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Falling in love

At the moment I don’t have a proper girlfriend, just a few girls I write to who are friends. I have built up such an attitude towards love in myself that I think unless I meet a girl who ‘meets’ me as such first I will never fall in love. I hope a girl would fall in love with me before I love her otherwise I find myself going crazy with emotions over someone who doesn’t like me. I think that is probably why I try to keep myself respected and manly and tidy so that I meet someone. I always find that a girl makes me try much harder in everything. I hope to meet a girl soon and then I will be able to show you, whoever you are, how I fell in love.

Age 13 year 7 months

I wrote this in my diary in March 1975. I wrote a diary for the best part of 14 years: up to the point when I sat with someone I’d not known that long and in the most convoluted of ways we become engaged.

The diary is a source of many things. It is surprising, in squeezed up micro-entries how much is revealed and what I can remember. My first diary was one of those ‘Five Year Diaries’ with a few lines per day to complete. I completed many years without missing a day.

My interest currently, as I step in the shoes of a teenager, is the mindset of someone age 13-16 on his ‘quest for love.’ What amazes me on reading this back, is how much I have wiped from my memory, that age 16 during frenetic weeks away from boarding school, between the two homes of divorced parents, my circle of female friends stretched from the Channel Islands (Summer Holiday Romance), to Scotland (contacts from a school trip made three years previously), to girls met through school (down the road in the girls school, in town at the girls school, at a national swimming gala) and of course at home through clubs, associations with male friends and the daughters of my mother’s friends.

For a period it was if all sixteen year olds had green skin: we could spot each other anywhere and immediately start a conversation. I met a girl on the Cross Channel Ferry,  at tennis and badminton, at rugby club discos, barn dances and drinks parties. I met a girl on the set of ‘King Arthur and the Spaceman.’ I met girls who came over to see what I was drawing.

My default position with all of them once we’d exchanged addresses was the handwritten letter. I could sit down each evening and write letters to eight different girls in an hour or so: that was my homework. I have a substantial collection of bundles of their responses ages 12 upwards. I read them now and wonder if I read them at all at the time: did I collect letters like badges? At boarding school it mattered to me to feel there was someone thinking about me beyond the walls and fells that contained us.

Kissing was practice, was scratching an itch, was fun like bouncing on a trampoline. We ‘did it’ with whomsoever would go along with it.

Hearts were broken one day and mended the following week. Parents could get in the way, or assist. Friends could be supportive, or an immediate challenge. An older brother could steal your latest girlfriend’s heart.

I’m a fool to think there is one story in all of this: there are dozens. Often the only story that can be told is how one person met and fell in love with another. The complexity of teen relationships are too muddled and fast moving to lend themselves to explanation.

When did you last stumble upon such words of encouragement?

Is

Fig.1. Words of encouragement

Isn’t this all that we need? Someone who believes?

(On the inside of a folder of  ‘creative writing’ from my teens – short stories, a novel, a TV screenplay, poems and lyrics. Lyrics that the author of these words put to music).

Don’t tell me I am not still that 19 year old.

This is the human condition.

Days before my mother died, with barely any faculties functioning I span her through grabs of famous artworks on an iPad – her last cogniscent words were ‘Louvre, Paris’ while all but my sister and I say a dead person waiting to die.

Google Eyes

Fig.1. Attention seeking Google

It is rare – so rare that this is a first – that an image, nudging towards cliché is so well executed that I love it. Google IS eyeballs. This not only expresses how we see … but it is what metaphorically is going on in the backs of our minds. We are becoming Google compliant. I want Google to feed me instantly what I want. So I need a second, mischievous profile that does otherwise, who leaves everything on automatic and goes away for a week.

The beauty of the human condition is that wherever we go, whatever we do, someone must and will do the opposite.

Perhaps Google will become like a cup of tea – a daily fix, but not the drug the guides and fixates.

 

 

What is love?

‘Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two. But sometimes the petals fall away and the roots have not entwined. Imagine giving up your home and your people, only to discover after six months, a year, three years, that the trees have had no roots and have fallen over. Imagine the desolation. Imagine the imprisonment.’

