What’s it all about Alfie? Think that phrase came from a song. I’ve certainly heard it from time to time as I’ve aged, or grown…
Have you ever thought about those two words? Everyone ages, it’s inevitable. But have we all grown?
I’ve been thinking about it over the last few days. It was the topic of discussion in one of the books I read constantly, (yes, constantly, I’ll get to that later), ‘Change Your Paradygm, Change Your Life’, by Bob Proctor. I’ve been on a massive period of growth just lately and it’s been exhausting.
So, when yesterday, I was at the East Kent Ploughing Match with my wife and was just enjoying a moment of massive stillness watching the horse pairs doing their thing and celebrating the sun on my back, warm enough to be hot, but not enough to make me take my jacket off; and celebrating the countryside about me. Beyond the hustle and bustle of the event, marquees, stands, stalls and farm machinery, the sounds of different tractors of all ages and styles, were Willow Woods where I have spent many a restoring hour wandering, the tops of the trees a rolling selection of differing curves of differing greens, and beyond that Telegraph Woods where I spend time with oak on a regular basis, and yes wandering too. Whilst behind me was Stoneheap Farm attached to the land on which I was standing. It was almost as if time was standing still whilst I, still, was aging, but I hope I have been growing a great deal.
I cast my memory back to the summer and there is a significant point of note. I was leading a ‘View Over the Wall Experience’. In the photo (taken on that experience), I am sitting on a poplar tree. A tree I know well. It appears that I am sitting on a branch, and I am, but what appears to be the trunk is also a branch and this is significant. The poplar has actually fallen over, most of its root ball is now vertical and separated from the earth. The earth where poplar gets most of her nutrients, but there is enough of the root ball connected to allow tree to gain all she needs to grow, which is her primary purpose as a living entity. Her trunk is no longer the primary stem, reaching for the sky to grow and support as much life as possible, however it does provide nutrients and water to those branches that now take on the role of trunk. And there are five of them all standing proud above the fallen trunk. The tree wants to live, and it wants to grow. Despite having to weather the storm of what is effectively a major accident, poplar adjusts and adapts and looks for ways to live, to become more, expand and continue to grow.
If we are to learn from the world around us, then, what a message, what a most amazing message. We just have a use our senses and engage in our world and one of the main purposes of life is clear.
Calmly and quietly, everything out there is living and growing. Fox raising a family of cubs, midge laying thousands of eggs, and yes, poplar, even when she has fallen. Fox will also learn from her experiences too.
Us, though, as humans have so many advantages over any other being that we share our planet with; we are sentient, hopefully. We can reason, we have imagination, will, the power of creativity, and destruction, along with intuition and memory. This gives us choices that nothing on this earth has the ability to make, at least not with the consideration that we can.
Surely then the best way to start and to grow is to spend time learning. Learning in whatever way works best for us, whether that’s reading, listening to audiobooks, watching documentaries, going to lectures or whatever way works best for you. Whilst that’s most important to learn, it’s even more important to, then, think about what you’ve learnt, and then after a suitable time of reflection actually implement change based on what you’ve learnt, or at least, consciously decide you don’t need to. You may even then begin to think about how what you’ve read and learnt affects who and what you are and how that affects the choices you’ve made throughout your life.
I’ve been doing that a lot just lately. Some of the realisations I’ve made have been massive. I think I’ve been unconsciously asleep for most of my life. A lady who has known me, from a distance, for most of my life said recently, Simon was just someone who ‘drank and smoked a lot’.
I am not that man anymore.
Yesterday a lady messaged me to tell me she found my writings ‘inspirational’. Hey…
A massive part of that transformation has been learning. I read, a lot. Rarely fiction, I have no time for it. I read about spirituality, psychology, philosophy, business and nature continually. What’s amazing though is that we generally get two or three really useful nuggets from any book; the only way to really learn from a book is to read it over and over, and the book mentioned above is one of these. I think I’m reading it for the fifth time at the moment and I only discovered it last year. It is brilliant and I always seem to read the exact bit that I need at just that moment. I read about 10 pages every day, along with 3 other books.
Am I growing? I hope so. Although, no one’s ever told me I’ve grown up.
Am I aging? I regularly get told I look 10 years younger than I am. Bizarre considering how I blotted out half my life, but I’ll take it. Aging? of course.
Poplar, fox and midge age and grow as their lifestyles dictate. We have the power to vastly accelerate that growth for ourselves. If we choose to.
And where do I go to think and restore? Into the woods of course.
Oak, I’m coming…
Simon Pollard. Countryman and Modern Day Pagan.