My beliefs – Wonder and AweI believe wonder and awe play a big role in making life rewarding.There are lots of things that fill me with wonder and awe. Here are some of them:Contemplating the universe and infinity.Lying back and looking up into the dust of stars and imagining the countless numbers of galaxies and stars. What might all those planets be like? I am fascinated by black holes, quasars, bent space, the speed of light, infinity, dark matter, Stephen Hawkins, Einstein and Newton, and anti-matter universes.I was told that the estimate is that we only see 4% of what is there.There are days when I could fall up into the sky and float free.Contemplating the microcosm.All around me and inside me is an ocean of subatomic worlds. I appear to be solid yet energy and matter is zooming in and out of me all the time, radioactive particles explode within my brain. There is no solidity. Inside it delves to a different infinity. There are molecules instead of galaxies. Energy roars. Quarks are perpetual motion machines that will keep going until the end.Rocks, mountains, gorges, canyons, waterfalls and icebergs.I am attracted to them. Volcanoes, geysers, minerals and waterfalls. They thrill me. Standing on the rim of Grand Canyon or the Blue Mountains is awesome.Ancient monuments, temples, churches, mosques, castles, walls, and crumbling ruins.I am moved by their beauty, their history and the tales they could tell.Music, art, drama, writing, dance, photography, poetry and all creative outpourings from the spirit and passion of creative people.I can walk round an art gallery in wonder or rock out at the front of a concert or sit and listen to the words and my spirit soars.Trees, wild-life, animals and the natural world.It breaks my heart to see the way it is being trashed. The majesty trees felled, the animals slaughtered, the land raped.Love, sex, friendship and relationship.Love gives substance to my life. My loves and friendships are the lodestone of everything I do. My family is a magnetic pull that centres me. Sex is the nearest I get to magic.Travel.New people, new places, new customs, new sights – it is stimulating. It is mind expanding. It puts your life in perspective. I do not need religion. Spirituality for me is this wonder and awe of being in the midst of such a wondrous place with stupendous experiences.I fill my life and am sated by it.
As an antitheist I am often accused of being pointless.
Far from it. I am not at all depressed by the knowledge that my life is finite. I opened my eyes on this incredible universe sixty five years ago and at some point in the next thirty five years, maybe today, I will close them forever.
For me the universe will cease to exist just as it did before I was born.
In some ways that is sad and I can see how some people might find that frightening and pointless. I don’t.
I would find the idea of living forever excruciatingly tedious. What would you do for all that time? It would be a jail sentence. What mysterious purpose would there be to that? There would no be a purpose. You cannot hide a lack of ultimate purpose behind either – ‘God has a plan’ or ‘We have to progress through many stages and lives’ – for me that is merely a psychological cop out.
No. I am happy with a finite life. It means that every second is precious. Every moment has to be wrung dry of all possible joy. It will not come round again.
So, if there is no ultimate purpose then what is the thing that makes life worth getting up for? (And yes by the way – I am a very moral person. I do not need some religious doctrine and fear to make me moral. Morality makes sense. It is a philosophy that brings happiness.)
Here are the reasons to get out of bed. This is my ABC of life:
c. Making the world a better place
d. Awe and wonder
f. Solving the problems
g. Enjoying the splendours
h. Exploring everything
l. Appreciating a nice meal, a glass of wine and good company
m. Arguing and educating
n. Speaking out against the madness
o. Caring for other animals
p. Looking out for the plants
q. Learning from history
t. Swimming in a cool pool on a hot day
u. Looking up at the stars and drifting to infinity
v. Getting an idea for a story, painting, poem or dance
x. Singing and playing music
y. Appreciating art, theatre, dance, drama, music, poetry …….
I think that’s probably quite enough to fill a life-time or two.
Zhujiajiao was a beautiful place. We stopped to have lunch in a typical Chinese cafe. The guy took a whole cooked carcass of chicken and smashed it up with a meat cleaver presented to us splintered bones and all. Not exactly cordon bleu.
I have just completed my first draft of my latest book. I have decided, following Dave Kingsbury’s encouragement, to write up the tale of my voyage to South America. It was an outstanding experience, full of fun, adventure and thought provoking observation. I think it makes for an interesting read.
I have called it :-
The voyage to the end of the world –
Treasures of South America on the Marco Polo in 2016
I’m now selecting the photos to go in it. I have lots of decisions to make. I want to put lots of the colour photos in but if I do it as a large book with colour it will bump the price up. I always keep my cut to around a £1 but production costs take the bulk of the cost.
A normal size black and white would lose the impact of the photos but would be cheaper. What do you think?
Here are a few of my books. They are available on Amazon in both paperback and on kindle.
Anecdotes – paperback just £6.95 Kindle – just £1.99 or free on Kindle Unlimited
We had two days chugging through the sea a long way off the coast of Africa. There was a distinct feeling that I was leaving all the exotic stuff behind. We only had two stops ahead and they were both easily accessible from home and distinctly European. They did not have quite the same cache as Brazil or the Falklands. But I was determined to squeeze every last drop out of the experience.
I was making the most of the sun. It was cooler and had lost that tropical rawness but there were still plenty of UV rays to transform into Vitamin D. Sunlight is very bad for the skin but it does have a way of lifting the spirit. To get up, thrown on a T-shirt and shorts and step out into the warmth is a pleasant experience. In another week I would be disembarking into the winter chill of England. I was hoping for a miracle. Perhaps March would have an unprecedented tropical heatwave. It was a forlorn hope. I knew that we were more likely to be suffering cold and drizzle for the next couple of months. There could even be snow!
