Simon Parke  
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The constant gardener

Posted by Simon Parke, 23 May 2022, 2.51pm

In John le Carre’s powerful story, The Constant Gardener the lead character is a diplomat who is a keen flower-and-shrub man.

A colleague says that he even dreams of weed-free gardens; maybe all gardeners do.

But it is only a dream, because weeds are a given, in one form or another.

Entropy is the natural tendency towards disorder, which is how gardens are. Plants grow where they are not wanted and these are called weeds.

We can remove them for a while, but this is not permanent; they will re-appear, one way or another. They are the natural order.

So, while the gardener may enjoy planting the bright, the beautiful and the new; much of their time is spent clearing the space in which these things will grow.

The constant gardener will attend to the weeds in their garden; and perhaps, even more pressing, to the weeds within their psyche. 

The bright, the beautiful and the new are there in each of us. If allowed, if given space, if the ground is cleared - they just grow, without any instruction.

If the conditions are right, it’s hardly any work at all, this growth business.

But what is work is keeping an eye on the weeds; unhelpful thought patterns and narratives in our personalities that can claim the soil and strangle growth.

No one gets up in the morning and says, ‘Today, I’m going to repeat the mistakes of yesterday.’ No one starts with that intention.

But unless we keep an eye out for the weeds, this is exactly what we do.

If old narratives and thought patterns are left unattended, they can take over completely, and leave us paralysed, mad or anxious, again and again and again.

Where weeds rule, our life is effectively on repeat.

And the constant gardener knows that weeds cleared in April, may well be back in June. They have deep root systems within us. Despite our busy digging, they will come back; only this time, we’ll notice them with a more practiced eye, notice them early and attend to them more promptly.

The constant gardener is a lovely name to bestow on a character. It suggests someone in daily endeavour; in the steady and unheralded work of care.

Sometimes it’s appreciating the beauty; and sometimes it’s noticing the weeds.

The name also suggests someone who loves their garden.

And yours is worth a great deal of love.

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Leadership. A camel's point of view.

Posted by Simon Parke, 18 May 2022, 11.22am

Leadership is an honour but a difficult one; it brings responsibilities.

Though being led by you may also be difficult. Leaders don’t always consider this.

As the Egyptian proverb says, ‘Never ask the camel what they think of the camel-driver’.

The leader sets the climate; this is their primary role and effect on an organisation.

And this can be for good or ill.

I have seen leaders change an organisation in six months not because of new initiatives but simply through the way they treat their staff.

People feel ennobled, empowered, freed; and happy to go above and beyond in their work.

And I have seen healthy organisations reduced to rubble because of leaders whose insecurity spills into their leadership.

The spillage of insecurity is significant and tends to manifest itself in controlling behaviour of some sort.

On the international stage, perhaps it is someone like Putin, closing down opposition for the last fifteen years, through threat and murder.

Control must always stamp out diversity.

Or perhaps it’s the head of a spiritual organisation who writes to supporters saying that unless they support the programme of arranged events, and get their friends to as well, ‘things could go very badly’.

You can smell the ego’s fear and desperation.

Desperate men and women in leadership positions are dangerous. Their role is holding their ego together; so they need compliance.

Anyone who threatens their position will be pushed away or cut out of the circle. They will surround themselves with the timid, the weak or the damaged who can find solace in the small world of a dysfunctional leader.

If creating the climate is the primary effect of leadership, the ability to hold people is the primary gift.

The good leader holds a community as it grows; and this holding requires some letting go. Good holding allows people to be who they are, rather than be who the leader’s ego needs them to be.

This requires constant adjustment by the leader. The reward is fresh shoots of growth all over the place.

The one who must control things cannot do this. They cannot hold in this manner – they can only crush; and there can be no letting go of anyone or anything.

No one can be allowed to be who they are – only compliance can be tolerated.

Controlling leaders create monochrome communities and the stale air of a closed space.

Avoidant leadership is another dysfunctional model, rooted in fear. It doesn’t grasp issues; it cannot speak plainly with people and often cannot decide. It is control through denial, through the unspoken, through drift, where little good can grow.

Leadership is an honour but a difficult one; it needs us to be well to manage it.

Ask the camel.

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Buttercups and the power of influence

Posted by Simon Parke, 16 May 2022, 2.16pm

I am on an early morning run.

I approach buttercups in the long grass, swaying deep yellow in the breeze; a startling glory.

And then on the mown grass, next to the long grass, I see hints of yellow too.

