Sure and alive and sufficient, life at the margin. LO22759
Mon, 27 Sep 1999 16:53:58 EDT

Dear learners,

It is 7.30 p.m. and dark, outside it is raining. The bells in the
700-year-old church are ringing out familiar peels that have been rung for
many countless generations. Driving home this evening I saw a familiar
figure walking toward a hedgerow to sleep for the night. I do not know
what his name is. He dresses in many layers of clothing and is swathed in
bags which are I presume filled with everything he needs to live a life in
the open. His face is chiselled and his eyes are crystal blue, he is both
lean and stoical.

He first appeared in the landscape about two years ago. From where no one
either cares or knows. Cares to know? He spends much of the day sitting
outside a very pleasant supermarket built right on the edge of the town,
in greenfields. He is both tolerated and seen by many but spoken to by no
one so far as I have ever observed.

His daily food is provided from the bins to the rear of the supermarket.
He walks through the town but I sense he is happier walking the lanes. He
never travels far, just round and round in complex circles. I wonder;
does he hear the bells from where he sits now in that cold hedge?

When I am myself walking over the landscape I have met another man, he
also seems intent on some distant point in space, and he will be seen from
a great distance, walking doggedly toward you. I once spoke to him
thinking him a man to whom one might offer a civil 'good morning!' he
walked straight through me. As if I was not even there. He is never to be
seen on the roads or lanes but only ever in the fields, his gear is very
light and the satchel he wears over his back is almost empty. He seems now
I think about it to be walking towards the other wandering person.

A short while ago, one hot summer afternoon I left my house to go to the
next village, a man rode up to the Church opposite on a bike, he had the
same figure as the other two I have described. He too had a lean, fit and
determined look about him. But there was something disturbing about him, I
flinched when he spoke, 'Hot isn't it?' 'Yes, it is,' I said, -'Is the
Church open?' I replied, 'Yes, I believe it is.' He said, 'Good it will be
cool in there.' With which he dismounted and walked up into the Church, I
drove away wondering about the window I had left open.

The next day I was walking over the open fields and stopped with my dogs
at a disused plough. On top of a casting was a lighter and tobacco, it
looked as if someone had put it there. It looked like rain, I took the
pouch and lighter and went to place it inside the open end of the casting
so when whoever left it there returned it would be dry and of use to them.
Curiosity got the better of me. I opened the pouch. Inside was inscribed
HM PRISON. I thought of the cyclist. Hmmm.

Many years ago people whose families have long since gone populated these
fields. But some remain. One such happens to be a friend and she shared
this 'one to many' with me through the publication of her reflections in a
small pamphlet I bought only today. 'My family has farmed this land since
the seventeenth century, and this farm for three generations.' - 'My
grandfather used to tell me about his childhood, it was a hard time. After
the Bailiff (farm manager) the Carter was the most important position on
the farm. The Carter was responsible for all the working horses (the sole
energy force) and for one or two boys as 'undercarters'. A typical day
started by bringing in the horses from the fields at 5.00am. It was often
dark and could be quite frightening for the young boy undercarter. When
my father had this position, his kindly head Carter- Charlie Bond- would
always light up a cigarette so my father would know where he was by this
small flicker of light.' (Farming in Brightwell cum Sotwell, Then and Now.
Rosemary Greasby 1999)

All over the turning world there are men, women and children sleeping
fitfully outside under the unsupported roof of roofs.

I wrote a few weeks ago of Piers the Ploughman, a cleric who published his
great work of visionary intensity anonymously. At the very back of my mind
were the words of Peter Senge that we are 'becoming lost in a field of
dreams', and that 'the background is becoming foreground' and his
appropriation of learning's signature being two images in Chinese culture,
a child at a doorway and a bird about to take flight.

So we think on and on together and alone, we walk on and on together and
alone. What lintel did these wandering men pass through to arrive at the
eternal openness of nature's room? What sparrow fell to earth unregarded
the day their rational dreams died?

