Twenty-first Century Soul
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Integral practices for soulful and creative living
Here's what people are saying!: "I think this book is going to stay with me forever. The kind of book that I will pick up and read sections, pick up and immerse myself in. The balance and purity make me calm and yet excite me at the same time. I picked your book up at Bath Artisan market. I read the page on Childhood and welled up - I think it is a wonderfully written, thought provoking marvel". (Dawn J)
Soul Manifestos and Pieces of Joy
Steve Thorp’s small, poetic essays are written against the backdrop of conflict in modern culture, politics, economics, ecology and psychology. Each piece stands alone but together the collection coalesces into a gentle, intuitive polemic that seeps into the consciousness. The small manifestos are written for wonder, wisdom, joy, love, and openness - and for the common good. They describe an alternative and grounded response to the material world, a way in which we might live our lives with depth and soul. This is a thought provoking collection and a whole-hearted approach to the crisis facing humans on earth.
Each section in this beautifully designed sofback begins with a poem, and the book is illustrated throughout with Ruth Thorp's evocative line drawings. Find more of her work at www.ruththorpstudio.co.uk
"The pattern of ordinary life, in which so much stays the same from one day
to the next, disguises the fragility of its fabric".
(Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hind, The Dark Mountain Manifesto, 2009).
This feels like an ordinary time. The Spring weather in Pembrokeshire is bright and balmy – the seas warming. Each day, as we drive over the hills, the sea unfolds in the distance. We shop when we need to and I cut wood to feed the fire. It feels simple enough, yet behind it all, storm clouds are looming. This existence is embedded in the fragility of modern life that Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hind refer to in their elegant and ferocious ‘Dark Mountain Manifesto’.
Winter here is especially stormy, and that is its charm. We always know that Spring will come, the flowers bursting out on the headlands in May. Yet the storm brewing behind this fragile, ordinary life may be a hurricane we will all have to face. When it hits there may be no calm and mellow re-birth to follow.
We know in our bones, most of us, that the lifestyle of consumerism we have been encouraged to live is unsustainable. This makes our lives far from ordinary. Over the past two centuries, the drive towards global consumption has led to barren landscapes, fragmented communities and disconnected individuals.
One psychological upshot of the centuries of fire, steel, concrete and plastic is a deep despair, carried within us, at the loss of connection with our planet. However we only have to walk a headland, river bank or forest to get a hint of what is truly, wonderfully ordinary. It is remarkable that this connection with our world is still alive inside us, despite the efforts of generations of industrialists, politicians and their apologists with their spoil, spill and double-speak.
Our psychological ‘therapy culture’ can be seen as another way of civilising us; keeping us enclosed in our ordinary lives. Whilst we are helped to manage, cope and sometimes heal through ‘proven’ therapeutic interventions, the dimension of despair located in our disconnection from the world is seldom acknowledged.
We are not one-dimensional creatures, programmed to respond in predictable ways. Each of our characters has been ‘over-determined’: emerging from a myriad of influences that coalesce uniquely in every one of us. And between the layers of each self, lies the metaphorical energy of ‘soul’. Through its mediation, we derive our capacity for wonder, imagination, connection and joy: necessary counterpoints to the bleak, human givens – despair, isolation, meaninglessness, loss and conflict – that can taint our lives.
In times of crisis, many things crumble. However, two things always flower and flourish: the creative human spirit and the natural soul of the world that arises from our wild, beautiful planet. Existential knowledge of the challenges we face robs us of the comfort of certainty and meaning, yet frees us to be more fully human: to face anxiety and fear and embrace joy and fulfilment, as the scales of our nature are balanced.
This, then, is a manifesto of the soul: a psychological, spiritual and material re-balancing of the world within and without – so we can start to do something that makes a difference.