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VIEWS FROM THE STREET



THE THERAPY OF BEAUTY Added: Saturday 31st January 2015


I've lost track of the number of visitors to Powdermill whose conversation included, "I love visiting this place even when I don't catch anything. Such a beautiful location."

I also understand that more than one angler's ashes have been scattered across Powdermill waters. Why? Presumably a final farewell to beauty, an incorruptible innocence they once enjoyed.

Beauty is the connection. It's a bait, a fly if you like to catch and draw us into wonders that have remained unrealised. Visible beauty, in nature, character, children and art, can soothe and pacify. It pours cream on shattered nerves and diminishes the weight of dark moods. Perceived beauty nudges anglers to idle away summer hours outside of the Powdermill fishing hut; sipping coffee, exchanging conversation and "just looking!" Incidentally, I've noticed on the east side of the lake that some deceased person has bequeathed a wooden bench to Hastings Fly Fishers Club. No doubt in memory of idyllic days of woods, water and kindly Powdermill summers.

Beauty wields strange and pleasant influences on sensitive, open-minded people. Unfortunately, it ebbs and flows like ocean tides. One day you feel 'it' the next you don't. That's the nature of beauty or at least its influence on us. Independent of sickness and health, happiness and grief, beauty is allusive and unpredictable in its visitations. I'm sure you know what I mean. One moment it feels impossible to be thrilled about anything, the next we inwardly sing at beauty that's worth displaying on a mantelpiece. At some time or another we have all sensed attractions to surrounding sights and sounds. Men who don't like landscapes are rare. Men who fail to respond to a beautiful woman are even rarer.

Our perception of beauty contradicts all material laws. It comes and goes with a whimsical determination of its own. As I earlier remarked, one day we were touched by it, another day we couldn't see it even though it stared us in the face. My point is, when we become aware of something beautiful we must not constrain its unsought enjoyment. Thankful when it comes and acceptance when it withdraws. Importantly, as with all pleasures and interests, if appreciation of nature cannot be acquired at whim, it's certainly assisted by regular practises of looking, observing and inwardly interpreting what it is saying to us.

Fly fishermen have an advantage over many people; we have priceless opportunities to be alone. Time to think, feel and savour the countryside beauty around us. While not fleeing the obligations of society, for the present moment we are not dependent on them. Thoughtful opportunities are presenting themselves to watch swallows chasing across glittering water, primroses running down banks, the architecture of trees and that skein of ducks flying into crimson sunsets. Crazily, I love to sprawl on the grass just to watch clouds embedded in that childhood blue.

Annually, we are privileged to be surrounded by the cycle of the seasons. The girlishness of Spring, sensuality of summer, secrets of autumn and severity of winter. With quiet perceptiveness and openness of eye, a sense of wonder can grip us. A mysterious depth of satisfaction. A yearning for we know not that is evoked by beauty that captivates us. Simple things observed a thousand times suddenly cast spells on our inner spirit. Something new that is sweet and other-worldly beckons for our attention. There's nothing religious about this. Anybody can experience it. Atheists, religious believers and non-believers alike are tapping into sensed wonders and felt beauty that can never to be defined in precise terms.

There is an enviable influence behind all beauty that we see. Behind the wind that we hear, the wildlife we observe, the sunsets we admire. Sights and sounds become necessary sustenance feeding our deepest spirit even though we weren't aware that we needed anything. B.B the nature writer made the brilliantly 'mad' suggestion that, "Once we are begging to seek and search it may even be that in some measure, if not full measure, health will return to us. Nature has cures which are unknown even to the cleverest doctors, and the power of the will is a potent power which sometimes fills us with awe and wonder." 1. In other words, nature becomes a gentle emotional healer.

Another 'mad' man, William Blake, in one of his wild, half-inspired utterances, went even further. He announced that a person's hope of immortality depended not upon virtuous behaviour but upon wise perception.

A great contrast to recorded events in Yung Chang's best selling book, "Wild Swans." Yung describes the terrible suffering that she and her parents experienced during the Chinese leadership of Mao Tse Tung. The final act of communist lunacy occurred when an order was received that flowers and grass were a distraction to belief. They were not useful to a communist system. Yung Chang and her friends were forced to pull up all the grass and flowers from the school garden.

