Care Bear Stare!

7am is generally not considered to be a reasonable waking hour on a Sunday but I made an exception yesterday and chose to obey the bells instead of rolling over.
I was aiming to attend a day event at my philosophy school which was intriguingly titled Power of Myth. Whilst I had seen a list of the speakers on the day I had no idea what to expect or even the workshops on offer. Considering as well that it’s free admission for existing students it seems silly to turn an interesting opportunity like this down.

Upon arrival I was given a piece of paper listing the workshops and was told I could only pick 3 – which was difficult because they all looked so fascinating I wanted to attend all of them! I made my choices as quickly as possible, collected my tickets and chatted with some of my classmates over a cup of tea whilst watching the canteen fill up with other brave souls who’d ventured out on this cold morning.

An introductory address by my Wednesday night lecturer William set us off and we then proceeded to our first sessions. My first choice being titled: Philosophy and Myth in Ancient Greece presented by David Hodgkinson.

This was a fascinating session where we were given a brief run through of the Iliad, discussing the myth surrounding the fall of Troy and the encounter between Achilles and King Priam towards the end of Homer’s epic. I was enthralled by this sweeping tale that still captures the imagination all these years after it was written. Its message, made clear from the passage which we concentrated on, was one warning of the dangers and consequences of anger. The idea also that since the gods were not always involved in human endeavours in these stories, that we bore the responsibility for our actions and needed to measure our responses. Our discussion certainly changed my opinion of Achilles from archetypal hero to stroppy teenager, and has definitely encouraged me to research it on my own and venture an attempt at reading it in its entirety. The hour whizzed by so quickly, it felt like we were just settling in to a debate when it was time for another tea break.

I entered the room hosting our second session with much anticipation. Our speaker, Robin Mukherjee, has a very successful television writing career (including East Enders and Casualty) and I was extremely curious about how he was going to link his hour with the theme of Myth.

Titled: A Writer’s Journey, Robin told us a couple of stories of experiences he had in the past where a change occurred. He then gave us ten minutes to jot down an example of our own siting an incident in our own lives where a shift occurred. Once finished about half the class read theirs out and there was strangely a constant theme in all of them. The stories could be distilled to an assumption being made about a person and then that opinion changing through an opening of the teller’s heart. We discussed this then derived a ‘three act’ formula of preconceived notions (with baggage), disembodiment and then reconstruction which is prevalent in all the stories shared in the workshop and indeed in the mythical stories we are told.

A slightly distracting moment came when William appeared mid-session with a camera in his hand. I thought he may have been taking promotional pictures for the school, but whilst I was making an observation to the class the camera pointed in my direction and there was no flash…so I think I was videoed… Let’s hope it looked like I knew what I was talking about…

Lunch followed the second session and it was a chance to catch up with some classmates and meet some new people. The general consensus was the day had so far proved to be inspirational and we were all eagerly anticipating our final sessions.

This was amazing. John has experience in coaching actors as well as motivating business executive types and I was instantly struck by his very calm, friendly and unassuming manner as he entered the room. We had a long meditative introduction, which was great, and we then discussed the temptations of Buddha. Two of these temptations can be found in the architecture of Buddhist tombs in the form of two armed guardians and the entrance – representing Fear and Desire. These being the two basically negative states we need to transcend to achieve peace and enlightenment. The group were enthralled by his description, then we were asked to move our chairs back and the practical part of the session began – Zen Walking. Using visualisation we rooted ourselves with the energy of the earth and the heavens and then began to walk around the room without any particular purpose or order, at any pace and in whatever direction we chose. It was such a freeing feeling – increased by John’s suggestion that we visualise ourselves growing to ten feet tall and then continuing to walk. It was so energising and liberating – and despite the suggestion that we were now all giants, it felt as if there was even more space for us to roam. I left that session feeling like the Wolverine of Care Bears, with all the energy and potential in my tummy to do whatever I wanted. Amazing.

The day closed after another address by William asking us for our observations (and revelations) around the day. Various people volunteered to share their experiences and some of the speakers were volunteered by William himself to share their views. Robin made a point that whilst writing for East Enders they began to form the plots around Greek myths and as a result the ratings shot up. At this point the microphone was placed in my hand and I was asked to share. (Eek!)

I nervously reiterated what others had mentioned about the day that the ancient myths are still relevant in modern times, highlighting the oneness of our world. How we are all connected, functioning as one being and the worst goal we could aspire to was to willingly separate ourselves from that whole. We were given a great example of this by John had described during his workshop, when a cell in the body decides it no longer wants to maintain its function, breaks away and starts attacking other cells, the end result is cancer.

Upon handing the microphone back I turned to a woman I had been chatting with during the course of the day with a wide eyed ‘what-the-heck-did-I-just-say’ face and she just said ‘well done’. (Thanks Anne). As we finished and then started packing chairs away Robin (who was sitting behind me) also commended me on what I said. I was almost giddy after that – I so wish I could remember exactly what I said!

This is an extremely brief synopsis of a very full day. I was energised as I made my way home, seeing the good in others once again, and being excited about the potential of things to come, not bogged down by the insignificant details.

My philosophy group have started a whatsapp group where we post pictures and inspirational quotes around the Part III theme of Love. Those from my class who attended sent messages of thanks to this group to which I had to chime in with ‘Engaging, enlightening and entertaining. Many thanks indeed’.

2 thoughts on “Care Bear Stare!

  1. Very cool, Lizzie. It must have been a refreshing change of focus from your day job to go to theses philosophy sessions. Good have one`s thinking extended, eh. And it can be so helpful in dealing with ordinary attitudes.
    Hope you`ve had a happy Christmas with the folks and your neice!
    Love the name of your Blog. Tee Hee.


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