Louis de Bernieres, 1994, ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’

(Picked out for me by my mother as she read the book)

Moments that define Dr Zbigniew Pelczynski OBE

20120817-050452.jpg

Fig 1. Chapter Three: A Life Remembered

For all the technology – I am writing on an iPad – the book I am reading (‘A Life Remembered’ is only available in print) is on a rather rusty, heavy-duty iron book stand. Out of shot I have a lamp on an upturned waste-paper bin – an eBook would be the light, the stand and the content. It allows me to take notes, picking out moments and ideas from mini PostIts.

In some respects I feel like a Talk Show Host preparing for an interview, though many of these stories and their significance to Zbigniew Pelczynski I have heard before – I’ll be in his company this weekend so can ask questions, record the interview highlights and post the results here.

What defines him as an academic, inspirational educator and Polish patriot? How might others have behaved given the extraordinary life choices he had to make as the Second World War came to a close?

What is it about Oxford University that held him in its spell and kept him from the opportunities and temptations of other universities in the UK and abroad?

How can the oath he made to God that defines his life come from someone with no faith in religion?

Is it not ironic that despite being alive and well and mentally alert and agile in his 86th year that publication of his life story isn’t the end at all, but another mile stone as he drives on to yet more commitments and projects later this year and next including a two-day conference on Rousseau, Hobbes and Machiavelli, the book launch at the Polish Embassy then Meetings at his School fo Leaders in Warsaw.

With Zbszyek it isn’t even a case of ‘what next?’ rather it is a case of what he plans to do still beyond that.

My Notes So far :

Learning in extremis

Three Reformers Jacques Maritain
– an exegesis of the works of Luther, Calvin and Rousseau.

Zbig studied while part of the Polish Resistance in Warsaw, developing early ideas and an interest in:

  • man
  • society
  • state

McAvoy (2012:19)

KEY MOMENTS: Events that make the person

Saying good-bye to his mother Irena in August 1944 age 18 and lying about what he was up to as he went off to join his company B1 of the Basta Regiment. He saw his mother again in December 1956. (p 24)

PERSONALITIES

Jerzy Kloczowski, known as Piotrus

HORROR

The German campaign of mass murder in Warsaw in response to the foolhardy uprising killing, between 5th and 7th August 1944 more than 50,000 men, women and children. Perhaps 200,000 killed over the next two months.

KEY MOMENT

The life defining oath Zbigniew made when rubble pinned the 19-year-old in a cellar after an attack by a Stuka.

He made a pack with God: if he got out alive, then somehow, someday, he would do something for Poland in return. McAvoy (2012:27)

DEFINING MOMENT – Traumatised

Appearance of political prisoners from Neuengamme concentration camp who fought over every scrap of food. McAvoy (2012:36)

HORROR – POLISH FARMHAND – what people will do to survive and for love.

Condemned for a ‘race crime’ with a German girl and put in a forced labour camp on starvation rations he joined the Offen Kommando whose job it was to collect and burn the bodies of dead inmates. McAvoy (2012:39) There they had witnessed systematic cannibalism.

(Though I suspect hours of cooking rather than 15 minutes would have been required).

DEFINING MOMENT

Two lessons: the story itself and from the way it was told. Cured of social snobbery for life. McAvoy (2012:39)

A very different war defined a quite different man – my grandfather, working class and a machine-gunner in the First War, humble, conscientious and hardworking, dedicated his life to his wife and child.

What is of greater significance?

Our genetic make-up or the events in our life? People respond very differently to events and circumstances, yet the decisions they take define them. We cannot all be the same.

What am I coming to understand about education and the motivation to learn?

What bearing does this have on the struggles and wars that continue around the world and the politics that are both the cause and cure of the mess in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond to Korea and elsewhere?

REFERENCE

McAvoy, D (2012) Zbigwniew Pelczynski: A life remembered. Grosvenor House Publishing.

Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.

Plato’s Symposium

People were hermaphrodites until God split them in two and now all the halves wander the world over seeking one another.

‘Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.’

I read this in Milan Kundera’s ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’

As I naïve 13 year old I believed love was just this, a quest for a soul mate, for another half. I wonder if being balanced halves is likely to lead to a successful marriage, often imbalance works better. Rather than competing for the same space you team up to offer something more.

On keeping a diary offline in a book and closed while keeping a blog online and open.

12th January 2012

Then you settle into married life and children and, as I now do, I celebrate my 18th Wedding anniversary, my younger sister’s 25th and the 50th anniversary of my in-laws.

