This is a story: of evolution, of the earth, of Homo Sapiens, of organisms, ideas, trade, colonisation, wars, and those ideas and concepts that we as a species hang onto. But it’s also a story of how a germ of an idea evolved into my latest book, Ancient Anchors.
Most of my haiku moments occur in nature and the outdoors, but here’s one from an antique shop in Helensburgh.
Autumn is the time of year when flowers and leaves fall into my garden pond. They drift in constantly shifting patterns and juxtapositions of colour – amazingly beautiful natural happenings – each one a haiku moment.
There has always been an unresolved tension in gardening between the extent to which we feel the garden belongs to nature and the extent to which we feel it belongs to us: whether it is an expression of nature or of human artistic aspirations.
Most of my haiku moments involve nature. But recently I was watching a recording of the cricket match between England and Pakistan. A young batsman by the name of Zak Crawley was making his début appearance for England. The grace, timing and balance of his flowing stroke-play produced in me the same kind of joy as might watching my cat’s supple, acrobatic leaps.
The shadow of a berberis bush projected on my upturned kayak. The white hull and the black, angular shadows are like an ancient Chinese ink wash painting.
I was doing Tai-chi on the lawn at 6.30 on a fresh sunny morning when a cloud, a flock of birds (which I think were sparrows) rose above a bush, followed its contours, swooped down and then rose again following the outline of the next bush.
The Men’s Groups movement started up in the late ‘80s as a result of a whole range of influences such as encounter groups, Humanistic Psychology and Co-counselling, most of which were very much in the spirit of ‘I am because we are’. Larry Butler was actively engaged in many of these groups He was a … Continue reading The Scottish Men’s Group
One July evening, eight people gathered at Larry Butler’s allotment at Kirklee Allotments, close to the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow. Our purpose was to compose a renga. A renga is a Japanese form of collaborative poetry, originating from mediaeval times. Some describe it as linked haiku of alternating 5 syllable – 7 syllable – 5 … Continue reading A Summer Renga
The Dhanakosa Buddhist Retreat Centre works under the auspices of the Triratna Buddhist Order. The centre is beautifully situated in the southern part of the Scottish highlands, on the shores of Loch Voil in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park – a setting that provides ideal conditions for retreats. Dhanakosa runs many different courses … Continue reading The Expressive Writing Course at Dhanakosa
Larry Butler is an eminently suitable subject for Autumn Voices. In almost all of the healing and therapy groups in which he is involved, a large proportion of those present are over 60; and Larry himself, now aged 75, is a role model of continuing to be active, creative and productive in later life. Born … Continue reading Larry and Ubuntu: An Introduction
I was four years old. My family consisted of my Mother, my two elder sisters and Pro, a teacher who spent her retirement acting as nanny or governess to various families with children. My sisters believe she was Mother’s paid companion. I just thought she was someone Mother had met on the boat on our … Continue reading Box 6: The day I raised the level of The Atlantic
Our youngest, Leonie, was the first to marry, having asked permission of her two older siblings! I was mindful of the things that slightly marred our own Wedding Day, which was otherwise small, intimate and very enjoyable. One was that my mother and I quarrelled about my choice of wedding dress, and the other that … Continue reading Box 5: A Tale of Two (ruined) Wedding Dresses
At the age of ten I was sent to boarding school. This was ostensibly so that my so-called education was not disrupted by our every move from house to flat, from village to town. I had already attended seven different schools, both private and public (private being those owned by the head teacher, public, those … Continue reading Box 4: The school sports jumper
I spent the worst nearly five years of my life at a prestigious boarding school. There were few alleviating factors. One was that at age 13 I passed an audition to join the school choir as an alto. I looked forward to every morning and evening service eagerly, and was distraught when the chosen hymn … Continue reading Box 3: Tennis Balls