Saturday, 15 December 2018

The Zen of Little Pickle - Day 16

Sunday 16th December 2018

16 is the age at which the Princess in the tale of Sleeping Beauty is predicted to prick
her finger on a spindle and fall into a deep sleep. The story is much older than the sanitised
Disney version that most of us are familiar with, and was much darker in earlier forms - often
including adultery, rape and planned murder/infanticide (after the princess produces
illegitimate twins that the wife of her lover demands to be killed and served to him as revenge, but
which are substituted for lambs by a swift-thinking court cook). Folklorists maintain that the
story is an allegory for the replacement of the lunar year of 13 months (13 fairies) with the solar year
(12 months and hence a fairy is forgotten). The princess represents nature (winter indicted by the wicked
fairy putting nature to sleep with pricks of frost, the spindle), the prince is spring and his sword is
a sunbeam and together they bring nature back to life.
Phew - that was a foul drive from Durham yesterday - snow, sleet, high winds,  flooding, freezing rain, you name it... Thank you Doris. It's good to be back home and able to relax in the warm with an Advent Blog.

Today's post is bound to make you smile. If you don't yet know its author -  Chris NicholsFounding Partner of GameShift, a consultancy based in the UK that describes itself as providing "alchemy for business" through a collaborative hub of highly impressive professionals from diverse backgrounds - you should make contact as soon as you can. He is erudite, entertaining and inspirational. For 15 years he was a Director of the Ashridge Business School, having formerly worked as an investment banker, corporate financier and business strategist, most recently for PwC. He is a deep thinker, brimming with curiosity and encouraging energy, with an interest in sustainability, responsibility and innovation. As you can tell from his post below, he is passionate about people, seeing them grow and this is true in every aspect of his life. He describes himself as a poet and provocateur, but there is so much more to him... He is a loving and devoted family man. You can connect with him on Twitter and find out - his handle is @chrisnicholsT2i  

Meet Little Pickle, granddaughter number two. She was meant to arrive on Christmas Day, but decided to pop in yesterday instead.  She hasn’t got a name yet, so I’m calling her Little Pickle for the moment.

She’s a really wonderful reminder of the Zen koan, “What is this?”.

What is this? A scrap of the cosmos, arranged in this way, that wasn’t independently in the world a few hours before, but is here now.

What is this? This tiny being coming to live on this fragile planet for a while, almost six decades younger than me. By the time she sees her grand-children born, she’ll be living in a world I can barely imagine.

What is this? This arrangement of energy that will unfold over months and years into whatever she will be. What will she be? What will be her unique voice? What will be the greatest gift she brings?

I have not one clue.

And that’s what makes Little Pickle such a great koan.

The point of a koan isn’t to get an answer. The point is to stop our busy brain in its tracks and insist that we notice what’s here.

Life is full of opportunities to live on autopilot. It is worth taking the time, at least every very now and then, to stop as ask “What is this?”.

After all, life is so utterly contingent.

These parents met. Then one egg, one sperm, these actual ones, not others, combine at that particular time. They produce this unique arrangement of life. Born in this time, this particular point in human history. Of all the possible arrangements of life, Little Pickle turns up as this particular human being, right now.

What is this?

One day, when Little Pickle is bigger, maybe I’ll get to stand with her on a clear Dartmoor night when we can see the star-filled sky. I hope I get the chance to tell her that we are both made of stardust and that there’s nothing else to be made up from. We’ve all been going around and around for 14 billion years, arranged as different forms of energy, time and time again.

Currently we’re turning up as Chris and Little Pickle. Later on, we’ll be something else.

Someone wise once said, just remember that when we look up in awe and wonder at the starlit heavens, we are the universe looking at itself. Let’s not forget, in our busyness and the dance of our familiar patterns, we are also the cosmos, in all its infinite and unfolding mystery.

If we take the time to stop and look, any day is a time of awe and wonder.
After all, “What is this”?

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