Tread Carefully

Tread carefully for you may not see what is right in front of you. Walking through a wood you can see a blanket of mud and leaves unfolding as you keep continue, you can see the nice green grassy path just to one side of you, it would be good to be walking on that side, less mud on the boots right? Well generally that’s not how things work and for Oliver it definitely wasn’t, he spent his life in parallel with the green grass never quite managing to cross over, his boots getting muddier, he kept going knowing eventually his path would meet up with the grassy side. A flash of colour caught his eye, something off to the left, he turned to see a fly agaric mushroom nestled in the bank, fascinated he looked around for a stick to pick it up with knowing that you could get strange effects from even touching them. He poked the stick and turned it over, the pure white of the gills were soft and silky, he reached instinctively with his other hand to steady the gills as the stick pierced the centre of the shroom, brushing them briefly. He thought nothing of it at the time and carried on through the woods carrying his mushroom on a stick like a trophy he wanted to take a photo, it was one of the most beautiful specimens he had ever seen. The further he got the more the sky seemed to change, the trees looked brighter and clearer, he was completely alone or so he thought, when he looked back it looked much darker, the branches were hanging down in an almost menacing look.

Continuing forward the colours changed as he walked, bird calls sounded even more intense, he was forced to think more about his surroundings, his conscious niggled at every uncertainty ‘what was that?’ he jumped as he backed straight into a tree, he sat down heavily somewhat confused by the things he was experiencing, he stared off into the distance trying to gather his racing thoughts, the trip hit, he had never taken anything in his life not even a painkiller, the world became a dazzling light show of clarity, he saw how he would change his life and make his fortune, he saw the truth in his subconscious and finally defined his passion, something he never thought he would do. The trip seemed to last hours, and when he finally re-entered the ‘real world’ it was still light, he checked his watch only 2 hours had passed, he wasn’t sure if he was more relieved he’d only lost 2 hours or shocked at the magnitude of all the things he had learnt about himself in such a short space of time.

As he drove home the final effects of the trip made their way out of his body, the odd brightly coloured light and random deer at the side of the road continued to appear on the way home. When he got home he went to bed to rest for a while just to make sure there were no ill effects left, he woke an hour later mindful of how powerful nature could be, the dreams whilst he was resting were like nothing he had experienced before.

Sling

Callum picked up a stone from the floor, his new sling sparkled in the sunlight, there was nothing in particular to aim at but he couldn’t wait to try it. The park was fairly empty, no other children near him but he could see some adults on the other side, no chance of hitting them it was much too far away. Just in case he was wrong he turned away from them, he looked around again, he didn’t want to hit a bird or a squirrel by accident. There was nothing around, he aimed to the right of a tree, the area was clear, pulled it back as far as he could and let go. Watching the stone sail at a reasonable speed off into the distance he saw a bird fly across its path seconds before the stone zipped through the air. Staring in disbelief, he couldn’t believe it had been that close, he wouldn’t of forgiven himself if he had hit the bird. It made him wonder why he had the sling at all, he had no desire to hurt anyone or damage anything, he just liked watching things fly around, stones just happen to be the most readily available item to launch, he reflected that they were also probably the most damaging thing to fire out of a sling.

Loading another stone into the sling he took aim to the left of the tree he had previously aimed at, as the stone flew through the air Callum had a bad feeling. The stone arced towards the middle branch, to his horror there was a shape on the branch (he couldn’t see exactly what it was) as the stone connected it fell off the branch. Devastation swept over him, that was the last time, he threw the sling on the floor, never again, it was too dangerous. Unsure what to do he was frozen on the spot for the moment, gathering himself he picked up the sling again and put it in his bag. Approaching the area under the tree from which the shape fell he peered as close as he dared to see that it was a large pine cone, the relief was almost instant but the lesson was learnt. It was time to hang up the sling and find something a little less dangerous to play with.

Does it Matter if You Are A Misfit?

Photo by Overture Creations on Unsplash

Not fitting in to a group is an experience all of us have at one time or another in our lives Keisha was no different. People saw her as the quiet weird one, never really in a specific group she floated from one to another and back again. Keisha didn’t see a problem with not fitting in, she preferred it that way, it was boring when everyone was the same. There was nothing ‘wrong’ with her she just liked her own company, she didn’t feel the need to have a shared interest to power her through the day. It was nice to talk to people about and do different things but she was equally happy with her own thoughts, writing or reading. It didn’t really seem to matter who she was to most people so did that really make her a misfit or someone simply searching for identity. She had a wild side, which rarely did her any favours, her desire to be different but also unnoticed at the same time meant that she ‘stood out’ but she wasn’t bothered by that she was happy to be noticed then ignored, she blended into the background once everyone noticed her, acknowledged but no more than that.

