from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Thursday, 6 February 2014

ragbag no. x: right-on-ness and complacency

Well, it has to be said that right now my right-on self (whichever one that is) is exhausted – sick and tired – of being so ****** right-on. 

I find myself coveting huge piled bowls of exotic fruits – that I don't allow myself to buy because they involve such high food-miles, are not Fair Trade or organic, are out of season in my land. 

I find myself wanting to go into a supermarket – multinationals are a BIG no-no – and buying cheap processed junk food (actually this isn't strictly true, but now and then a bag of crisps would go down a treat). I want to buy twice as much food as, and much more varied than, my meagre budget will allow when I insist on being right-on.

I find myself desperate for a big hunk of cheddar, lashings of cream, thick butter on my toast, in my self-imposed vegan lifestyle (though actually I'm not a very good vegan). 

I want to simply book a flight to the course I'm leading later in the year in the South of France – quick and cheap – rather than putting myself through the stress of getting there from South Devon in a long-winded and much more expensive but right-on way. (And – know what? – I might.)

I can't face another email campaign that tells me I have 30 seconds to save the Arctic, 600 stray dogs, a Syrian child – 30-odd such campaigns a day in my inbox, let alone via social media, have worn my optimism, goodwill and hope thin, right now. I can't even save myself today.

I can't face the huge amassing of info on the wrong-headedness of the badger cull I promised I'd collate for a Quaker website. 

And I can't face pitching yet another bit of publicity about my work to try and lift my pitiful earned income out of the deep mud.

And – lest you feel you need to write to console me – let me just say I'm fine, and am simply sharing with you a temporary moany rant about being human.

Sigh. But I am enjoying very much writing an article on therapeutic writing (maybe I ought to try it?? – oh yes – I have – and, er, it works!) for the next issue of MsLexia mag. (Once upon a time I was a regular columnist and contributor.)


Been thinking about two C-words. You'd never have heard them coming out of my mouth until I was about 40. 'Compromise' and 'contentment' are the culprits – and when I was younger 'commitment', too.

As an anarchic idealist, those words all seemed to smack of what I thought was actually the utter living death of blind complacency – a settling for the dull routine Establishment in which all that mattered was preserving the status quo and earning loads of dosh. 'Living lives of quiet desperation', etc (that quote was by Henry David Thoreau, he of Walden Pond, as you will possibly know – not by Pink Floyd, from whom my generation learned it!).

What happened? Age happened. Subtlety of thought happened. New visioning of frameworks happened. Taking – really learning to take, rather than simply knowing it as an intellectual concept – the Middle Way happened.

And most of all, growing out of black and white thinking – and realising what a gift, a grace, that has been.

'Compromise'? – the ability to be humble enough as to know that your needs count as much as mine, and to work to ensure they're included in any picture.

'Commitment' – self-responsibility.

'Contentment' – B and I were agreeing about this after my weekend workshop. She's been there too. Oh yes of course I love the highs and lows – they're associated with my creativity. Without despair one cannot know joy, etc etc. But actually I SO value the sense, the regular, frequent sense, of not being conflicted internally, of not always having to strive and struggle, to find myself genuinely accepting, peaceably, where I am in my life (even as I want to change certain parts of it), to know that I'm walking exactly the right path for me, and that sometimes it will bring happiness and sometimes despair – and that's OK because I don't need to identify either of them as true or lasting, or 'me'. 

What matters, now, is being right here, right now, and doing the best I can to keep my heart open, knowing that sometimes I'll fail. And that's OK, too.

'Complacency' – well, OK, that's still a no-no. But it's also not inevitable.


  1. Enjoy your rant. I understand fully, several lurid begging letters in the post, cat litter trays catching leaks, nay torrents, down my chimney stack, arranging for builders to remedy it, and yet...the day is glorious, the bullfinch is busy,as is the nuthatch and a story I started on the Imbolc weekend is really taking shape. [as long as I resist reading it too closely and censoring too early] I'm unsure about your 2 "c" but contentment for me gives me an abundance of gratitude.

  2. Carrie - good to know we're not alone, isn't it? And then there's the sun, briefly... 7 long-tailed tits to join the other 5 tit species on my feeder this morning. DELIGHTED re the imbolc story (yes, keep that critic out of the way for now!), and equally delighted to receive your email re future bookings - will reply soon. Rx

  3. I love it, Roselle! Makes me think of a cartoon I saw of one Buddhist monk asking another, "Do you ever think of throwing all this away for a life of rampant consumerism?" I once left a sharing group mainly because I got fed up hearing myself talk :] The feeling good in my own skin that comes with time is nice, as long as complacency doesn't sneak in... sometimes hard to tell one from the other.

  4. David - that was a real boost; the monk story really made me chuckle. Thank you. In the times (rather many of them) when I'm taking myself too seriously I'll remember that quote; in fact I might post it where I can see of it every day. Warm wishes to you, dharma-bro :-)


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