Tag Archives: play

… a haunting dream pops up again …

The scene takes place on a sunlit peninsula, set in a glittering sea. I play with white cubes, each feather light. The childlike part of me experiments with the beauty of forms and the building of imaginative structures that mirror colours of  the sky and surrounding landscapes. Others join in, and not just friends, strangers too. We have fun, laugh and toss cubes to each other. We are building a temple to celebrate play.

A crowd approaches. Stable minded, committed to rational thinking and adverse to risk-taking, they object to our frivolity. Some serious looking folk move in with knives at their belts. Our vision of lightness offends. We demonstrate how temples can rise and fall in the blink of an eye. ‘You put a lie to order,’ they say, ‘you ridicule our values.’ They fear us, having invested in solid structures, walls, to house the light of their gods.

With no gods to protect, we thought we could do with movable walls. After all, there are walls and walls.


As a child I wondered if I’d dropped onto the wrong planet, but was later heartened by brilliant minds with deep insights and generous perspectives on consciousness, including C G Jung.

I found a sense of safety in knowing that I can hoist the sails of my boat, catch a spirit wind and sail on a light-wave towards higher dimensions.

That said I’m a bullshit detector in the post-new-age spiritual market, where I could’ve done well with a how-to-keep-sane book.

When the above dream first arrived, many years ago, I thought, heck, I live in this space/time to engage with and challenge limitations in myself and others. I felt suspended between the virtues of Plato’s top-down and Aristotle’s bottom-up metaphysical arguments. I explored question such as – do the aggressors in my dream represent the judgmental part of me that inhibits the creative impulse of the child that shrinks when it feel unwelcome? … Yes.

Acquiring skills to facilitate creative workshops and dream seminars, brought me over two decades of confidence and joy. I discovered my intuitive connection to a higher intelligence, and I learned to trust in group processes. Former participants fondly remember these times. We had a safe space to play in.

The dream returned to show up once more my fear of rejection. This time I’m alone, the fear applies to my writing. Rejection has become the rule in this over harvested and exploited field. And as much as the explosion of writing contributes to a massive leap in the expansion of consciousness, I must admit, having spent years writing and polishing my first opus, I’ve become a judging discriminator myself. The persistence of writers is admirable, though I gasp when I hear that some writers query hundreds of agents or publishers – really?

I sent out one query only (I hear you gasp) to a niche publisher, who, in response to a poet friend’s recommendation, read my novel, loved it and wanted to launch it, but then, sadly, three years on, had to fold her publishing venture. Further delays were unthinkable, so I published, at the risk of losing the roof over my head.

Readers have personal tastes. When a book is not branded and displayed in literary markets, finding tasters will not happen overnight. I’ll keep an open mind. Appreciating and understanding my ghost of rejection is the real issue for me, especially in a time when fear assumes bestselling qualities and depression spreads like a virus.

I’m editing the sequel to Course of Mirrors and will continue writing. If procrastination was an academic accomplishment I’d have earned a PhD during these last few months.

Not to be too hard on myself, I endured five weeks without heating or hot water, editing wrapped up in multiple layers of clothing, winter boots, hot water bottles and gloves, until, finally, a government grant towards a new boiler was approved. Bliss … my brain cells are warming up again.



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… not now – later …

my little hero

my little hero

Each new generation tends to be smarter. While living in rural Somerset, I observed our four-year old son’s play-acting in the garden from the kitchen window while washing pots. He explored his sharp-shooting skills with wooden blocks, building, destroying, building, destroying, building; and so on … it was his new idea of fun. His aiming was good.

Pots done, I attended to the next task, fetching the milk from the street-hatch, left there by Hope, our farming neighbour. She had poured three pints of milk into a bowl and covered it with a cloth. The cream had risen to the top, ready to be skimmed off, which led on to the next task, preparing the dessert for a birthday meal. At this point my son came rushing into the kitchen, wanting me to witness and applause his new sharp-shooting skill. My brain cells were committed to preparing walnut ice-cream.

