Wednesday, December 22, 2021

87. A happy blog to complete the year 2021

I want to finish this last blog of the year 2021 on a happy note, and luckily I have found something very suitable to write about.  It satisfies me for several reasons:  firstly because it will make my life easier, less stomping around laden with heavy parcels, secondly, it is a new venture for a lovely newsagent's family, which I have been encouraging them to embark upon, and finally, it feeds so beautifully into one of my passions, which is looking around for any remaining signs of old London.

I have lived in London all my life, except for some of the war years when we were evacuated to the Lake District, and I remember so many of the sights of all those years ago, including playing in bombed-out buildings and going along the Thames watching boats unloading their cargoes into the tall warehouses.  So I was delighted one day, when walking past a local shop that was being renovated, to notice that the builders had stripped away the fascia above the shop window to reveal an old sign which said, simply, "Post Office".  I had always wondered why the post box was positioned outside this shop rather than a few shops down outside a large Rymans which then housed a post office counter.  Soon afterwards the sign disappeared under a new one advertising a hairdressing saloon.


The Rymans, together with its very convenient post office, closed a year ago, and since then I have had to traipse a long way away to find a post office to take the many books I send around the world, now not so much books that I have written myself, which Singing Dragon Publishers now happily do for me, but all the many books I read and pass on to whoever I think would like to read them after me.  To my delight, then, the newsagents I go to told me that they have taken on the lease of another local shop and will be bringing a post office back to this area.  Imagine, too, my further delight when it turns out that the shop they have taken is the very shop which was a post office all those many years ago.


So both the newsagent and I whooped with happiness, when the builders doing the renovations and taking down the hairdressing sign, again revealed the old sign, still in place.  Because I had told them the history of the old post office and its sign, the present occupier intends simply to freshen up the old sign, leaving it in its place.  This will make it probably the last reminder around this area of a bit of old London, amongst all the destructive building work now blocking the beautiful London skyline.


The newsagent and I have decided that we should hold a street party to celebrate the re-opening of the old post office, probably more than 100 years ago.

And here's another piece of serendipity to complete this happy little story about a bit of old London.  Early this morning I go into my lovely newsagents to pick up my daily Guardian, and the newsagent and I talk about the opening of the post office opposite.  I told him that I'd just blogged about it, and the man standing next to me, said, "Oh, I remember going into the post office there years ago."   It was lovely quite by chance to meet somebody who used the old post office regularly.  He and I agreed to meet there in the New Year to celebrate its re-opening after all these years. 

This brings the story of the old post office full circle.


Sunday, December 12, 2021

86. How the internet rules our lives

 It is lovely to be able to write about something joyful today, and that's because of a book I am reading, 100 Things We've Lost to the Internet, by Pamela Paul.  It's a quite delightful, but also a very insightful book.  I was hooked once I read one of its 100 small chapters, entitled The Period (English translation: The Full-Stop).  "Is any punctuation mark less remarked on than the lowly period, the wearisome little dot whose job it is, essentially, to bring you to a full stop?  Nobody talks about it."ˆ  But she does, and quite beautifully.

I am now at item 25 out of the 100 little "things we've lost", and Oh! how much I agree with what she has written.  Here is a selection of her 100 things to tempt you to buy the book:  "The phone in the kitchen", "The family meal", "Handwritten letters", "Figuring out who that actor is", "Maps", "Eye contact".


The whole book is a splendid reminder of what we are losing each day in terms of our personal contacts in the overpowering world of the internet.  Do read it!  It will make you think very deeply about what we should value, and also remind us of what we are beginning to lose.

Friday, December 3, 2021

85. Could our element be the weakest link in the chain of elements

Pierre, a French acupuncturist, has asked me an interesting question, which has prompted this blog.  He wants to know whether I think the guardian element (CF or dominant element) can be regarded as the weakest link in the chain of the elements, something he finds puzzling.  If a five element acupuncturist's attention is focused on strengthening the patient's element does this mean that it is this element which in reality represents the weak link in the chain of the elements rather than the strongest link, as it might be considered to be in view of its dominant position?  I have been thinking deeply about this for all the years that I have practised five element acupuncture, because I realise that we have to try to reconcile the concept of a dominant element with the picture of the elements circling harmoniously around all things, and in human beings creating each of our organs.


 We have somehow to add to this picture another image, which accentuates one particular element for each of us, and then try to reconcile the two. Five element acupuncture is based on the understanding that one element appears to have been singled out to put its stamp upon us, marking us with its imprint, a lifetime's branding which it seems we can never obliterate, however balanced we are.  In a more fanciful moment I like to visualize this as though the universe, in its endless circling, allows the tiniest hitch to appear in the unbroken chain of the elements, through which each of us slips into life at the moment of our birth.  This is the point in the circle where we are marked with the characteristics of that element, emphasizing its role in shaping our life.  It then becomes the place where we can grow and develop, but also, if we deny it its role, the place where we can wither and fade, and therefore also of course where illness can creep in. 


When JR Worsley called this element the element of the causative factor of disease (CF), it was certainly an accurate description of how ill-health can occur when a patient's element is under too much stress.  But I also remember JR telling us that we should always ask, "What does this patient need to do to live the most productive life possible?"  The aim of treatment is then to help our patients achieve this aim.  I have always seen this as evidence that he saw a person's element as the point of the greatest potential development, a threshold for change, whilst only if is denied the right to flourish can it become the cause of ill-health.


I have been intrigued by the fact that the Western world, too, in days long gone had a similar approach to understanding how illness developed as the Chinese have.  There was a time when the concept of the humors dominated Western medical thought, each of the four humors being associated with its own organ of the body and its own emotional approach to life.  If we look at a list of the characteristics of these humors there is a definite similarity to those shared by the elements, although the seasons to which both are assigned, as well as other qualities, differ.  The similarity is in their understanding that illness is the result of a combination of both physical and emotional factors.  At a time when orthodox medicine is gradually starting to accept that the physical and the emotional may be inextricably linked it is also perhaps time to start resurrecting the concept of the humors, taking it down from the shelves of medical libraries where it has gathered dust over the centuries.  We may now see some value in determining how far our inner life may be contributing to the onset of illness, and what types of illness this makes us susceptible to.


Both these systems, that of the humors and that of the elements, try to offer an explanation for our individuality by listing specific features relating to each humor/element.  I believe there lies a profound truth behind both concepts, and, in the case of five element acupuncture, I have had this truth confirmed by the results of many years of treating my patients.  I have seen their lives transformed, their physical ailments helped and their emotional well-being enhanced when my treatment has been focused on one particular element.  I have not seen the same results if my treatment has not been addressed at the right element.


In answer to Pierre's query, therefore, I do not think that the guardian element is a weak link in the chain of the elements.  I think it should be viewed, instead, as the place of our greatest potential.