The Alchemy of Adventure

The alchemy of adventure. Thea’s story reminds me of the importance of having adventures and if you haven’t had one in a awhile then purposefully create one as Thea did. Adventures are the currency of growth, expansion and new realities

Another Big Adventure

I recently returned from 6 weeks sailing around Britain, a rip-roaring ride of an adventure. Roaring rips like that take time, so it is only now, back in the suddenly splendid comfort of my land-life, that I can write about it.

Rather than drag you through an Odyssean epic first post covering the tales and teachings of a six-week voyage at sea in one go, I begin with the gold that adventures deliver at their ending. Stories of sirens, sea monsters, muppets at sea and angelic, exocet dolphins will follow in time.

There is alchemy in adventure, a natural, magical process of turning lead into gold. You step out of your world, into the unknown and everything renews, refreshes, regrows, and some of those things are so new, that they don’t even need a prefix. In my experience it is primarily in the unknown and fresh realms of experience and…

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Spring Camino 2014: A Tale Of Two Caminos

IMAG1117-2I met Dan McCarthy when I was walking the Camino Francais from the Spanish border with Spain to Santiago De Compostela in October 2012.  Dan was back in 2013 and guested the Spring Camino blogs here in 2013.   He has just returned from his most recent walk this time on the Camino Portugese walking from Lisbon north through Portugal to eventually cross the border with Spain and walk into Galicia to Santiago.  Dan’s yearly commitment astounds and humbles me, not least because he will be 80 this year.  He has given me kind persmission to publish his reflections on the differences of these two caminos.  Dan offers “A Camino is in a way a life time in miniature.  It does not lend itself to facile analysis. But here is my effort.

IN MY BEGINNING IS MY END
“In my beginning is my end” says TS Eliot in East Coker, one of his Four Quartets. I happened to be reading East Coker for a discussion group in which I participate and have found several passages which seem to help me to articulate my thoughts about this Camino. I hope TS will forgive me if I totally distort the meaning of his great poetry in bending it to make some sense of my experience.

A first impression of a major difference in the two Caminos, the Camino Francais which I have walked eight times, and the Camino Portuguese is the difference in their beginnings. And I believe that difference colored the whole experience for me.

CAMINO FRANCAIS
The first day or two of the Camino Francais is a 15 mile climb up the northern slope of the Pyrenees to the Monastery of Roncesvalles which commemorates the setting of the eighth century battle of the rearguard of Charlemagne’s army which is enshrined in the Song of Roland, an epic poem of the French language. The monastery has been a refuge for pilgrims for close to a thousand years. One of the high points of the stop for me is the Pilgrim Mass at 6PM when the celebrant announces the places around the world from which the pilgrims who arrived that day have come. After Mass The celebrant blesses pilgrims in their native language and then in a darkened Chapel we all sing in Gregorian Chant the Salve Regina.

For the next couple of days pilgrims negotiate a rather steep incline, struggling in places and stopping at a couple of lovely small towns, to arrive at the magnificent walled city of Pamplona.  The pilgrim hostel in Pamplona is across the street from the Cathedral where on Sunday you can attend a Mass sung in Gregorian chant. Leaving Pamplona and arriving in Puente La Reina I stay at a monastery of the Padres Reparadores and attend Mass in the 12th Century church of Santiago.

Two characteristics summarize “my beginning” in the Camino Francais, the spectacular natural beauty of the climb up and down the mountains and the availability of a nourishing liturgical life. In fact I had not reflected on this latter blessing until I thought of the contrast with the Portuguese Camino. Another characteristic of the Camino Francais I should mention is the presence of other pilgrims along the way.  In the early years of my walking usually just a scattered few up ahead or behind, now many more some times too many.  For me all of this creates the aura of THE CAMINO that is palpable.  I have said in the past I experience the Camino as a country 10 yards wide and 500 miles long winding country  across northern Spain. It becomes my land, a place where I feel at home. Much of the Camino Francais is not actually so rich in Liturgical experiences. Churches are often not open and the surroundings are not always so uplifting. But that beginning sense of being at home endures. And the company of other pilgrims who seem to share that same sense of belonging is constant.

CAMINO PORTUGUESE
I am now entering risky territory, a comparison about which I have some strong feelings.  Comparisons are odious. If you are thinking of doing the Camino Portuguese please consult other impressions to form a more objective opinion.

