This poem arrived in stages, I finally completed it today.
I hope that it says what it needs to say - to whoever needs to hear it.
Happiness and peace of mind
were only for the few.
My faith was seldom quite so blind
as when I wished for you.
To follow in a righteous way
and walk into the sun,
to find new rainbows every day
and stars when day was done.
To read the books that soothe the mind,
and savour every word.
To look for rhymes we'd never find
and sounds we've never heard.
So I wrote a song of love for you,
I wanted you to sing,
the tune, though flawed, is one we knew,
I gave you everything.
From earth below to skies above,
I knew you from the start.
I met you in my dreams, my love.
You live within my heart.
© Jason Endfield 2017 All rights reserved
This week the newspapers triumphantly announced that we can all once again eat cod without feeling any guilt. Cod had been so overfished in recent years that stocks were dangerously low and it was no longer considered sustainable, that is to say it was not breeding quickly enough to replenish its numbers. Now it seems that, due to stricter quotas in cod fishing in recent years, the cod population has recovered.
So, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and once again eat our fish and chips or fish fingers without any guilt, just like the newspapers this week told us, right?
Well, no not right.
With a little bit of research, I've discovered that amongst the other fish and sealife that is regularly scooped up by fishing vessels along with the cod (this is known as the 'bycatch') there are a number of other creatures including at least one fish species that is endangered.
I'd never heard of the Redfish before, although it is itself a popular food fish in some countries.
This is a remarkable family of fish that has many sub species, including the Golden Redfish (scientific name: Sebastes norvegicus) that can live to an astonishing 75 years of age and inhabits the deep waters of the North Atlantic.
And the future of many Redfish is under threat as they are caught partly as a bycatch casualty of cod and haddock fisheries.
A part of the problem seems to be that the various sub species of Redfish are difficult to identify and are known under a plethora of overlapping common names, leading to confusion in isolating exactly which species are being caught and which are under threat.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN for short) has placed two varieties, Acadian Redfish (S. fasciatus) and Ocean Perch (S. mentella) on its list of threatened species.
Currently categorised as 'threatened', there is only one more step on the classification ladder, that labelled 'critically endangered', before these Redfish become extinct in the wild. So if populations of these fish are not allowed to increase dramatically then this classification might suggest that they could be lost to us altogether.
The 'problem' for these placid fish is that they are slow to reproduce and grow and are also a source of food for other fish. This, together with human intervention, has put the species under pressure.
And it doesn't of course help that many species of fish, including the poor Redfish, are caught in large numbers by trawlers along with the newly 'sustainable' cod.
Although the US recently declared its population of Acadian Redfish (S. fasciatus) as 'fully rebuilt' due to conservation efforts since it was first listed as threatened, some sources say that the Atlantic population of this Redfish has declined a shocking 99% since the 1970s.
So, to sum up, please remember that it is all just a little bit too simplistic for the newspapers and television to tell us to go and eat cod guilt-free, it's not that black and white.
As you tuck into your cod and chips, bear in mind the fate of the Redfish.
Something about this whole 'sustainability' label smells very fishy indeed....
I'd never really explored the concept of reincarnation, as a theory it always seemed a little too 'convenient' to me. Not that I would disrespect in any way those for whom reincarnation was a belief. But coming back again in another body? Well, it always felt a bit too much like wishful thinking.
Yet there has always been something I never could explain and that stirs the strongest feeling in me, albeit fleeting, and it's a difficult one to describe to those who haven't felt it. It's so transient and impossible to grasp when it happens.
Sometimes when I see a scene, perhaps in a photograph, on the television or even in a dream - for me it's usually a shoreline all strewn with seaweed and rocks, (but it has also been a tiny cobbled street) - I have an overwhelming sense of knowing that place, or a place just like it.
Now it's not just a simple case of deja vu, that's something I know well and it's definitely not that, no it's something that tugs at my innermost 'gut' feelings, a surge of recognition that leads to a longing for this place I remember. A place that I have never been. And it's always puzzled me.
This has happened to me far too many times to be dismissed as a brain blip or imagination. This is a very real experience, indeed something so vivid and poignant that it produces a wave of emotion akin to going home after a long absence.
Whether this is somewhere I remember from a previous life I couldn't say of course but I think it is definitely somewhere my soul yearns to be. I like to believe I will see it and reach it and then I will know I am home. Wherever that home is.
Interesting to me is the Jewish mystical (Kabbalistic) take on the whole reincarnation thing, it's hugely complicated but basically the Kabbalah teaches that Gilgul (the 'transmigration of souls', the closest thing to reincarnation to which the scholars refer) does not involve the return of the actual person, but simply the re-using of (parts of) the soul. So these fragments of the soul are 'recycled' and each of us may have elements of other souls within us. That, it seems to me, is why we may have received memories from other lifetimes.