I read about people who plan to digitise their life. The ephemera I have includes the diaries and a trunk of handwritten letters; rememeber them? And letters this boy sent to his Mum from about the age of 8.

Wherein lies the value of it? A useful habit, as it turns out, but do we expect our want a new generation to store every text, every message, every Facebook entry. Are these not stored whether they like it or not … and potentially shared. Whose business should it be, when and if to ‘disclose’ or ‘expose’ a life. It can be of value, but it can also be harmful.

On the reverse side of this card is a note to my fiance, written on the 17th February 1992. We’d been engaged for 8 months, were living apart and would be together that summer and remain together now.

The value of reflection here, is a reminder of these sentiments. The value of any record, any stirred memory, can be to reinforce it, to be cherished, forgotten or dealt with. But if you haven’t taken notes, you rely on the vagaries of your mind. So perhaps a massively scaled down version of digitising everything you do may have value, like a broach you press on occassion ‘for the record.

All of this STILL coming from a single Opinion piece in the New Scientist (23 December to 1 Jan) about someone digitising every moment of their existence.

From 11-01-2011

This is how the ‘professional’ student or corporate blog should look … not social networking, no flirting, no personal stuff, just the business – something to chew on.

Creativity Residential School : day two : 14 hours 25 minutes

In the right context with the right people role play can be used to help see or experience a problem from a different perspective. Here however, Virginia Woolf and friends pull off a hoax and a treated as royal guests on one of His Majesty’s battleships.

So many people describe this OU Business School module (B822 : Creativity, Management & Change) and the residential school I am currently attending as something that changed their lives; I’ve been waiting for that moment, or for a series of insights to congregate and like a celestial choir sing something special.

I was up at 5.00 am and writing (of course), taking a swim at 6.45 am in the pool here at the Heathrow Marriott, into an Elective at 8.00 am and the first Tutor Workshop at 9.00 am.

The second workshop kicked in after lunch at 1.30 pm then from 7.00 pm three more hour long electives in a row.

At no stage was I ever tired or bored, indeed I feel embarrassed even writing this, the very thought!?

Too much new, too important, too interesting, too interested. Like my second week at nursery school: amongst friends, secure, allowed and expected to have fun. Alert.

It was in the very last cessation today, during an hour of guided relaxation, shoes off lying on the conference room floor, lights out, soft music playing that  my unconscious gave me a two word tip and did its best to visualise the love my children have for me and I have for them. I’m still trying to see what love looks like: white, a slightly crumpled unopened rosebud the size and shape of chicory but made of paper, or tissue. I tried (in the semi-conscious dream-like state that I was in) to cup ‘love’ in my hands as if I was scooping up water but it proved illusive, like a cloud.

After we were brought out of our semi-unconscious state (I fell asleep momentarily three times) we were all asked to share what we experienced; I eventually chirped up with the word ‘profound’.

The detail of the day is here too, all typed up with pictures (courtesy of iPad and iPhone) of flip-charts, post-it notes, finger-paintings and slides. This will take a week to prepare as posts.

‘Creativity, Innovation and Change’ : Residential School : day two : 14 hours 25 minutes !

In the right context with the right people role play can be used to help see or experience a problem from a different perspective. Here however, Virginia Woolf and friends pull off a hoax and a treated as royal guests on one of His Majesty’s battleships.

So many people describe this OU Business School module (B822 : Creativity, Management & Change) and the residential school I am currently attending as something that changed their lives; I’ve been waiting for that moment, or for a series of insights to congregate and like a celestial choir sing something special.

I was up at 5.00 am and writing (of course), taking a swim at 6.45 am in the pool here at the Heathrow Marriott, into an Elective at 8.00 am and the first Tutor Workshop at 9.00 am.

The second workshop kicked in after lunch at 1.30 pm then from 7.00 pm three more hour long electives in a row.

At no stage was I ever tried or bored, indeed I feel embarrassed even writing this, the very thought!?

Too much new, too important, too interesting, too interested. Like my second week at nursery school: amongst friends, secure, allowed and expected to have fun. Alert.