As well as blissful days at Powdermill lake, maybe we all, quite unknowingly during our fishing, stand (or sit) on the verge of grasping nature's momentous secrets. By simply looking, contemplating, drinking-in and staying curiously childlike about natural beauty around us, enthralling things could gather and grow inside us. It's worth an attempt at schooling ourselves. On the other hand, maybe I'm a silly old fool!

1. "Letters from Compton Deverell." by B.B.


PHIL STREETER






MAYFLIES Added: Monday 7th July 2014


Mayflies, dancing deliriously above the shiver of departing rivers,
Enjoy the life-span of a single summer's day ~ skylarks longer,
Perhaps possessing broken memories of yesterday and even shadowy suspicions of half-hidden tomorrows.
But not the mayfly, who is unaware of what it is to be one.

We are the mayfly,
Flitty and giddy in the brittle charm of the moment:
Oblivious of anything beyond the glitter of earth's passing seconds and
Luxuriating our brief lives through blue of morning, gold of noon and pink of evening.
It's a case of more beautiful the day, the more poignant it's demise.
Greater the ecstasy, sadder it's brevity.






THE GENTLE ART OF GROWING OLDER Added: Sunday 25th May 2014


Hardly a week passes without confronting a tree and thinking, "Perfect! Plenty of connecting branches. I could climb this one." After all, in my bare-kneed youth I scrambled up countless Beech trees looking for Jackdaw's eggs. How maddening having youthful energy in the head but unable to transfer it to the limbs. As someone brilliantly observed, "The tragedy of growing older is the remaining young." In other words, the spirit doesn't age as quickly as the body. Nevertheless, acceptance of our state helps us grow older in more serene and acceptable ways; to reach levels of contentment and acceptance in the autumnal years of our lives.

Hopefully, as we age physically, attitudes and objectives will also alter - a sort of helpful gear change as we begin motoring down hill. There will of course be accompanying regrets that we struggle to come to terms with. Nauseating losses like...

"If only I could kick a football around like I used to."

"Once upon a time I could jump on a bike and ride it for miles."

"The hills in Hastings get steeper and steeper."

"Dammit. Sadly no more second glances from pretty girls."

Such sentiments must remain bravely born miseries. Conversely, when it comes to leaving youth behind, I really don't want to be dragged screaming and protesting from the scene clutching posts and door handles. How embarrassing for younger members of the family when they see mutton striving to remain lamb. When older fathers desperately compete with stronger sons. Oh dear! Keep in mind that we may run but we can't hide from the consequences of age.

There are tremendous gains in growing older. I recall my own youth which was one of nauseating shyness and reserve. Always a painful awareness that I seemed to have nothing constructive to say, and the worse agony of having stupidly said the wrong thing! Marie Bashkirtseff in her journals wrote that whenever she entered a room she muttered a desperate prayer, "O God, please make me worth seeing." I was just as frantic, eyeing myself as an average person attracting little or no attention. On reflection, maybe there were secret motives of impressing people in areas where I wasn't really able. Now, with the passing of the years, I'm happy enough to be tolerated. In every subject of life (particularly fly-fishing), I no longer shrink from saying, "Sorry, I don't know," suspicious as I am that only as one realises and learns, one matures and deepens.

Another satisfaction about growing older, is the decreasing tyranny of having to follow rules! Once upon a time, sheep-like, I followed what others said and the political games they played. Now, I can't be bothered. To be called a heretic as I sometimes am, is a compliment. Neither do I mind being classified a rebel as long as I'm a nice one. Who says we must write on straight lines and keep paint within squares? Forget it, age is on our side. We can do anything we like - well, nearly anything! As well as bus passes, we have licenses giving us permission not to bother over-much. To learn how NOT to do things. If my standards appear lower than they used to be, hopefully I'm a more kind, sensitive and compassionate person because of it. These days I tend to hold my tongue, try not to score points in conversation, and run away with haste from people's pomposity. The important thing is to "be ourselves." To enjoy who we are, for unless a person is interesting to themselves they cannot be interesting to others.

A further gain of advancing years is whereas youth had its impetuosity and adventures, at the same time it was quick to plunge into discouragement and despair. Hopefully, with age, gentler emotions swing into view. When the hot blood has cooled a little, a more serene and interesting outlook replaces it. A subdued insight and good-natured lounging. A tolerance and broader range of experience. In youth we could convince the world. Now we see that overnight the strongest leaders become grass scattered by the wind.