I said, ‘Not now, later!’

This trick normally worked for a while, but that day he stood his place, watching me with a quizzing look.

‘When does now end?’ he asked.

Casting my eyes to the ceiling for help, I said, ‘Actually, now never ends,’ realising instantly I was in trouble. The child’s superior grasp of logic would demand, at least, a meaningful explanation, and I could loop myself into philosophical twists. My son had no need to query my shrewd answer, he went one better.

‘So when does later start?’

Time to admit defeat. Drying my hands, I said, ‘Now.’

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The memory of the incident inspired me to draft a poem … NOW

by Daphne Joe Grant

Illustration by Daphne Joe Grant

Now is the in-breath

Now is the elusive arc

Now is the outbreath


Over and over

Out of nowhere pops the now

Or so we presume


When will we find you?

Why not tell us your purpose?

Where are you hiding?


Now is a trickster

Not taken in by mind-games

Now laughs inside us


Our time must be round

Or turn through a dark tunnel

Orbiting the now


Waste now and lose her

Weft now to now and she’ll dance

Wed now and be her


Now has no answer

Now is what is truly known

Now breathe her and bow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjwBWE64fG0 Interesting talk by Rupert Spira on perception.

A focussed mind helps us to achieve stuff, but is also easily hijacked by the rat-race, the relentless rush towards meeting deadlines in competitive environments, where no children interrupt and make us pause.

Apparently 10.4 million days are lost annually to work-related stress in the UK alone. And it costs businesses in the US $300bn (£187bn; €237bn) a year. No wonder the ‘Here and Now’ theme is in vogue again, even with hi-tech status. Take a biosensor device, called Pip 🙂 … http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-29742908

There is another kind of stress, less talked about, affecting those who work hard for a living, as well as those who lost jobs, or get by on little, or anyone reflecting on human qualities, while witnessing a growing social polarity … as poignantly shown in this image …



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… she discovered her language …

Expelled from the womb as a bundle of around 100 trillion cells, our tiny body brings along a generous genetic tome of ingredients for traits that dance together in a myriad of potential formations – depending on chance and circumstance. The process of sequencing and mapping the tome of an organism is immeasurably more complex and unpredictable than sensational media articles tend to suggest. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_misunderstandings_of_genetics

Add inherited family models and cultural traditions – blessings and curses – this bundle of potential is compelled to fit into a given coat that eventually becomes too tight, or the colour is off, the material too heavy, and most likely the design clashes with our sensibilities. In short, the coat can conceal our potential and our essence, even to us.

The Wounded Angel - Hugo Simberg

The Wounded Angel – Hugo Simberg

The challenge lies between two extremes: to squeeze into the coat or to alter it – and therein lies beauty – the full scale of our different stories unfolding.  We want to engage with the world, find a medium that communicates our unique myth – through being, play, work, service, music, dance, images, words, creating or dismantling ideas and objects. We crave for the ‘aha,’ the recognition, for symbolic understanding, and purpose.

The worst trials often sculpt the deepest processes. We deprive ourselves when judging those who don’t fit the norm, as demonstrated in this video about the Outsider artist, Judith Scott. Her works are exhibited in The Museum of Everything. When late in life she was welcomed in a creative space, Judith discovered a language for her inner history, her myth, and prayer. She devoted herself to wrapping up things, protecting things, keeping them safe and secure. Like many artists through whose very personal process shines the universal, she made psychological and spiritual sense of her genome.

<p>Video from <a href=”http://www.karmatube.org”>KarmaTube</a></p&gt;

In case the embedded video won’t show – it’s a great site:   http://www.karmatube.org/videos.php?id=3563&utm_content=buffer59550&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer

We’re all artists. Becoming a unique human being is a phenomenal creative achievement. In a culture that measures people against a uniform blueprint of perfection we easily lose sight of the unique perfections arising from within individuals, from within us.

