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we can't all be oprah ...

Three months since my last blog post. A quarter of a year, a fortieth of a decade – although this may not be correct, my grasp on basic arithmetic limp at the best of times. Anyway, for me quite a long time not saying anything.

The simple reason is that I haven't had anything to say. Now, in view of the fact that:

  1. Boris Johnson is our Prime Minister,

  2. the earth veers from flooding to burning as if she were in the throes of late menopause, a climateric if you will ... *waits* ... This is actually a very clever play on words making me think perhaps I should have gone to university,

  3. Mother Nature has devised a new virus to send us to our rooms to think long and hard about what we've done,

  4. and Derek Acorah, celebrity medium and disgraced star of Most Haunted, has surrendered his leather blouson jacket to the celestial cloakroom and joined spirit guide Sam on the cosmic dance floor.

In view of all that, you would think I'd have more than a few bon mots to scatter around like breadcrumbs, a multi-pack of glib little wisdoms stashed under the stairs with the loo roll and tagliatelle.However, I'm sensitive that adding more words to the glut could be the wafer-thin mint that saw off Mr Creosote.

Because if words were breadcrumbs and we were sparrows, we'd all be super-morbidly obese by now and grounded with wing chafe. Like knock-off hand sanitizer, words are everywhere. You can't turn around without bumping into the blasted things masquerading as facts, opinions, analyses, conspiracies, fake news, spiritual recourse and secular succour. It's like we've switched on our lives one morning only to find the subtitles on and missing the button to turn the bloody things off. There's commentary on everything, a discourse for all seasons. Words, words, everywhere!

Commensurate with this is the explosion in the number of self-help experts. In fact, it seems we're all self-help experts these days (I assume because it's very expensive to disprove the efficacy of taking your coat off indoors to feel the benefit). If I read/see/hear – either via article/IGTV/my mum – one more treatise on the benefits of breathing, I think I'll hold my breath, turn blue and pass out. And I'm a yoga teacher. Respiration is my stock-in-trade.

Look, I get it. People mean well. We live in frightening times and every scrap of comfort is pounced upon and shared around. This is a good thing. And yet ...

It seems to me something more than that; COVID-19* is the catalyst but not the cause. It seems to me that many of us are seeking a new identity, an identity that is more in tune with a new way of relating: a way that is kinder, more altruistic, more empathetic. There's an overdue move away from the cost/benefit style of interpersonal relationships to something more egalitarian, a model less concerned about status and hierarchy and with only helping those who are "like us".

Who wouldn't want to be part of such a movement, such a seismic shift in attitude? Being generous, being helpful, being compassionate –these are the qualities with which we should seek to imbue our lives. But it's very different being these things and being seen to be these things and social media's dubious legacy of virtue-signalling is pernicious, not quite so easily rinsed off with vigorous hand-wringing.

So it's important that we keep checking in with ourselves, with our motives and drivers, because being looked to as a source of knowledge and comfort can be powerfully seductive, filling gaps in a fractured sense of self, loaning us identity and purpose. It's a short, slippery step towards seeking further currency – either hard or social – from our self-appointed promotion. Our compassion is then revealed to be as substantial as morning mist and, plus ça change, our kindness just another way to hustle.

More walking, less talking.

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

*Does anyone else agree it's a great name for a boy band?

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