Misfits stand out from the crowd because they display unusual or strange behaviour, Keisha didn’t think she was strange or unusual but then she knew she wasn’t normal so she guessed people saw her somewhere in between. Not caring was a challenge at first, it was hard to accept that people found her weird, she thought she was pretty normal, in comparison to her family she was definitely the most normal but maybe that wasn’t a good benchmark. Daily interactions with people were sometimes a struggle, it depended on her mood, if she was in a bad one, it did not go well, if she was in a good mood then all would be amazing she wouldn’t give a monkeys what people thought, there were still dark times she had deal with them as and when they happened, it was unpredictable but they were getting less and less. In all truth though she was proud to be a misfit and long may it continue.

Ornament or Momento?

Photo by Esther Pervis on Unsplash

They stand on the mantle piece unmoving, the garish looks in the eyes of the soldiers were lost on the china animals with plants growing out of their backs. Their empty eyes stared back unrelenting in their intensity, expecting some kind of answer, but to what question?

The soldiers felt sure they held more meaning than they appeared, some meaning perhaps that they did not see, because why else would someone have collected so many? They continued to move through the house, it was filled will different china ornaments, why? It was not their job to answer that question that was for the authorities.

An ornament can be much like a momento they both carry meaning of some description, ornaments are often collected in multiples they are often created in series by companies to sell mass produced items, they can be entirely unsightly and their only purpose is to sit on a shelf, yet people love them. Momentos on the other hand are things that remind us of something or someone, it can also be anything, not entirely restricted to inanimate objects.

The soldiers left without documenting the ornaments, they didn’t think it would be worth it, they missed the tiny stash in each one, what did they care? It wasn’t their country, and it wasn’t going anywhere, personal use was up to the individual.

World Food Day

Photo by Fernando @dearferdo on Unsplash

I love the different ways in which we can interpret world food day, from celebrating different cuisines to creating awareness for a waste free healthy future we are lucky to have these different foods to share.

Global hunger is also a serious issue which there are many charities fighting battles for money and support to rectify, there are millions of children who are malnourished and living in poverty, it is important to try and help where we can, whether it is at home or further afield you can make a difference to someones life.

Western diets have been heavily influenced by the desire to travel and colonise other countries around the world, many fruit and vegetables such as potatoes and tomatoes were brought back from foreign travels by explorers. In a time of convenience we can have what ever we want any time of year because it is imported from warmer climbs.

It is important to try and reduce your waste, especially food, there are so many reasons to for example saving money, less rubbish to throw away, no more mouldy food in the bin. Try and keep your food seasonal, buy only local (same country) produce if you can, chances are the carbon footprint will be lower as well as being much fresher and tastier.

Out of the Door

Photo by Dima Pechurin on Unsplash

There she went, out of the door, where she had gone it was hard to say, would she be back? Well that was a question, she would hope so, there wasn’t any rush to return.

The sun beat down on her head, reminding her of the summers spent in warmer climbs, it was normally so cold here it was odd to feel the heat. She looked ahead to the future and the best version of herself and saw a journey near its end, her best was soon enough and long may it continue.

A sudden thought, did I lock the back door? She couldn’t remember, the park would have to wait until she had checked. Turning on her heel she sped up her pace walking back, the more she thought about it the more it bothered her, as she came round the corner she ran in to someone holding a TV oddly like hers. As she walked up the garden path she realised what had happened, she got to the back door it was shut, she tried the door it was locked, unlocking it she peered round as if expecting some kind of explosion but nothing. The TV was still there in place, the house was untouched. Maybe it wasn’t her TV after all.

Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences 2019

The 2019 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel has been awarded to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.”

Nobel Prize Twitter Account

There are so many reasons why this award is important, partly because of its general effect on the world but also because Esther Duflo is only the second woman to have won the prize in its history. Apparently quite shocked she didn’t think she would win because of her demographic, being that winners were usually older and male, this is a definite positive step for women in the world of the Nobel Prize.

Making lasting changes in global poverty is something that we as a world have struggled with, our approach was maybe too generalised and as we know its a far more complex issue than we like to admit. The advances that this years Laureates have made in the field has shown that breaking down the issue into smaller more easily managed questions and problems. Duflo observes “Poor people are supposed to be either completely stupid, desperate, lazy or entrepreneurial. But we don’t try to understand the deep root, the interconnected root of the problem.” It is time to start unpacking the problems and breaking them down.

“As a direct result of one of their studies, more than 5 million Indian children have benefited from effective programmes of remedial tutoring in schools. Another example is the heavy subsidies for preventive healthcare that have been introduced in many countries,”

Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

It is important to encourage and celebrate positive change, the future can only be improved by what we have learnt.