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The story of Judith Scott reminded me of a few lines from a Sufi prayer by Hazrat Inayat Khan

… Oh thou – life eternal –

we seek thy loving enfoldment …


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… the cast in the shadows …

Perhaps all the dragons of our lives
are princesses who are only waiting to
see us once, beautiful and brave.
Perhaps everything terrible is in
Its deepest being something
that needs our love.                — Rainer Maria Rilke

Last week I volunteered a short session in the context of a variety of monthly events organised by a group of friends under the umbrella of Archventures.

… the cast in the shadows …  …

We have inside us a cast of players for every imaginable scene. Occasionally banned and hidden characters pop up. Excluded from our script, they emerge inadvertently through surprise encounters, act irrational and appear cartoon-like. Unacknowledged, a wild player roams in the unconscious unconnected, until an emotional trigger hits a sensitive node. We are not amused when an unsophisticated trait breaks to the surface with behaviour that will embarrass and shame us, belying our self-image.

We learn as children to shield ourselves from rejection and injustice. Our strategies are endless and contrary …  like being compliant and withholding or defensive and angry. Think of a natural and well-meaning quality persons in your early environment disapproved of in the name of moral perfection. Your trust may have been betrayed, manipulated and taken advantage of. We adjust as best we can. Rules are needed for societies to function.

We spend our life until we’re twenty deciding what parts of ourselves to put in the bag, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again. – Bly

In relation to our genuine nature, the sacrifices we make in order to belong can be as disproportionate as the sacrifices we make to defy authority. Feelings we edit out of our lives gather a strange luminosity and succumb to an archetypal force beyond our command. Yet a closer look at the rawness and imperfections of disowned players may surprise. They invariably hold a gift, often the very essence of our creativity.

A way to re-own the locked up energy is to honour our battle scars and weaknesses. We don’t have to agree with inner and outer adversaries, only accept their existence in us. This acceptance opens the heart to tolerance, rapport, understanding, empathy – and insight.

‘Our friends show us what we can do – our enemies teach us what we must do.’ – Goethe

We make room for imperfection … 25th Feb 2012

What is uplifting about our monthly Archventures gatherings are the hugs … yup … never underestimate the invigorating power of hugs. What I also appreciate – and this applies to many groups whose core members meet regularly – is that we form a different entity each time, enriched by everyone’s fresh constellation of experience and insight. Newcomers feel welcome and at ease in this irreverent group that does not follow any one creed, ideology or person.

The most powerful player this afternoon was the seven-year-old son of a participant. The boy was fascinated by the boxes of miniature world-objects I had brought along.

He outplayed us all, instantly creating a legion of his world.

The young will be forever potent in their ability to play and invent …

We adults shared unique and moving stories about early misdeeds, raising questions to be explored individually. (The photo is of a  different occasion)

Some shadows we drag along are not of our own making, a dilemma that also applies to families and nations.

‘The best political, social, and spiritual work we can do is to withdraw the projection of our shadow onto others.’  ― C. G. Jung

Understanding the origins of shadow-projections softens the compelling affect they have in defining us, and our reactions to being fitted into a frame. Observing politics, it is obvious that negotiations are not enough to solve longstanding conflicts. It takes the awareness and inner work of individuals to let go of resentment, release the spark of creativity that enables lateral thinking, and the flow of compassion tied up in the entanglement of righteousness.

And there remains the unknowable, luminous black hole, and a sixth sense of something that evades us. What is mysterious, not accessible emotionally or through analysis, drives us on to dig deeper, expand our consciousness, and re-discover the link to our innermost self.

‘We are born at a given moment, in a given place, and like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season in which we are born.’ ― C. G. Jung

With only three hours’ time available, the session at least inspired us to remember what is in our power to do. There remains the ever impelling potential of greater intensity and more poise between safety and risk on the tightrope of our life.

Our dear friend Rahima outlined the shadow theme as C. G. Jung defined it. If you have not heard of the term ‘shadow’ in this context you might want to investigate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_(psychology)

And in relation to the activity of writing – here a dream image in the eye of its beholder  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M19S89UcaKQ&feature=related

If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


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