Crooked Trails

19 Jul

canyon bridge

A friend of mine sent me this quote many years back, and I have always loved it – and tried to live my life by it. Until recently, I had not realised it was part of a larger quote, which really sent fingers of excitement running up and down my spine when I read it. And I thought you might enjoy it too!

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.”

(Edward Abbey)

Now that’s a huge and fabulous dream….

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS I’m helping a friend out with some renovation work at the moment, so much as I would like to post, it’s proving a bit tricky! Normal service (whatever that is) will be resumed as soon as possible!

Crooked Trails

19 Jul

canyon bridge

A friend of mine sent me this quote many years back, and I have always loved it – and tried to live my life by it. Until recently, I had not realised it was part of a larger quote, which really sent fingers of excitement running up and down my spine when I read it. And I thought you might enjoy it too!

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.” (Edward Abbey)

Now that’s huge dream….

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS I’m helping a friend out with some renovation work at the moment, so much as I would like to post, it’s proving a bit tricky! Normal service (whatever that is) will be resumed as soon as possible!

Today, I grieve

24 Jun

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The referendum is over, and we have chosen by the slimmest of margins to stroll down one leg of the bifurcated trousers of time. We will never know how things would have worked out if we had stayed in the European Union – but we’re definitely going to find out what happens now we’ve chosen to leave. My newsfeed is full of posts from people saying “right, the decision is made, let’s pull together and step into the future”. Curiously, these mostly seem to be from those who backed the winning horse, who threw their lot in with those who would vote ‘Leave’. And that’s OK.

Step into the future we must. Hopefully with love, with compassion, with honour, with integrity. Hopefully with a sense of our place in history and our place in the world. And, yes, with a sense of hope and of possibility – to make out of this the best possible world for us, for our children, and for humanity.

But for me, and for those of us who voted to remain, it is not yet time to look to the future. It is not yet “time for us to stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being positive about what could go right”. There will be time enough for that.

This is serious stuff. Consider: if we had chosen to remain, then those who voted ‘leave’ would have had to mourn a world that could have been – a whole raft of possibilities that never got born. But for us, we have to say goodbye to a world that we have been nurturing for forty years. This is a world we have been proud to be part of, and now it is to be torn away from us, to be replaced with something different. And I grieve that passing.

For me I have to look at the possibility of my son soon living in a different country – not because he moved, but because Scotland will choose to have a second referendum and this time they WILL leave the UK to be part of Europe. I have to face the possibility that my other son might choose to seek his fortune in a land that holds his personal values more dearly than this one. Both of these men consider themselves human first and foremost. And, selfish man that I am, I fear those future possibilities. And today, I am sad.

I have friends who face uncertainty in relationships that flourished when movement across Europe was easier. I have friends who have to deal with business uncertainty and the possibility of their business failing – of losing their livelihood and of an uncertain future.

I fear that the country has fallen into the hands of those who value division. As a friend of mine said “All my life I have striven for inclusivity. To welcome, to include, to share with, to enjoy the diversity, to learn from and to be part of one race – the human race. Who are these people who feel that division, hatred, spite and greed is the way forward??”

Our children deserve unity and peace, the world my father fought for. The world I believe we can have. And yet today it seems we have taken a step backwards from that inclusivity, from that sense of a united family of humanity. Perhaps it will arise in a different form. I can only hope. And pray.

And we seem to have betrayed our children. It seems that as a nation we have stood in the present, looked back at the past, and decided to go backwards – to try and go back to a world that no longer exists. Yet in this referendum our children have stood in the present, have looked at the future and wanted to go forward into a brave new world of inclusivity and co-operation. And we have chosen not to allow them that.

All of my beliefs about the future, about how we are better off part of the European Union, about the unity of man, all my dreams of a better and kinder place – those dreams and beliefs have not disappeared because of the vote. Yet today I mourn their passing.

There will be time enough to build something together. There will be time to look to the future with hope, with courage, with honour and with integrity. We are all in this together, and we will see what the future brings.