I began walking the Camino Portuguese not from the Cathedral in Lisbon the traditional starting place, but at Moscavide, a suburb of Lisbon about 6 miles into the first stage beyond the beginning at the Cathedral. I took this short cut because I was already getting close to my limit of days to walk. I had taken three days off to visit the Azores and going into Lisbon from the Airport would have cost me another day while Moscavide was five minutes from the airport and had a Youth Hostel on the Camino, although it had no official relationship to the Camino. Also starting 6 miles into the Camino reduced the first day’s walk from 19 miles to 13 miles of city streets through some industrial areas, some picturesque walks along the river Tagus. I stayed that night in a pensao, a B&B with no particular connection to the Camino. I had not seen any pilgrims that day and was the only guest in the B&B. Most of the walk during the first week or so was on city streets or highways

I continued this routine for the next four or five days. No other pilgrims, no signs of any religious institutions, not churches, not monasteries, not albergues and not another pilgrim. The route was flat but long; 18,19 mile days long, staying in pensaos usually the only guest. While there were way marks they only marked where the route turned. I am used to marks frequently along the way and when they disappear I am aware I missed one. The more sparse marking requires much greater vigilance and consequently I got lost several times, once adding about  5 miles to a 19 mile day. Feeling lost began to be the predominant emotion of the walk a vivid contrast with the sense of being at home on the Camino Francais. Once in a wooded area the way marks disappeared entirely because the trees that had been marked had been cut down for some construction. Some workers got me back on the way.

This beginning as you can see turned into an uncomfortable anxious experience. A friend with a Buddhist background reminded me that desire causes suffering. So I began to reflect on what was the desire that was causing this anxiety. At the most superficial level I realized it was my concern about finding a place for the night. When you’ve been walking for six or seven hours with no end in sight incipient panic rises. But in my effort to get these desires under control it dawned on me what a powerful form of ascetism it is to give up your place of rest. It was what Jesus didBut Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20.  The holy men of India are said to sleep by the side of the road. I struggled with the sense of being lost, of not being at home on this. Camino for the rest of my walk. “In my beginning…”.  I never felt at home as I do on the Camino Francais. I do wonder if this anxiety had something to do with my physical problems at the end.

What to do with this feeling of not being at home?  It occurs to me that in a couple of weeks I will complete 80 yrs of age. It’s harder and harder to ignore that I am in the land of seniorhood. And some of this land feels a bit strange. My body is of course weakening and memory is a bit vague at times. My eyesight is not as sharp as it used to be. And hearing is slightly impaired. Was the Portuguese Camino a vivid  introduction to THIS new land? Here are some of T.S. Eliot’s thoughts about the land of seniorhood from East Coker:

Old men ought to be explorers
Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning

And
In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

And
Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless
IMAG0968ULTREYA and BUEN CAMINO TO ALL

100 Days Of Awe: Day One Hundred – Little Miss Blackberry

Day 100: Little Miss BlackberryIMAG5364In the scheme of things today is a cycle of life from sunrise to sunset, what we define as a day.  In the world of innocence and wonder a unique coagulation of energy and atoms that only exist in the moment but in the world of order and definition this is the last day of June and the last day of my 100 Days Of Awe project.  I make up it has a poignancy to it, a bitter sweetness as pleasure slips into the past, that there has to be a culmination, a pinnacle, an apex, a crescendo.  What I am making up creates tension; the need to capture an extra special moment as a fitting finale for this little project, the mental orchestration of classifying my moments of awe on some sort of scale, I am caught in a trap, putting the squeeze on myself.  I observe that where I am is diametrically opposed to what this project is about.  The project is about awe and wonder, an exploration of the multi-dimensional prism of my innocence and about revelling in each hermetically sealed bubble of the elixir of Now.  It is not about capturing something that is better or worse or about going somewhere different or displaying some new knowledge.  It is just a beautiful excuse to be fully present in the moment, to flex the muscle of surrender to just be.

