The tides come and go. The moon waxes, then wanes. An inhale follows and exhale, or even the other way round. The wave is the way of things. Each coming and going reveals a new pattern, a new current, a new marking on the shore. For it is a certainty that the tide will turn, yet where it takes us we can never quite tell.
I thought my own current for a while was taking me offshore to the UK for a stint, but life’s twists and turns have brought me back, to a home in Dublin, where I feel a new wave of life about to swell. The time for the UK turned out not to be for now, and so, Ireland, once again I am happy to say I have a home in you. And aren’t you a splendid and curious thing.
I have emerged from my weeks in Greece, where I camped out with the stars, under the shade on an ancient olive tree, the owls and crickets offering their nightly cacophony for company, alongside a myriad of ants and insect descending to my tent. We had a few skirmishes, me and the multi-legged creatures, but I am thankful to say that we all came out unharmed. Overall I loved wild camping- being out under the twinkling sky with the space and expanse of the view of the Aegean to greet me in each morning and the occasional feline visitation by way of Hammoudi and Tarzana, two of the resident cats.
I was in Greece to visit Axladista, the home of my friend Maria Scordialos, where we together with some other friends (Vanessa Reid and Benedict Rousseau) hosted a collective inquiry into new forms of learning, or what learning is needed for now, given the times of chaos and complexity we are living through. Joining us was a wonderful, diverse group of practitioners who each hold an interest in learning and social change. There was a contemporary dancer, a Capuchin monk, a filmmaker, educationalists, artists, social entrepreneurs, environmentalists and activists. We experimented with each other’s practices- from meditation to body movement, exploring how we can learn from each discipline and apply it to this crazy world, with all its edges and challenges, while still staying focused and working on some of the big issues and opportunities of our time.
In all the inquiry was an interesting experiment that I am still digesting, and an experience which I have a sense will evolve over time, particularly through the new connections which were made and the themes which arose during our conversations and questions. One area of in particular which was very strong was the area of rites of passage, initiation and eldership, and how as societies we have lost so much of the initiation into cycles of life, manhood and womanhood and the skills to navigate the transitions. Coming with me too is the question of how we can hold the chaos within us in order to hold more of the presence in the world around us, and how the skills of yoga, meditative practice and good communication skills have an important contribution to make to the process. The word practice and discipline came up strongly for all of us, whether that be spiritual, bodily or artistic as a way of grounding so as we can continually align ourselves to our true core and serve from a deeper, steadier place.
The other night I was reading back over my journals from the last few years and tracking the themes and lines of enquiry I have been following for the past while. I could see some of the seeds of my work and interests now that were sown way back when, without knowing at the time where they will lead. In a similar way I have a sense with the learning gathering that some important seeds were sown. What will germinate I have yet to tell but whatever the outcome the experience of asking powerful questions with a group and watching the process unfold was a learning experience in and of itself.
Our learning gathering then moved into a week of body practice, where I hosted a yoga immersion, ‘Awakening the Wild and Wonderful Within’. It was again powerful stuff, especially to be surrounded by the wisdom of the wild. Over the course of the five days we grounded into our beings and from this rooted place were given reign to explore our own physical, emotional and mental edges. We were a small but intimate group which I simply loved teaching and particularly learning with the group and from the landscape. Nature knows while we participate. It was my first time hosting an immersion of this length and really relished having the time and space to dive deep into the practice with others. So, ideas already brewing for some more…
In between all this and for some days which followed, with the memory of the yoga in our bodies, there was swimming and more swimming, 40 degree heat, olives, conversations, challenges, connections, more yoga, eating (lots of yummie things, including fresh figs from the tree) and some moonlit dances. Plus I got to hang out my one of my favourite beings in the world- Freddie the dog.
Axladitsa never fails to offer her lessons. Mine are still unfolding and I feel fortunate to be able to have these opportunities in my life and thankful for the network of friends and colleagues who help enable it. Thanks in particular to Maria Scordialos for opening her home to us.
From Greece, there was also a two-night stop over in Italy where the flaneur in me had a chance to wander freely, soak in some views (and gelato) and dive into a novel- which I had not done for a very long time. (Thanks to Federica, my wonderful wonderful AirBnB host- if you are ever going to Bergamo, look up this).
And now, here I am back in Dublin, where the light is still bright but with a chill in the air and the rain making a comeback. But it is a curious thing indeed, this place and this city, and I am curious too about the adventures and experiences which are to unfold here. I have lots of new ideas and lots of hatching plans for a new phase of life and living. So, for now, it seems, I am home. Amen.