Driving to Aldi this morning, my favourite Sinatra album gives me no pleasure; I recognise this as an indication that a dark mood looms. Shopping brings disproportionate impatience; on the way home, the sky darkens, it starts to rain, and suddenly I know I am ‘untuned’ – that today is going to be ‘hard going’. The old familiar anxiety returns – all thoughts seem stupid or pointless – how can I reach 81 years and know so little about myself – where my moods come from, and why.
I now understand that my mind has a ‘mind of its own’ – that it does things that I am not aware of; this is the secret world we enter when we dream. It seems to me that everything is within us – from the laughter of childhood to the apprehension of death; our mind makes its own connections, and serves up the ‘mood of the day’. Some claim to influence their unconscious, but I have no such awareness. Perhaps last night I dreamed of troubled things, and today my mood is dark.
For many years, I used alcohol to avoid getting too close to myself – so much denial. Since eschewing the drink (a considerable relief), I want to better understand this person – so I try to say yes to all my moods, good and bad. Today’s gloom is as important as any other emotions – without dark there can be no light; no passion without pain; no sunshine without rainy days. We have to pay for the joy in our life with days like these. Try to say yes to everything.
Economics is not my strongest suit and I depend on the comment of others to interpret Wednesday’s budget; here is the individual ‘take’ of a dozen Conversation economists. I only try to discern whether the general direction of economic policy serves the common good. The level of taxation proposed, for investment in public services, suggests that the Tories intend a large, interventionist state – good news; just as New Labour stole Tory policies, this is a deliberate move. But whatever the long-term ‘shape’ of the UK state, the short-term looks grim. Whether millions of the less well-off can pay their bills this winter will determine whether voters become hecklers.
Audit Scotland is a constant advocate of the principles of community empowerment. This is a short update on the learnings from the pandemic.
Over recent decades, a misguided theory has persisted, that higher wages cost jobs; this article in the IPS Journal (International Politics and Society) identifies different empirical studies which demonstrate the opposite. As Govts devise their recovery plans, there now seems to be growing awareness that these must support decent work/wages.
Scottish media has indulged in too much negativity about next week’s COP26 gathering, so I’m determined to be positive. This Conversation piece is a helpful context summary for uninformed people like myself – what it’s all about and what needs to go right. The researcher considers that there is reason to be hopeful, for what will be crunch decisions.
The BBC Programme ‘Who Owns Scotland’ returns us to Nicola Sturgeon’s promise of ‘radical land reform’ and the present ‘watered-down’ Bill, trundling towards Holyrood. This article by Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News, says that, step by step, the SNP appears to be ‘bottling it’. No surprise – the SNP will not break with traditional land ownership.
The pandemic dramatically changed out work patterns, and it’s not going to return to how it was; I found this blog a helpful discussion of the emerging changes. My general impression is that the direction of travel favours employees rather than employers. Workers are achieving more autonomy/flexibility; a better work/life balance; seem less intimidated.
Max Ehrmann is best known for his beautiful 1927 prose poem ‘Desiderata’ – but he wrote other stuff; this is extracted from ‘A Prayer’.
“Let me do my work each day; and if the darkened hours of despair overcome me, may I not forget the strength that comforted me in the desolation of other times. May I still remember the bright hours that found me walking over the silent hills of my childhood, or dreaming on the margin of the quiet river, when a light glowed within me. Let me not follow the clamour of the world but walk calmly in my path. Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am; and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope. And though age and infirmity overtake me, and I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me still to be thankful for life, and for time’s olden memories that are good and sweet; and may the evening’s twilight find me gentle still”. See full poem.