Sunday, 26 June 2016

[The] time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted -John Lennon

Today is the last day of my holiday. Up until last Friday, the past week has been spectacularly relaxing.  Every day the sun has had her hat on. I've been able to walk barefoot, and worn just shorts and t-shirt (and before you ask, yes Mum, I did use sun protection). I don't like football, so thanks to EURO 2016 the TV remained turned off. Unusually for me, I refused to look at my work emails. I've really relished the first 2 hours of each day, sitting in bed reading novels, and have averaged a book a day. I did give in to the occasional Twitter itch, but have largely ignored social media. Instead, I've enjoyed the opportunity for face to face conversations with W and our friends over a meal or a drink.

Unlike in the 1975 EU referendum, when I had to use a polling station to vote, in the 2016 version I was able to vote by post. As such I didn’t follow last week’s on-going debate. I even chose to keep the TV and radio off last Friday morning. Consequentially, when I got up at 07.00 and turned on my phone, my Twitter account pinged like an out of control sonar radar. I did, however, an hour later, watch the live screening of David Cameron’s very sad, proud and dignified resignation speech. As I noted in last week’s blog (see here) I choose not to engage in political commentary, although last weeks events really tested this resolve, and has left me feeling very guilty!

Choosing not to comment on the outcome of the referendum and my constructive doing nothing (although some would say disruptive) last week, means I’ve also not been looking on-line for stories and ideas to spark my thinking around this week's blog. However, walking on the beach or up in the hills gave me plenty of time to think. But much of that time was spent recharging my mindfulness 'resilience store' and reconnecting with the wonderful sights, smells and sounds Mother Nature has to share. This included watching an adder sunbathing on the path to the beach.

In the absence of a political comment or two, I guess I could write about the ubiquitous questions I have been asked twice this week, and often get asked when eating with others for the first time – how long have I been a vegetarian? and, why did I become a vegetarian? It’s been a long time, over 40 years. Originally I had a real problem over the amount of land it takes to feed one cow and how that same land could feed 4 families. I could go on to say that in 2012, the UK ranked 22nd in the world for meat consumption, and that on average people in the UK consume nearly 86kg of meat each year. On average this tends to be 22kg being beef, 28kg pork, 30kg poultry and the rest being goat!?!

I could say that 22% of the world arable land is given over to graze beef cattle, or that 40% of food grown in the world today is feed for animals. This figure is likely to increase to 60% over the next 20 years. Although we also know (from numerous studies) that red and processed meat consumption is closely linked with colon cancer, and consumption of these meats is also associated with increases in cardiovascular disease and a rise in the total mortality levels – equally, a similar number of studies have shown that diets high in fruit and vegetables reduce all of these risks.

But, the impact question of our people's decision to leave the EU keeps coming to the fore in my mind. Friday saw a record number of emails in my in-box, and tweets in my time line. These emails and tweets could be divided into roughly 4 groups – those from people who were ecstatic with the outcome; or those devastated with the decision; emails containing 'reassuring' advice about the immediate future; and those where there was much speculation on what the future might hold. Yesterday saw a steadying of communication, but I am sure today's papers will be full of further analysis, speculation, recriminations and celebration.

I think that my uneasy feeling of guilt arises from a sense that while I've been enjoying myself and resolutely not wanting to engage in the post-referendum clamour and high expressed emotional debate, I'm somehow betraying the voice I've been given. There is however a countervailing voice. It comes from my colleague Donna, who in a tweet last Friday captured the position well – she said 'the EU decision is huge. We can't change the outcome, but we can choose how we respond to it, and build a changing and collaborative future'. Wise words - and the choices are all ours. I’m back to the office tomorrow and I’m looking forward to finding others to work with in creating our new future together.