Learning to drive

When I learnt to drive my instructor told me that the key thing about being a good driver was to promote the flow of traffic. Everyone wants to get where they need to go and the best way to do this was to be co-operative. In practice driving isn’t always like that and neither is life. Sometimes we all have days that feel full of petty meannesses and small-mindedness. Sometimes it’s hard to understand why people can’t be more open-hearted to each other, giving each other the benefit of the doubt, and always trying to believe the best.

In many ways our move to Scotland was about getting away from those sorts of mindsets, pursuing a simpler and more joyful way of living. Not to say that we thought Scotland was some sort of Eden (although maybe Alex Slamond would like us think that!) but living on the farm has been a brilliant way of keeping it all in perspective. In amongst this ever evolving landscape I am a small and fragile creature. My fears and dreams are held in equal weight with the Sparrowhawk who dives on our bird feeder and the pregnant ewe sheltering from the snow in the fields. There is no room for petty meanness here. We are all equally humbled by the might of the elements at work on the earth.

It’s not just the landscape. Little Owl keeps things real for me too. The other evening I was sat by the stove grappling with some dry academic text for my dissertation. Little Owl picked up one of the books from my pile and started making her own notes. She sucked the end of her pencil, turning the pages carefully before nodding and scribbling something determinedly on her paper. Here are her notes on Marie-Laure Ryan’s book Narrative Across Media. Not a bad summation I should say.

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