Now why didn’t I think of that?
It was my birthday earlier this week. In a sign of the times, this was the first year that I didn’t receive a single card through the post! I did get Text messages, emails Facetime and phone calls - so don’t be too upset for me (but you can send me an email if you REALLY want to!)
But it got me thinking ....
How do we communicate our emotions to our nearest and dearest? Words and pictures immediately come to mind, and I suppose that with the amazing ability to communicate these days, we have become incredibly efficient at expressing our affections in 140 characters or in a 5 second VImeo clip. So why is it that I hanker after the “old days” when people made cards and delivered them in person when they could; or posted them so that they’d be there on the day? The answer is that I am an emotional person and my emotions have a powerful impact on me - sometimes for the good, and sometimes not-so-good!
But there are hundreds of millions of people ‘out there’ who don’t rely on their emotions. They are much more “rational’ in their ways of thinking. So why the difference?
Well it appears that our brains hold the answer to all that.
According to many well credentialed experts, not only is our brain divided into two halves but they are also both physically and functionally different. Yet despite their differences, the two halves normally work in harmony thus allowing us to acheive to our potential.
The not-so-good news is that some experts believe that our “functional/rational” side of the brain has gained too much superiority and is threatening to drown the more “creative/reflective” side of our brain. And why is that so important?
Because if we do become more and more “rational” and “scientific” in our our decision making, then the “philosophical/creative” side of our societies will be squeezed out: which may account for the current level of debate on any subject where people retreat to their “fixed views,” whilst shouting insults at each other from the safety of “same thinkers.”
Which brings me on to writing and reading.
It is so important that we encourage our young folk to read a wide selection of books from fairy tales to the classics, from Sci-Fi to poetry, and as they grow let them explore religions, philosophy and other cultures. Our brains are incredible and well able to cope with it all. In fact, it has been suggested that there are more connections within the brain than there are particles in the WHOLE universe!
So the message is, let our brains soak up all those amazing facts, but let it also reflect on what it has learned and use that knowledge to the betterment of our whole society. And that means listening and growing from what you can learn from those who think differently, look different and believe different things. But in order to do that you must have an OPEN mind.
On the home front, between travel, birthdays and work, I have been able to take up the keyboard again and start back working on my latest book - Mentor -.
And some weeks are gold! (with apologies to the late, great John Denver)
Well this week has been one of those golden weeks.
Firstly, on a subject away from my books: some years back I founded a 180km walking trail called The Pilgrim Trail. Earlier this week I had a great meeting with the State Minister for Tourism here in W Australia - the Hon Mick Murray - about the future development of the Trail. Using political terminology, let's just say that the meeting was fruitful!
On the book front I was interviewed by the charming Sarah O'Neill from the Post Newspaper here in Perth about my recent travels with Mr Dickens to the Dickens library in London as well as taking 'him' to the Matterhorn! I look forward to hearing what she thought about my travels!
Today received an email from Michael Redhill, the much acclaimed Canadian poet and author, about help with my book Captain Scully RM, which has been in the making for the past 12 months. I am really excited about working with Michael and learning a great deal from him.
So all in all it's been an amazing week.
But my news pales into insignificance with the arrival of two new baby girls to young friends of ours, and the slow recovery of another little girl who was hit by a mystery illness which threatened to leave her paralysed from the waist down. Now that's what I call FANTASTIC news!
The first reward of writing is when you've finished that one last, self-edit, and you've sent your manuscript off to your professional editor for completion. For me that's Kerrie Schurr. (As my old rugby coach used to say "I'm tough, but I'm fair!" That's Kerrie, and I wouldn't have it any other way.)
That means that the third book in The Renaissance Brothers series is now going through the process of preparation for publication. The first book - The Butchers Boy - should be available well before Christmas - so spread the word!
Mr Dickens on the other hand continues to have an impact across the globe.
I received this email from a delightful lady in Sydney, and it makes me a very happy man. The intention of writing the book was not only to tell a great yarn, but to also introduce new readers to the great man himself, Charles Dickens, and to allow them to be moved by his stories, just as I was half a century ago.
Here's the email:
How are you doing? And "Mr Dickens"? Great, I hope.
Here´s just a brief update from the Eastern Front.
Your book triggered an all-consuming interest in "Old Charlie", as my cousins call him .................
I started by watching "Dickensian", a BBC production in 20 half-hour parts, available on DVD here. It was based on Dickens´ characters and plots, but all intertwined in a most creative way. Excellent storylines, costumes, atmosphere, acting. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Have you seen it?
Next came a raid at the Library, where I found shelf upon shelf with not only books BY Dickens but also a lot of literature ABOUT him: Scholarly analyses, biographies, highbrow critique, psychological dissections... Oh dear!
So I am reading, reading, reading. Just as well, because I am invited to join the illustrious NSW Dickens Society. Next meeting on October 14, and they seem to have big plans for me.
I also went for a walk in Centennial Park to see one of the world´s only three statues of Old Charlie. See separate email.
This is all your "fault" - and I thank you for it, earnestly.
What more can I say?
Wow - what a memorable time that was!
Maggie and I wanted to visit some very special people in our lives in England and following that, we we going to head off to Zermatt with the good lady's sister for a few days R&R - which turned out to be a bit of an oxymoron in the end (Hey, if you're going to visit the Matterhorn, then there's going to be a certain amount of physical activity involved!)
Our son Paul flew from Toronto to meet with us and to spice up our visit with his challenging catch phrase, "what's the plan?" So the recipe was there for some great times.
But you know what? It was even better than we'd dreamed of.
The top picture shows us with my brother Dave - a superhero if ever there was one - his wife Ann and son (on the left) Chris. Words fail me when it comes to explaining how Dave's coped with his condition over so many years and how Ann has been his rock during that time. The lady in the nun's habit is .... A NUN! (sorry, no prizes there!) She's Maggie's aunt and is 96 and still counting! Paul is showing her how to use WhatsApp! Talk about 'new tunes on old fiddles'. She has been a teacher all her working life and now mentors some of the ex students - even though they are now grandparents and some of them in their 70's!
Naturally, on the trip I wanted to introduce Mr Dickens to as many people as I could so below is a slide show of some of the people and places I took him.
I cannot thank the team at Firefly in Zermatt enough for their great hospitality and genuine friendship - if you ever get lucky enough to go there, believe me, you won't be disappointed! Also, the team at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London - you too showed what the meaning of excellence of service can mean.
So now I'm back in Perth and preparing to finishing editing the latest two books in The Renaissance Brothers series. But it's the memory of the people whom I've met in the last few weeks that will keep me inspired. I hope you meet some of the hidden heroes and secret saints that inhabit your life too.