Thoughts from the Kiltwalk

On Sunday I took part in Edinburgh’s annual Kiltwalk, 24 miles walking for a small charity I work for. It gave me plenty of time for thinking. Seeing people of all ages joining together to walk to support all sorts of charities and non-profit organisations, country wide to small local ones, put a smile on my face. It was such a wonderful friendly and supportive atmosphere, which was great, but made me wonder why we cannot have that more often these days. People smiling and laughing not stuck on their phones, chatting with each other and enjoying each other’s company. Equally, why online there is more hate and judgement, with trolls determined to bring people down for perhaps looking and/or being different to what they know.

Also, we as people have also physically changed, many of us torturing ourselves over how fat or thin we look, distorting our faces and bodies into the weirdest shapes, and some living their whole lives online. Trying to fit into a world that would rather we all be the same, while we struggle to be individuals as want to fit in. Whilst in other parts of the world they struggle to feed their families, try to stay alive in conflict zones, and coping with non existent medical treatment when things go wrong. What a flawed beings we are, all living at the same time but experience the world in such different ways it can be hard to understand.

I then thought of what a strange world we have created to fit in with our environment, not the one of nature but humans. The homes we choose, the traditional brick houses to the ultra modern with views out to sea. Gardens full of flowers to one with the scariest looking scarecrow I had ever seen. A few kids en route waved good luck, one even shouted ‘good luck’ (I replied ‘thank you’ and the eight year old shouted back ‘you’re welcome’), and the odd car honked its horn to acknowledge our feats. My favourite bits were walking along the coast from Musselburgh to Leith, and in the parks of Edinburgh with the green of trees rather than grey concrete that was more fifty shades of sighs.

Overall, I was glad I did the walk, a huge personal challenge but reminded me how much we can do when we put our minds to it. Equally, even though life can be physically and mentally difficult for me and others by doing this I can look back when things are bad to say you did that Fi. What will I do next…I am not sure but like everything I put my all into it as want to make a difference to the world, not so I can show off but lead others to see they can do it too. I believe in you, and maybe now myself too! I remembered the line from Mary Schmich’s speech – ‘do something every day that scares you’ – as I walked, and thought maybe I should do this sort of thing more often. Here’s to next year’s walk!

© Fi S. J. Brown

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An Earthly Balance

In the month of October the leaves change themselves into many colours
And all round my neighbourhood from branches they soon drop like tears
As sadly I look to the distance hills that seem to grow further away by day
Obscured by the ever growing houses and cars replacing crops in the fields

One day it felt like ten thousand leaves fell about by my head as I pondered
With a mist descending with a quickening pace Photoshopping out the hills
And a gentle breeze was replaced by an angry gust of Mother Nature’s rage
Even the birds seemed frightened of her so kept their songs to muted grey

My eyes wandered left and right as watched the destruction she caused
But my thoughts were elsewhere lost in thought of those now forever gone
A father, a friend and a great uncle too all now stars in the evening skies
Even the chaos she caused would not change the internal mess I now felt

In this constantly changing world the view from my window now tarnished
Emptiness replaced where the leaves had once sat among the song birds
But like the soldiers of Flanders Field now lying on the ground in blood red
Humans and Mother Nature fighting to keep control that each feel their own

Too many have swapped the colourful life for that of autotuned human grey
Follow blindly like a sheep that can be manipulated into doing another’s work
But now many are awakening to this each dawn with their swords ready
And on Mother Nature’s side they will fight to keep this world in balance

In the month of October the leaves change colour but life on Earth carries on
And the armies evergreen trees protect us from Jack Frost’s chilling laugh
Humans are only one of the characters in this play not the star and director
So let us let take a back seat and enjoy the show with the others not alone.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Then and Now

Were the every day thoughts, hopes, and daydreams of our ancestors really that different to our own now in 2018?

Painted caves, sharing myths to jokes imprinted in clay, hieroglyphs with 2-3 meanings, and illuminated scrolls,
Philosophers pondering the meaning of the world around us with none finding a true meaning to life itself.
But now words are written not in verse or prose but with hashtags and abbreviated words accompanied by emojis.
Taking pictures that hang not in galleries or shelves in the home but in virtual clouds that in a tap are deleted.