Maybe you're like me. These days I tend to demand less from society and much less from individual people. I value good conversation and treasure friendships, old and new. I never refrain from asking for advice, especially as a fly-fisher - not a very good one I would add. After fifteen years of hurling flies into the water, I'm still asking questions like, "What fly should I use?" "How long should my leader be?" "Where should I tie the dropper?" One aspect of increasing years is that I'm no longer reluctant about showing my ignorance. After all, we all want to add to our knowledge and we all possess skills that differ from our friends.

Probably the greatest gain in growing older is the arrival of what I can only describe as a particular kind of patience. Maybe your wife or partner would aggressively disagree! In youth, mistakes seemed irreparable, calamities intolerable and disappointments unbearable. Anxieties hung around like threatening storms and every silver lining contained a cloud. While I was a hovering dragonfly reluctant to settle, at this period of life, I'm learning something of a "so what" attitude. Anxieties eventually fade. Catastrophes often have compensating pleasures. The wisdom of advancing years helps us to look over the top of problems instead of inside them, and with determination we might even create something out of our failures while becoming increasingly tolerant of the failures of others.

For myself, I juggle the benefits of growing older with the buzz of youthful thinking. While not always successful, I endeavour to live for today, allowing each one to fall away when it's done. A gnawing suspicion being that serenity in old age probably depends on claiming nothing, not griping about "my rights," and being thankful for all I have. I don't want to grumble about youthful morals, politics and the quality of brown ale. Furrows on the brow and anger in the eyes can be dreadful in their strength. My earnest wish is to grow old patiently and bravely, disgracefully and joyfully. To enjoy everything and everybody when they arrive - sunshine, rain and the capture of a double figure Rainbow trout the possibility of which seems as remote as standing on tiptoe to grab a handful of stars.

PHIL STREETER






ANOTHER WARNING FROM THE EDITOR Added: Friday 25th April 2014


Yet again, before you face Phil’s latest deep thoughts, your editor feels the need to forewarn you. Having done a fair amount of name dropping in his first article, Phil has managed to add yet more in his second. So take care or you could be overcome by the plethora of famous writers such as Alfred Lord Tennyson, Graham Greene, Jean Paul Sartre, D. H. Lawrence, Joanna Trollope, William Wordsworth and J R Tolkien (not specifically mentioned). Then suddenly we get a new angle on none other than Jesus! Wow, talk about covering a great deal of ground!

OK, so we have all heard of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) who in 1854 wrote “The charge of the Light Brigade”. But did you know that James Bosworth, one of the survivors of the ‘charge’ at Balaclava, was the Station Master at Northiam, just up the road from the reservoir. Ironically, he was run over and killed by a railway engine at the age of 70. If you make the effort to find his grave in the cemetery in Northiam village you will see that his epitaph reads as follows :-

Though shot and shell flew around fast,
On Balaclava's plain,
Unscathed he passed, to fall at last,
Run over by a train.


Now as far as your reporter/editor is concerned, that really is interesting.

In 1960, as a fourteen year old schoolboy, I can remember the scandal and sensation surrounding the court case at the Old Bailey as a result of the publication of the unexpurgated edition of D H Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” published by Penguin Books. Yet over 50 years later, I have still not bothered to read it, but I suspect that Phil has. However, I still love to re-read “Wind in the Willows” and “David Copperfield” to the grandchildren. Simple pleasures for a simple man!

But for those of you with more sophisticated tastes and minds... read on.




ANTIDOTES TO BOREDOM
by Phil Streeter


For the fly fisher, this early Punch magazine cartoon humorously presents us with a sizzling range of human emotions that we all share. Frustration, boredom runaway anger; you name it, we all experience it.

We have all been inflicted with boredom. A tediousness that stops you getting up in the morning. A "wading through a sea of glue," bemoaned the depressed Tennyson. Some people ride it out, others devise means of softening its impact, and everyone would be glad to be without it.

The writer Graham Greene confessed to obsessive cravings for excitement. Feverishly living on the edge, he quickly became bored. Passing a dentist one day feeling desperately lethargic, he suddenly decided to while away the time by having a tooth extracted. Reclined in the dental chair, Greene warbled a fictitious story about an abscess under his tooth. "It must be extracted," growled the dentist. Greene agreed on condition that he was knocked out for an hour by ether inhalation. Later, he described the experience as a "holiday from the world." To him, a spell of adventure, a welcome antidote to ordinariness.

