It’s the day of the Full Moon – July 5 – and what a glorious start I had to it!. I have a friend in Spain, Russ Pearce, who is an excellent writer and photographer. This morning, he published a photo essay, the subject being a sunflower he had grown from a seed in a pack of breakfast mix.
My first thought was, how wonderful Nature is. Something that could have so easily been discarded is nurtured and turned into something beautiful, then that beauty is shared in the photos, giving pleasure to so many.
My second thought came from a trip down memory lane to my school days, and a poem from Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake. It’s called, Ah, Sunflower, and it was first published in 1794, more than 200 years ago.
Like everything Blake wrote, it’s a lot deeper than the words on the paper suggest, beautiful though they may be. It’s an allegory on life – and death, and a world where there is no more pain, and everything is light and love. Blake was one of the Romantic Poets, who celebrated the beauty of Nature, and understood what we understand today – that everything is connected, and we are all part of something much bigger than ourselves.
The interesting thing is, although sunflowers have been around for at least 5,000 years, and maybe even longer, they only came into Europe, from their native America, in around 1500. They were brought from Arizona and Mexico by the Spanish Conquistadors. In 1716, an English patent was granted for removing oil from sunflower seeds, around the time they began to be cultivated on a wider scale, and by the 1760s, they were mentioned in literature.
So there is an eternal connection between the human race, the Earth, and sunflowers, and today another layer of synchronicity was added, when Russ turned the poem into a beautiful meme for me, using one of his photos. It’s a small, random act of kindness from a friend, and it touched my soul.
We are all part of the Universe, in one way or another. Because the Conquistadors brought the sunflower to Europe, Blake, was inspired by its beauty. Along with the other Romantic Poets of the 18th and 19th centuries, Blake questioned organised religion and its motives, preferring to see Nature as the true power and inspiration from which we should all learn about life, and about ourselves.
This was the Age of Enlightenment, when beliefs that had been held for millenia were questioned, and people began to look for another way to live, and another way to grow in wisdom and consciousness. Now we are on the threshold of another Golden Age, as we shift from the Third to the Fifth Dimension, and once again connect more with Nature as we try to make sense of the world we live in. There is a constant connection, running through time and space, that links us all to each other, and to the Universe.
It was Blake who wrote the words to the powerful anthem, Jerusalem, just in case you think you haven’t heard of him. In his lifetime, and for quite a while after he passed, some people thought he was mad, and maybe he was, but he was also very perceptive. Maybe we all have a spark of madness in us – who can say?
What is clear is that if we can connect with Nature at a soul level, we reaffirm our connection with the Universe, and by doing that, we realise that we are not alone. We may have personal autonomy, but we also have the support of something much more powerful, and with that support, we can do anything we set our minds to. We are part of the miracle of life, and we are each of us living miracles. Remember that when you feel that life seems too much to cope with. Look for the beautiful, and beauty will find you, and remind you that you, too are beautiful.
Image credit: Russ Pearce
There’s a song called Happiness, made famous by Liverpool comedian Ken Dodd way back in 1964. The first line describes happiness as ‘The greatest gift that I possess.’ While I love the song, I take issue with the sentiment. Happiness is within us, whenever we want it, so it’s not a gift, it’s as essential to a healthy life as your heart or your kidneys.
However, while the organs work automatically for our benefit, happiness isn’t something that can run in the background. You need training to use it, so I see happiness as a job for life, with a pension that you are able to draw on from the minute you tap into your own happiness.
In his comedy routines, Ken Dodd talked about ‘exercising your chuckle muscles,’ but happiness isn’t a physical state, it’s a state of mind. so you don’t need to head off to pump iron at the gym in order to be happy. You do have to recognise that you, and only you, are responsible for your happiness though.
You won’t be happy when the Neighbour from Hell moves 100 miles away, or when your child graduates from university with a First, or even when you meet the love of your life. You see happiness does not depend on the presence or absence of people or things – it depends on your state of mind, and your ability or otherwise to live in the now. If you are constantly looking back to perceived better times, or forward to a future of happiness and hope, you are missing out on the things that would make you happy right now, in this moment, if only you brought your attention to them.
See happiness as a vocation – something you will be doing for the rest of your life, because it’s something you love to do, and something you would do, even if you weren’t paid for it. Of course, if your performance doesn’t come up to scratch, you are either sidelined for promotion, or you are sacked. So work at being happy – not by forcing it, but including it in your routine until it becomes as natural as breathing.
Employees at the top of their game are an inspiration to others, and this brings job satisfaction in its wake. So there’s a feelgood factor about being the reason that someone else is happy. Look on it as a productivity bonus – although there is no salary for the job of being happy. Other than a lifetime of positivity, of course – which is beyond price.
So, look on being happy as an astute career move, when all the work you put in is acknowledged rewarded, and the working conditions get better and better as you move up the ladder. When you find yourself having a problem maintaining happiness, examine your options. Check in on your inner Human Resources, and find help and inspiration. You are entitled to happiness – it’s your job to be happy. Remember that.