Great discoveries from the wheel to medicines and the internet itself are achievements that make humanity proud,
Knowledge is finding the right app to do it for us or knowing a tomato is a fruit but wisdom is not putting it in a salad.
All the knowledge and information we have from the past to the present of life is available at the tap of a button,
But we use it to share videos of cats, get into arguments with people we don’t know, or legally stalk a celebrity or two.

The food we no long hunt on horses with bows and arrows but drive metallic beasts that lead us to it already prepared
Seldom considering the journey it has made to the plate other than the instructions half glance at the cooking instructions.
Beauty is created with chemicals that mask our real faces and surgeon’s knives to create the perfect body craved,
But is also manufactured in heavily edited images to sell a fake life that makes the normal become the abnormal.

No worshipping of gods and/or goddesses with gifts left in blessing and hopeful acceptance to a heavenly afterlife,
Replaced with puppets saying or singing the words of their masters to be taken as their own thoughts and views on life.
As we crave the simpler life without the hard work our ancestors did in one day to than we ever could in our lifetime,
And have not mastered not judging another or thinking war is the answer without understanding the question.

With the keys to a time machine would we travel back in time or be content to live in the present day in modern life,
Or would we take a peak to a future that for now lies as an unwritten whisper but not a guaranteed promise to us all.
Changes occur great and small throughout our lifetimes just as they have since those now long forgotten in time’s dust,
The only way to survive it is focusing on the present without letting negative thoughts take root and live the daydreams.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Nature is everywhere, Nature is us

As you read this right now, we humans use half of the world to live. This includes growing crops, using trees as timber, and pasture for the animals we have tamed as pets or as livestock to eat. If you added us all up we would weigh 10 times as much as all the wild animals put together. We make our roads through forests and hills to gain access to concrete jungles we have built our dwellings. Not to be content with the take over, we have added little plastic particles to the sand on ocean beaches through our ever increasing thirst for pre-packaged items and gadgets that we change nearly as often as our clothes. Changing the chemistry of the soil with our artificial fertilisers, and even engineer the plants so that in some way they become better than the originals. The air we all breath has also changed, as we breathe in the fumes from the metallic beasts we created, which roam from street to street, and through villages to cities.

We have gone from the actor at the side to the director of corporate Planet Earth, autotuning the voice as the dictator of the planet. So what then is nature in a world that is influenced and run by humans? As we share this planet with other animals, and all the other plants, and all the other microbes, yet we act as superior beings to them. Like lord and ladies of the manor we expect them to be our servants and slaves. However, only this week there was public outcry when it was believed that the British parliament was trying to show animals are not sentient beings. If it had been true it would have led to a backdoor being open allowing further hurt through unnecessary testing in laboratories to destroying habitats through fracking, and a return of fox hunting that is more a game of pleasure by a selective elite than a necessity to keep their numbers low. Nature is everywhere, all our senses recognise it, but we are still are blind and deaf to the need to protect it from further damage.

I remember my high school biology teacher telling us about the many boxes Charles Darwin brought back from his travels, but over a third were still not looked in by the 1990s. This left me stunned, in the time since their collection over a 150 years previously, and further twenty-twenty five since then to the present. The world has changed dramatically with all we have done to the world through the Industrial Revolution, World Wars and the present with our digital world. To think that we may have wiped out a rare plant species that could cure cancer or AIDS and other diseases that lies in one of those boxes. My heart sank then at the realisation of how much damage we have done to the world in my lifetime alone, and over twenty years later there are tears as see how much worse it not only has become but continues to be so. I cannot have children, but seeing the world through my nieces and how attached they are to electronic gadgets. When I took them to them outdoors to a botanical garden for a treasure hunt they did not stop once to wonder at the world around them as I did as a child and would make such a hunt take last twice as long as asked a hundred and one questions. Sadly instead they were glad to reach the end, hoping to be given money as a well done, and only slightly satisfied by a free cookie instead.