Jean Paul Sartre in his reminiscences, recalls an Italian by the name of Giacometti, an unenviable man constantly griping about his boring existence. "I was born for nothing," he groaned. One day while crossing a busy street, Giocometti was run over by a car. Prostrate on the road, he confessed to a strange sense of elation. "At last something has happened to me," he murmured with a smile.

Aware that life's realities never equal one's ideal picture of them, D. H. Lawrence of Lady Chatterley fame, grizzled, "How I loathe ordinariness."

I must quote the person of Jesus from the New Testament but before doing so, I have to express my extreme irritation that this man has been kidnapped by established religion. No, I'm not preaching! My own strand of spirituality is simply sensing an Eternal Presence in everything and everyone, not in appointed buildings. This makes me a naughty, disobedient heretic, but I can't help it.! Originally, Jesus had nothing to do with Church or institutional religion. People have made him religious and for this reason he needs rescuing from it. He was an inspiring person just like Buddha, Mohammed, Mother Theresa and a galaxy of others that you could quote and maybe have even met.

Undoubtedly inspired, Jesus casually introduced a string of wonderful ideas that really could change the world. Sentiments like kindness, compassion, peace, tolerance and forgiveness, that have nothing to with religious buildings. But back to my main point. Being a human being like us, he too would have experienced boredom - that flat similarity of identical days. Sawing the same wood, nailing the same planks and up to his ankles in the debris of the obvious. However, he never resigned himself to a dull existence in order to rid himself of monotonous feelings. It's more than likely he practised alternative approaches to understanding the human problem of boredom. After all, dullness, sameness and repetition are essential parts of life. Only through tediousness could he apply that which he believed into something everyone could practise. "To be happy," said novelist Joanna Trollope, "you have to learn to value LITTLE THINGS."

In spasms of boredom, rather than feeling sorry for himself, Jesus diverted his attention to INCIDENTALS - to SMALL THINGS. They had value and were a launch pad to ease his sense of boredom; to diminish his spasm of staleness. Small, random events like sparrows arguing on rooftops, corn stalks in a field, flasks of wine, his mum baking bread, a pocketed coin, a lost sheep, a poor person in the crowd - a hundred everyday sights that regular people like us take for granted. In fact anything to escape that humdrum flatness. "Look at the lilies," he suggested. Is that all? Where's the trembling profundity? Maybe lilies like every other flower, when admired, become antidotes to boredom. They're certainly worth a glance when you're feeling morbidly mundane. "Go sit among the rocks," said nature writer Richard Jefferies, "or in the depths of the wood, and think of immortality, and all that word really means, and by-and-by a mysterious awe will creep into the mind, and it will half believe in the possibility of seeing or meeting something - SOMETHING - it knows not exactly what." If every moment is a messenger and every object contains a message as I believe they do, then the suggestion is that in miserable moods, it's worth mustering the energy to look around for distractions.

By accepting ordinary events rather than combating them, we permit them to mould our inside life instead of us becoming their prisoner. When we feel dull and listless, when no fly seems to work (!) be assured that life's smallest incidents bristle with significance. Frequently, we cannot perceive this because we do not notice. The wood can't be seen for the trees.

Boredom can be toyed and experimented with by extending our gaze towards the repetitious and commonplace. Previously unnoticed normality takes on new shapes when time is taken to LOOK, SEE and FEEL, not necessarily to understand. Trivial incidents are excellent instructors, the mundane can become marvellous, for that which is commonplace is always genuine. In that infirm person creeping along the street, two teenagers moodily romantic at a bus stop, the welcome of warm smiles, the friendly offer of "Try this fly," the innocent stare of a child in advance of its ability to express itself, a carpet of bluebells in a wood, a sheet of calm water silvered by moonlight, a loan tree leaning on the horizon, the sound of the first cuckoo. Ordinary sights like the deep gaze of an old dog, that helpful assistant in Tesco, a mother gazing into her pram and so on. Suddenly, the ordinary becomes transcendent! Or at least nudges us into realising that hundreds are worse off than us.

Behind all visible things looms a vastness; a window opening on everyday realities more majestic than they first appear to be. We must never reject sentiments when they are aroused. Welcome them. Feel them. They are individual expressions of our unique temperament. "O gentle reader, you could find a tale in everything," advised William Wordsworth.