But today, I grieve.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

The future and Europe

8 Jun

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I’ve been watching the UK Referendum with some considerable interest and concern, as you might expect. (For my international readers and anyone who’s been hiding out under a rock for the last couple of years – the UK is about to hold a referendum on whether to remain in the European Union (which we’ve been part of for 40 years) or whether to leave).

I’ve watched the various arguments unfold in the media and online, and if I am honest, at times I’ve been swayed by arguments in both directions. I’m not a man to argue figures, and whether we will or will not be worse off if we leave. That’s not the point, for me.

I do remain unconvinced by the arguments about the amount we contribute to the EU and how much we get back.. whether it’s £350M or £160M after rebates and contributions to UK projects. For me, whatever club or society we are part of, whether it’s a chess club or a buying syndicate, we pay money in to get benefits out. I believe the benefits we get are worth far, far more than the relatively small contribution we pay in.

The arguments about the European Court of Human Rights – let’s get rid of that one early. Leaving Europe will not affect our membership and subscription to the ECHR. And it must not. Sure, the ECHR may occasionally get it wrong. What court doesn’t? But let’s not forget that we were the country instrumental in setting this up after years of war crimes and atrocities – it’s something that we as a country and as Europeans need to be proud of.

Fears over open borders? We are an island, for heaven’s sake. If people get here, they get here by sea or by air, or through a well policed tunnel. We are in a better position than anywhere else in Europe (apart from Ireland of course) to police our borders. And know this – our country is made richer by immigrants who pay more in taxes than they take in benefits. People who contribute to the quality of our lives by taking jobs as doctors and nurses – who are prepared to study and work hard to succeed. And thank them for doing inexpensive jobs well. Your cheap hand car wash? Thank the Lithuanians. Inexpensive vegetables? Thank the Poles. My local chip shop is run very capably by a lovely couple of Romanians who have that opportunity because they were prepared to work the long hours that it needs to be successful.

I am sure that we are subject to some ridiculous laws and decisions by bureaucrats in Europe. But the European Union actually IS a democracy. European laws have to be passed by European elected members. We’re not innocent of this ourselves, you know this – in the UK we have a whole series of bureaucrats in power that we didn’t actually elect. You thought ‘Yes Minister’ was fiction? Hmm…

If there is a real problem with the EU seeming to have too much power it is that we as a nation are being ineffective at the negotiating table. And if we’re crap at negotiating for what we want as a nation now – then we’re going to be even worse if we leave. Switzerland took over ten years to negotiate an agreement with a Europe that was keen to reach an agreement. You think Europe will be keen to negotiate with a country that’s chosen to turn its back?

And let’s make sure that we’re voting on the right things – let’s not make this a proxy vote against a disastrously selfish and ill-advised government. This decision won’t go away in a few years, like this Conservative government surely will…

We have the right of veto on European legislation, and contrary to popular opinion, the vast majority of UK legislation is just that – legislation that we created in the UK. Only a small minority of our laws are actually created in the EU.

Yes, there are some stupid things that the  European Union does. But we’re part of that problem – we can’t just blame it on ‘them’ – we need to work to make the EU more effective, more efficient, and, yes, perhaps more democratic.

The EU freedom of movement doesn’t contribute to terrorism, by the way. You can’t argue that it does, in any sensible or logical way. So stop it.

I’ve seen posts from people who seem to blame everything that’s gone wrong in this country the last forty years on the EU – as if we can lay the blame for everything at the feet of someone else – and then make it go away by leaving the EU. That’s crazy. It’s like blaming everything that’s gone wrong since the 70s on the moon landings or on the release of The Sweet’s “Blockbuster”.

It seems that every reasoned and rational report I can find says that we as a nation will be worse off financially, practically and with less of a say in international politics.. so tell me again why we’re doing this?

I’m certainly not convinced by that jingoistic sabre rattling that says ‘We are an island nation – part of Europe yet separate from it’. We are truly an incredible nation, a nation justifiably proud of our achievements. And that means we can hold our heads high in a European Union that is more than the sum of its constituent nations. The only reason we can continue to be seen as great is if we continue to play full power on a global level – and leaving Europe will significantly reduce the platform from which we speak.