Going Sober for October

I talk a lot about awareness months and challenges, Sober October is one month which I suspect we could all do with, It started with people giving up alcohol to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and to benefit people living with cancer but it has grown into so much more. Whether its detoxing our bodies or detoxing our minds its an important exercise for us all, addressing it halfway through the month is an oversight on my part, if I had been more prepared I would have definitely used it to write my novel more efficiently, using the time to clear my mind before writing and being more focused.

Joe Rogan and his group friends started observing it because of concern for one of their group’s health, it started as a month of fitness challenges but quickly turned into a typically male competition of strength and ability, there was only ever going to be one winner and that was Joe, he is in peak physical condition and strives for optimum performance at all times, his friends not so much, not that they don’t exercise but they don’t pay as much attention to their bodies, this year is the first time they have not done something extreme, they have to do 10 classes over the month and read 500 pages, what amuses me the most is that the reading of the 500 pages seems to be the most troubling activity. It has clear with the introduction of the internet it is obvious that reading has taken a back seat for many, they are more interested in their social media accounts and activities than they are actually reading. Reading a book to me is just as therapeutic as doing an hours yoga, you can be transported into a world created by the author or find a book to teach you a new skill.

One thing we can learn from this is that detoxing is important whether you are doing it to raise money or not, its important to listen to your body and your mind – its best to catch yourself before you burn out.

2019 Nobel Peace Prize

I have spent quite a lot of time talking about Nobel prizes over the last week or so and today for me is as important as the Literature prize I spoke of yesterday. The Nobel Peace prize is significant because of the actions of the people who would receive it. This year the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali won for his efforts to achieve peace and cooperation at the conflicted borders with Eritrea.

This is a fight which has raged for decades and finally progress has been made to improve the situation. World peace is something we all strive for and is something that we can achieve but we have to work together, this is not a new concept and it should come as no surprise to anyone, good intentions wont get you anywhere but working together for a common goal will. As Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has shown peace and international cooperation can be achieved with hard work and commitment.

One thing I have observed is that there are a number of Africans and African Countries who have received peace prizes, it is excellent that they are recognised but to me it is sad that they have essentially been left to fight the fight on their own, where the UK and the US are determined to start another Cold War, African nations are left to war between themselves and hope that aid packages will be sent along with medical assistance. It is a widely held cynical believe that where there is oil there is war, using Syria (no oil) as an example, a tyrannical dictator left to brutalise his people, versus Iraq (oil) another tyrannical leader who brutalised his subjects – magically removed from post by the US government, a coincidence? I think not.

It seems that the Nobel Peace Prize is largely based on peoples ability to improve and strength international diplomacy and cooperation between people. Its almost as if they have accepted that complete world peace is not an option we just have to tolerate each other, like children in a school yard. Not an ideal situation but hopefully something we can work on.

Women in Nobel Literature

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The Nobel prize has always been a male dominated world. 51 one in total have been awarded to women since the awards inception in 1901 to put this in perspective the total number of laureates 904 individuals receiving the range of prizes in:

The committee were forced to postpone the literature prize in 2018 due to a scandal including rape allegations against one of the panellists and accusations of leaked winning names. The institution has now pledged transparency and has appointed several outsider parties to the the judging panel in an attempt to improve public perception of the nominations.

To me its a huge shame that something so important can be marred by intolerance and ignorance. The board was created to recognise the achievements of some of the most talented people in their field, it should not matter what race or sex they are they should be recognised whatever, but more importantly they should be considered. The 51 women who have won have broken through the mould and expectations are an inspiration to us all because they have shown what can be achieved.

The fact that the Committee has to take time to create a more transparent situation and rebuild the public’s confidence only indicates that they had continued the blinkered existence that men dominate academic fields as women have been overlooked for some long time. In a world where we can now make a point of holding people accountable via social media, their decision to award 2 consecutive years of the literature prize at the same time has been a controversial, a woman won 2018 Olga Tokarczuk (described as the dreadlocked female author the institution needed) and Peter Handke won the 2019 prize, authors have criticised Peter’s award as ‘troubling’ it goes against the institutions assertion they would be taking a fallow year to reconsider their position, Olga Tokarczuk is only the 15th female literature in the 120 years of the award. Hanke also has a history of misguided nationalism stemming from his Slovenian heritage, Hari Kunzru describes him “He is a fine writer, who combines great insight with shocking ethical blindness.”  In 1999, Salman Rushdie named him the runner-up for “International moron of the year” in the Guardian, for his “series of impassioned apologias for the genocidal regime of Slobodan Milošević.”

It seems to me that the Nobel committee felt forced into making a decision and announcing the awards without actually taking the fallow year and considering their approach and position. Only time will tell as to whether they have actually changed their ways or if we will be slipping back into a similar ways again.