Freddie Mercury and Brian May of the band Queen wrote a song over thirty years ago called ‘Is this the world we created’, the lyrics still prick as poignantly as it did then and is as relevant and fresh as if it was written today. Thirty years from now will the images of some plants, animals, and people be contained only on websites and cloud servers as seized to exist in the real world. Children at present are discouraged from climbing trees or playing in mud for dangers we have created that were there before but now we feel the need to protect them from. There are bigger dangers out there from our fellow humans than than those from nature, which we turn a blinder eye to those. Sadly many children now will never understand the magic of sitting on the branch of a tree and watching the clouds above float on by as daydream of dragons taking them travelling on its back. In many ways we are stealing from the next generations and robbing them of what we had. Yes, life has changed in many ways we could never of imagined when I was born nearly four decades ago but we need a balance. This electronic brave new world is no replacement for the real thing, nature is part of us and that is an artificial extension to it not a full replacement. So lets make 2018 the re-connection year and not a further step towards a final divorce from our friends of fur, feather, and wood.

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

Words to stories

Words matter. As much as we may tell children that it’s only sticks or stones that have power, the truth is that words are loaded with it. It is why we love listening to stories so much. It is the reason that companies pay millions to advertisers to craft the perfect copy. It is why the words smother or strangle makes us shudder but the sound of ‘I love you’ makes us tingle. Yes, words matter.

Storytelling is recognised in every society across the world regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability. They are a way of making sense of our cultural roots or identity, and an insight into the social reality we live in at this moment.

Life events, news, and stories that we share on social media enable us to share insights and enhance mutual understanding in a social, political, psychological and spiritual sense. We do not become any less by sharing; it can be therapeutic to give a voice to feelings that hurt us, make others consider something with fresh eyes or ears, and let another know they are not alone in their battles.

However, it can also leave us feeling vulnerable or even angry when someone question something we take for granted or never considered from another perspective, as can feel like a direct hit at something that is special to us.

This is because stories are part of the fabric of who we are, but only in sharing our life experiences do we develop a sense of self. After all, individuals are necessarily social. Stories cultivate the frequently forgotten yet uniquely human traits that are crucial in building solidarity.

For together we are stronger, and can drive out darkness, deafening those that spread fear and hate.

© Fi S. J. Brown

The Magic of Christmas

It is that time of year again when it’s not only bells that are ringing but tills with money spent on gifts that we hope will not be returned on Boxing Day to our ears from hearing that song by Slade or The Pogues again and again. The days have become shorter and shorter as ‘to do’ lists get longer and longer only matched by the queues everywhere we turn. The excitement reaches near hysteria as we count down to that man’s arrival with his herd of reindeer to deliver gifts on the 25th, but only if we have been good of course! For some it is extra special for marks the birth of the son of their god in a stable in area of the world that today tears of joy have been replaced by grief and blood.

Those that find themselves more ‘bah humbug‘ than ‘ho ho ho‘ are seen as the party poopers but we have to remember some of us may find it hard to find “that perfect gift” for family and loved ones, whereas others do not know if they can afford the cranberry sauce let alone the turkey or where they will be living tomorrow as the street may become home. There are of us those that live with hidden illness, from mental health to chronic pain, which want the feelings of sadness, darkness and/or pain to go away once and for all, not what Snapchat filter shall I use on my selfie today or which programs do I watch on my new giant TV first. There are also some of us that have nobody to celebrate with, as feel suffocated by the so called ‘magic’ not hypnotised.

When the clock strikes midnight on the 25th of December just remember it is but one day; it does not matter if we mark it or not for there is nothing to say we must celebrate, no matter what anyone may try to tell us otherwise. Do not feel guilty for not giving a physical gift because every day we give a bit of ourselves to those we love and those that appreciate, accept, and respect us for who we are, making an effort to be in our lives, remember this and know it can never be bought or sold. Finally, accepting who we are and what we have now not what we’d like to be/have or were/had, as well as accepting and respecting others irrespective of differences is the magic of Planet Earth not just on this one day or time of year, and spreading peace, light and love everywhere.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,
I know I have not written to you in around thirty years but felt it was about time I did again. I know you judge children if they have been ‘naughty or nice’, but what about grown ups? The world is full of people that judge us from our hair style to skin colour, mock our belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster to our chosen special loved one’s gender, and dismiss us due to disabilities but never find the abilities. They paint all in 50 shades of green, which is tainted with hate, greed and envy as they perceive or assume us to be a certain way, yet we are all one shade of red when we bleed when hurt by their ways. We also have voices are multicoloured, but others try mute or copy but never get the right shade despite the auto tune.