The arguments weave backwards and forwards – sometimes (but increasingly rarely) I find myself seduced by the arguments of those who would leave the EU… and yet I find myself drawn back to the logic and rationality of the arguments of those who urge us to stay. The clearest thinkers that I know, and the clearest thinkers that I hear from, seem to be agreed that the only sane and sensible choice is to remain in the EU. None – not a single one – of the economic arguments, or the debates on sovereignty from those who would see us leave seem to stack up or to stand up to close scrutiny. They seem to be based on wishful thinking and hopefulness, on fear and on misplaced national pride, rather than on truth.

But that’s not the point, for me.

The world has changed. Arguing on the basis of what was, forty years ago, is irrelevant. At a global level we face threats far more coherent and dangerous than petty squabbling about trivia. We need to wake up and see where we’re heading at a global level… because we’re all in this together, folks. There’s no way off this ball of rock that’s hurtling through space.

And that means that many decisions can no longer be made at a national level. We need to resolve the energy question. We need to resolve global warming. We need to deal with the fact that our resources are disappearing (ever wondered what happens to the helium we gaily use in our party balloons – and what else we use it for?) We need to deal with global security… ‘national security’ is pretty much irrelevant nowadays.

We need to start to work together on a global level. That means being part of something bigger. And right now, for the UK, that ‘something bigger’ is the European Union. We bring our strength, our talents, our wisdom, our insights, our resources to bear on the issues that face humanity. We allow ourselves to look outwards, not inwards.

And this is a time to look forward, not back. This is a time to look towards a future based on co-operation and co-existence, about forging a future together where we collaborate to create something better for all of us. Being part of Europe makes that easier, not harder. Being part of Europe allows us to contribute at the highest level.

The European Union is a demonstration of what’s possible when sovereign states start to work together. It shows that different countries, with different cultures, different priorities, different objectives can work together. That’s pretty much unique, people. And we helped create that. We are part of that. Let’s not run away from the task at hand because it’s a bit tough today. Or because we’re afraid. Because global co-operation is the future.

This is what Winston Churchill had to say when he addressed the Congress of Europe in 1948:

“A high and a solemn responsibility rests upon us here … If we allow ourselves to be rent and disordered by pettiness and small disputes, if we fail in clarity of view or courage in action, a priceless occasion may be cast away for ever. But if we all pull together and pool the luck and the comradeship – and we shall need all the comradeship and not a little luck … then all the little children who are now growing up in this tormented world may find themselves not the victors nor the vanquished in the fleeting triumphs of one country over another in the bloody turmoil of war, but the heirs of all the treasures of the past and the masters of all the science, the abundance and the glories of the future.”

I’ve looked at the issues. I’ve looked at the pros and the cons. I’ve talked to people that I trust. And I’ve discovered that I do care. Passionately. Absolutely. It’s time to stand up and decide that we’re not going to be dictated to by Europe any more. We’re not going to look out across the English Channel and see them taking from us all the time.

It’s time to realise that being part of a Europe that collaborates, lives in peace with its neighbours and has the vision to contribute to the world stage at the highest possible levels is important. It’s time to decide that we’re going to stand up and make Europe even better, even more relevant, even more influential. And we only get that with a seat at the table.

For me, the future is global. The future is humanity working together for the benefit of all humanity. So let’s stand up and be part of that. Let’s help shape the future. Because that way, we all win.

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

On retreat . . . to move forward

4 Sep

Every year I decide to take myself off for a couple of days away from everything, to get my thoughts back in focus, to chill out, relax and reconnect with the essence of who I am – and to reconnect with Spirit. Just time to be alone, and recharge my batteries – and find new vision.

While I might wish to do this in Maui or Tahiti, my usual retreat is to go up to the shores of Rutland Water, to a little camp site at Lydon Top (£7 a night, tell Arthur I sent you when you get there. And the Indian in Uppingham delivers. Apparently). Just basic amenities, but a lot of solitude and an AWESOME view.

I take minimal technology and take time to listen to the voice of my heart, and to inspiration.

Usually I motorbike up, but this year I decided I would cycle it. It’s only about 30km, but North Northants and Rutland between them serve up some pretty mean hills, especially with a 13kg pack on my back.