The wise person welcomes ordinariness and monotony, boredom and irksomeness. When permitted, they can become experiments, entertainment, personal theatrical performances and education rolled into one. Repetitive things we look at when we least feel like it act like fairy wands that transforms things! Incidentals become as realistic as that first kiss and caress. Stale, ordinary occurrences can grasp a person. They prompt us to listen, and then become a key by which we understand meanings in the drabness we are of scraping through.

Everything emotionally wooden and tediously monotonous are present in order to take on other meanings. Bliss, satisfaction, and a surprising awareness can occur when we are seeking to find reasons for our flattened feelings. Be sure they are not opposites. Both are integral parts of an emotional journey that we need to pay attention to. They are the substance about which Bilbo Baggins sang about in Lord of the Rings...

The road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the road has gone,
And I must follow it if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet,
And wither then?
I cannot say.


So, first boredom, afterwards curiosity followed by fascination, then the pleasure of understanding. When welcoming our incidentals simply for what they are, realisations to difficult to analyse can easily gather and grow inside of us. So, at least have a try! Take a look! Remember that diseases are not healed by repeating the word "medicine" but by taking it. Then, quite mischievously, boredom could become the midwife for the birth of an unexpected self-discovery.

I conclude, optimistically wishing you the dullest, boring day of your life!

Phil Streeter






ALL YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW AND MORE! Added: Tuesday 1st April 2014



We did warn you that it would not be an easy read. This article has created more controversy and comment than anything else that has appeared on the HFF website. Your Editorial team are ecstatic. The Hans Christian Andersen tale "The Emperor’s New Clothes" comes to mind.

However, for those of you who may be completely confused, your editorial team can honestly assure you that our Phil is not a nutcase, just a deep thinker whose thought processes are invariably far from straightforward. Your intrepid reporter had an acquaintance that had studied philosophy at Oxford and he has to admit to being completely unable to hold a conversation with him on his lifelong passion.

For those of you who have tried and failed to plough through Phil Streeter’s defence of ‘laziness’, you have our sympathy as it’s not easy going! For those that claim that they did, but knew nothing about those ‘notables’ mentioned in Phil’s article, the Editorial team are happy to provide you with their assessment for what it’s worth:

Meister Eckhart (1260-1327) was in actual fact Eckhart von Hochheim, but apparently was born Johann Eckhart. Confused? So are we! Meister simply means "the Master" and we have no idea who gave him this accolade. He was a Dominican preacher, theologian and mystic, born at Hochheim, not far from modern day Frankfurt. You will be reassured to hear that anything written around this time is incomprehensible to normal people! This partly explains why Phil regards him so highly.

A.C. Benson (1862-1925) was an author, diarist and poet who became master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. The only thing that should endear him to you is that he wrote the lyrics to Elgar’s “Land of Hope and Glory”.

Viscount Grey of Fallodon (1862-1933). Your Editorial Team consider that Sir Edward Grey, was partially responsible for Germany’s ultimate aggression resulting in WW1, which may not have occurred but for his inept diplomacy. As a reward for his incompetence he was kicked upstairs by being created Viscount Grey of Fallodon and then became leader of the House of Lords. He was famous for uttering the statement "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime." So he did manage to get something right!

Richard Jefferies (1848-1887). He is described as an English nature writer. Now, here is someone whose books we all could benefit from reading, understanding and even enjoying. We assure you that this can be achieved with only a little effort. We recommend two of his books to the aspiring modern countryman. The first is “THE GAMEKEEPER AT HOME” and the other “THE AMATEUR POACHER”. Shooting pike when up trees– now that’s different!

Andre Gide (1869-1951) was a French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1947. Your Editorial team love so many of his sayings that it is difficult to choose just a few, but here are four of our favourites:

"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again."

"Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it."

"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time."

"It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not."


Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923). Born in New Zealand, but moved to London at the age of nineteen. A writer and very ‘modern’ lady for her time. We cannot claim to have read any of her works. Given her apparent racy lifestyle that’s just as well! So what’s Phil’s explanation?








THE BLISS OF IDLENESS Added: Thursday 27th March 2014



Walking along a South American seashore, a rich and successful business man came across a man propped against his fishing boat in the sunshine.

