What a title – ‘reflections’?  Not exactly a draw-you-in type title is it? I’m useless at thinking  up titles anyway. Perhaps I should write first and title afterwards.  The thing is I wrote it because it was just what I was doing – reflecting.  Being confined to a wheelchair there is plenty of time to do it.  This morning we have sunshine at last so I can sit here in the kitchen with my coffee with the doors open and look out at my lovely garden (courtesy of the lady who lived here before us, none of our doing!). At the top of the hill in front of me is the local cemetery.  I can see a stone cross and various headstones. When we first moved here it spooked me, but now I regard it as a peaceful place. I have been persuaded by lots of my friends that that is what it is. So I’ve come round to the idea.

My main thought this morning is I’m so glad I’m alive. Three years ago I was brought back from the brink of death by a fantastic group of doctors and nurses to whom I owe a debt of gratitude that is priceless beyond words.  Since then I’ve valued every second.  And I intend to go on as long as I can before I take the walk up the hill in front of me.

At the same time though, I know that there are many people in this world

who do not have the opportunity to sit and reflect as I have done this morning. I’m aware of how much of a luxury it is.  I don’t feel guilty when I see a homeless person sleeping on a bench in my local town centre, that would be pointless.  What I do feel is just terribly inexorably sad.  I just want to give him a big hug.  But that would not help to get him off the street.

Is it alright not to feel guilty? It’s not my fault,  I think.  It may not be their fault either but a result of a chain of circumstances.  If it’s a systemic failure, which is my preferred option, then how can I, we, as individuals really contribute to solving this crisis.  I know this is endlessly debated, and many individuals do give their time and effort to try to change things.  I’m not saying anything new, only what came into my mind when I was ‘reflecting’.


The Journey Continues

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

Source unknown

I’ve been trying to get this blog going for ages.   I keep a journal where I have been trying out all the things I might write about on here.  The main thing is that I don’t want this to be a depressing place that people don’t want to visit. I’ve blogged before some years ago but that was very lighthearted stuff, and I deliberately kept my MS out of it, I didn’t want to be defined by it.  Things have changed since then. The MS has progressed sure, but many other things have changed too, not only in my life but in the country, in the world.  So, I have to write about my life with MS but I also want to write about daily life in other respects as well. There are many things on which I have opinions and would like to share them, hopefully to provoke discussion and debate but also to raise awareness of issues that many people don’t know about.

This all sounds very deep, I don’t mean it to.  I just want to give a heads up on what’s coming!  Be ready 😄😄

just one more thing, I won’t be writing everyday, sometimes it will be totally beyond me!

O my days (first published 10/10/18)

Photograph courtesy of Slate Pictures

This post was written last October after a long period of inactivity on my part. Rereading it now, it’s seems even more relevant. I thought I should repost it. Obviously those in government have changed since then.

‘Now I feel ready to write again but where to start? Brexit? Boris Johnson? Donald Trump? It’s actually all too much I’d be writing for hours and much of it would be boring and probably unacceptable.

What I will say is this; when did we stop doing politics in the way we are known for? In other words when did we forget what democracy in this country means? We had a referendum on whether we should leave the EU, the majority, however small, voted that we should.  4 years ago a in a referendum Scotland voted to stay in the union.  Yet, there are people from all sides in England and in Scotland making an almighty din calling for second votes.  I find it tedious in the extreme.  I’m also aghast at the behaviour of those in government, even those in the cabinet, making the Brexit negotiations so difficult for the PM and Dominic Raab as they are facing the EU from what looks like a position of horrible weakness.  A referendum is a democratic vote, therefore the result should be honoured as such. Those who are privileged to govern us should put up, shut up and get on with delivering the people’s decision.’

My opinion hasn’t changed. It has become more tedious and vitriolic with more people spouting nonsense. I can’t quite believe that we’re a year on and nothing has changed!

Can we be Stoics?

In both its original Hellenistic and subsequent Roman iterations, Stoicism fastened onto reason’s decisive role in our lives. The compass of our rational faculties allows women and men — Stoicism, along with Epicureanism, was exceptional in its refusal to relegate women to an inferior position — to navigate a world in which we are carried aloft by vast and immovable forces. We cannot master these circumstances, but we can master our attitude toward them’ Robert Zareski in the LA Review of Books

At this moment in time we are certainly being ‘carried aloft by vast and immovable forces’. But as to mastering any attitudes towards them, this is proving far more difficult. There so many people whose actual attitude towards the current situation is impossible to discern. But we shouldn’t confuse attitude with opinion. There are plenty of people only too eager to give us their opinion, but does this reflect their attitude?

My attitude is clear to me, as a citizen of one of the world’s oldest and most stable Liberal Democracies, I believe that the referendum was a democratic vote, therefore the result should be honoured. The people voted leave so we should leave. Theresa May believed this even though, like me, she was a ‘remainer’. Subsequently, the politicians in Westminster have completely muddied the waters. The present Conservative Party is no longer recognisable. We might wonder what Edmund Burke (the so-called Father of Conservatism) might have made of the divisions and wrangling; for him the ‘party’ meant individuals coming together in “the national interest upon some particular principle in which they are all agreed.” Certainly the national interest seems to have gone by the board.

So here we are and there we go! Into the abyss – or maybe not. Reason seems have deserted the people who need it most. This leads to chaos. I am struggling to analyse it and to make sense of all the different views and attitudes floating around.

What I do know is this. In politics there are cataclysmic events from time to time. Politics is cyclical. Although the situation is serious, it will more than likely pass. Eventually something will be decided, by whatever means necessary. At the moment it seems unlikely that Boris Johnson will last long in his post but we will see. It seems unlikely that we will have a Labour government but we will see.

At this strange time there definitely more questions than answers and that means uncertainty and a feeling of instability. Leaving the EU was never going to be easy, but nothing in life ever is is it?

*Robert Zaretsky teaches at the Honors College at the Univerity of Houston. He is the author of numerous books and articles on French Intellectual history.