Reincarnation

Reincarnation must be understood if human conditions are not to remain incomprehensible. By recognising the transitional process of reincarnation which occurs throughout the universe the individual realises how and why they exist as they do.

Each human life-cycle covers an average period of 144 years, during which time various changes can and do occur, depending on which the starting potential of the next earthly cycle begins. In theory, living a perfected life the human being would not physically transition before this time. In practice, each person self-destructs and has occasion to dwell on a non-physical plane of existence before being returned to earthly life once more, thereby creating further possibilities for attaining perfection according to universal law.

Which is precisely where karma comes into play.

There is no ‘good’ and ‘evil’. There are kind acts and there are harmful acts. The former benefit at least one other person while the latter harms at least one other person, either by omission or intent. Then there are multiples thereof. This is not difficult to understand or put into practice, since common sense examples abound from personal to national and international acts.

Karma is predicated on these principles. There is no universal revenge involved, only a desire for harmony based on a cause and effect scenario which continues until the perpetrator of acts carried out knowingly or otherwise accepts there are certain outcomes which follow.

Of course, a knowledge of what comprises the universe enables the individual participant to make informed choices.

For a start, the universe is created by a force called Love, which emerges from Eternity and sub-divides into positive and negative elements which then manifest and are maintained on various levels of existence until destruction occurs. Or perfection ensues and a fully developed harmonious entity reunites in Eternity. With regard to the human soul, this outcome is experienced on earth as Peace Profound, and is the ultimate state sought by the knowing mystic. No other state or method is comparable. And when this condition is attained there is no further need for another earthly reincarnation to occur.

Books by Glyn F Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available from Amazon and bookstores around the world

Release from Rishikesh

Waiting outside an ATM booth in town, a person about my daughter’s age, also British, came up and we got chatting.

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Source of the Ganges at Rishikesh

‘I hope this one works.’

‘I’ve got fifty rupees, and I want to buy a bracelet.”

‘My wife took all our cash. She’s gone on an ashram retreat.’

‘You didn’t want to join her?’

‘I was here forty years ago.’

‘With the Beatles?’

‘That would have been fifty years ago. Not Rishikesh. Just India. Bumming around.’

And, so, of course, this got me to thinking back to around that time.

Indeed, there had been no spiritual dimension – intended or otherwise – on my trip to the subcontinent back then. An opportunity had arisen for me to go there, and I took it. Most of the time was spent under the influence of cannabis, opium or Dexedrine. That’s how it was back then. Accounts of the Beatles’ stay with their retinue at the ashram down the river suggest exactly the same thing.

All that changed a year or two after my return to England when I became nauseated with the whole lifestyle. Not only did I change my appearance and sell all my music albums, but I also destroyed all my photographs along with any other reminders of my past self. I wanted to become entirely new.

Every day began at dawn with meditation followed by hours of writing. Then came a hike through the woods whatever the weather with accompanying contemplation of nature. A period of language-learning before dinner was followed by reading and an early night which never-failingly resulted in eight hours of blissful sleep.

After many years of this routine the sought-for event occurred in three spontaneous stages: the Creative Force revealed itself, pure Spirit flooded my entire being, and the Holiest of all the historical teachers appeared before me and filled me with Peace Profound. All in One.

Books by Glyn Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available at Amazon and bookstores around the world

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Seems like I could have saved myself a lot trouble…

I’ve got to tell you this town is just as venal as any in the world. As a traveller, with the exception of street-food and mineral water, there is no service or object that you do not pay more for than does a local. In other words, it’s a rip-off. The white people going around in their pantaloons and kaftans and dreadlocks and so on seem to happily ignore all this, preferring instead to see themselves as some kind of elevated and lofty spiritual souls. It really is cringe-worthy. All the visitors of my age seem to be on Largactil. It’s one thing being laid-back and going with the flow, it’s another to be apparently brain-dead and wholly uncommunicative, as though afraid of being found out for the fraud that you actually are. Viewing them, they seem to be living out spurious notions of how they believe mystically enlightened individuals ought to behave i.e at slightly one remove to all the benighted beings surrounding them. God knows what they are like back in their home environments. Equally preposterous, I imagine.

At least I got to experience Holi Day and for the one and only time during the trip was able to see what is a deeply conservative, caste-based set of people lightening up and enjoying themselves.

That’s some relief.

Now, if we can just find somewhere devoid of nasty, polluting traffic…

Himachal Pradesh, here we come!

Jottings from Jodhpur

60 today and I’m thinking of my Devon home.

Since my mother died over Christmas plans had to be altered and instead of enjoying a comfortable condo, learning Portuguese and looking forward to the start of Carnival with our daughter in Rio de Janeiro, we are staying in budget accommodation in dry and dusty Rajasthan with its heavily populated and polluted cities, which is playing havoc with my lung infection.

Come late spring/early summer I can receive medical attention and rest up in my lovely house.

Ah, such bliss!

Funnily enough, 40 years ago I was also in Rajasthan – only back then all the cars, scooters, motorcycles and tuk-tuks weren’t fouling up the city streets. At the end of this trail of eight cities we will have some time birdwatching at a wildlife sanctuary in the north-east of the state.