You thought a bird flew untrammelled in his tiny orbit? Then you go sit
for a hundred days in any field where birds toil and you will, when you
get to know each of them by their own name, see differently. That they too
walk eternally similar paths, they have their own mapped highways they
follow and will rarely divert from. The average songbird in my fields has
up to twenty-seven stores of food to which he makes varying delayed
visits, to replenish and feed from at times of need. More than that, he
goes to the freshest and closest he can, giving necessary due
consideration to the complexities of the prevailing environment as he
finds it each day.

David Bohm said, "We need to give patient, sustained attention to the
activity of confusion, - a finer faster attention.' If you are confused by
complexity perhaps you might give over a moment of your eternity to
reflect upon the two meanings of that term 'fine' that I desire to bring
to the surface with my plough blades this evening? There is the fine of
quantity that which seems to suggest the size of the spaces and there is
the fine of quality, which seems to suggest the 'design' of the attention.

I have an idea that this 'finer faster attention' Bohm refers to is
grounded in the creative, intuitive faculties that we all have but which
in many are severely diminished through time and lack of practice. Bohm
likens it to the 'mechanical reflexive' aspect. We have to get beyond the
mechanical responses to something closer to the organic living responses
of our deeper imaginations, we have somehow to liberate our imaginations.
We need to learn to fly.

Maybe we have not so much to ascribe ourselves to the visions of others
but to give ourselves permission to inscribe our own visions in the world
and then in the words of a mentor of mine we get to 'emblazon them in our
words and deeds' so that, something like the bells and the birdsong, we
can cease to outshine our fellows and instead caste our unique but deeply
shared light such that it illuminates all our fellows and especially those
who tonight sleep in the hedges of this world, accompanied by sleeping
Blackbirds, woken by crows.

We walk together along the arrow of time to the same resting-place. Twenty
years ago a dishevelled man knocked on my door during a fierce storm late
at night near the Atlantic Ocean, a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, he
asked to sleep in a shed. I said he would sleep indoors. He accepted,
saying by the time we awoke he would be gone. True to his word we arose in
the morning to find he had gone. At that time I smoked, my lighter was
gone. Hmmm.

I'm not getting in my car to go and bring that man into my house, but if
he knocks on my door, it is open. I no longer smoke so he cannot take my
lighter. But he can take the 'freed prisoners' because I keep it at home
on the shelf beside me just in case, waiting for another loop desiring to
close itself.

A very great man whose name I have deliberately forgotten, said '-we lay
down the tracks of wisdom in our wandering.' and another said that 'wisdom
is what we notice while we are wandering', -wandering is to have no
outcome, no home no goal except to travel along the arrow of time.

Why not suspend your certainties for a while, take to wandering, study for
the love of study, and learn for the love of learning. After all, if you
believe in love either as Eros or Agape is that not a thing in itself?
What utility does love serve and what map will take you to it in any form?
Who would you deny love?

Diogenes, poorest among the Greek philosophers of antiquity lived in a
dustbin. One fine day Alexander the Great wandered up to him and caste a
shadow over his humble abode, he sought the wisdom of Diogenes. Diogenes
asked him to step to one side; 'You block my sunlight.' So are we humbled
by those who it would seem know a different amplitude in the complexity of
the modern age. It is all simple and complex, as you want to find it.

Knock on my door anytime, I have nothing to 'steal', that is a finely
complex life. What is mine is yours, for sure.

But before you visit me in the hedgerow or the cottage, knock gently
because I may be dreaming.

'Out of the dimness opposite equals advance...Always substance And
increase, Always a knit of identity... always distinction...always a breed
of life.

To elaborate is no avail...learned and unlearned feel it is so.

Lack one lacks both...and the unseen is proved by the seen,
Till that becomes unseen and received proof in its turn.

Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionate, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is erect, bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
Looks with its side curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.'

Whitman. Leaves of Grass. [3] and [4]

That's it!

'In and out of the game, watching and wondering at it'...But who is
watching and who is wondering?

Best wishes,
Andrew Campbell


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