Island Blog – A Wasp and a Think

There’s a wasp. With intentions. She flies into my garage-cum-woodstore at this time every year. I know exactly what she is up to. She is planning to build a nest but I am not having that. However, I am no killer of anything, even if I am sorely tempted to thwack her with my niblick. Envisioning, as I am, the shrieking of grandlings at barbecues or picnics, the panicked swatting and the wasp in the wine thingy, I do some research and what I find is a lookalike hornets nest, made of nothing hornety but giving out a clear message to this small and dangerous zeppelin that this spot is already taken by folks who would actively discourage, with stinging precision, any such property development near their own. A pack of four is already ordered. If it works, my forays into the garage will no longer need to be at night and I will be free to walk through my garage-cum-woodstore and on up to the back garden without having to don my wet suit for protection, because no wasp, hornet, nor bee will happily sit back to observe a human, dog, deer, cow or horse moving close by their home without having to have a few words. I know this well because once, and only once, I walked a little too close to the front door of a bee hive.

It thinks me about perception. The aforementioned insects see their world through their own eyes, as we do our own. Then (break it down) a bee, a hornet, a wasp also see their own world through their own eyes, each perception different to the other. Just imagine, then, all the people who also see life according to their own experiences, colour, culture, age, creed and opinions. Unless we all allow this, we will not find unity, nor peace, for we are obliged to live close together unlike the animal kingdom who will not. Each of us seeks safety, love, acceptance and friendship amongst a zillion other things but we don’t all necessarily see X as X. It might be Y to this person, A to another, 9 to a third and 257 to a fourth. Stepping back from this chaotic melee, I can see Banksy got it right. He sees this clearly and probably wonders why on earth we are still expecting others to think the way we do, to live the same way, work to the same principles, when this will absolutely never happen. No. We must learn to observe only and then to respect without judgement. Some people eat with their fingers. So what! Others stick their knees under dining tables that need constant repair in order to hold up all that cutlery. Again, so what! If we simply observe, learn, acknowledge and respect, then now we are talking. And we probably are – talking – instead of muttering opinions just out of or just in earshot, our backs facing that which we don’t understand and are not prepared to allow, not on this street, in this school, at this event, inside our own home.

The thing about radical change is that it doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t come through a new law. It comes through one ordinary person deciding to change his or her own heart around this issue, then another, then another until a whole street is so busy acknowledging, allowing and respecting and living in harmony with a zillion differences, judging none, that people come from further afield to see what is making this street so much happier than their own. The ultimate power, the game-changing power lies exclusively with us, the ordinary people. History will bear me out for it has aye been thus. When resolute people join together they can topple anything and anyone but we have forgotten this. Settling comfortably into the confines of the nanny state, our voices have grown hoarse at best, silent at worst. We have grown weak. But none of us really want war, not against another country, another creed, another culture, another vulnerable human being. Our world is changing. The peoples are moving whether they want to or not and we must learn to live well with that or nothing changes.

We might want to think about it a bit.

Island Blog 146 Travelling Light

suitcaseAs I pack my bag for the trip to the Reader Room on Skye, I meet all sorts of thought tangles. What to take, what not to take and in which suitcase. The big stripey one or the smaller spotty one? Both have noisy wheels and both weigh too much empty. I won’t need much, will I? Just jeans and tops, a warm jumper, walking boots, books, notes, wash things, face paint, a frock for the night, leggings. The smaller spotty one will do. Until it won’t.

Travelling light is a dream of mine, almost a passion. I want to be light and flexible, easy to move along please, to glide through doorways, over metal bridges without needing CPR on the other side. I want to fit into that space the huge-suitcased lumberers leave between themselves and the dangerous side of the pavement or platform. To scurry, hurtle, dash with momentum and forward thrust. I want to be at my destination before half of these goodly folk have reached the ticket barrier. I catch earlier trains that way, denying myself the takeaway coffee, the creamy bun. I don’t push or shove. I am perfectly respectful of the Overladen, but my constantly working mind maps out the fast route and my feet take me on. I don’t mind queuing at all and must be the only Brit who doesn’t. I just factor it into my dash to wherever I’m going, and speed up where necessary when momentum is paused.

Travelling light, I tell myself, is a state of mind, a decision. Taking too many changes of clothing, just in case, comes from a place of fear. Will I have the ‘right’ thing to wear? Will I be too cold or too hot? Have I the right shoes? All of this is dithering and arrives me laden, out of breath, hot, bothered, and with a load of unnecessary vestments, not one of which gets beyond crumpling itself in the dark depths of my suitcase. But we all do this dithering, if we’re honest.

When I first decided to travel light, it was to a funeral in Yorkshire. I just needed the gear for the church, and mufti. We said bye bye to the kids, minder, collies and cats and left Tapselteerie. It was coming into York that we discovered we had left the cases in the front hall. As our life had always been lived by making good decisions quickly in the face of adversity, we dived into a dress shop and bought this and this and that, then shoes, and arrived at the funeral with the labels still attached. Nobody cared. It was enough that we had made the journey.

The second time was when I went South for a different occasion, on my own. This time, I did have my lightly packed suitcase with me, too heavy even when empty, and handed it over to the nice Easy Jet steward at check-in. I arrived, my case did not. Mum and I dashed to Sainsbury’s, picked this and this and yes, shoes, and off I went to my date. Nobody cared. It was enough that I had made the journey. My case arrived home ahead of me, minus a handle, rendering it completely pointless.

It has happened since, the careful planning, folding, fitting into a small space, all that I think I might need, in case of shipwrecks, strandings, sudden invitations to a military ball, a funeral, a heatwave in October, that my luggage has abandoned me. I have always found a laugh in it, after my initial fish wife impression. I have borrowed clothes I would never buy, applied make-up all wrong for my small pale face, shared toothpaste, boots and even underwear, but, most of all, I was given the chance to find my sense of humour and to lean on it as my support. In the absence of things, I found people, and people can rise over things every time. It’s boundless, the human spirit, warm and strong and constant. Their handles don’t fall off, and in the main, they do what they say they’ll do, and much, much more.

But we forget don’t we, as we live out our lives as islands.  We think we must have everything we need with us, just in case.  We imagine, with horror, the disaster of being cold, or hot, or lost, or stranded, of our train/ferry/plane being late or worse, cancelled, and yet, in all of those circumstances I have found human warmth and friendship.  I have found team spirit, good attitude and kindness.  In times of trouble, we look to each other.  Sometimes we might consider doing that every day, troubled or not.  It might make us less fearful.  We might engage in sharing ourselves with others until it’s easy to do, natural, uncomplicated.  All of us are alone, but we can travel side by side.

Now I’m going back to fret about packing, about the ferry being cancelled due to gale force 22, the bus breaking down on the way north, and, finally, me arriving on the wrong day.