BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

16 October 2014

Shetland: Finally Home


BBC Homepage
Scotland
» Island Blogging
Northern Isles

Orkney
Burray & South Ronaldsay
Eday
Flotta
Graemsay
Hoy
North Ronaldsay
Papa Westray
Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre
Sanday
Shapinsay
Stronsay
The Mainland
Westray

Shetland
Bressay
Burra
Fair Isle
Fetlar
Foula
Muckle Roe
Papa Stour
Skerries
The Mainland
Trondra
Unst
Whalsay
Yell

Argyll & Clyde Islands
Western Isles

Contribute
House Rules

From the BBC
I.B.H.Q.
 

Contact Us

Gift from the Sea

This is some art I made, inspired by Anne Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. If you read the book, you will find a piece titled Channeled Whelk. When I first read it in a college, the words took me aback. They rang true.

"The shell in my hand is deserted. painting inspired by Anne Lindbergh’s Gift from the SeaIt once housed a whelk, a snail-like creature, and then temporarily, after the death of the first occupant, a little hermit crab, who has run away, leaving his tracks behind him like a delicate vine on the sand. He ran away, and left me his shell. It was once a protection to him. I turn the shell in my hand, gazing into the wide open door from which he made his exit. Had it become an encumbrance? Why did he run away? Did he hope to find a better home, a better mode of living?"

Her words bring memories. Twice in my life I have had to discard all of my possessions, save what I could put in my backpack. First, when I left my parents house and then when I moved back home to Shetland, from America.
These experiences changed me, as a person. When you prune your wardrobe down to what you can carry, you’re forced to see your own vanity. Once you’ve seen it you cannot go back down that path.

“One does not need a closet-full," Lindbergh goes on, "only a small suitcase-full. And what a relief it is! Less taking up and down of hems, less mending and--best of all--less worry about what to wear. One finds one is shedding not only clothes--but vanity.”

When you are on your death bed, do you think you will wish that you had spend just one more day at the office? “If only I’d made it to upper management...” will you utter on your last breath? I was dismayed at how many of my college classmates in Iowa were getting degrees in things they had no real intrest in; for the money. Fewer and fewer go to college for the pure joy of learning. I look around and everyone has the same goal in life, it seems: to acquire more possessions.

There have been studies about lotto winners and their happiness. Does money make you happy? Psychologist Cary Cooper, who has done reserch on that very topic, concludes: "...those who are dissatisfied with their lives beforehand are not rescued by money."

There will always be a bigger house and a TV with a bigger screen. What are their real worth? We sell our lives for wages; both too survive and to feed our addiction to possessions. No matter how much people have, we always want more; human nature perhaps. But where does true happiness come from?



“The bare beauty of this channeled whelk”
Anne Lindbergh says, “tells me one answer, and perhaps a first step, is in simplification of life.”







SOURCES:

"Anne Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea" 22 September 2007.
[ http://www.spiritsite.com/writing/annlin/part2.shtml ]

"Can a lottery win make you happy?" 22 September 2007.
[ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3479213.stm ]


Posted on Shetland: Finally Home at 15:26

Comments

""IF"" is a very big word

carol from over here


It's the things one can do with the money that can bring happiness, not money per se. Its usually people who have none who insist it's not contributory to happiness. Who loves to be poor?

Flying Cat from just asking like...


Money does not make happiness ... a truth that we know but few acknowledge. I sold up a lifetime and crossed the Tasman with a few plastic containers ... and what I gave away I never think about ... possessions [except a good book or three] are truly immaterial. In fact material possessions can hold one back from discovering their true self.

