Negative Capability - the view from 5 floors up

Thursday 26th March 7.59pm in the Wyndford estate, Glasgow. The clapping begins… I join in and there it is …the feeling. ‘We’re alive, how beautiful, we are all still alive.’  And there’s the gratitude. ‘Thank you to everyone who is helping make that happen..’ How quickly things have  changed. Two weeks ago we were planning our next round of classes and I was worried about how little publicity I had done. 

This past week has seen us consider how quickly we miss the touch of our friends and family, how precious being part of a crowd is and how online really isn’t the same as being in the same room. While the dance of the 2 metre separation is funny,  and the half million strong volunteer army-amazing, there is still an implacable truth, I can’t face yet. 

The centre may have closed last week but the work of the team has continued to be as busy as ever. We, like everyone else in the world, began planning what we would transfer online. After 7 days of zoom meetings, phone calls, WhatsApp groups and FaceTime, we are now not so sure. 

When I calmed down enough to meditate, I caught the thread of a question: is all this activity of mine yet another expression of anxiety about what’s happening? The drive in me to just keep going, is a strong response to shock. I just keep going. If there is a problem -fix it. If I find an immovable force -I go round it. I plan and make things happen quickly.  Speed has been a useful survival skill, that adapted itself into a much praised leadership skill. Useful in the acute phase of a crisis, but not so much, I feel, when facing this prolonged period of trouble. 

Its not business as usual. The world is changing rapidly. This break is not an extended snow day or very long holiday-a chance to take up a new hobby. It’s pure uncertainty. 

And no-one knows what’s going to happen next. 

My whole being craves slow down, to allow the over excited nervous system to calm itself and to turn to face now.  It’s quiet again and the city is breathing in the dark. I can hear my pulse. 

I need to stop, to pause, to let what has happened, what is happening, land.

I can turn to face the mountain, the implacable monstrous mountain. The mountain can’t be seen in the news, nor in the blogs, nor online, nor in constant speculation about how great or how awful the distant future or next week is going to be.

Its in the body, the body that’s connected to earth. Now.


"Negative Capability- when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason."  Keats (1817)