Wednesday, 26 February 2014

No Plan "B"

So the trial of the killers of Lee Rigby has concluded. Whole life sentences, and a comic book scuffle in the court room. Two guilty men, two tedious humans gullible and credulous and warped by their own particular brand of religious certainty. I wonder how many more like them we shall see? How many other gnat brained "Soldiers of Allah" are waiting in the wings for their fifteen seconds of fame? Somewhere out there are future victims, future bereaved mothers and fathers, siblings and children. Their sentences will also be whole life. How could it be any other way? These days I actively steer clear of religion in all it's forms; I've learned that it has a leech like quality, sucking the precious hours from our lives with its wearisome demands. Oh well, personal choice I suppose. And most believers are kindly and decent and generous and normal. It just saddens me that Rigby's killers pursued their own unique delusion to such an extent that the ramifications cost so many so much. Perhaps the lesson we should learn is that no matter our views, none of us has the right to impose ourselves on others to their detriment. Like I said, I've left religion to its own devices and I've no interest in rekindling my investigation into the issue. I'm done with it. I don't have a dog in that race. I'm content to let others live lives as they see fit. I only wish the extremists, whatever creed they follow, would do us the simple courtesy of taking a similar view? Only that's not how these things work, is it? They believe themselves right, and their opponents really wrong. Apparently some cannot simply live and let live, so I suppose we will never be able to lower our guard. There will be other Rigby's, and other atrocities. This will happen just as surely as the sun will rise. To which I can do no more than shrug, and commit myself to living a life of common decency, allowing those who disagree with me the space to do so. Perhaps that is the truest response to barbarism, to small minded delusion in whatever shape or form it takes. Perhaps we just need to offer a simple alternative, namely to live out our days with gentleness, compassion, an enquiring spirit and no small measure of humour.
It's the best I can offer. And I really don't have a plan B.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Creating A New Space To Play

Anybody who checks out my Facebook page will notice that from time to time I post things about relationships. You've probably also noticed that I'm a huge supporter of marriage and long term commitment. I confess that I've always found myself perplexed when I hear long term couples moan about one another. I'm in the habit now of just saying "Have you communicated that to them? Do they know you feel this way?". I mean seriously, it doesn't say a lot about your communication skills when you can't convey the important stuff to those closest to you. I can't actually think of a better way to shoot yourself in the foot. I get that relationships can be hard, and I get that people don't always find it easy. That said, isn't a relationship about actively trying to make another persons life better, richer, deeper? Isn't it meant to be about looking outward, looking for a level of connection that fuels warmth, affirmation, and above all, fun? Have I missed something? Have I misread the rule book?
Oh yeah, about that. Ain't no rule book. Ain't no right or wrong way to run the show. If I could give one piece of guidance to couples currently struggling it would be to suggest that you just find a recipe that works for you. And if that means being unconventional, creative, then so much the better. I actually suspect that many people get bogged done by should's and ought's, hamstrung by some unwritten social code. Bin it people. Seriously. If you want any relationship to flourish you have to actively seek to fill it with good things. And here's the crux, that's never going to happen unless you communicate what makes you tick. And it's probably also going to take you to places you may not have expected to go. From my perspective, through seeking to better understand my incredible wife I've discovered aspects of my own personality that I never knew existed until just a few months ago. Back then we made a conscious decision to create something that enabled us both to be as authentic and real and transparent as we could be. And with that shared commitment I found myself changing in ways I could never have foreseen. We made ourselves vulnerable, and more importantly we listened really closely to each other. Perhaps in a way we'd never done before. And because of this I'm confident we can say we've unlocked a whole new dynamism, a new way of being. And the best of it is that there's no pretence involved. We're totally one hundred percent ourselves having finally jettisoned a shed load of baggage that we didn't need. We're being totally true to who we are, and our love for each other has increased exponentially.
That person you live with, the one you're possibly sat near to as you read this, how about you make a renewed effort to communicate where you'd like your journey to go? Why don't you take time to see where they're at? Are either of you bringing as many good things to the table as you could? Is there uncharted territory, some undiscovered country you'd like to visit? The good news is that you don't need a passport to go there. Any the journey is half the fun. But you're probably going to have to make yourself vulnerable, and possibly even prepared for a few surprises. Negotiations might be extended, sometimes challenging, and perhaps progress might be slow. But people, it's worth the effort. It's worth going those extra miles to sure up the foundations. And once you've done that, well then you can add an extension, a few extra rooms, and create a new space to play.