Bubbles and Connection

2018 3 1

(The tiles are like wrapping paper)

Yesterday I went off exploring the town on my own with my camera. I took some pictures. I sat under a tree. I took some more pictures. I sat in a square. I walked on. I stopped to take another picture. If you had gone out at the same time with the same camera on the same streets you would have taken different pictures. Even if you took pictures of the same things you would have focussed on a different section. Or you would have zoomed in or zoomed out.

2018 2 1

(More wrapping paper)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the different bubble of knowledge/experience/emphasis we each bring to whatever we do and wherever we go. My bubble is different to yours and each of our bubbles today are different to what they were yesterday. Going for a walk with my camera was the perfect change of scene to disrupt my thinking and disrupt my bubble.

2018 5 1

(Street name)

I was thinking that when we communicate with another human being we are communicating across bubbles, that can distort the communication even when we are speaking the same language. But then sometimes we connect with a person and it’s almost like we pushed an internal button that aligned our bubble with their bubble and we’re talking the same bubble language.

2018 5

(On top of a column)

Then at other times we are irritated by someone and it’s like we pushed a different button and now our bubble is fizzing and popping and no matter what they say it’s irritating. Recently I met someone who irritated me. My bubble fizzed and popped in a way that was distasteful… (I can’t believe I’m sharing this with you) I went on and on in my mind about how silly she was, how annoying, how childish. Then something about the word childish stopped everything.

2018 7

(See the fields and mountains in the distance)

It was me who being childish. The fizzing and popping had stopped. She reminded me of me! The same mean voice that criticises me was criticising her. I knew which side of the hostilities I wanted to be on. I pushed the internal button, my bubble aligned with hers. At first nothing changed, then she seemed nice and then I wanted to connect. Turned out we didn’t have much in common and we’ll probably never be friends but she taught me to notice my bubble fizzing and popping.

Morto, Mairead.

It’s over… for now

IMG 0203

(A wedding in Surgeres… Thinking of you, Linda and Paul!)

We’re sitting on the ferry hearing Irish voices for the first time in a long time. Mostly they sound kinda nice, friendly, sing-songy, ordinary, gentle too. I was getting used to missing eavesdropping. Now that’s back I’m overwhelmed by the input. I had forgotten there was so much more information than just the words. Consider the eyebrow movement your mother used when she said, “How much?” If she added a certain head tilt you knew you were in big trouble. (Did you hear the tone when you read that two-word question?)

IMG 0349

(Narrow street in Nantes)

Every day we make additions to the meaning of the words we hear depending on tone and body language. The people talking to us make additions to the words they hear us say. If we’re really lucky we make the right additions and they make the right additions and we understand each other. Communication is something we take for granted and we usually think the words we say are clear and that of course the person we’re talking to will understand exactly what we mean… but what if they don’t? If they don’t it gets a bit messy.


(Passageway in Chateau Comtel, Carcassonne)

Spending time in a country where I assume I will not understand the people has made me more aware of the possibility that I don’t understand the people in my own country, speaking the language I’m fluent in…. One day last week in Nantes Denis needed to visit the mobile phone shop, Orange. If you’ve ever had to go into a mobile phone shop in any country you’ll have had a similar experience. It’s very slow, there’s lots of queuing. The handshake when the assistant brings you to his workstation is particularly French (and lovely) but the rest is very similar.

IMG 8960

(My favourite dishwasher!)

Anyway, I was sitting on an orange (kid you not!) sofa in the Orange shop waiting for him when an older, very well dressed lady sat down beside me. We did the bonjour/bonjour and she said a few more words and I… smiled and nodded (probably appropriate?) but then she said something else and I just knew it was a question. She was looking at me and waiting. For a very short moment I considered more smiling and more nodding but for the first time in France (with a French person) I recognised connection. You know the moment when you trust that the person (whom you don’t know) in front of you is safe? Is worth taking the time to communicate with. Not a huge communication, not deep and meaningful words… yet you somehow connect.

IMG 0559

(Sunset in Asserac)

So, I didn’t just smile and nod, Instead I searched deep into my faulty French and said I’m sorry, I don’t understand, I speak only a little French. Her eyes lit up, she laughed, she took my hand, she gently patted my arm and she said something. I have no idea what she said, yet I know exactly what she said…. she told me it was ok, she told me I was ok, she told me everything was fine. Then she asked me what language I spoke and she told me she didn’t know any of that either. All the time she held my hand and patted my arm and we both smiled. Then the assistant called her name and she left to get her phone fixed.

Maybe we say too many words when all we really need to do is connect, Mairead.

The Spirit Drinker.

I’ve been reading Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception (1954). He’s the English author of Brave New World (1932). In the Doors of Perception book he was testing the effects (on himself) of taking a hallucinogenic drug called mescaline.

The thing that most interested me was his reasoning for drug taking. Why do people take drugs, including alcohol and cigarettes? He says it’s because they have a sense of something greater than normal, (their own spirit or their own connection to spirit), and they want to experience that.

We can sense it when we are climbing a mountain, or running a marathon or watching our children sleep or when we’re caught up in creating art. It’s fleetingly there and then gone and it’s a let down to be in the ordinary world  We search for a way in normal day to day life to recreate that experience. Maybe we’re not even aware of having had an experience, all we know is there’s more to life than this…..

Huxley says that’s why humans choose to get high or get merry, it gives them a taste of this connection to something extra-ordinary.

This makes sense to me. There’s another drug to add to the list. It has always been easy for me to make that connection to spirit and I didn’t even think of it as something unusual – it was just part of life. As a child I loved going to church, and even went to extra masses during the week. It wasn’t strange when I was a child in rural Ireland, lots of people were doing it and there was an acceptance that this was the right thing to do.

When I became a teenager and started going out with boys, that place where I got spirit connection became unfriendly for me. As teenagers my peers and I were judged sinful and evil by the rules of the religion. Trying to follow the religious rules was difficult because they went against my own wisdom. For many years things continued like that, keeping the rules breaking my wisdom, breaking the rules keeping my wisdom, there was a lot of guilt. But I wanted the spiritual connection so I continued taking the religious drug. For me, there was no separation between spiritual and religious, and to have the spiritual nourishment I had to follow the religious rules.

But how can any religious structure/organisation have exclusive rights to spiritual connection? Spiritual connection came first and religion followed as a man-made symptom (at best) of that connection. When I realised that, I could honour my own wisdom and still have connection.

My drug was religion, I thought it was necessary to experience the spiritual connection. Some people’s drug is alcohol or cannabis or whatever… Is it necessary to drink alcohol, take drugs or attend a service in order to experience a sense of spirit? Would it be enough to have the experience without the drug?