You’ve been framed

Newsletter: April 2024

Greetings again, and I suppose how this finds you comes down to the framing.

And if you have a moment, I’ll explain. Imagine you buy a picture, or maybe paint one yourself. There’s a frame which is appropriate for this work of art, which sets it off, which blesses it, somehow renders it more truthful.

Frames matter. They are part of the picture experience. We’ve all seen frames that trap a painting, ignore a painting, or tell an entirely different story. The glory is diminished.

And so clearly, how we frame a picture – or our lives – is of consequence. These are both works of art and deserve to be held in the truth and care of resonance.


We may tend to frame our lives negatively. Perhaps it’s what we do; what we’ve always done, it’s our default position. Perhaps we are anxious or catastrophise or self-punish with self-blame. We look at our lives and see only the poor decisions, difficult days, the experience of inequity and the missed or forbidden opportunities. Our favourite phrase is ‘if only’, and our starting point, discontent.

This dismal frame may seal the deal by pointing us to the lives of others. Social media is particularly good at this. It offers endless examples of those who appear to achieve more success, receive more acclaim, have more hair, have less worries, go to more parties, make more money, live in happier families, own a nicer house, and enjoy better health.

Message? Your life is a Festival of Failure.

But when we frame our life with discontent – and it’s easily done – we do it no justice, and we sell it short, daily. We neither notice nor remember the good and the fortunate and the fun and the kindness and the achievement and the colour along the way. We live a half-truth… and a half-truth is no truth.

Our life is a living, breathing and changing work of art. It is contains many shades of darkness and light. It is a speckled life and deserves a frame that resonates with the whole of the story.

I was speaking with someone who has faced significant difficulty. It has taken its toll, shaping them in a manner, ‘ever the victim’. But they’ve recently become aware of just how much colour (their word) has been in their life, how much goodness they have known and how far they have come. They realise the ‘woe is me, I’m a victim’ frame is a tedious and life-denying half-truth.

‘I don’t want the negative to define me anymore,’ is their response. They have decided upon a different frame for their life; a frame that is more truthful, more resonant with their entire reality. And their entire reality is a wonderful and difficult and developing work of art.

And moving effortlessly on, Meister Eckhart was a good framer of life stories. It is one of the reasons why I like him. He helped me frame mine. And I’ll be leading a retreat at Sheldon in August, based around his words and ideas, called ‘Counsellor, disturber, friend’.

The details are here:

Meister Eckhart: Counsellor, disturber, friend

And in a feature which should really be called ‘All our yesterdays’, here’s a video interview I did with Iain McNay in 2010 (you were probably still at school and may have missed it). We reflect on consciousness and stuff like that. It may or may not be for you.

Simon Parke, ‘One Minute Mystic’: Interview by Iain McNay

But however and whenever and wherever you read this (and we are pretty scattered) it arrives with my best wishes as, like a painting in the hands of a master, your life work unfolds. To be honest, no frame really does it justice. It’s just too alive.

Simon x

Photo by Jessica Ruscello