Today was a day like many of my days on this journey; hunkered down at home, whittling away at my creations, focusing on the gentle extrapolation of the path to my end results.  Like a hound sniffing a scent there is something about getting ‘a job’, about putting structures in place to support my heart, it is a tightrope walk between seeing myself beholden to some authority outside myself and choosing to work because service is embedded in my Nirvana.  I know I will know it when it comes along, but until then I have to just keep sniffing my way, calibrating the long list of Gumtree and jobsite offerings against an inner compass.*  It is a task that triggers my anxiety, so many jobs, too little time and my day can so easily leak away into the void of the internet sucking the heart right out of me.  Against that suction I choose to take myself away to that place that has been a font of aweness on this journey; Wormwood Scrubs – a hole in the fabric of this city that allows in the drafty breathe of the heavens.  Moment after awesome moment unfold, which one to choose?  In the end I am drawn into the upturned innocence of this spunky budding blackberry and my imaginary world of anthromorphisation that shakes me loose of the clay of shoulds and supposed tos.  A beautiful pink and green moment of magic and I have an album of shots as a beautiful encore to this blog project too.

* Just a few days later I am offered a door to door canvasing job to sell organic box subscriptions for Able &Cole.  I am apprehensive, it is 100% commission, it is alot of leg work, I normally do not have the heart for sales.  But I love organic food, I am excited about a company that has a Zen room for Mindfulness practise and hammocks in the garden – who have a garden for goodness sake.   I am on the tightrope; my heart sings while my ego frets about my capabilities.

100 Days of Awe is a playful project I set up to bring my attention to awe in my daily life. I see awe as wonder, a mixture of amazement and respect.  I expect the experience of awe to be about perception shifting awareness and that demands a reframing of some sort.  I am excited to see what will awe me on this journey.

Anne K. Scott is an imagination technologist, her work to teach, facilitate and deliver innovation for individuals and business.  She is the creator of FindYourMojo a FREE iPHone productivity app. If you are interested in what intuitive coaching can do for you or your business please do contact me.  I support clients all over the world.

100 Days Of Awe: Day Ninety Nine – Oh My What Big Leaves You Have

Day 99: Oh My What Big Leaves You Have IMAG5463Sunday was a house keeping kinda day.  Still not really looking like Summer but nonetheless I thought it was about time to dig out my frocks and tee-shirts so it was off to resurrect them from my friend’s lock up tucked away in the world that rubs up against the sturdy pillars of the Westway – the throbbing arterial from Central London out west.  It is an unprepossessing corner of Kensington with workshops and garages beneath glowering tower blocks gashed through by the six lane motorway and the over ground underground Circle line.  I was surprised to see this giant leafed tree, with pointy acorn like buds.   I didn’t have my phone with me to take a photo.

At home it was cycles of washing and ironing and crafting of emails for my Uganda Project fund raising drive before being treated to a home cooked chicken dinner.  Dinner was indeed delicious and worthy of much awe but it was the leaves that caught my attention and stayed with me. It was the leaves that had me journeying back to the lock up not once but twice to try and capture photos worthy of a blog post and photos that would be useful for identification.  You see I had no idea what tree this might be, neither did a friend I asked.  I thought it can’t be that complicated.  This is not a botanical garden with rare and unusual species; this is a little kerchief of green in a concrete jungle.  I thought it would be fun and perhaps garner me some dendrelogical kudos to be knowledgeable but despite hours, well perhaps an hour or two, pouring over internet pictures and attempting to answer tree identification quizes I didn’t get very far.  This is a giant leaf about 20 cms long, it looks triangular with little spiky corners – like shoulder pads but that doesn’t seem to fit a recognised leaf shape template.  It isn’t quite a deltoid or a cordate, perhaps a cross between a saggitate and a reniform with pointy genes of a hastate.  Who knew that tree identification was so technical? I was hard pushed to describe the bark, kinda grey-brown and knobbled and the buds; well I wasn’t able to reach them let alone squeeze them to know their texture or contents.  I attracted attention even taking pictures of the tree – this is where people loiter and eat chips, where plastic bags glide around the side walks and strangers taking pictures of trees are deserving of suspicion.

No doubt there is someone out there who can identify this tree at the drop of a hat.  I thought I needed to be taken out of my misery but truth be told what this tree is called and how it is defined is just that – a definition, an ordering of data for orientation’s sake.  It doesn’t add to the magic of the tree, the uniqueness of it’s very existence, in fact as I discovered it all takes me a long, long away from it, away from that moment when I was lost in it’s big leaved-ness and it reminded of Little Red Riding Hood and the big, big eyes of the Big Bad Wolf.  Knowledge has a lot to answer for sometimes.