I sat around on deck reading or writing. I took my customary position at the bows, camera in hand, watching for a few last whales or dolphins. Not one showed their face. It seemed to me that the only time dolphins showed up was when I wasn’t around. They then delighted in bouncing out of the water, spinning around and grinning, just to mock me – the bastards.
Madeira loomed out of the sea bathed in sun with bright blue skies. I quite like Madeira but I prefer a shiraz. At least we were lucky with the weather. We were being chased by a big storm and reputedly Madeira has suffered fourteen days of miserable rain. We were hitting a magic window of opportunity.
Funchal looked good. The town nestled under snow-capped mountains. To have snow on those mountains was unusual. It added a bit to it.
They chose nice places to build ports. I suppose there is a reason for that. All these ports, cosied up in bays under the protection of a circle of mountains, had been established there for a reason. It wasn’t because they thought it might look attractive to pasty tourists. Those ports were set up in the days of those big wooden sailing boats. The bays were selected merely because they afforded a place to berth that was protected from the elements.
Funchal was one of those. It was a good place for Portuguese ships to pop into on their way to more exotic regions. Madeira was a way off from Portugal but was part of Portugal. It was renowned for four things – the brilliant temperature that endured all year through, the picturesque cliffs, the cable car that took you up into the mountains and to the Botanical Gardens, and this weird toboggan ride down the mountain in wicker-basket toboggans. That sounded fun.
Madeira was another of those volcanic islands. You could see that from the rocks and soil. It had that reddish brown volcanic colour. I suppose that all land is really the result of volcanoes or at least tectonic uplifts. It certainly made for interesting landscape and fertile gardens.
We headed off to investigate.
There was a nice promenade with Palm trees and lots of statues and artwork. There was one of Christiano Ronaldo! The sun was very pleasant!
We arrived at the cable car and headed up into the rarified atmosphere of the mountains. It was a great ride up with views over the city, cliffs and tropical plants. It was awash with colour. There was a great café at the top with a view over the bay and city below. There were no coconuts to drink but they did a smashing frozen yoghurt with nuts and honey.
Refreshed with set off to discover the delights of Monte. Up on the hill was a beautiful little chapel with typical Portuguese tilework and painted ceilings.
Further along we ran into the toboggan rides. A gang of guys all with a studied Portuguese swagger, wearing white shirts and trousers topped off with boater hats, were carelessly unloading the wicker toboggans off a lorry, standing around posing and smoking before launching tourists off down the street. I watched. We’d been considering having a go but on inspection it looked pretty tame and we decided against. It was an interesting tradition and we ought to support it. But it looked a bit naff. I have an aversion to touristy things.
Up the steps was the cathedral. At least that’s what I suspected it was. I don’t know the difference between a big church and a cathedral. If ‘Our Mother of Monte’ wasn’t a cathedral it ought to be. It was beautiful. If the blue tile-work and painted ceilings of the chapel were delightful the quality of the art in that cathedral was in another dimension. Being an antitheist I often despair at the rituals and superstition of religions but even I have to admit that some of the greatest creative minds have poured their talents into religious buildings around the world. Or is it merely that the churches, mosques and temples had the power and money to employ the best?
Having filled our spirits with beauty we headed back down to do a hop-on hop-off around the city and up into the mountains. It was a pretty place.
In the afternoon we wandered up into the old town, had a look round the fort and through the narrow streets. All of the doors had been painted with different artwork that reflected the personality of the owners. They were extremely colourful and amusing. The whole area was a maze of restaurants all touting delicious foods with enticing smells leaking out into the alleyways. There were art and craft shops and an atmosphere of a bohemian culture. The sort of place I would have liked to have dallied in and investigated more.
We had a beer and sat around and watched life go by then we bought a couple of bottles of Madeira and headed off.
In the town square there was another fort. The whole world is covered in them. Human beings are a war-like species. We love violence and cruelty and seem to operate on the philosophy that instead of growing and making goods it is far easier to wait until somebody else has done all the hard work and then wade in and take it off them. At the same time you can have fun chopping people to bits, raping all the women and burning everything down.
We have a long despicable history behind us. I wonder what lies ahead?
We settled ourselves in a suitable café lavishly decorated with characteristic blue Portuguese tilework depicting Madeira in the past when it was a small town in the midst of tropical paradise and a few sailing boats in the bay – a bit different to the sprawling city that now exists and the stream of cruise-liners that were constantly passing through. I found myself thinking that I would have loved it even more back in those times – before the world was flooded with the hordes of humanity. Those tiles depicted an ideal looking scene. I also noticed that someone had smashed all the faces in one of the scenes. Was that some demented, intolerant Muslim who had desecrated the faces in the name of Islam?
We ordered a beer and listened to the excellent guitarist who was entertaining us. The temperature was still nice and warm. The beer was cool. The guitarist was brilliant. I discovered that I had enjoyed Madeira much more than I had anticipated. It was a place I wouldn’t mind coming back to for a longer visit. It had a nice feel to it.
If you are enjoying these little tales from a life and would like to read more then you can purchase them all in my two books of anecdotes.
They are available on Amazon in both paperback and on kindle.
Anecdotes – paperback just £6.95 Kindle – just £1.99 or free on Kindle Unlimited
More Anecdotes – paperback just £7.29 Kindle – just £2.12 or free on Kindle Unlimited
My other books are also available. There is some unique to suit most tastes if you like something thought provoking and alternative.