Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones
Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones

“There are few experiences quite so cruel as, when after having made a well-argued, even elegant and moving case to someone, you lean back expecting the warm sparkle of shared insight and understanding, only to encounter the flat opaqueness of complete and utter incomprehension.” John Livingstone

“Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.” William Butler Yeats

THAT (the quote by John Livingstone), I feel, is the result of centuries of religion where the only people being religious were the priests. They stand at their pulpits proclaiming the word of God, whilst the believers that they serve sit in their pews passively listening hoping some of the religiousness of the priest will wear off on them (Pew Potatos, like the Couch Potato but religious). But that’s not my way, I don’t want to be a passive listener, I want something more intelligent than that. Nor do I want to be the active proclaimer talking to a passive audience but I can’t help thinking that maybe I am. I mean, here I am writing things, hoping that my words will be more than just passive two-dimensional monologues but there’s no way of telling because, although I can see how many people have visited this blog, I don’t know who’s reading it and what they’re (you’re) thinking and feeling, what sort of dynamic responses is going on in the brains of the readers.

It’s only in active dialogues that words come alive, they take on the quality of vitality, not just something that’s known but something that’s experienced and developed into something that can be applied to life. Words can change things, that’s why talking, writing, conversing are arts, they can reach into minds and connect synapses that weren’t connected before, opening doors of realisation and comprehension. Or, if misused, words can create the opposite; ignorance and denial. Which is why we need to be wise enough to be careful with words; with who we speak to, what words we speak to them and how we speak to them.

Still, I don’t need comprehension here. I’m sure lots of people understand my words, and it’s easy to agree to words, but the real challenge is when someone disagrees or doubts (or doesn’t understand but wants to understand). For me that would be the real work with my words, to grapple with them (the grit in the oyster to create the pearl), give them dynamism by introducing them to other minds where they are expanded into dimensions beyond the original two they were written in. When that happens words then become an organic experience, growing, rooting, branching, like I said before, coming alive. Evolution happens! Synergy happens!

Synergy is a word I was introduced to a little while ago (last year I think), and it’s really opened my eyes to the sort of relationships we can have with people. A synergistic relationship doesn’t have an active part and a passive part, an energy giving and an energy taking part, no way! All “components” (or individuals) in a relationship of synergy are active parts (energy giving), and this positive contribution by all involved builds up momentum by itself, as long as there is energy being put into it and doesn’t become victim to energetic leaches.

Going back to the beginning, where I talked about active proclaimers and passive listeners; it doesn’t just happen in churches or other religious places, it also happens in schools and in present day entertainment. Students just passively “eat” what they learn, there’s no way of learning how to use their learning. And also there’s the TV, which has produced the well know Couch Potato (although if you’re lucky some synapse triggering stuff might appear lol). This is “filling a pail” when what we really need is “the lighting of a fire.”

Now, I’m not saying “come on have a dialogue with me,” although you can if you want to. What I really want to say is don’t be passive in reading this, use these words to light a fire inside you and make reading this blog, in fact any blog (or even any writing) a dynamic activity.

And finally, the only potatoes I want reading my blogs are the ones that you stick in the ground that grow more potatoes. Well, my dinner’s got to come from somewhere LOL 😉

And finally finally (no really, finally) a note on the image. That is from Smith and Jones, a British sketch comedy in the 80s and 90s. The image is of them in deep conversation (a well know “head to head” sketch), usually about some deeply inane subject. An image of the type of dialogue I DO NOT want. As it says in WikipediaSmith was the idiot who knew everything, Jones the idiot who knew nothing.”

 

 

 

 

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“The best life is spent preparing for death.” Plato

“Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.” A. Sachs

Not very optimistic or comforting, so why say it?
Pretty simple, all life eventually dies, there’s no avoiding it. If you have a problem with death then you have a problem with life. No one living leaves life alive… and we’ve all got to leave! Maybe death is the meaning of life, not salvation, or worshipping Allah or even biological reproduction, as these experiences aren’t even that universal within life! In a world where death is so universal it’s only sensible to contemplate and prepare for death.

Now this doesn’t mean we should commit suicide. I’m not, life’s too interesting! No, death comes whatever, suicide or not so there’s no need to commit suicide. Personally I’d much rather die after a long and complex life that cut it short.

I’ve heard it said that we start dying the day we are born. It’s like we’ve been given a death sentence from birth. The only difference between “most people” and those who ARE on death sentence or who are terminally ill is that “most people” are less aware of their mortality.

Death is the ever present, silent companion that makes life real. Imagine immortality, without death. It would be dull and boring. It is mortality that makes life intense and vibrant instead of the same dull grey forever. Paradoxically those who are acutely aware of death can find a new zest for life not found when blind about mortality.

Another quote comes to mind though I don’t remember who said it “Live each day like it’s your last.”