From a distance, I wonder if some buttercup petals have blown there, whisked by the wind onto the short grass.

But no…on arrival, I see these are new buttercups growing, with their own roots. The long-grass buttercups have re-seeded, their colourful influence spreading in the park.

Influence does spread, good influence and bad, whether at home, or at work, or in the political sphere.

Imagine if today your influence was like the spreading of buttercups

This meditation is taken from my book One Minute Meditation published by Whitecrow.

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A stupid candle?

Posted by Simon Parke, 12 May 2022, 8.44am

‘I don’t want to sound stupid,’ says Lydia.

She has phoned in to a popular Ukraine podcast, full of heroic stories and examples of bravery.

And she’s not an expert or anything, not a journalist, not a hero…just a student in middle-England.

‘I don’t want to sound stupid,’ she says, and I do wonder what she’s going to say. Will it be embarassing? ‘But I sit with a lighted candle each day in my kitchen. I sit with the light and I think of Ukraine.’

There is a moment of silence in the studio – and then the response.

‘To know we are not alone!’ exclaims a Ukrainian. ‘That you remember us with a candle!’

He is deeply moved.

‘That’s not stupid at all,’ says another.

Lydia has touched their hearts.

So, we continue to light our candles, in the kitchen or wherever.

We pause, light, sit and watch.

And as the flame flickers, we remember. Maybe we remember Ukraine or a neighbour or someone we’ve met or Syria or even ourselves, because our own days are not always easy.

The candle invites all sorts of remembering. There’s space here.

And as we sit, the world turns more easily, made better by this pause, by this light, by this holding of people and events in the flickering silence.

And then we leave and do what we can…

... though we’ve already done more than enough.


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And what if?

Posted by Simon Parke, 28 April 2022, 5.11pm

and what if -

more than anything

and contrary to everything -

I was not here to judge

not here to learn

not here to worry

not here to improve myself

not here to suffer

not here to snatch and grasp

not here to seethe with indignation

but here

more than anything

and contrary to everything

to experience

simply to experience

to experience today…

...if such nonsense can be imagined

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How do you make decisions?

Posted by Simon Parke, 25 April 2022, 2.48pm

I’d like us to reflect on how we make decisions, and so if that interests you, read on.

Also read on if it’s something you’d like to do; or something that would give you a sense of accomplishment, something done or achieved.

We do make our decisions from different places.

(So, out of interest, if you are reading on, why are you doing it?)

As humans, one of our strengths is that we possess three vital centres of operation when it comes to decisions: our thinking centre, our feeling centre and our doing centre.

One of our tragedies, however, is that we tend to use them in an unbalanced way; focusing on just one. And when we do this, our decision-making can be harmful both to ourselves and others.

So, let’s get a sense of these three centres; and it’s all obvious stuff.

Thinking Centre…used for gathering and sorting out information; for planning and analysing.

Feeling Centre…used to acknowledge my feelings, acknowledge other people’s needs and agendas and to create and maintain relationships.

Doing Centre…used for movement, for pleasure seeking, for accomplishment, for action.

Here is a community of great wisdom.

But, as has been noted, instead of using all three centres in our decision-making, most of us primarily rely on one. It was the one we used for survival purposes when younger. But it does also affect how we go about things now.

For instance, the person who approaches inter-personal dynamics (feeling centre) through logic (thinking centre) may send an email instead of arranging a meeting. The aim of this decision is to avoid feelings, which is how the thinking centre likes it. But that’s a problem.

Or the person who responds to a to-do list (doing centre) by selecting what they feel like doing (feeling centre) or what interests them (thinking centre), rather than what needs to be done – may find their to-do list remains undone.

Or the person who leaps into action to accomplish a task (doing centre) or to pursue and idea (thinking centre) without considering how it will affect other people (feeling centre) – they may end up in all sorts of trouble.

Decision-making from the head is always problematic. Someone working from their head may well hear ‘I should do this’. But this ‘should’ doesn’t get it done; it just makes them feel guilty. And often leaves the task uncompleted.

With ten deep breaths, they need to access the doing centre which takes them from ‘I should do this’ to ‘I will do this.’ It’s a different space.

The head also finds decison-making hard because it jumps around, proposing different ideas, endless ideas, rather than opting for one. It’s like a committee making a decision. The head, left to itself, is a rubbish decision-maker. As are all the centres when left to themselves.

The rounded human being makes decisions using all three of these centres. So, it is a good start to notice which centre is most used by us – something you may well be aware of.

