Date: April 4th 2012

Escaping to the woods ... and getting out of the woods.

riverI've been feeling an urge to share thoughts with you for a few weeks now.  Once upon a time we sent out BT Notes regularly, but the last one was a year and a half ago. It stopped because everyone was too busy and too distracted by an imploding world to have time for much more than immediate concerns.  Now those concerns seem to have grown.  Looking out from behind the woods of Ballin Temple I am scared to venture forth.  Every day institutions that we have relied upon for our social fabric display examples of selfish ignorance that hurt us all.  So I escape back in to the woods and furiously fell trees and saw timber to distract me from the painful truth that we are dying.

But the woods are wonderful.  I'm a city boy, born in a city and lived in cities till Ballin Temple became my work.  Nature has always been fascinating though.  Watching bugs crawl across the table as a boy, swimming in the river or sea, feeling a gale push me away, feeling that there is a world out there that is hidden from me by steel, concrete and TV and knowing that I am a part of it.  Since immersing myself and my family in this world  I have begun to face the fear of nature.  It is always easier to go inside and turn on the box to watch a sitcom or soap or even a boring documentary than face the chore of digging the soil.  It should have been simple and easy - dig soil, plant seed, harvest food, live.  But it isn't as simple as that.  And it is made difficult by the knowledge that sitting behind a computer in the office of an investment fund would yield far more vegetables, plus heat, light, holiday, fashion, car, gifts for friends, for me ... (even if it costs the planet).

At first my evangelism for sustainable living and ethical investing and business was louder, but no one was listening.  I'm hardly singing that song any more, except in my own life and to patient friends and family that put up with my caterwauling.  Even though others sing the song of change louder and it is sung by more people, I don't think many people actually know the words and most of us aren't listening anyway.  We might pay lip-service but we don't do much critical thinking or actual behaviour change. For one thing its bloody difficult.  Unfortunately, we are not resolving the big issues that we should have resolved decades ago - fair legal and financial systems, fair distribution of food, clean industry.  Ten years ago I decried the selling of Eircom shares because it was done in a fraudulent manner - now the company is bust.  When we held off from building because the planning approach was insensitive and the economics inflated it was a futile example not followed by anyone else.  Now we have a country which is bankrupt and being driven in to the poor house by a corrupt administration colluding with incompetent and greedy bankers and industrialists and endorsed by bureaucrats in another country.  It's sad that we are all tarred with that brush, but we are all in the same boat.  Once upon a time the people in Ireland broke the windows on their own houses because they could not pay a property tax.  Today we don't even get upset because we're such good citizens.  Once, communities looked after themselves, families looked after themselves.  Today, we farm out the raising of our children to schools, TV, video games and babysitters and we let consultants and bureaucrats tell us what to do.  They serve their own interests, not the interests of the whole.  They do not live in the real world, they live in the world of law without morality and commerce without humanity.  They do not live on the ground and do not feel nature.

Over the past weeks there have been signs that I should not be here.  The sort of events which one might disregard, but when a critical mass of unexpected events starts to grow, I try to listen.  I asked my friend Matthew, who keeps his finger on the economic pulse of the nation, for his prognosis for 2012 and he replied, "One word: emigrate!"  And then we receive notice that Pam's residency has been revoked because they have changed the rules and now we must "undress" for nameless bureaucrats.  So, 2012 is shaping up to be ... uncertain.  So, I escape to the woods.

I hope those of you who can will join us for a walk in the jungle on Monday 9th April.  The jungle is being hacked away.  The river path is now wide and clear most of the way.  We've cut and removed or stacked tonnes of timber so there are parts of the woods that were previously accessible only by determined explorers or naught children.  They are looking more like pleasure grounds than unkempt woodland.  At this time of teh year most plants are budding - the daffodils are passing, the bluebells have started and the rhododendrons are close behind.  The birds are also doing their thing and highlights include the rap of a woodpecker and at least two pairs of swans.  It really is a sanctuary.  If there wasn't so much to do, I'd be sitting on a rock or in a tree listening to the babbling of the Slaney.  The walk will begin at 3pm in the car park followed by tea and other refreshments ...  Children might like to stay and romp in the bamboo and if it is fine you might like to linger in the water garden.  Bring family and friends.

They say we are at the change point of the cosmic rhythm.  28 October 2011 was the nadir, but change takes time.  The cosmic rhythm is scaled on a 5,000 year calendar.  There is hope.   I hope the  uncertainties facing you turn in to good things and we all retain our social fabric as we navigate an uncomfortable economy. 

Hoping you all find your way out of the woods and with best wishes for 2012.

Tom, Pam and 4 other trouble-makers :-)

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