result of the December 2019 election and the rout of Leftist politics, to which I’d hitched my wagon, my shadow plainly visible in those talking heads I’d labelled “right wing nutjobs”, “gammons” and “swivel eyed loons”. I’d seen the election as the last chance for a reversal in our direction of travel as a nation – less poverty, a renewal of the regions, and a green new deal. The majority of my countrymen, however did not agree.

2019 was an ugly year, a year of lies, fakery and flying spittle. It was also the year I realized it was no longer possible to make sense of anything, that the optical apparatus of the western world is so bent out of shape it swerves all semblance of truth. We have resolved it out of the equation of our life and times, and are thereby building a new Zeitgeist on quicksand, one in which the poor sink first, while sustaining the rich on their backs. In some respects, then, 2020 is the year we deserved, if only as a reminder there are some things that have an inescapable truth about them. You can ignore them all you like, say they’re not true, but that won’t make them go away. There were those who denied the existence of Covid from the beginning. Indeed, even with seventy-five thousand dead in the UK, some still do.

So the lesson of 2020 is that truth does not belong to those who shout the loudest, or to those who pour the most money into public relations. I don’t know where we’re going as a nation, only that I’m not angry about it any more, and I have “Winter on the Hill”, and my dialogue with its various characters to thank for that. I accept some people firmly believe in things I think are strange, and I accept persuading them otherwise is not a matter of pointing out my own version of the truth. Indeed, this is as likely to inflame them, as it runs counter to their own world view, that dialogue – true dialogue is presently impossible.

This is not to say I no longer believe, for example, that BREXIT is the biggest act of self harm in our post-war history. It’s an opinion based on an analysis of geopolitics and global economics, at least in so far as I understand these things. Many more of course understand things differently and therefore disagree with my view. But Winter on the Hill has taught me not to label these contrary opinions as merely crackpot, or even dare I say dangerous? It has also granted me some insight into the reasons Brexiteers think the way they do. But reaching this point you find you have transcended politics. You have swapped partisanship for the hill-craft necessary in crossing the daunting terrain as it now presents itself in 2021 and beyond.

The sight of Londoners fleeing the Capital, before the new Tier 4 rules came in, reminds me we shall not be spared the stupidity of crowds any time soon. The temporary blockading of the Channel ports and the halting of continental freight is a reminder of the fragility of the supply chains keeping our supermarkets stocked. But my hill-craft also tells me this is simply the nature of the new landscape we are traversing, and this, the incoming and decidedly inclement weather. Better to prepare for it than merely shake our fist.

I wish I could say I think 2021 will be any less “distracting”, that the stories I write will be free from error, but I suspect this will not be the case. What I can say though is that a partisan anger at the poverty, the foodbanks and the holes in the road has gone, and is in any case counterproductive. It doesn’t solve the problem, but if the best I can do is buy the homeless guy a sandwich and a cup of tea, then so be it. That’s all I could ever do. Compassion is a bottom up thing, and we’d all do well to remember that, because it’s only by the grace of God it’s not us sitting there instead of him.

And yes, come the next election, there’s a chance we’ll be falling over ourselves again to vote for more of the same, because most of us are not interested in solutions to longer term questions, even those concerning the sustainability of the species. We just want to know how to go on living as we are right now, without changing anything, even when we know change is likely coming, and the truth of the world is poking us in the eye day by day, by way of warning.

True hillcraft requires more than knowledge of the ropes and a gung-ho spirit. It requires a calmness of mind. It requires us to have the confidence not to go jumping at every passing fluffy cloud that sweeps the tops, but equally we must beware the overconfidence that scorns the anvil-heads. Angry, we remain blind to the subtlety of the way ahead, and come to grief in quick-time. Only by calmness do we navigate winter on the hill, and see ourselves safely to the other side. This is not to say I’m done with the shadow, only this particular manifestation of it. Heaven knows where he’ll take me next.

My thanks to everyone who has kept me company over the year and my very best wishes to you all.

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on the beda fell ridgeNormal is whatever we are prepared to put up with, and whatever we are prepared to put up with becomes normal. I’ve witnessed a lot of stuff this week that strikes me as being symptomatic of a new normal, one existing on the surface of an anger that’s coming to the boil. I’ve witnessed bad tempered exchanges between usually placid individuals, I’ve received emails in SHOUTY CAPITALS. I’ve also been expected to laugh at racist jokes, and to share in racist opinions.

My resistance to all of this has been to meet grumpiness with calm. I respond to shouty capitals by not responding at all. As for the racist jokes, I do not laugh at them. But as a strategy, I fear such mechanisms are as effective as hiding my head in the sand. I can pretend all I like, but the world is still out there, and its normality is morphing in ways that disturb me.

To make matters worse, I’ve been accused of grumpiness myself. Perhaps it’s true. I excuse it by claiming the reason is I’m witnessing an eclipse of the sun by a giant, black, angry balloon pumped up by all this hot air spouting from a million snarling mouths. It’s not normal, this thing, and I want to resist it, because only by our collective acquiescence can it ever become established as the New Normal. If I am negative it is out of desperation, searching for the pin that will burst this vile bubble, and restore daylight to the world.

To push the metaphor a little further, the greater the eclipse, the harder it is to see the decay, in the same way candlelight will hide the dust and mould of the most toxic environment, render it normal, even cosy until it makes us ill. Daylight reveals the world as it is, reveals it lately as disturbing – disturbing also we risk no longer being disturbed by it, that we are so easily habituated, normalised to this thing, this tide in the Zeitgeist that is definitely not normal.

Contrary to all of this, contemporary spiritual belief speaks of an imminent awakening, a blossoming of consciousness, likening it to the exponential rate of change of technological development, at present bewildering and exploding wonders on a daily basis. Yes, our flowering is imminent, the gurus tell us, even though all evidence is pointing the other way, that we are returning to a state of unconsciousness, one our technology is aiding and abetting, as much as it is resisting.

I read back over my stuff and wonder if I’m all right, if I’ve simply grown too old to be of use any more, or if I’ve been crawling about on the plain for too long and need to haul my bones up a hill, gain some fresh perspective and some real oxygen, rather than hyperventilating on this synthetic stuff we’re all breathing now via online media. Maybe that’s it – only the dead-zones provide us with anything approaching the real normal any more, places where the Internet struggles and 4G is but a distant dream.

I know of a few places like that, lost valleys, remote bays, high passes. Perhaps I should flee there and become celibate, in the literary sense I mean, shield my flame in the privacy of private journals, instead of standing out in the rain and wind all the time. Let me remind myself Normal is the sigh of the wind in the trees, the sparkle of sunlight on water, the sound of birds and the scent of the wild. Everything else, the good and the bad of it, is just the stuff we make up in our heads, reflective of all the ups and downs of the psyche.

If I am grumpy then, it’s because I do not accept any other normality as genuine, and reject it as unwholesome. Grumpiness feels like a pin to burst the balloon, but it’s not. It only adds to the pain of the world, just as every frown aids the eclipse, hastens the transition to the new, darker normality. I know, it’s just easier, when surrounded by frowny-faces to forget how to smile, how, when met with grumpiness, to respond with an even temper, and how when met with bigotry and racism, to call it out for what it is. This, this is the pin to burst the balloon, and we all posses it.

So breathe, relax, smile. At times like these, it is the opposite of what’s expected. It is the ultimate act of subversion.

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