This is me.

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It didn’t help that I confused myself and set off in the wrong direction.

It was cool when I left, so I had my coat on… then I got hot, so I took it off… then the heavens opened. With no cover worth speaking of, I ploughed on into the rain. Arriving at the camp site, I struggled to get dry – or warm – and the fact that I had left the coffee at home did little to help. I’d decided to eat little that day anyway, just to kick start the thinking process.

But I had this view to inspire me . . .

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A night on hard ground then, working hard to stay warm… and then a quick bike ride into Oakham to get coffee and write a few notes.. allowing some of the things that had been spinning round in my head to come together. And then a 50km bike ride round Rutland Water (and a few detours).. it’s a spooky yet beautiful place, England’s largest reservoir (by area): I can’t help but think what it was like before it was flooded, and imagine the Hambleton villages that lie beneath.

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Oakham meant I could stock up on food as well as giving me more thinking time.. so that evening was a far more well managed hot and warming curry… which I sat and ate while pondering.

Lots of thoughts spinning round.. lots of new ideas, lots of possibilities to consider. Some of them will see the light of day over the next couple of weeks, I’m sure… while others might take a while to germinate and grow. But it feels like a corner has been turned, and something has shifted. For me, I always need to get away from it all to really listen to what’s going on – away from all the voices that scream for attention, from the distractions, the conflicts… just time to centre, ground and believe again. The last few days have been truly awesome.

For those who are interested in these things…

Here’s how I got there….

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(note setting off in completely the wrong direction. Only 50m climbs but it felt worse! 31km and 338m total ascent)

…round the reservoir…

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(yep, made a couple of unnecessary detours there. I get confused easily. I COULD have carried on… but coffee was calling. Oh yes, and a cycle back to the pub for the purposes of recharging my phone. Honest.) (49km and 255m total ascent. I thought this was going to be the easy day! The official cycle track is only 37km)

 

…and getting home…

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(38 km and 258 m ascent)

The reasons for the diversions? A little bit of caching. It helps motivate me to go further, to work harder.. and discover lovely places. Nothing particularly interesting this time out – a cache attached to a rope to stop it floating downstream.. another cunningly inserted into a signpost so it looked as if it really belonged… and a lot hidden in scratchy nettly places – but with some gorgeous views..

Like this view.

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Or this one

Rutland Retreat (4)

Or these charming cottages.

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Or this unexpected village duck pond

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Or this viaduct (I love the Welland Viaduct… it’s over a kilometre long and has a total of 82 arches… it’s quite breathtaking how it crosses the Welland valley.)

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Or a dog that wanted to share its teddy bear.

Or a roadside sandwich bar.

You know, life is damn good fun.. when I just stop and enjoy what’s going on all around me.

Just… breathe… listen… and be happy.

 

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Walking with Heroes

14 Aug

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A while back, I spent a lot of time exploring the idea of the Hero’s Journey and Mythic Archetypes… and it feels like a good time to dust some of that off and share it here for a wider audience. (My clients and newsletter subscribers got access to this programme on line, but I felt it was worth reviewing it and sharing a bit more widely).

The Hero’s Journey describes the key elements of every good story – how our hero leaves the realm of the ordinary world when she receives the call to adventure… a call which he initially refuses, but through a meeting with a mysterious adviser, steps into a new world full of tests, trials, allies and enemies.. and eventually make their way back into the realm of the ordinary, forever changed and with a magical gift that will transform the world.

We see the echoes of this story in many of our fairy tales, in the great sagas of our time. It is of course, the story of Star Wars:

In act one we find our hero Luke Skywalker, stuck on the ordinary world of farming on Tattooine, when he receives the call in the form of a mysterious message stuck in R2D2s memory. On a quest to understand the message, he meets the strange and mysterious Obi-Wan-Kenobi, who takes him under his wing and introduces him to the power of the Force.. initially refusing the call, he finds his bridges – and his farm – burned and he reluctantly heads off into the unknown. He meets new allies along the way, and encounters new enemies, yet confronts death and returns triumphant – transformed by the ordeal from simple farm boy into Jedi warrior and ready to take his place in a new world.

