I cannot imagine how I leapt between taking what was intended to be a week’s break from the 21st October, until now! But then, so much about 2020 has proved unimaginable and – at any rate – I now find myself reflecting upon the heart of ‘The Christmas Story’ and the importance attached therein to the arrival of a tiny bundle of helpless vulnerability into impossibly difficult circumstances.
A baby. Any baby (the primary point, I believe, of this story of ‘incarnation’ or ‘in-flesh-ness’): a once-upon-a-time you-or-me-shaped baby. How could we think that such a tiny package of heart, soul, mind and body could ever survive and thrive within a fractious environment like life on Planet Earth?
Well: instead of thinking, we have to engage in believing, and then make the leap from believing into loving, and feeding and cherishing and nursing and supporting until tiny vulnerability progresses from infant to toddler, to scholar, to teenager, to adulthood – all the while retaining the blueprint of vulnerability with which we all arrive in this world, and with which we will depart it.
Whether born in a cattle-shed or a palace, all-inclusive loving is the only viable way forward from human nativity onwards – and that very loving (whether giving or receiving) is fraught with human risk and unreliability.
Wherever we are in the world today, you who are my known and beloved friends and family, and you whose lives (and vulnerabilities) I’ll never see or know or imagine, steeped as we are in the world’s many and varied belief and support systems, may reflection upon our own incarnation, vulnerability, and continuing development remind us of the roads we’ve travelled, and will keep on travelling, one baby-step at a time. And therein, may we find Peace xx
Big cheers for the gorgeous West Coast of Scotland today. Looking across to the Isle of Arran from Seamill, with salt air on the tongue, a Scottish breakfast that had included black pudding and haggis warming the tum, wind tousling one’s mop, the loveliest company, ever-changing light, and glad watching of the CalMac ferry to-ing-and-fro-ing are among life’s richest experiences …
You choose how your life is going to be. Don’t let anyone make decisions for you unless they’ve got your head on their neck and your heart in their chest. Be a leader. A leader of your own life. And don’t get yourself to a point where you realize that you are on a road that is not your own. And, no, leadership does not mean that you have to be popular or have people following you. Being a leader is about leading your own mind’s logic and leading your heart’s reason. Be cognizant of the decisions that your mind and heart make, and your life will be much more meaningful and rewarding.
Najwa Zebian Mind Platter
A BRIEF REMINDER TO MYSELF
Take the Lead. Now there’s a challenge in times when the very notion of leadership – or the perceived lack thereof – is taking some stick all around the world. But what an important and necessary challenge! I am responsible for my own life. I can decide to stand tall and smile – two simple actions that change the way I go about my day.
I am responsible for doing everything I can to maintain my personal sense of general wellbeing – no matter the constantly changing circumstances, or the opinions, patterns, politics or preferences of others. I have not abrogated that responsibility to a prime minister, nor to a president, doctor, neighbour, nurse, partner, teacher, friend or family member – though I need to remind myself of that fact from time to time, and albeit that I am grateful whenever effective and necessary leadership and service for the good of all is provided by any or all of these.
I am the leader of my own life – and complex and demanding a responsibility as that is, and though I may fail more than I’d prefer to, whilst gratefully in possession of my faculties I am not powerless. And therein lies my hope and my chief reason for gratitude as, in company with all humankind, I continue to chart my course through strange and difficult times.
Spectacular Autumn colours minutes from my kitchen door – together with lungs full of cool but not yet cold fresh air – make for a great start to the day. I’ve often wondered what makes us so sensitive to light and colour. Unrelenting grey days do indeed make me feel grey. Bright blue and green and gold, on the other hand, and I’m ready for anything!
… nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things
I want to say such a fond farewell to MV Columbus – the beautiful, friendly ship with whom I met some truly wonderful new friends and visited some of the world’s great cities – among them Aarhus, Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm, St Petersburg and …
I smile as I think of a morning in the stunningly beautiful Tallin, in Estonia. Along with a couple of friends, we were attracted to a lovely looking street café that was apparently famous for, and had an extensive menu describing, about a dozen different flavoured lemonades. Back and forth we went, for half an hour or more: strawberry lemonade, marmalade lemonade, lightly peppered lemonade, and so on. Several times we sent the young waitress away for another few minutes until we’d settled on our choices. Eventually we were sure. The waitress reappeared and we named our desires. “Sorry,” she said, in perfect English, “we’ve only got lemonade today!”
Post Covid-19, Columbus has been sold at auction, and has been described as being “in limbo” for the time being. May she sail again in better times. And may she bring joy to others as she has to me.
‘Tis a strange thing. My brain doesn’t appear to work in quite the same way it used to. Does yours? Having watched this evening’s broadcasts about the latest C-19 restrictions here in the UK my brain announced, loud and clear, that what I required, fairly urgently, was cherry pie! And who can argue with that? … And yes, of course: with double cream. Hands up, who ate cherry pie tonight?