100 Days of Awe is a playful project I set up to bring my attention to awe in my daily life. I see awe as wonder, a mixture of amazement and respect.  I expect the experience of awe to be about perception shifting awareness and that demands a reframing of some sort.  I am excited to see what will awe me on this journey.

Anne K. Scott is an imagination technologist, her work to teach, facilitate and deliver innovation for individuals and business.  She is the creator of FindYourMojo a FREE iPHone productivity app. If you are interested in what intuitive coaching can do for you please do contact me.  I support clients all over the world.

100 Days Of Awe: Day Ninety Eight – Welcoming Basil

Day 98: Welcoming BasilIMAG5436Much and all as I was awed and astounded by the torrential waves of rain that swathed through Saturday, the grandiosity of it all was not easily captured by my camera.  Be assured that it was amazing, spilling from a dove grey sky in bouncing beaded curtains of silver raindrops.  Observing Summer in London over the past month it appears to be a different beast than normal, well, should I say expected.  Magnificent cloudy skies, buxom and voluptously blooming, warm underlays of days with assertive sandpaper breezes, and the rain; rushing on to stage in wailing tears of drama. The dropping skirts of heaven, shutting out the warmth of the sun, driving me to put my socks on again and at least once last week jumping into a hot shower to warm up.  Sounding decidedly aged I  admit I am still toasting my toes with a hot water bottle at night although I am sleeping with my windows open.

Anyway the highlight of my day was welcoming basil, a new addition to my window sill.  Now I love basil, the small and the taste and the soft cupped curve of those emerald green leaves.  One of my favourite juice recipes; beetroot, 2 x carrots, 1 x apple and ginger is something special with 3 or 4 sprigs of basil.  The thing is that a packet of basil in the fridge does not take kindly to being squashed or sat upon and more than once recently I have found a forgotten or mislaid bag of soggy mess only identifiable by it’s packaging.  A waste of food, a waste of money.  So why not try a living pot? Been there, tried that.  It didn’t work in fact I thought it was a supermarket con to get you to pay more for the illusion of having one-plant herb garden.  My experience was that the minute Basil saw me s/he wilted and drooped, withering faster than I could eat it and, I felt, was mortally wounded by each leaf that I consumed.  Last week, house sitting, changed everything; when I was introduced to a flourishing basil planet my first reaction was that my old pattern would play out, but catching myself predicting the future I consulted with my friend for a few tips.  He assured me maintaining water levels were key, not into the soil but rather in the holding container. I also decided that this was not about the tedium of doing what had to be done but rather would be a task of care and consideration.  Conversation became a natural addition into the mix.  I even used a few of the leaves, removing them with care and gratitude.  Obviously it is seriously worrying to see a grown woman kowtoo to a plant but I have to say it worked!  Over a week later that planet was alive and thriving. Reinspired; Saturday saw me, in between those wide, loose weave swathes of rain, dashing to Sainsbury’s  to buy my very own living pot sitting on a handpicked spot on the window sill in a special saucer which I keep topped up with water.  There is an orchid and mint for company, they all seem to be settling in together.  I am excited about the new addition to the family and softened by the kindness that s/he brings out in me.

100 Days of Awe is a playful project I set up to bring my attention to awe in my daily life. I see awe as wonder, a mixture of amazement and respect.  I expect the experience of awe to be about perception shifting awareness and that demands a reframing of some sort.  I am excited to see what will awe me on this journey.

Anne K. Scott is an imagination technologist, her work to teach, facilitate and deliver innovation for individuals and business.  She is the creator of FindYourMojo a FREE iPHone productivity app. If you are interested in what intuitive coaching can do for you or your business please do contact me.  I support clients all over the world.