Then we can resume our original plan of heading to the foothills of the Himalayas and visiting the Indian/Russian cultural centre set up by the Roerich family – Rosicrucians – 100 years ago and still active today.

In preparation for this stage of the trip I’ve been reading some books published by the Agni Yoga people relating to their mystical understanding and unfolding of world events.

It would seem that the Hindu era of Kali Yuga is more or less at an end, while the Satya Yuga is being ushered in. Put simply, truth and goodness based on an increased sense of spirituality within the evolved human consciousness will take the place of a debased and materialist approach to humanity’s relationship with the universe; meaning peace instead of war, love instead of division, and shared prosperity in place of selfish acquisition.

Just think: no more national exceptionalism and perverted striving for planetary destruction, no more invasions of peaceful communities, no more abuse of the Earth’s eco-system for material profit!

That is our projected future. And it is coming so long as people are prepared to share their desire for a harmonious existence on this globe alongside the rest of humanity.

Sometimes you get the feeling that you are just caught up in all that is happening around you.

Actually, with regards the death of my mother and her funeral, you will often find as you look back over your life many important matters came to a natural end or were terminated in the fifty days or so leading up to your birthday. This is in accordance with the seven-period cycle that makes up your natal year and has an effect over each intervening twelve months. Of course, each of us has free choice, but like the external seasons which may affect our decisions, so do the different fifty-two day periods influence our personal outcomes.

I am looking forward to the first period of this cycle as I hope some added vitality which always occurs during this interval will aid me in making the most of my remaining time spent travelling before settling down back home once more.

*

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Rooftop venue for my birthday dinner

Jodhpur is known as ‘the blue city’ on account of the indigo that was added to the wash used on the outer walls of dwellings and was thought to repel insects. Not sure it still works as we are having something of an air infestation concerning midges. Later we will wander through the old fort and take in the views from high up.private-tour-jodhpur

A musical festival is also about to start and when we gather more information will hopefully be able to attend some of the shows. For now, we are making do with the drumming and chanting coming from the street – interspersed with my own favourite Turin Brakes songs from the ‘Bottled at Source’ compilation album.

Books by Glyn Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available at Amazon and bookstores around the world

Rosicrucian on the Amazon

It’s such a beautiful image that I can’t refrain from sharing. My daughter is reading her old man’s latest book ROSICRUCIAN as she floats down the Amazon river to Brazil. This after she had unexpectedly met with Rosicrucian musicians who were traveling through Colombia with permission to visit some sacred hill temples.

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We were supposed to be joining her, but the death of my mother on Boxing Day means that we have had to change our own plans drastically. Rather than hole up in a comfortable condo on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the Carnival, we’re more likely to be seeing out the next couple of months in an empty end-of-terrace in the East End of London.

Remarkably, I used this setting in my very first book QUESTION.

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Rosicrucian Knowledge

In my just completed novel there are many references to the Rosicrucians, old and new.

In case anyone is not familiar with the Rosicrucian tradition, here are a few pointers.

No one really knows when existence began – or if it ever really had any beginning at all.

If there was no beginning, then there can surely be no end.

So in that case what exists is only and purely eternity.

Whatever you may know outside of this truth can only be illusion.

Overcoming this state of uncertainty leads to true knowledge.

In theory, anyone can reach this end point of realisation and understanding.bees rc

In practice, few know where to begin.

Which is where the Rosicrucians come in.

Down through the centuries knowledge of the path to certainty has been handed down from culture to culture. The Rosicrucians are a part of this process.

In the seventeenth century proclamations in writing appeared in various important European cities announcing the re-discovery of the eternal wisdom as it had been experienced and passed down through the generations. This learning, it was said, now lay in the hands of an organisation consisting of the members of the ‘rosy cross’. Hence the name ‘Rosicrucian’. People were invited to join, but had to find their own way to make contact with the organisation.rc

And so it remains today. The big difference now, if there really is any, is that people are less likely to be persecuted for seeking the truth which exists beyond the illusion of everyday existence. At least, one would like to think so… Even if you believe this is so, there is still a great deal of ignorance and hostility to the idea which has to be overcome, not to mention personal prejudice.

Still, with clear-sightedness, strong purpose and the courage to pursue what currently appears possible only in the imagination, full knowledge is attainable through the right means.

This is why there are so many references to the Rosicrucians in my just completed novel ROSICRUCIAN rosicrucian copy

Novels by GLYN F RIDGLEY are available from Amazon and bookstores worldwide

Balkans weblog #8

Time not mattering, money è non importante, life – limitless. That’s what good writing is about, what my books are written to convey…like VdGG and seventies’ rock or a Brueghel painting…

And that is what Albania has reminded me of.

Peering out the side door of the van at a line of grass in Vlorё is the same as peering out the tent opening in Peter Tavy many years ago.

