Monday, December 29, 2008

Strictly not dancing

Michael and I listened to a fabulous programme on Radio Four on our way down to dad's on Christmas Eve morning.

It was all about the RUSH of life and our perceptions of TIME.

It featured the marvellous sounds of the bells of a clock planned to be in the middle of the desert which are based on something composed by Brian Eno designed to be unique for every day for the next ten thousand years (you can hear a bit of them here) as part of the LONG NOW foundation and some wonderful reflections on the busy rush of our world. The prototype is in London's science museum but if you want to see the real thing, it will take you, as they say themselves, "at least a day to get there" on a kind of pilgrimage. Understanding that it will take time to experience and engage with this clock.

This idea of slowing down life is something which I've really noticed since we moved to Worcestershire away from the Buzz of the South-East commuter belt. I've noticed that time is NOT as rushed here as it was in High Wycombe. I didn't think it was juts me and apparently it has been measured that some places ARE more rushed than others. I think Worcestershire is a much healthier non-rushed society and I love it, I have to say. There were examples of some fascinating endeavours to sow life down... I think taking a tortoise on a lead with you was my favourite!

I shall be keeping an eye on the Long Now Foundation from now on. It wasn't just the programme as a whole that struck me.

There was one chap Tom Hodgkinson on the programme who talked about Puritans and what impact they had on how we perceive time. The Puritans took away all kinds of the festivities that marked and measured times. He said that they stripped away all the joy and insisted that life was hard and getting to heaven a struggle. I think the enlightenment generally rather the Puritans alone is responsible for it really but I agree with the sentiment. What he said that really spoke to me though was this:

"Life Before the Puritans Life was seen as play, you could call it a Dance, and life after the Puritans became a race."
I've been musing over this over the last few days and it is SO TRUE. Life now seems to be a contest not a creative interaction of different creatures moving alongside each other. In all we do we try to do our best yes and to out-do others, to better OURSELVES, to make ourselves the winner. How different would this be if we instead focussed on life as a dance not a race?

Dances and races both use energy but a dance is about beauty and style in each moment. A race is about passing others in speed or height.

Dances and races both involve skill but a dancers skill is for the delight of others while skill in a race is about surpassing the skill of others.

Dances and races both have an ending but a dance flows from start to finish and ends with a satisfying flourish or a calm conclusion whilst a race ends in a burst of energy and exhaustion.

Which would you rather your life was?

No comments: