For many years, as reflected in my various websites (this being the latest in a line of evolving perspectives) and through my personal and professional research (e.g. my PhD thesis) I’ve been allowing myself to be guided from electronic engineering through retreats in Portugal into university administration and from the villages of Northamptonshire via Brighton and the Algarve to North Wales. I consciously realised some time ago that all these experiences and changes have been about addressing the question ‘what does it mean to Be Me?’ For, if that ‘seeking’ isn’t what life’s about then I don’t know what is!
More recently, particularly as I explored Zen and The Tao, it became clear that such big questions can’t really be answered in intellectual terms: the realities lie much deeper: in the core of our being. Making sense of the world and our place in it may be assisted by rational pursuit of knowledge, but it’s the deep, personal, engagement in life that really matters: both in terms of gaining the experiences to build up the inner understanding . . . and to feel the answer, first hand . . . and to enjoy each moment life brings.
Now I find myself in Bristol . . . where such a philosophy of life, whether conscious or not, seems to be the norm.
I’ve written elsewhere about implicit rather than explicit conscious evolution: suggesting that becoming more whole, whilst it might include some conscious personal, commitment to growth (like working on our mental blocks), is happening anyway: implicitly, through our daily lives. That is, we are consciously evolving just by engaging, fully, in whatever life we’re guided to live. It’s still conscious evolution: since we choose to allow ourselves to be guided, choose to engage in life, with mind, body and soul. I feel that anyone who’s doing this, rather than doing what’s always been done, or going through the motions, or living superficially, is, actively, evolving.
Nowhere is this more true than in Bristol. In Bristol the underlying ethos and way of life seems to be to engage openly and deeply: to BE!
For example, the staff in the local shops and, that wonderful Bristol institution, the craft beer and pizza place, are nearly all genuinely friendly and helpful. They know (at whatever level) that this way not only makes their work more rewarding . . . but its good business too! My particular thanks to the folks at the Co-op and in Beerd in St. Michael’s Hill: despite being really busy they maintain their authentic smiles and, well, engage with me as a unique individual.
And folk generally, who I meet at the many activities and events around the city (The Bristol Folk House has already become a favourite venue, for example): happy to chat and to throw themselves into whatever they’re engaged in. Ceilidhs are always good for that, but only in Bristol have I known everyone on the dance floor for most of the night. So many people new to this joyous form of dance who, by the end of the night, were doing pretty well . . . alongside the well-practiced (including my partner for much of the session, the skilful and enthusiastic Gwen: appreciated!)
From my new colleagues at the University of Bristol to the tremendous variety of wild creatures at the zoo (no direct comparison intended!), I’ve found real, vibrant life in Bristol: not just existing (as seems to be the case in some places) but Being whole in Bristol.
When you’re new to a place, whatever its size and whatever your reason for being there, the first few days and weeks (I arrived less than two weeks ago) are so important to settling in. The people of Bristol have not just make me feel welcome . . . they have helped me to feel, very much, at home. Thank you!