Perhaps then we can introduce other centres in our decision-making game.

Not easy, but practice is perfect.

The Enneagram, which I have written about, is helpful in this territory. But maybe this is enough for now.

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An Easter appearance

Posted by Simon Parke, 17 April 2022, 11.47am

Jesus’ appearance to his disciples by Galilee after his resurrection. Yeshua is Jesus, Rocky is Peter. It is told first person through Jesus’ eyes.

Perhaps others will write of this, they say they will.

They said all sorts of things on the beach this morning, amid their astonishment at seeing me. Rocky promised a book, ‘I will write a book of all this, this must be a book!’... though he cannot write, as Levi pointed out, ‘You can clean barnacles off the keel and stand steady in a storm. But you cannot write.’

Rocky does say things. He has never been measured with his mouth; no hand on the tiller there and caught by every wind. Some say he speaks before he thinks, though I say he just speaks; there is no obvious thought on display.

Though their astonishment, bright-eyed and frantic, scarce equals mine; I laugh inside so much, I cannot quiet it. I laugh as they leap from the boat, splashing and wading towards me, half-swimming.

I cannot believe it, this scene before my eyes. I am making a fire, the fire is all I need, it is everything - smouldering wood, smoke and embers, heat in the morning chill and the splash and the rush toward me, the wet sunlight, these mad idiots, my friends.

‘It’s him, it’s him,’ they shout. ‘Yeshua, is it you!? It cannot be Yeshua! Don’t be so stupid! Yeshua, it cannot be you!’

I am ripped apart by amazement and joy…amazement that I am here, that this is so; and such joy at seeing the sea and these wasters again.

They once ran away, it comes back to me, how they all disappeared, though I have lost my capacity for blame, truly; for we are not where we were, Gethsemane feels a long time ago, and now a different space unfolds.

They run towards me, soaked through with Galilee wash and shouting, arguing as they approach and I get up to greet them, to hug and to hold - as close to friends as I shall have, though Miriam is not here. And maybe that is best.

‘So where are the fish?’ I ask. ‘We cannot eat surprise.’

From my novel ‘Gospel, Rumours of Love.’

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A tomb awakening

Posted by Simon Parke, 15 April 2022, 4.29pm

Jesus wakes up in the tomb. Entitled ‘Strange waking’, this is a chapter from ‘Gospel, Rumours of Love.’ It is told first person, through the eyes of Jesus.

There is a fire figure…I see them, a figure of fire, full of life and colour, orange and purple, green and blue, yellow and red. It dances wild. And then as I watch, a thick crust of lava begins to entrap her, form around her, enclosing. It begins to choke and smother the fire and colour, stifling her life.

And this fire and this crust is a dream, I somehow know I dream, one somehow does; and in the dream the figure is outside its body, separate from it, beating at the crust, trying to break it, to loosen its grip, to give the fire a chance to breathe.

But she beats in vain, for her arms ache and tire; she cries out in vain for there is no one to help and slowly the flickering fire is extinguished. Starved of air, the fire dies, the figure dies, encased in the dark crust, which allows only itself. All life is gone.

Yet the dream stays, I do not leave, I am invited to wait, invited to watch, sensing change, and change there is, wisps of random flame, dancing into life from the fire figures’ body… weak flickers at first, but each encourages another and then another still.

The airless dark, once death’s great help, becomes life instead, a path for heat and light in the imprisoning lava. And soon, fractured by the heat, the first crack appears in the crust, and then another… and then another still.

The fire figure gulps new air, with fresh burning. Purple and red, green and blue, yellow and orange, colourvreturns, the fire figure lives and the lava crust splinters and cracks. The fire figure burns again… and the fire figure’s free.

My eyes blink in the cool dark. I am with the dream, I am still there, but leaving it. I am breathing, I breathe in and out, I notice this, but with no knowing in my body of where I am and who I am. I am awake, my dream is gone, I do not sleep, I sense I wake, the fire figure gone, and down a path, some memory…

I begin to remember, though this cannot be, but I remember being lifted, hoisted, hoisted up, like a fish on a line, I am in terror, I remember rough nails though whether a dream, I cannot tell, and then I remember nothing and know only the present ache - the quiet ache of the wounds, the scorching past, though now almost pleasing, for it is gone, like a passing storm; and with more memory, from where I do not know, another pathway opens.

I feel terror again, my body jerks… but the terror subsides, I breathe again and beyond it is joy, which is a river running through me.