Plaid from transplanted over the ocean


It was Janis Joplin who shouted "Freedom is having nothing left to lose," which is rather sad.# And another wag said that those who claim money cannot buy happiness have never met a black lab puppy # Money does not guarantee happiness, but I can assure you that poverty is not pleasant, and abject poverty is downright miserable. # Paradise lost and all that: whoever said that living, or earning a living, was meant to be easy? The whole question is one of balance, and where the balance is depends often on the luck of the draw (ask the Sultan of Dubai or Qatar, ask the illegal migrant who just waddled across the Rio Grande, ask FC or me ...). # As to Plaid, I don't know whether finding one's "true self" is such a great enterprise. This rejection of material possessions (which the rejector often does not have in abundance anyway) is often justified by the claim that possessions prevent one from finding happiness, the true self. There is often an accompanying and cloying self centeredness to this rejection which I find somehow embarassing if not downright perverse # Personally, I could use a few billions and I would find oodles of satisfaction using them in the spirit Bill Gates and Warren Buffet (to name the familiar philanthropists) are using theirs.

mjc from NM, USA


It was Janis Joplin who shouted "Freedom is having nothing left to lose," which is rather sad.# And another wag said that those who claim money cannot buy happiness have never met a black lab puppy # Money does not guarantee happiness, but I can assure you that poverty is not pleasant, and abject poverty is downright miserable. # Paradise lost and all that: whoever said that living, or earning a living, was meant to be easy? The whole question is one of balance, and where the balance is depends often on the luck of the draw (ask the Sultan of Dubai or Qatar, ask the illegal migrant who just waddled across the Rio Grande, ask FC or me ...). # As to Plaid, I don't know whether finding one's "true self" is such a great enterprise. This rejection of material possessions (which the rejector often does not have in abundance anyway) is often justified by the claim that possessions prevent one from finding happiness, the true self. There is often an accompanying and cloying self centeredness to this rejection which I find somehow embarassing if not downright perverse # Personally, I could use a few billions and I would find oodles of satisfaction using them in the spirit Bill Gates and Warren Buffet (to name the familiar philanthropists) are using theirs.

mjc from NM, USA


It never rains, it pours.

mjc from NM, USA


Janis said no such thang. She sang words written by Kris Kristofferson---"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." Line one, verse two even in New Mexico. New Mexico revisionism must die!

TiredFather from Sebastopol Lyric Werks


oof!!

carol from over here


Wouldn't it be nice...I'd buy a new liffboat for the RNLI - on condition it was named 'FlyingCat&Marmers'...a cat can dream...

Flying Cat from harpooning a bandana


You are right, TiredFather. My memory is not what it used to be. Too much sun ...

mjc from NM, USA


Releasing the Cows (Told by Master Thich Nhat Hanh) One day the Buddha was sitting in the wood with thirty or forty monks. They had an excellent lunch and they were enjoying the company of each other. There was a farmer passing by and the farmer was very unhappy. He asked the Buddha and the monks whether they had seen his cows passing by. The Buddha said they had not seen any cows passing by. The farmer said, "Monks, I'm so unhappy. I have twelve cows and I don't know why they all ran away. I have also a few acres of a sesame seed plantation and the insects have eaten up everything. I suffer so much I think I am going to kill myself. The Buddha said, "My friend, we have not seen any cows passing by here. You might like to look for them in the other direction." So the farmer thanked him and ran away, and the Buddha turned to his monks and said, "My dear friends, you are the happiest people in the world. You don't have any cows to lose. If you have too many cows to take care of, you will be very busy. "That is why, in order to be happy, you have to learn the art of cow releasing (laughter). You release the cows one by one. In the beginning you thought that those cows were essential to your happiness, and you tried to get more and more cows. But now you realize that cows are not really conditions for your happiness; they constitute an obstacle for your happiness. That is why you are determined to release your cows." "Buddhism Study and Practice Group" [http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/clubs/buddhism/story/index.html]

Donna from finally home in Shetland


I hope Moo is reading this... Don't the monks rely on others to fill their bowls with food, so someone must suffer from an excess of cows on their behalf, in order to be able to afford it? (Four trailer-loads of 25 years of junk from attic to dump just had the same happy effect as cow-letting-go here at Rolling Acres...)