So the memories that I recall so intensely in these fleeting moments of recognition, when I see my coastal scene or that cobbled street, do in a way make sense to me. And I have always believed, or hoped, that one day I will arrive at this place that I remember from some other time or dimension.
And what of the faces I recall from dreams? Those people I meet and interact with in flights of the soul during sleep. Are these too fragments of some remembered time?
I have always been drawn to the sea and yet in spite of searching my whole life, I have never found the scene that I recognise and remember, the one that I can 'feel', the place my very soul seems to yearn for - that particular shoreline is so very evocative to me and the memory so strong that I know when I do arrive there it will be so completely overwhelming and so fulfilling that I will have no reason to continue, to go any further. I suppose it's my final destination. Or I may have to face the fact that the yearning will continue beyond this life, in another body, seeking, searching, remembering until such a time as the journey is done and I can stop looking.
So, for now then I suppose this wandering spirit will just remember and wonder - and hope.
Soul Flights, Dreams and the Kabbalah....
Okay, this is going to sound like a totally whacky post to some of you but I'm going to write it anyway. I was thinking about those rare dreams in which I can fly. They are the most beautiful dreams to have, always lucid, that is to say I am conscious and aware in the dream of being able to control what is going on and how the dream will play out.
When I find myself in such a dream, I can just take off at will, and then use a kind of propelling motion to travel above the trees and look down at the ground. Often I am flying over streets full of people who don't seem to be able to fly. It is a wonderful feeling of freedom.
I can remember having the flying dreams since childhood when I think I had many more of them. These days I have few but when they happen it is very enjoyable.
So I was wondering what they meant, what they are. Whether they have a deep psychological meaning, (perhaps, as the dream dictionaries will tell you, they speak of my need to take more chances in my waking life), or whether they allude to something else.
And my instinct tells me that they are a kind of a memory, or more probably an 'echo' of somewhere else I have been, or will go.
When I am flying in a dream, it seems that I can go anywhere at all, given time, but time itself is the problem.....I always wake up before I have travelled very far.
They don't feel like dreams, they don't compare to the other dreams I have which are a much less tangible and sensory experience.
So I've come to the possible and controversial conclusion that when I have one of these 'dreams', my soul is actually leaving my physical body. It's a well known theory often referred to as 'astral travel' or 'astral projection' which sounds like something from a science fiction comic strip but which is actually a phenomenon documented in cultures as widely separated as the ancient Egyptians and the Inuit. And many in between. So it isn't just a 'new age' notion or a fashionable invention, it's a known 'thing'. And if the tag 'astral projection' smacks of something a little 'out there' (which of course it literally could be in fact) then I prefer to use the term that some use for this journeying outside the body, 'soul travel'.
I was keen, being Jewish, to know whether this soul travel is recognised in Judaism. I was pleased to find that it is but it's a confusing picture. To actively pursue the pratcise is forbidden it seems but the idea of the soul exisitng separately from the body (referred to as Neshama) is acknowledged. So I would say that a lucid 'dream' that occurs without the conscious intention of the dreamer and ends up in soul travel must be some kind of natural state surely? And if it is natural and involuntary then how can it be forbidden?
Some Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) scholars warn that astral projection (as they refer to it) is 'irrelevant or a trap' and yet it doesn't seem to conflict with the idea of a soul apart from the body. I suppose the difference might be in actually consciously setting out to experience the separation. And I've also heard to the contary, that soul flight is a reward reserved only for those who have studied Kabbalah and reached a higher spiritual awareness, only then can they can engage in flights of the soul.
But still there is confusion because I am also told that in the Zohar (the major work of Jewish mysticism) it says that fifty nine of the sixty parts of our soul leave the body during sleep, so that only one part remains to sustain us physically. It doesn't say that these statistics are exclusive to those who have studied but suggests that it applies to us all. That's quite an exiciting - and scary - thought especially when there are some who maintain that while the soul is outside the body, demons can enter....
But that's folklore, isn't it?
If one accepts that soul travel is a real state of being then it raises many more questions than answers.
But regardless, I find the concept quite comforting. The very thought of being able to take off and go anywhere wihtout the limitations of the physical body is incredibly liberating – and opens the mind to the idea that anything is possible and that the possibilities are endless.
That's why I love having flying dreams. Not only do they feel amazing and freeing, they also open me up to fresh ideas, experiences and thoughts. And that might be because during the dream I have been somewhere else, a place where time doesn't exist and where freedom is the natural state of being. Maybe one day I'll find myself there and decide to stay....
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