The Way of the Willow

A man floats on a big heavy log down a brown river so wide he cannot see the sides. The river flows rapidly but to the man it appears to move slowly because he cannot see the sides of the river.

It flows so strongly that the man can only move the log small degrees to the right or left by paddling vigorously with his arms. He cannot paddle the log backwards.

So is our ability to affect change for ourselves in the universe. The course is set.


Be like the Willow.

The Way of the Willow


It seems whenever I open a certain type of newspaper some academic or other is predicting the demise of capitalism. Since it usurped feudalism a couple or so hundred years ago the writing has been on the wall for this particular brand of world order. The fundamental problem being that it relies on consumption and at the same time market competition dictates that fewer and fewer people can be involved in the production i.e. investment in machines means less people working and earning and therefore less people able to buy the products. This anomaly had been solved temporarily by the availability of cheap credit; a plan which went spectacularly wrong in the financial crisis of 2008.

So what now for the future. A future where many of us having received an good education to degree level but now find ourselves serving coffee or pizzas or staring at a computer screen for eight hours a day and earning not much more than our contempories did 20 or 30 years ago?
Well in an equitable society the assumption is that wealth should be redistributed through a progressive tax system. With austerity and a Tory government determined to rein this back it is time to look again at what we determine as wealth.

What is wealth and what is done with it? Generally it is considered to be money. What is done with this money? Again generally I would argue that this wealth is converted into space; the wealthy buy space. They buy big houses, big gardens, farms, parkland and , most annoyingly, big cars.

It feels that our country has less and less space. Houses are more and more expensive, the roads are congested with huge cars, fields and woodland and fenced and we are excluded.
Perhaps we should look at not just a redistribution of money but also a redistribution of space?

To start with vehicles could be restricted in size and number to ease congestion. All new housing could accommodate garden space and plenty of bedroom space. Access could be given to woodland, coast and river banks.

May the Willow Gods be with you.

The Way of the Willow

Sometimes I go about in pity for myself and all the while a great wind carries me across the sky.

Ojibwe saying.

For those unfamiliar with the tv show The Sopranos this enigmatic saying appeared in one of the episodes and it struck a chord, not just with Tony Soprano, but myself too.
It poetically captures the reality of our helpless powerless selves caught in a wholly causal universe and the pointless futile habit of feeling sorry for ourselves when events appear not to favour us.
I keep this saying pinned on my fridge by a guitar shaped magnet. It reminds me that I belong to a greater whole and although it appears I can effect small changes to my own course through the universe that I am, like a canoeist caught on a rip tide, bound on a course that has been set upon since the beginning of time.

May the willow Gods be with you always.

The Way of the Willow


Wabi Sabi is a Japanese concept and it relates largely to the idea of the perfection of imperfection. That is , celebrating and exploring that which is imperfect. The movement started as a reaction to the straight lines, angles and perfect geometry in everyday art and architecture and tried to reflect the imperfect asymmetry of nature. There are no straight lines or perfect circles in nature.
This is something I try to impart to my pupils when teaching basket making. Basket making uses natural materials and as such, these materials have there own will and I try not to dominate but to encourage. There is no such thing as a perfect basket, there is no correct way. When making a basket you have to feel the will and show respect to the material- Wabi Sabi.
The result is something organic and natural and more importantly unique.

May the willow gods be with you!