Earlier this week when I went out with the dogs there was a ‘clear example’ of nature giving a ‘clear example’ of one of the sayings I used to discuss with my son. When he looked to the future, when he ‘grew up’, I always used to say the same thing. Either go for the top of the tree, architect, solicitor, accountant, something like that, or go for the lower end, get a trade you can build a business out of.
At the top of the downs, that I walk most mornings, because the view of the sunrise is spectacular, the view of the sunrise was, of course, spectacular. There was a clear cloudy C in the sky. Some have said it was IC and some YC. What do you see in the picture?
As I walked down the hill there was a clear edge to the fog. As I entered it the world closed in. What had been a view of several miles in the north and a mile or two to the east and west became little more than a few meters in any direction. The temperature also dropped noticeably, and the air felt damp. After a couple of hundred meters or so, you can never be completely sure in fog, just as instantly, it vanished. Hedgerows, out of site previously, once again reappeared, much nearer and clear. Berries of hawthorn were immediately obvious, along with elderberries and blackberries, nestling alongside the flowers of honeysuckle, still in flower at this time of year, having had the longest flowering season I can remember. The year, has been bizarre, this year… love mixing my nouns.
As you might imagine an amazing visual example of exactly the conversations I used to have with my son.
That then reminded me of the vlog I recorded last weekend about Freedom, and a phrase I have often used. ‘It’s very hard to break some one out of a prison if they don’t know they are in one’. I mentioned it to a bloke I met at a networking meeting, he took a moment and then agreed, ‘that’s brilliant’. He’s a business coach, so marketing head is probably going into overload. LOL You heard it here first.
The reason I bring that up is the extremes are best, generally, if you’re looking for freedom, which most of us would say we are. However, most of us are in the murk in the middle, we just don’t know it, or accept it and often are happy with it. Numb.
Let me explain, modern life likes people to be in debt, whether that debt is intentional or not. Intentional debt, mortgage, car loan or PCP are great examples. Any financial commitment that requires you to commit to a monthly payment is a debt. Now because when you realise that it hurts, society has found various ways to numb that pain. Alcohol, nicotine, sex or adrenaline are acceptable (!) distractions within our modern society. Not only do they numb the pain, but the downs are often pretty grim and only add to the pain. In fact, they are so addictive we keep coming back for more. Often getting ourselves into more debt.
Many of us are unhappy, suicide rates are higher than they’ve ever been and despite the huge increase in the acceptability of mental health as something we no longer need to be ashamed of, those rates aren’t changing.
Many human beings suffer massively with cognitive dissonance. Despite knowing that our habits, the activities we engage in are bad for us, we do them anyway. An easy example, many of us, myself included, are overweight. We know the only way to loose weight is to either eat less or eat different things. Do we do it, even though we know we should?
That’s cognitive dissonance.
Whats to do?
Most of us do nothing, which generally will make life worse, hence the rise in mental wellbeing concerns and suicide. You can’t break people out of a prison if they don’t know they’re in one.
If we go back to the foggy image, lets look at the top and the bottom. All the people I know who ‘have’ apparently got lots of money will tell you, ‘it’s not the money that’s important, it’s the freedom that having the money gives you.’
That’s easy then we’ll all be millionaires.
My mate Pete did alright for himself, had loads of money and a lifestyle that took him around the world. The trade off for him, two bottle of whiskey a day.
Eventually he lost everything, his last employer sacked him and checked him into Rehab, in China.
He’s currently walking the Saxon shore way and raising money for meningitis research.
Prety much all he has is a tent, a sleeping bag and a rucksack. When he’s not on the trail he’s kipping on his cousins sofa.
He’ll also tell you he’s happier than he’s ever been. No ties and no commitments.
He’s slowly building his life back up, but it’ll be on his terms.
I’m not suggesting that you chuck everything in and become a hobo either.
The first thing to do is wake up to your reality. Then as Morpheus said in the Matrix, you can decide whether to take the red pill of the blue pill.
Now, where do I do my thinking? Well in my garden of course, a designed calming and restorative place, because that’s what I need to function in this world. One of my thinking spots!
Simon Pollard, Garden Designer and countryman. September 2023