"Hi!" said the business man. "Finished for the day have you?"
"Yes," sighed the man contentedly.
Contemplating the fisherman for a moment, the business man retorted. "You don't seem to be working very hard. If you put more effort into your job, I think you could become rich and successful just like me."
The fisherman picked up a small net lying on the sand beside him and commenced repairing it.
"Can't you see," reflected the business man. "If you worked an entire day fishing instead of the few hours that you do, you would catch more fish. Then you would earn more money. With more money you could purchase a bigger boat. In fact, with increased income you might even be able to buy a fleet of boats and employ staff."
"What then?" Said the fisherman stuffing tobacco into a little pipe.
"Don't you understand," insisted the business man irritably, "You would become successful and happier."
"But I'm happy now," was the simple response.



Reverend Philip E. Streeter

Unemployment can't be acquainted with idleness. To insist that working and earning is a responsible, moral obligation is questionable. It's reminiscent of landowners demanding peasant obedience, the master's control over servants; both having little connection with the bliss of being human.

Why should idleness be regarded as shameful? It has profound value because provision is being made for reflective thought; for contemplation outside of standard opinion and programmed belief. I think we should idle around a lot more. Yelled warnings about "shirking responsibilities" and "never lifting a finger to help humanity," are best ignored. "You should! You must!" rather than a warm, soupy, "Will you consider this?" is little more than a gun held to the head.

In pushing prejudices and principles on others, the accusers indulge in a kind of idolatry. Of course work is a vital fragment of life, just as the psychological trauma of job insecurity can be crippling, but bigoted opinion without knowing all the circumstances is like someone obsessed with collecting butterflies that they refuse to catalogue and display.

"I work hard, fulfil my obligations and so should you." Such statements have a duff ring of self-righteousness. They are miserable attempts to push people into a morbid guilt totally out of proportion with their (so called) idleness.

"People ought not to consider what they are to do as what they are," scribbled 14th century mystic, Meister Eckhart. "Let them be good and their ways and deeds will shine brightly." Of course there's always someone who will abuse the system. The skivers who channel little if anything into society, but fractures occur in every facet of life. While an individual may not be employed, this doesn't mean they are unoccupied or are non-contributors. There are good, unemployed people helping to bring order to the universe. While appearing to do nothing, they quietly perform that which rings right with a clear conscience. Hearts are extending further than hands. They are productive in discreet, sensitive ways in contrast to the brashness of the energetically organised. Instinct is their guide. Their moment by moment responses suggest that beautiful, permanent things are usually the unnoticed not the demonstrative.



Idleness

Of course we need an occupation but not necessarily standard images of what an occupation is. Slumping out of our beds to put on the obedience of another day becomes little short of oppressive if we have been pushed into unsuitable employment. All work that is not pleasurable is wretched. Social obligation and the villainy of deadlines never justify the fuss they create. There's never a clear-cut "should" or "should not" as Isa al Faris the Sufi found out. He was called "the piercer" because he had the boring job of constantly piercing beads. When asked, "Why do you continue to do this job?" he replied, "I keep busy with this so that they won't make me busy with something else."

Everyone hankers after employment fitting with their interests and giftings. Doing what they want to do rather than what they have to. In an imperfect society this isn't always possible. Inevitably, individuals become stressed and unfulfilled. Work becomes an invading dullness because nothing they do appears to be of value.

There are also the hyper-sensitive and thin skinned who, through no fault of their own, have lived a sheltered existence. Fearful individuals that make little headway in rough, cynical work places. Sensitivity of temperament linked to nameless dread, produces an inability to cope with harsh demands made upon them. Such people can't help responding over-intensely to the stabs of life. If only we could do the things we want to do, traverse the areas we dream of exploring and be provided with opportunities to do so. After all, none of us can help being who we are.

For some, gifted abilities in music, painting, creative thought, instructive hobbies and practical caring, the sharing of inherent wisdom and a sense of wonder, together with gifted abilities to listen and discuss in warmest conversation, could become valuable sources of soothing healing. Such ignored people have a unique vision of the world. Their valuable contribution to others is due to the fact that they refuse to dot their i's and keep paint between the lines, as officially instructed.



Idleness

Everyone needs leisure time in order to arrive at important solutions; to come to clear conclusions, to imagine and romanticise about the miracle of existence. Life's deepest lessons are not learned in hard work, doing and obeying, but in BEING. Such leisurely people are the real experts and specialists. "Some of the most useful people I know," wrote A.C.Benson, "are people who think least about being useful ... They have time to listen and to talk, to welcome friends and sympathise with them, to enjoy and help others to enjoy. They seem to me to do more for the world than the people who hurry from meeting to meeting."

