Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Hunter

I try to find inspiration for writing in as many places as possible. This is an opening I have created based on three randomly selected words from a word association game (Codenames). Can you guess which words they were?

One day, while walking along the shore of Loch Ness, I met a man from Germany. At first, I must admit I had no idea he was from anywhere other than just around the corner. His English was impeccable, and his Scottish accent as flawless as the next Glaswegian. As I passed him I noticed that he was digging in the soft earth beside the Loch, and being in no particular hurry I paused to watch him. After a moment he looked up at me.
     "Good morning," I said.
     He nodded solemnly in reply.
     "Are you digging for anything in particular?" I asked.
     He looked at the ground, then back at me and frowned, trying to make up his mind it seemed. Then he said, "A crown."
     This was not the answer I expected, although it could have been anything I suppose. Anyway, I must have looked at least a little surprised, because he added, "a real one, but an old one."
     He went on to tell me how he had been researching about some ancient ruler in Europe (hence my discovery of his nationality) who had to flee for his life and, this man believed, had come to live on the shores of Loch Ness. Some time later the King was discovered and killed, but his crown was never found. The man continued to tell me at length about his studies and how he had now lived in Scotland for many years and had been hunting for the location of the missing crown, as yet without success.
     Eventually we parted, he to his digging and me to my walk. I pondered over everything he had shared with me and I became increasingly impressed by his perseverance over something that could come to nothing. He might never find the crown, and who was really going to care even if he did. The more I thought about it the more amazing it seemed. Gradually, however, I came to wonder if anything he had told me was true at all. Had in fact been led along in an elaborate joke, or was this man covering up something else entirely?

Did you guess the words?
They were: Loch Ness, Crown and Germany

Sunday, 15 May 2016

No Rescue Prevents the Cause

This is a story I heard recently.

It's a lovely sunny day so you and a group of friends decide to go for a picnic down by the river. You get out the blankets and the food, everyone's having fun, when suddenly one of the group spots someone coming down the river. They seem to be struggling and they're being swept along by the strong current. You know that not much further on the river goes over a waterfall; it would be impossible to survive. It is imperative that you act. Holding on to each other you stretch out into the river and catch the person as they come by. You drag them up onto the bank and rap a blanket around them. Everyone's congratulating each other and very thankful that you managed to save the person.
     Just as you're sitting back down though, you spot five people coming down the river, splashing and fighting to stay afloat. There's no time to think. You jump into the water and try to catch as many as possible. Everyone is involved in pulling the people out of the water, but when everyone is back on the bank you only count four rescued people and you realise with heartbreak that two people slipped by.
     Then someone shouts that there are ten people coming. You're all feeling out of breath, but everyone jumps in again. Five more people are rescued, but five others aren't. By now you're tired, the sun has gone in and the wind is picking up. You're thinking of heading home, when twenty people appear in the river. Everyone musters themselves and you go again, this time rescuing ten people, but losing another ten. You don't know whether to rejoice for the rescued ones or mourn those who have gone.
     It occurs to you that this doesn't seem to be stopping and as valiant as your rescue efforts are, at some point someone has to go upstream and find out who is throwing these people into the river in the first place.

This story was used as an analogy of human trafficking. All the time there are people being rescued from horrific situations, but the number of people in slavery around the world continues to grow.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Fear Misplaced

I've lost count of the number of times I've asked a child, "What are you afraid of?", when they tell me that they're feeling nervous, or scared of the zip wire/climbing wall/abseil tower etc. The answer though is always the same: "Heights".
     My response has become equally repetitive. "No, you're afraid of something else." I then get them to figure out what it is that makes them scared, to which the answer is: falling.

I have come to the opinion, and I believe it is the truth, that no one in the world is afraid of heights. We are all, however (and this is proven fact) afraid of falling. It is one of just two fears that we are born with. It's a good thing to be afraid of, because we don't want to fall, falling is bad and our body reacts against that. Sadly, we have come to refer to that fear as being afraid of heights, which is nonsense. Just because you're in a high place does not mean you will fall. Helping kids to understand this is a big part of getting them to give the challenging, high-up, activities, a go.

Thinking about this led me to consider what other fears we have that are misplaced.

Fear of the dark is in fact a fear of what may come out of the dark.
Fear of flying, relates back to the fear of falling/crashing.
Fear of dentists or doctors or needles, is presumably a fear of pain (to the body or the wallet, or both).
Fear of death. I guess this is really a fear of the unknown, of what, or what doesn't lie beyond.

If we could come to see our fears for what they really are, maybe we would be better at overcoming them, or changing our attitude towards them.

(By the way, the other fear we are born with is Loud Noises. Not a fear we easily recognise. But you blink every time someone is hammering a nail!)