I am breathing joy in the darkness, which seems as light as day; though where I am I cannot tell, no memory here, no memory yet, paths still blocked and still uncleared, though it feels like home.

And I sense binding; it is coarse on my skin and itches; I do not mind. I am aware of being wrapped and bound in cloth, I feel constraint and I begin to move, I push and pull, I am lying down, I come to know this; I am lying down on hard stone - is this my tomb?

I am newly aware, awareness dawns, new pathways, this is my tomb, I am dead yet not dead - but my arms are now free, eased from restraint, sweet smells on my body and I feel no fear and slowly, so very slowly, I am sitting up. I unbind the cloth from around me, easy does it, hurting hands… and can this be?

As though death was here but now is washed from my body? Death on a cross, I remember – Oh God, I remember! – fear floods me, a rising torrent of dirty water, I cannot stop it, rising up… and then passes through, as quickly as it came and such space is left, such open space inside.

As though I died and now I live; and I cannot kill the joy. 

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Posted by Simon Parke, 14 April 2022, 8.40am

An extract from my novel, ‘Gospel, Rumours of Love’. The story is told through the eyes of Yeshua. (Jesus)  ‘Rocky’ is Peter.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, my chest is tight and I think of the fish in Rocky’s net.

There is a place in the net where the fish have nowhere to go; Rocky spoke of it. ‘On reaching that place, the fish can swim around as much as they like - but they can’t swim out! They live – but they’re dead!’

He tells it with pride but I feel with the fish tonight. Is this where it ends, the net too tight? My friends sleep, for the dear wasters are shattered as the night wind sighs.

We have eaten together, sung songs of lament and come to Gethsemane, our familiar haunt where either horror or joy will greet us…for one or other must arrive this evening. Events in the Temple will not be overlooked, I know this. I have kept to the villages, and walked a hidden path; but the Temple always sat waiting and the Temple is the hinge, on which everything opens or shuts.

Either Nicodemus ensures they are with me, and the restoration begins; or other voices are heard… 

‘Maybe it ends here, John, in this garden; or maybe it starts.’ Young John looks at me; he is puzzled.

‘Nicodemus?’ he asks.

‘It is possible.’

‘Really?’ He does not believe.

‘He too wants a new Israel, John. He spoke of a conversation with the priests, with the Sadducees – with Annas even. Who knows? “I will do my best,” he said.

They may come tonight. They know we gather here, I make no secret of it…this is my hope.’

‘You still have hope after what you did, teacher?’

‘I am not your teacher anymore.’ John is disturbed by my actions; this is clear and this, my closest friend. I wonder myself if I went too far; though I felt alive there. But did I say or do too much? ‘Perhaps I have stirred them to goodness, John,’ I say.

But his laugh is dismissive which hurts more than any Pharisee.

‘Stirred to hate, perhaps. And Jude?’

‘Why speak of him?’

‘He has left us, Yeshua, he will not be back. The Temple incident, he could not believe it…maybe others will follow him.’

Anger returns. ‘He must do what he must do, John. He has been leaving for a while. Perhaps you have not noticed… I noticed.’

There is silence between us.

‘So we wait for the end,’ he says. ‘Or the beginning.’

The night is quiet and yes, I wait for Nicodemus. Hope rises in me, pricking the heaviness. He has influence; and Israel could be re-born, born again, with no temple but our spirit. One day we shall have hearts and no rules; for a good heart needs no laws. How can this not be seen? And perhaps he comes now, for surely this is God’s will, God’s promise - Israel waits for such a day! The gentiles await such a day! We could all be one. And Nicodemus is a serious man. He risked much to speak with me.

Through the olive trees, it is a still and starry night. It reminds me of Nazareth, when I would lie on the roof and gaze at the heavens. We called it ‘The Prophet’s Room’ up there on the tiles…where a wandering prophet might be housed. Our mother told us every home should have a prophet’s room, space for the visitor.

And I pray now as I prayed then; I cannot help but pray. Prayer is drawn from me like water from a well. ‘Dear father in heaven, your kingdom come and your will be done here on earth, as it is in heaven…as above, so let it be below!’

‘Master, I hear something.’ It is Rocky moving towards me. He has woken up, his snoring interrupted. ‘Do you wait for someone, teacher? You seem to wait for someone.’

‘How would you know, Rocky? You have been asleep.’

‘Resting – not asleep; I never sleep.’

Let me be honest with him. ‘I wait for horror or joy, Rocky.’

‘We don’t need to, Master. We could leave now, there is still time.’

‘And by leaving run from both? No, I believe I am invited to wait, to yield to one or the other.’

‘When did you ever yield?!’

‘There is a season for all things. Sometimes we must yield.’

I see movement in the distance, four or five figures in the shadows; they seem uncertain of the way. I see shapes but not faces. Nicodemus is small; I do not see a small man. I continue to watch; perhaps he follows, hidden by his companions. Perhaps members of the Sanhedrin have come here without him, to speak for themselves. I would be glad to speak with them.

And then I see another figure, familiar in movement. And I know…I know in that moment that it ends here in the garden. Nothing begins here…everything ends. There is only the horror. And I feel the sweat of terror pricking at my skin, as though I bleed.

And I am empty; quite empty of words. So many spoken but now they are gone. I have nothing to say. Words of anger, words of healing, words in parable, words in judgement…the words rise and fall, they dance and they die…only I remain. Though who am I now?

‘Do you see them, teacher?’

‘I see them, Rocky; and you should go. Take the others - certainly take Mark. He is too young.’ Mark has become his new friend, a young admirer, which Rocky enjoys. I think it does him good. He looks so lost at times; but when admired, he opens like a flower and remembers what to do.

‘I will not go!’ he whispers loudly. Their silhouettes are clearer now, they move faster, a torch of fire guides them, men armed with clubs and knives, brazen in the night. ‘I’m for taking them on.’

‘I think we shall be helpless, Rocky.’

But he does not hear me; or cannot believe what he hears. ‘Helpless?’ he says. I nod and try and calm him. ‘It must be so, it must be so.’ It hurts me to speak this. I have not asked this of my friends before; and I have not asked it of Rocky. I have asked them to hope, trust and pray, to take nothing for the journey but courage. But I have never called on them to be helpless, which is the only robe now left. ‘It ends here in the garden.’

‘We shall never be helpless, teacher! Never. John! James! Levi! Wake up! Mark – wake Levi up, the lazy toad.’

‘It is time to do nothing, Rocky,’ but he doesn’t listen. He is up and about, doing everything, gathering the band; Levi is cursing Mark, Thaddeus stumbling. But I am moving forward towards the torch light and the figures behind - when suddenly Joanna and Miriam appear through the trees on my left. I hear first the anklets, strange music in the dark - and lamps in their hands, worried faces. I approach them.

‘I fear love is not through with me,’ I say, and feel tears breaking.

Joanna says, ‘Neither are the Temple priests, from what I hear.’

‘But love is the more frightening, Joanna; it asks of us the most terrible things. We shall all do our best. And be kind to each other as we fail.’

‘My love will never be through with you,’ says Miriam; and in that moment we exchange souls through our eyes, where no darkness lives, only union. I hug them both, cling to them both, so grateful, so sad, so alone…and walk away. I must walk away or cry for a thousand years. I feel the tears; such heaviness of spirit is upon me. And now the men are before me.

‘Who do you seek?’ I ask.

‘Yeshua the Nazarene.’

‘You could have come in the light, my friends. No, really. But you arrive in the dark, with swords and clubs, as if I am some bandit! I was with you daily in the Temple and you never laid a finger on me. But here we are and this is your hour with the authority of darkness; I understand. And maybe your shame prefers the shadows.’

They are silent for a moment, so I reassure them. ‘I am he, the one you seek.’ I hold out my hands in welcome. They turn to Jude who appears from the dark. He nods.

‘You can trust Jude,’ I say. ‘We knew each other once, a good knowing; but our paths parted…for which I am sad.’ I look at him. ‘Perhaps he is sad too. So Jude, I am handed over by you?’

‘Not by me, teacher, not by me.’ Jude has hollow eyes like a caught fish, like a fish thrashing, like a fish dying. ‘You hand yourself over.’

‘And so I do, and so I do. We must each choose for ourselves and not lay blame at another’s feet.’

‘You handed yourself over in the Temple this afternoon.’

‘I spoke the truth, Jude, which is perhaps the same. But where better for light than the darkness?’

‘You must show respect for the law and the prophets.’

‘Don’t think I come to destroy the law and the prophets.’

‘But you do destroy, teacher, you do. You dismantle the law and you dismantle us, each of us! What are we to do? You seem to think everything is acceptable apart from the Temple! You let a woman wipe your feet with her hair, using costly perfume!’

He refers to Mary, my friend in Bethany and the best of hosts.

‘She used spikenard, Jude…costly, I agree, but kind. Am I not worth kindness?’

‘It stank the place out – I can still smell it.’

‘You sound as bitter as the aroma, Jude!’ Spikenard does stink; it smells of goat and brings all conversation to a halt.

‘It is the smell of death, teacher, and if it’s death you want…well, I don’t know what you want, or want of us. Just what do you want? You say the kingdom of God is within but who knows where? We can’t find it. So you leave us as beggars by the side of the road without comfort. You leave us as beggars!’

‘Happy are the poor in spirit, Jude - but not the self-pitying. You cry “victim” and fight what is; when all the time you could fall into love.’

In this moment, I feel quite free; a decision is made, an adventure ahead. But Jude rubs his eyes, like a child upset. ‘You weren’t the answer, you see - not the answer, not the hope I thought…the hope we thought. All of us.’ And now he almost smiles, though the smile does not reach his eyes, which is how I remember dear

Jude; haunted eyes, with a smile that stopped at his cheeks. ‘Why couldn’t you just?...I mean, I thought you could help; and I did my best, really I did, but, well - the Temple?  What you did there, I mean…that isn’t going to work. We must make friends not lose them. Make them!’ He looks for help from the sullen faces around him. ‘I mean, why are you so hostile, Yeshua? It’s just needless, it doesn’t get us anywhere. So you hand yourself over. No one else need do it. You don’t even run away now! You sit here in the garden and wait for us. I feel no guilt. Why would I feel guilt?’

I have an overwhelming desire to kiss him; to let him know that all is well. ‘Jude, my friend.’ I reach out to him. He steps towards me, cautious, holding back. But I do not. I kiss his cheeks, one and then the other and feel his tears; he sobs on my shoulder. I hold him. I cannot judge this man; no judgement is there. I feel such love for him, my fear is quite gone. We release ourselves, each from the other, and he turns and runs into the night. ‘So let us go,’ I say.

They seem disturbed, those who come to arrest me. Perhaps they expect a fight. My friends gather slowly, but barely know the hour, the day or the place.

‘What’s happening?’ asks Andrew, who is still asleep though standing. And Rocky lunges, grabbing a sword and slashing in the night, until held back by James. I also hold him, this dear madman.

‘Remember, Rocky, we must be helpless now - like lambs to the slaughter.’

‘I will never be helpless!’

‘You will be helpless beyond your knowing, my friend. But fear nothing; we shall all do our best and fear nothing. Shall we go?’

Young Mark runs away and proves a quick fellow; too quick for the soldier who grabs at him. He seizes only Mark’s robe, which the boy leaves behind in his hands, running naked into the night, towards the city. And I hear Rocky say to Levi, ‘What’s going on with Jude?’

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Scottie Sheffler and our many selves

Posted by Simon Parke, 12 April 2022, 7.02am

The radio presenter, reporting on the Open golf tournament in Augusta, is taken aback.

‘How could it be?’ he asks. ‘Scottie Scheffler looks so calm on the course. Nothing fazes him. Yet he has told us that on the final morning, before play started, he was ‘crying like a baby’ – his words – with nerves. It’s hard to believe it’s the same man!’

For most of us, though, it is not so hard to believe. We are different people at different times, with various characters inside us. And it makes a difference which one of them is in charge.

On that final Sunday of the tournament, Scottie displayed both self-doubt and focused calm; both damage and strength.

And our story is similar, if less well paid.

There are damaged characters, some of which we’ll be familiar with: abandonment fears, survival fears, endless guilt, catastrohing about the future, unresolved rage, distracted mind, the need for control, anxious thoughts, fear of other people’s perceptions of us, poor emotional regulation, over-thinking.

Perhaps you recognise some of these.

But there are other characters within us as well, healthier ones and skilled in many areas of life, sometimes brilliantly so: characters like intuition, calm, sociability, organisational skill, capacity for delight, competency, courage, generosity of spirit, the ability to hold others, emotional attunement to circumstances, openness, clarity and confidence.

You will recognise some of these as well.

We need to keep talking with all our characters, for each is allowed and each has a story. We don’t pretend they’re not there.

And when well, we allow them to talk among themselves, the healthier helping the damaged.

On the final day of the Open tournament, Scottie Scheffler allowed calm to speak with self-doubt; and calm took him home to victory.

In time, our healthier characters become more true, our damaged characters less so. Damage has less of a voice in our affairs; a diminishing influence.

This is human growth on the golf course and beyond.

Who will I be today?

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