Sadly, there's a galaxy of sensitive, gifted people who, in anguish, see all the promises they made for themselves drown in oceans of duty and responsibility. "The longer we live," said our good fishing friend Viscount Grey of Fallodon, "the deeper becomes the groove or the rut in which our life moves."

More idleness is needed. More opportunity to waste time. Moments when we all rise above obligation, regularity, compulsion and the expectations of others in order to be saturated by life's novelty and motiveless variety.

Nature writer, Richard Jefferies longed to be free from the pettiness of useless labour. "I hope," he wrote, "that succeeding generations will be able to be idle. I hope that nine-tenths of their time will be leisure time; that they may enjoy their days, and the beauty of this wonderful world; that they may rest by the sea and dream; that they may dance and sing, and eat and drink. I will work towards that end with all my heart."

Around the same period, French writer Andre Gide babbled similar sentiments in a more sensuous way. "Every perfect action is accompanied by pleasure. That is, how you can tell that it was right to do it. I don't like people who pride themselves on working painfully. If their work was painful, they had better done something else. The delight one takes in one's work is the sign of its fittingness." Replaced by method and regulation, policy and obligation, the senses easily become disciplined to exclude attributes like playful nonsense, runaway imagination, idle fancy, the pleasures of sampling, fantasy, risk, sacred idleness and serendipity - that gift of discovering gilt-edged things not even sought after. Or even to drift along with life's flow waiting for things to work out as they generally do.


Idleness


This is not negligence, laziness or indifference, but a touching awareness brooding over a sense of fun; of not taking anything over-seriously, especially ones self. That even the worst stays best if it's sincere. It's something like the adult suddenly perceiving in the child a wit and insight sharper than their own.

Many resist an idle easiness. It leaves no successes to boast about. Yet how profitable to neglect responsibilities and waste time. It's no worse than strategic efforts greedily prompted by self-interest. Personally, I think that one of our greatest human charms lies in our useful idleness, after all, we were born not quarried. Doing something 'useful' never compensates "Let me alone, I want to think." Maybe there's more justification for reflective leisure than for 'successful' careers; to love your neighbour than make a fortune. Time must be made for dalliance. Matters need to be taken more lightly, even the concept of work. "I don't want to earn a living," wrote Katherine Mansfield, one of my favourite writers, "I want to live!"

That's it! Little organised action and more reflection. Less productivity and more standing and staring. Cats are brilliant at staring at the moon. Herons stand still as statues. We seem to lack that ability. Haven't you found that it's often the individual sitting on the back seat doing nothing, that is the wise, inspiration-giver?

Every month the disciple faithfully sent his master an account of his spiritual progress. In the first month he wrote, "I feel an expansion of consciousness and experience my oneness with everything." The master glanced at the note and threw it away. The following month the disciple said, "I have finally discovered that the divine is present in all things." The master was disappointed. In his third letter the disciple enthusiastically explained, "The mysterious secret of the universe has been revealed to my wondering gaze." The master yawned.



Idleness

After that a month passed by , then two, then five, then a whole year. The master thought it was time to remind his student of his duty to keep him informed of his spiritual progress. The disciple wrote back, "Who bloody cares!" When the master read these words, a look of satisfaction spread across his face. He gurgled, "Thank God. At last he's got it!" A detachment of mind - a sense of freedom - the blessing of the careless. Brilliant!

To quote Viscount Grey once again: "Feelings of delight come unsought and without effort - when they are present they are everywhere about and in us like an atmosphere; when they are past it is almost as impossible to give an account of them as it is of last year's clouds, and the attempts to analyse and reconstruct the sense of joy that has been and maybe again, seems to result in rows of dead words."

I love this throw-away suggestion of pleasure and 'can't-be-bothered idleness.' He's the sort of chap who would persuade us all to crowd idly into the fishing hut as often as possible; dump our tackle against the wall, brew a cup of coffee and lustily sing...

"Busy doing nothing, working the whole day through.
Trying to find lots of things not to do.
We're busy going nowhere, isn't it just a crime,
We'd like to be unhappy but we never do have the time."


PHILIP E. STREETER



Diane and Reverend Philip E. Streeter




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