This year has been hard one for many, we are emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted by it all and looking forward to a break from it raining all the time. There are things that your elves just cannot make and be delivered by you, such as loved ones we would give anything to spend the day with but cannot due to health, distance, estrangement, and death. New jobs that would bring us changes that may improve circumstances, not meaning financial, to us and those we love. Improved health, physical and mental, so we can live life to the full The wisdom to accept today and make the most of it without longing for the past or wishing for the future.

This Christmas forget the iPhones and funny socks but instead bring people together with smiles and laughter. May glasses overfill with love and light not just wine or gin. Create memories to cherish over dinner not recipes that will mean disaster in years to come. To those with nobody to celebrate let someone open their door and hearts not just presents from under the tree. For some they have no home, so may they find shelter as Mary and Joseph did in the story many base this celebration on and give birth to a hope filled with love and light that lasts a lifetime.

Thank you Santa for reading my letter so far; I have now stopped with the wants to consider nobody ever asks what you or your elves want. So what do you want? Some may leave you a drink and mince pie in thanks without considering the bigger picture. Just as the elves help you, some may help us to make that dream a reality or ensure the big night goes to plan but we not always see or appreciate quite all they do. Equally, we do not always thank those that give themselves to us as we take their presence for granted, assuming they will be unchanging and there for us much like you dear Santa.

So thank you once again dear Santa and to all the elves, know even as a grown up we may make wishes for presents that you cannot wrap and put in a stocking, just like my niece asking for a pony. The Christmas magic cannot buy or bring what truly matters, the human spirit filled with love, empathy, peace, light and happiness to others, and that is my gift to you and those that read this letter. This may not sound much but it is all we need, and can be shared globally irrespective of difference, location and.address.

Love,
Fi x

© Fi S. J. Brown

Mindful living

Climb to the top of the mountain and giving praise when it warranted. Remember that we are all important, it does not matter who we know but how we are treat others. Only we walk the path that belongs to us, but embrace those that make that journey easier and those that mean us harm follow our senses to limit their damage.
 
Dare to fly and to dream, for the impossible is not what it may seem, we’re only limited by our own imaginations. Embracing who we are now not who we were or like to be, as well as what we have not what we had or would like. Remove worry, fear, and hate, live life and love it as it today, for tomorrow is but a whisper and never a promise.
 
© Fi S. J. Brown

On this third rock from the sun

Let’s pause for just a minute or two.
There is:
  • 1 Planet Earth
  • 7 continents
  • 165 major rivers
  • 204 countries
  • 2000 islands
  • 6500 languages spoken
  • 8.7m species
  • 7 billion humans
Those humans vary in:
  • Ability – Mental and/or physical
  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Socio-Economic Status/Class
Yet they also vary in:
  • Hopes
  • Dreams
  • Yearnings
  • Desires
  • Wants
  • Needs
  • Ambitions
  • Fears
One size does not fit all, so you be yourself and let others be themselves, but together we all matter and can make a difference,
© Fi S. J. Brown

6 am

Waking up with the sound of sunshine tapping on my window,
Nearly blinded by his beam of amber rays hitting dozing eyes.
Heart matching the beat in 4/4 time and setting toes tapping,
But this is no Morse code message but the daily dawn chorus.

Through the light comes the sound of birds singing songs,
Hiding among the green of lime to apple and oak to beeches.
The wind plays each branch of a tree like cello’s string,
Turning the sky above to blue as paints with its sounds.

Now blocking out the buses and cars making their own musical,
Human kings and queens rushing around their concrete jungle.
As the colourful sights and sounds fade away to their grey,
And try to cling on to that final note of nature’s dawn song.

But another day has begun with twenty four hours now ticking,
A page lies unwritten except for fate and destiny’s whispers.
Learning today’s lesson and laying foundations for tomorrow,
And leave all that hurt from yesterday in the past now gone.

© Fi S. J. Brown