Flying Cat from watching the milkers accross the road


Good to know you have cleared out the attic, FC. I thought you were keeping the stuff believing it might be providing insulation. # As to Moo, neither she nor Erland is letting go of the cows or Prince Chan. Shucks, the head monk might next suggest the departure of Moo's sheep. # FC's point about the monks depending on others is well taken. # Donna's lesson is also on the mark. Not much different really from the remark in the Gospels about the birds who don't rely on granaries (squirrels and chipmunks accumulate, of course).# What Donna and others do forget is that: no surplus means no developed culture, no advanced learning. No surplus: no research, no mri, no latest cancer medicines etc. Someone has to produce that surplus. Saffron robes, black or white robes, all have requirements: if they don't provide for themselves, then it becomes the responsibility of others. The simple life is fine, but who is paying for the root canals, the services of the orthondist, spaying the cats? # Yet, Donna's point is well taken. But again, it all comes down to balance, moderation.

mjc from NM, USA


The Greeks ha words for it,"Moderation in all things," written on the walls at the Delphic Oracle. Where there were scores of priestesses variuos treasuries and other displays of conspicuous consumption. Have you noticed that even to this day greek orthodox clergy always appear well fed?

Hyper-Borean from The Oracle


I was really admiring mjc's awfully well-written comment until he gratuitously threw in cat-you-know-whatting...probably just when he thought a cat's attention span was wearing thn. Hah!

Flying Cat from legsXed


MJC - good comment. Moderation! This idea is expressed as the 'Middle Way' in the Pali Canon scriptures. "Monks, these two extremes ought not to be practiced by one who has gone forth from the household life. (What are the two?) There is addiction to indulgence of sense-pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy, and unprofitable; and there is addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable. Avoiding both these extremes, the Tathagata (the Perfect One) has realized the Middle Path; it gives vision, gives knowledge, and leads to calm, to insight, to enlightenment and to Nibbana." Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta of the Pali Canon (mouthfull...) is available translated online. [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn56/sn56.011.piya.html]

Donna from Finally home in Shetland


Oops just been getting my fingers transposed again.

Hyper-Borean from The Oralce


Hyper-B. - no need to get so exercised, simply because the Greeks have priestesses and the Church you and I were confirmed in don't. As to the rotundness of the Greek Orthodox clergy, our clergy (the male dominated Catholic Church) does not seem to be suffering from inanition either. Come on, Hyper-B., let's give the full bearded and wel- fed Greek Orthodox clergy a break (so long as they stay on Mount Athos, eh?!).

mjc from NM, USA


Not so exercised about the philosophy mjc, i do believe that "Moderation in all things," is wisdom. My problem is with us humans who, in the main, seem unwilling or unable to pratice those philosophies. I might preach moderation but I often fail to practice it for instance; and some of my immoderation is directed towards those who take over philosophies and profit, often inordinately, thereby. The Delphic temple complex was hugely rich which, to me, belies the call for moderation. My dig at the greek clergy was simply to illustrate continuity. I could as easily have picked any number of other religions, sects or cults.

Hyper-Borean from The Pierian Spring


Hyper-Borean -- good point. It is easy to talk about these philosophies, but a challange to follow them.

Donna from Shetland


no one even bothered to mention how beautiful the painting is! good work donna! post more paintings!

Trooker from wastside


If I'd known it was a painting I would have sid "very fine indeed", but, in this digital age, I thought it was a Photoshopped photo...Which, I hasten to add, doesn't make it any less attractive...bl**dy h*ll this is a minefield...

Flying Cat from not doctoring my photos...much...


Someone blogged about this blog, and the subsequent comments... I'm chuffed! http://www.laplandica.com/2007/10/07/having-visited-shetland%E2%80%A6/#comment-43

donna from shetland .. finally home


the best is how laplandica destroys the cat's comments --- ha! no one ever has blogged about --my-- weblog.

trooker from wastside


Is it worth a visit?

Flying Cat from curiosity cott




This blog is now closed and we are no longer accepting new posts.



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy