Guidance…and Natalie Elphicke

The world is an uncertain place; and most times, things just happen, unannounced.

But when there is a decision for us to take, we wish for, and perhaps seek, the reassuring touch of guidance from God, from the universe, from tiktok or from within.

There are a great many ways people find guidance in this world, and some may be better than others.

I knew of someone who, when in the bookies, chose his horse according to where the fly settled on the runners and riders list.

Others may say of a decision, ‘It was an inner thing. It just felt right.’

Or perhaps they take advice of another, someone they trust.

A significant stumbling block with the guidance thing is ‘greener grass’ syndrome. It is written deep in the human psyche that things are better elsewhere – the grass is greener over the fence.

Here is the idea that if I could just change my situation/job/partner/energy supplier/pie maker I’d be a whole lot happier.

‘Green grass’ thinking is attractive. It plays into the narrative that everything and everyone else are the problem – and not me. (And suddenly, quite unbidden, Liz Truss arrives in my mind.)

There is the story from the 4th century of a monk who had issues with seven different monasteries he had lived in. All had proved disappointing. When he told his sad story to his new abbot, the abbot merely observed that the only link in the story of disappointment was himself. 

‘The greener grass’ fantasy is a dominant one for many; and one which can speak with a forked tongue. I knew someone who lived in London but longed to live in the Isle of Wight. Finally, after many years, their dream came true and they moved there.

‘Wonderful!’ we all exclaimed. ‘We’re so happy for you!’

But they were back in London in eighteen months. The grass wasn’t greener apparently.

No guidance is fool-proof for the future doesn’t exist. We do not step into a plan. We step into the unknown. We have today and maybe tomorrow.

And, of course, the fool is well able to manipulate evidence to arrive at the conclusion they want.

‘I was wondering about an art course, couldn’t make up my mind where – and then I saw a frog in the road and knew it had to be Paris.’

I recognise that fool in me.

But there is a form of guidance which perhaps doesn’t get the exposure it deserves: and that is negative guidance.

Negative guidance does not say ‘Yes’ to anything – it simply says ‘No’.

Negative guidance has no idea about the future; it offers no charming vision of how things will be. It merely says, ‘You cannot stay here.’

When your kitchen is on fire, you just know you have to leave. This is negative guidance. You are not thinking about some glossy future. You simply know you cannot stay.

Negative guidance doesn’t promise a brand new world of happiness, because life can be difficult, wherever we are.

But it does reassure us that we are on the right path; that whatever new world we face now, we had to leave our old one.  

And is Natalie Elphicke is a case in point?

However we perceive her as a person, (and you may have to calm your emotions) any MP who defects steps into an abyss of abuse. They are hated by almost everyone – both by their old team, (who feel betrayed and furious) their new team (who feel used and suspicious) and their electors, who feel confused and cheated on.  

Life is no bed of roses in their new world; everyone’s after them. But who knows? Maybe Elphicke just couldn’t stay.

She called the Tories ‘a byword for incompetence and division’. And while she was a player, and a thrower, in the shit show, maybe it’s a shit show she feels she now has to leave. 

No guidance is fool-proof for any of us. It is always a fragile invitation, with no guarantees. And people often say, as they journey on, ‘I wonder if I made the right decision.’

But if the truth is, ‘I couldn’t stay there, I was dying,’ – then we probably did. We could do nothing else.

And that, for now, is enough.