I am writing this as I sit under an olive tree in the Andalusian mountains taking refuge from the hot sunshine. Holidays are great for relaxing, for stepping off the treadmill, for re-energising and for me an opportunity to really reconnect with myself and my family and to take in all that is around me with a curious mind and inquiring eyes.
And there has been an abundance of that. I marvelled at the crimson coloured Alhambra and its exquisite stucco work, tiling and decorations and the hours and patience that it must have taken to create such intricate work. It proudly stands against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada which on this hot August day still had a sprinkling of snow on it. Through its time, the Alhambra has served different purposes- as a fortress in the 9th century and later as a palace and a small ‘medina’ (city).
Of spectacular beauty is the Sierra de Grazalema in which we were fortunate to see 17 griffon vultures circling above us. This natural park has the largest nesting colonies of griffon vultures in Europe as well as Egyptian Vultures and Golden Eagles. Of great importance is the changes that take place in the spring and autumn when it becomes an important staging area for the huge number of migrant birds moving between Africa and Europe.
I am reminded how far man has evolved over time as I witnessed the basic charcoal scratching of zigzags and stick men depicting archers hunting their prey and the well formed drawings of horses, goats and fish. These cave paintings found in the Cueva de la Pilata, date from approximately 25,000 years ago in the upper Palaeolithic period!
My thinking of change culminates at an exhibition of Escher’s work which depicts his observations of reality and fantasy and I am fascinated how he manipulates space, time and perspective. In particular, Metamorphosis which utilises geometry and in which black and white squares turn to reptiles which in turn transforms into hexagons and metamorphoses into birds, fish, city…
Do humans metamorphose? I believe so as I reflect on the different roles that I have played over time –girlfriend, wife, mother, aunt; neighbour, friend, confidante; graduate, manager, lecturer, coach; lifelong learner, director, governor …and hopefully more to come!
As humans, we have the ability to change and transform ourselves. Whilst there are changes such as in physical appearance and in our cognitive abilities as we age, we also have the ability to change our purpose and the direction of our lives, to self improve, to better understand, to bring about change within ourselves. For some, such changes often comes about through critical incidents such as redundancy, illness, the loss of a close one…For others, reflection, self awareness, feedback and an honest appraisal of oneself can also be the impetus for change.
In our lives we play many parts and the words of Shakepeare comes to mind:
All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players
And they have their exits and their entrances (‘As you like it’)
Some parts we choose to play, some parts we may think that we ‘have to’ ‘ought to’ or are ‘forced’ to play. In such circumstances we still have a choice in how we approach, think and feel in those situations. I am reminded of Viktor E. Frankl’s words “ the last of human freedoms: the ability to chose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances” and “ when we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves”
What roles are you playing and how are you approaching them?