100 Days Of Awe: Day Ninety Seven – Whistling Thistles

Day 97: Whistling ThistlesIMAG5320Oh my goodness and begorrah I fell in love with this pink haired, bristle faced thistle of a fellow on Wormwood Scrubs.  I could swear I heard him whistle and leer with all the innocence of a furry faced Sesame Street monster.  I am loving my attention to nature on this journey of awe, I am more alert to and conscious of the rhythms of the seasons.  I think I must previously have operated with an underlying assumption that noticing something was an arbitary, random event that coincided with a moment of lucidity, this clarity of seeing for a moment accompanied with an incipient guilt that I had been elsewhere, zoned out, not paying attention.  Now I just know I am privy to the petals of nature’s unfolding and whether what I am seeing has been there for awhile or not is neither here nor there.  I just receive what I am seeing with childlike delight and out comes my phone for a snap. That distinction is an extraordinary realisation that completely changes my experience and pleasure of life.  Stepping away from that inner judge and critic I can feel the tapestry of the seasons taking shape in front of me, my curiosity filling in the finer details.  The choice to seek out awe for 100 days is changing my relationship to myself.  I could go back to my old relationship but why would I want that when joy, inspiration and poetry is there just waiting to be received.

Thistles – Ted Hughes (c)

Against the rubber tongues of cows and the hoeing hands of men
Thistles spike the summer air
And crackle open under a blue-black pressure.

Every one a revengeful burst
Of resurrection, a grasphed fistful
Of splintered weapons and Icelandic frost thrust up

From the underground stain of a decayed Viking.
They are like pale hair and the gutturals of dialects.
Every one manages a plume of blood.

Then they grow grey like men.
Mown down, it is a feud. Their sons appear
Stiff with weapons, fighting back over the same ground.
100 Days of Awe is a playful project I set up to bring my attention to awe in my daily life. I see awe as wonder, a mixture of amazement and respect.  I expect the experience of awe to be about perception shifting awareness and that demands a reframing of some sort.  I am excited to see what will awe me on this journey.

Anne K. Scott is an imagination technologist, her work to teach, facilitate and deliver innovation for individuals and business.  She is the creator of FindYourMojo a FREE iPHone productivity app. If you are interested in what intuitive coaching can do for you or your business please do contact me.  I support clients all over the world.

100 Days Of Awe: Day Ninety Six – Lost Tying My Shoelaces

Day 96: Lost Tying My Shoelaces

IMAG5445Every day risks being lost; of being sucked up into the vaccum cleaner of obsession, trapped under the tomes of inessential activity or squashed between the cushions of oblivion.  On this journey it has been close; a Friday here or a Sunday there wracking my brains to write something meaningful and pertinent about a blurry picture of yet another bush or extrapolate something imaginative about an ill advised close up of one of my nostrils.  Fortunately thus far my creative genius has always uncovered a gem,  a photograph that resonates with my heart even if it has no meaning for my rational mind.  On the scent of an oily rag my writing engine comes to life and delectable swirls of chocolately words come spinning off the production line.  Well that is my experience of them, an energy that pours out of me, through me and then glides graceful to a completion in blog sized chunks.

95 days have dodged the bullet as a photo or a clear sliver of memory got the ball rolling.  The 96th day, a Thursday, is a blank; a memory lingered on Friday illusive like a recalcitrant balloon flying free on the breeze, taunting me with it’s closeness but ultimately floating further away as I waited for it to come to heel.  It seems I only have my email Sent box to give me any hint of my dithering on the day, shards of hamster wheel activity, a snowballing of inattention and awe and wonder go out the window.  It is only now as my confession emerges fully formed that I remember the intuitive session first thing in the morning that delivered my action for the day – to be zen, to pour myself fully into each of my activities, one at a time.  I remember now being fully with my tying my shoelaces like I probably haven’t been since I was 4 or 5 when I learnt the skill.  So present that I worried that maybe I would not be able to consciously remember how to tie them.  And now the picture comes.  Perhaps not so much a forgetting as a state of being, just being lived.  No need to capture, to prove.  Looks like my lesson with this project is coming to a close.

100 Days of Awe is a playful project I set up to bring my attention to awe in my daily life. I see awe as wonder, a mixture of amazement and respect.  I expect the experience of awe to be about perception shifting awareness and that demands a reframing of some sort.  I am excited to see what will awe me on this journey.

Anne K. Scott is an imagination technologist, her work to teach, facilitate and deliver innovation for individuals and business.  She is the creator of FindYourMojo a FREE iPHone productivity app. If you are interested in what intuitive coaching can do for you please do contact me.  I support clients all over the world.