It was in the very last cessation today, during an hour of guided relaxation, shoes off lying on the conference room floor, lights out, soft music playing that  my unconscious gave me a two word tip and did its best to visualise the love my children have for me and I have for them. I’m still trying to see what love looks like: white, a slightly crumpled unopened rosebud the size and shape of chicory but made of paper, or tissue. I tried (in the semi-conscious dream-like state that I was in) to cup ‘love’ in my hands as if I was scooping up water but it proved illusive, like a cloud.

After we were brought out of our semi-unconscious state (I fell asleep momentarily three times) we were all asked to share what we experienced; I eventually chirped up with the word ‘profound’.

The detail of the day is here too, all typed up with pictures (courtesy of iPad and iPhone) of flip-charts, post-it notes, finger-paintings and slides. This will take a week to prepare as posts.

 

Curiosity, Forgiveness, Love … everyday attributes of the innovative organisation?

B822 BK 2 C6 Precepts

Especially actions that DISCOURAGE speculation/creativity Henry (2010:93)

Curiosity Charles Handy (1991) Creativity in Management, Radio 1, B822
Forgiveness Charles Handy (1991)
Love Charles Handy (1991)
A sense of direction Schon, D.A. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner

Some ‘Set Breakers’ Henry (2010:96)

1. Develop broad background experience and many interests

2. Find and challenge your own blind spots

3. Explore many different perspectives

4. Challenge yourself

5. Develop good browsing facilities

6. Change techniques or different mental modes

7. Seek out people with other points of view

8. In a group

Relevance bias

1. Dry Run

2. Quota of alternatives

3. Inverse optional question

4. Checklist of transformations

5. Reverse the problem

6. Boundary relaxation

7. What difference?

8. Get several people to try it

9. Deep questioning

10. Challenge

11. Fresh eye

6.4 Value of Play

1. Play is key to learning activity

2. The objects of play are both objective and subjective

3. The ability of play helps create the sense of independence.

4. Play offers a protected area of illusion

5. Plays is a way of managing unfulfilled need.

6. Play can lead to a particular state of mind.

7. Play breaks down outside certain emotional limits.

8. Shared play builds relationships

A. Choice of Setting

B. Choice of team members

C. Climate to aim for

D. Don’t demystify

E. Management of coping mechanisms

F. An aid to team building

McCaskey (1988)

· Problem finding (experience)

· Map building

· Janusian Thinking

· Controlling and not controlling

· Using domain and direction

· Planning rather than goal-directed planning

· Humour that oils

· Charisma

· Using ad hoc structures such as task force and project teams

· Using a core group embedded in a network of contracts and information

· ‘Turbulence management’

N.B. Creativity needs space vs. time pressure, interruption

· Create Space

6.8 involve others

The more participants you have, the more ideas you get.

‘Successfully creative people are often deeply committed to a particular domain, that has strong internal significance to them, and they focus very firmly on particular goals’. (e.g. Tessa Ross, Lionel Wigram, William Hague)

‘Passion and persistence can motivate sustained work; attract the loyalty of helpers; create awareness of you and your project in people who have relevant resources; and reassure those who need to take risks on your behalf.’ Henry (2010:114)

CATWOE p115

  • Blind chance
  • Wide-ranging exploration
  • The prepared mind
  • Individualised Action

6.12 Manage the Process Henry (2010:1113)

· Get the parameters right

· Record

· Sustain pace and energy

· Develop trust

· Keep the experience positive

· Plan

· Do – analyse either side and separately

· What?

· Why?

Learn from experience of others

  • Experiment

REFERENCE

Adams, J.L. (1987) Chase, Chance and Creativity: The Lucky Art of Novelty; New York; Columbia University Press.

Austin, J.H. (1978) Chase, Chance and Creativity: The Lucky Art of Novelty: New York: Columbia University Press.

McCaskey, M.B. (1988) ‘The challenge of managing ambiguity’, in Pondy, L.R, Boland, R.J and Thomas, H (eds) Managing Ambiguity and Change, new York, pp 2-11

Schon, A.A. (1983) The Reflective Practioner: How Professionals think in Action, London: Temple Smith

Wetherall, A. and Nunamaker, J (1999) Getting Results from Electronic Meetings

Winnicott, D.W (1972) Playing and Reality. Harmondsworth (1983) Davis, M and Wallbridge, D (1983) Boundary and Space: An Introduction to the Work of D.W. Winnicott. Harmondsorth.

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