Ubuntu – I am because we are

On Tuesday this week I was walking in, Pego Marshes, which is one of my soulful places on the planet. The River Trent in Nottingham is another from my childhood and Pegdson Hills the final one for my adult years before Spain. Soulful places are places I go to find me and to be me.

Pego Marshes

On August 11th this year I will be 65. I have come through a lot over recent years. After 20 years of chronic illness with Multiple Sclerosis by soulmate Karen died in January last year. In November I met Dawn who took me out of grief and in to dance and fun. Then we discovered she had throat cancer so for the last three months she has had the most brutal treatment to cure it. She is now coming out of this and I am now able to consider what life is about now for me and those around me. We do this when we are children. We do it as adults. We will do it until we die as life moves on and presents us with our new ‘now’.

The good thing about my walk was I was fully present. For me this means suspending the judgement and analytical parts of my mind and just enjoying being where I am. As I wondered along a cloud of dragonflies circled my head. I was in wonder and awe and this is one way of me thinking about ‘I am because we are.’ It is impossible to suspend those parts of my mind but, for me, this is as good as it gets.

What I am wrangling with is what is my life about now and how do I apply myself to it. What is my purpose and what is my being? Does it matter is one question? One answer is no. Just experience it while I am here. It is not long before I am gone just like it is not long since I came here. The other answer is my mother’s voice. So say my therapists. I love all of them and my mum. I am full of my mum’s drive to get me to work hard to get more than i need because you never know when you will need it. Her mother died when she was thirteen so she became the woman in the house to her younger sister and daughter. Then the war came and in the village Siget i d Wart in Austria she experienced many horrors.

But now I am looking for something else. Peace, connectedness with community, the courage to be myself. I never have problems with curiosity or commitment to action. In the last 15 years I studied for an MSc in Psychology at UCL and more recently obtained an MA distinction in Photography at Falmouth University. I also love working with others and co creation. The highlight of my current weeks are talking with my neighbours daughters Maria, 15 and Neus, 13. It is practice in English for them but really it is working together on wonderful topics like ‘let’s talk about what we don’t want to talk about’, ‘what are our biases?’, ‘what are the boundaries we place ourselves that constrain us’ and very apt in this moment ‘what do we want?’

Let’s talk about compassion and caring. I have lots of both for all of those who make up my ‘we are’. What I don’t have enough of is my own compassion and caring for me. With the traumas life has sent me it makes no sense but I kept feeling I was a failure. Why could I not save my wife Karen. Why could I not comfort Dawn’s pain more. This has lead to depression and suicidal periods. It is not what I want more of now.

My middle son Tom has a good phrase which is the ‘first thing you need to do is to be a good friend to yourself.’ I like this and realise I need to be nicer to myself or I am never going to be who I want to be in the little time that remains. It is not straightforward as this is all work in progress at the moment and something I will work through over the coming three weeks in Nobantu’s Ubuntu community.

The good news is I am making progress. I am getting better at noticing the beautiful things around me if I only look I went back to photograph the dragonflies in the evening as the sun was going down. It was such a beautiful delight. I reflected on my need to produce photographs versus the immense joy of just being with such amazing creatures.

These are the thoughts arising out of our first meeting yesterday. For which a big thanks.

Categories: Ubuntu


I am a Photographer. As well as taking many photographs I am currently studying for an MA in Photography at Falmouth University. I will direct my attention through the lens of my camera for the next couple of years and see what shows up. I see a photograph as a little bit of magic capturing a moment in time. If successful it surprises and engages your emotions. It tells a story about the wonders of being alive or tells us what we need to change to make it a better world to live in. That is enough for me to get going and then like walking a 1000 miles, which I did across the UK in 2010, or walking 200 miles across Cyprus, which I did in November last year, it is one step at a time.

I was a writer. The title of my unpublished book was ‘You Would Have Done The Same.' It is about a successful guy in love with his wife who lets her die when he discovers her in the process of committing suicide. The title gives a clue as to what I think you would have done. The book is 200 pages long. I found it cathartic to write it but after two years of work and reviewing with agents decided it probably needed another 2000 hours to get the whole book up to the standard of some of the pages. Writing is great but it is a lot of sitting down so I decided to get out and walk, play tennis, play bridge, go birding, watch football at Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Valencia and anywhere else if I can, meditate, cook and eat. I was a writer who has so far failed to become an author.
I was a young man who loved Mathematics and thoroughly enjoyed getting a BSc at Liverpool University. While there I went often to Anfield and the Philharmonic Hall. I was all set on doing a PhD until I went for interview practice at BP and got seduced by the excitement of an International business career. BP was a great adventure building trading teams and businesses in London, Antwerp, Cleveland Ohio and Singapore. Fabulous people and some great challenges and also very hard work, constant jet lag and lots of fun along the way. I married Karen, my stunning wife, and had the most amazing time with her and our three boys Alex, Tom and Dan. She has multiple sclerosis and we have taken on many challenges together but somehow keep creating a new normal against the horrors thrown our way. She is the love of my life.

After BP I decided to coach senior executives and quickly realized I had a lot to learn
about what makes people tick. I had a fantastic 18 months on the International Programme of the Cleveland Gestalt Institute. A great faculty and a
wonderful group of people on the programme. We studied and worked in Dingle, Singapore, Holland, Cape Town and
Lisbon. This also got me interested in the way we think and make decisions so I studied for an MSc in Psychology atUniversity College London in 2010. The
Masters was in Cognitive and Decision Sciences and I found it fascinating what
we do know but also how much we don’t know about how we think and make

I loved coaching and making a difference. I got a number of people to hear themselves, remove some of their own chains and free up the way they thought about the world. I remain fascinated by how people react to and engage with the world. My Masters thesis was why do two people given the same information make different decisions? Put simply, it is because each of us are unique in the way we are constructed.

Since returning from Singapore I found English winters tough so moved to Spain where I now live. The people are lovely, the scenery amazing, food delicious and the sun shines all the time. Almost.

All of these experiences will feed in to my time now as a Photographer. Three motivations I am lucky to have are enthusiasm, curiosity and a continuous interest in learning. All the time I look forward to meeting old friends and making new friends and experiencing this wonderful life together.