The same story runs through Lord of the Rings, our hero replaced by an unassuming hobbit, who encounters Gandalf the magician and the Fellowship on his journey to save Middle Earth.

I am sure you can find your own echoes of it in your favourite stories and sagas…Aladdin… Cinderella… Arthur and Merlin… Jaws… the Wizard of Oz… The Lion King… The Hunger Games… The Matrix… E.T. and so many, many more.

(I love this comic book version – click through to see a larger view)

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Disney themselves made this the core of their storywriting when Chris Vogler summarised Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” in a famous memo which became the backbone of the Disney’s storywriting process. The characters change, but the one great story remains.

And the reason why the story works is that it’s the story of each of our lives, in some way. It resonates with the truth of who we are, that for each of us there is an adventure ready to unfold… or an adventure that each of us is already walking. It might be a romance, or an ‘against the odds’ struggle, yet for each of us, when we recognise it, the story rings true.

The characters in the play have their own story to tell, too… the famous psychotherapist Carl Jung created the concept of an archetype, suggesting there were twelve broad patterns of behaviour:

  • Sage
  • Innocent
  • Explorer/Seeker
  • Ruler
  • Creator
  • Caregiver
  • Magician
  • Hero/Warrior
  • Outlaw/Revolutionary
  • Lover
  • Jester/Fool
  • Everyman

Carol S Pearson took this work further in her programme for individuals and for businesses, and in her amazing book “Awakening the Heroes Within”. I can only scratch the surface in this series, but I hope it will provide an accessible introduction that motivates some of you to dig deeper and pick up her book.

I love this work because unlike many of the psychological tools available today (Enneagram, Belbin, Myers Briggs and so on) this one doesn’t seek to put people in a box so much as become aspirational.

When I first did the analysis to show which the primary heroes were active in my own life, I found that the area I was weakest was as the Warrior – I was not good at enforcing boundaries and fighting for what I saw to be right. I could look at that and decide to change it… not to change the core of who I am, but to strengthen an area that I saw weak.

And as I did the work, and looked at the stories for each of these Heroes, I could see the unfolding of some stories that mirrored my life experience and helped me to understand the context, what to avoid and to see what would come next if I continued on the journey.

I and the people I have worked with have found the ideas wonderfully helpful.. and so I thought I would open it up, share it all on the blog, and let others find what catches fire for them..

So, over the next few weeks, I’m going to publish the episodes of the ‘Walking With Heroes’ programme to the blog every few days. There’s a lot of content so I don’t want to give you indigestion! I hope you enjoy it – and I suspect that at some point, if you’re paying attention, one or more of the characters will resonate with you and you’ll suddenly realise ‘’”That’s me!”

And at the end I will share the tool I have used to work out where people are on the Hero Spectrum – to see what’s working in their lives, and perhaps understand a little more of what’s going on…

Enjoy the journey…..

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

Staying upright…

27 Jul

Cyclists have always had an uneasy relationship with gravity… conscious that without it our tyres would fail to grip the surface of the road and we would gain zero traction, and knowing that in an ideal world, perfect balance would be obtained whereby the force of gravity would actually hold the bike upright, we resign ourselves to a constant process of falling slightly to the left, followed by a corresponding falling slightly to the right. At speed, of course, the forward momentum of the bike reduces the effect of the sideways forces and makes falling harder. Or so the theory goes.

So, having successfully navigated the field marked ‘’Bull in Field” and had the presence of the electric fence brought to my attention rather forcefully when I accidentally brushed up against it, the field full of sheep should have been no problem. Ignoring the one rather obstinate ewe who wanted to face me down, I made my way through the gate and got back onto my bike.

Unfortunately, at this point, gravity and I had a little falling out. Due in part to the uneven surface, but more down to my own ineptitude, I failed to make the necessary forward motion required to remain upright. Sadly, also, I managed to get my feet stuck in the pedal clips… so slowly, gracefully and perhaps even balletically I toppled inexorably sideways.

The sheep remained unimpressed by this comedy turn, although I swear I heard one of the little beggars snicker.

Gravity 1. Timmy 0.

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

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