(This is not about re-capturing a bygone moment of time but rather of picking up where that moment left off…)

I used to think freedom was a car and the open road but after having driven thousands of miles over the past few weeks I’m beginning to have second thoughts. For a start, everyone has a car now and all the roads that go somewhere – and a few more besides – are choc-a-bloc with vehicles. Fuel consumption, for sure, is going to destroy the world if war doesn’t do so in the meantime.fiat doblo

Now I am starting to think that maybe freedom is settling down in a dwelling with an olive grove and learning a foreign language…

Freedom always seems to be the opposite of what you’ve got (we ain’t missing our home/house btw).

As a matter of fact, humans are patently not really meant to occupy this planet for long at all. A few enlightening incarnations (following maybe thousands of  unenlightening ones) and then – enough! Moving on to a more spiritual plane. (See Key of Love as outlined by the characters in the novels.)

Anyhow, human beings are currently destroying the planet day by day. It soon won’t matter whether you agree with the above statements or not.

Discussing the World Cup and finding out the widespread support for Croatia this way (Montenegro and possibly Serbia being an exception) because they are all part of the Balkans, makes you comprehend how a real sense of a shared identity exists in what is an otherwise somewhat nebulous area. Working on the assumption that northern Greece is the most southerly tip of the Balkans region, arriving there will mark the end of this part of the trip. Before that however, we intend to work our way up through the south-eastern part of Albania, and from there cross the border into Macedonia (though even this may change as Anne is poring over the atlas ere I write…)

Posted from beside the Ionian Sea, Albania

Novels by GLYN F RIDGLEY available from Amazon and bookstores worldwide

Balkans weblog #7

Waking up in our van high in the mountains of the Mak region in Albania as the sun casts its rays from above the far eastern ridge is undoubtedly special. In the cornfields the labourers are using their hoes to hack at the weeds between the rows of six-feet tall plants, calling out and chatting to one another. A man from the nearby village leads a donkey in a harness followed by two consumptive-looking pale-brown cows as they head for the pasture at the top of the lane. Our dog raises himself onto his haunches and yawns lazily before shifting a couple of yards into further shade as it ebbs away across the courtyard. The church stands stone-fresh and gaunt as an Italian nun enters its wooden doors before attending morning prayers.

And yet all this bucolic bliss comes at a price – not for us, but the Albanian people living here.

albania sunriseOwing to Anne’s fluency in the Italian language we have learned how the Roman Catholic church set up a project here in 2002 in order to help the local children overcome some of the social problems that have beset the community since the death of Hoxha and the collapse of the totalitarian system he put in place as Albania was proclaimed the world’s first atheistic state. Most of the priests were shot dead or imprisoned. People were forbidden to pray to God. Wives hid their religious faith from their husbands for fear of reprisal.

Along with these repressions, and more particularly following the end of communism, the mountain people of northern Albania still retain their custom of ‘Kanun’ – similar to the old Italian code of vendetta – whereby murders committed by male members of a family lead to ‘blood feuds’ that may end in the killings of all the men in the family. The code extends to relations between men and women and the nuns told of how they have been required to hide local people so as to protect them from some form of ghastly revenge.

Gent, the young man from the village who has been involved in the various projects, confirmed all this and added some personal details of his own; for example, explaining how his entire family acquired a ‘negative’ name when an uncle fell foul of the communist regime, were thenceforth unable to access any state privileges, and his father spent a lifetime working in the local chrome mine (for which he now receives a state pension of €150 a month).

(Not even King Zog, Hoxha’s predecessor, was exempted from the Kanun and required police protection when he jilted the daughter of a respectable family after promising to marry her. In his novel ‘Broken April’, Ismail Kadare relates graphically how the centuries old codified rule system operates in practice – as I have tried to show in my work ‘Question’ what can happen in terms of revenge killing when the law fails to protect the population from economic exploitation.)

So, yes, the surrounding mountains are beautiful to look at – but their appeal has been costly in human terms.

Well, after watching the England football team lose to Croatia in the semi-final of the World Cup it was time to head back out along the mountain road up to Burrel and follow the river Mak out towards the Adriatic coast road. The roads in Albania are the worst I have ever come upon; the potholes aren’t so bad because they are at least usually visible in advance; no, the worst danger is subsidence, which you can’t actually see until you are pretty much on top of it. So far, the old car has coped admirably – so much so that there is a danger we will anthropomorphise it and add it as a family member (subject to vendetta and all!).fiat doblo

We were only able to locate an apparently abandoned campsite at our intended next destination of Krujё, where the tourists are now being lured and parking spaces openly touted, so continued on the coastal road southwards to the port town of Durres, where we thought we might take a hotel room for the night, but following a second glance at the developments fronting the sea decided to press on for a further couple of hours through the burning heat of the afternoon instead.

Travelling through Albania, we really are made aware of being in a foreign country. Anne is pretty handy with European languages, we can both read Cyrillic and understand Slavic languages to some degree, but Albanian offers us no clues whatsoever and even the signs and hoardings are almost indecipherable. Somehow we manage, and the kindly patience of the people we meet mitigates any real confusion. Add to this the really intense heat and rolling, dusty countryside in the lower reaches, and I would hardly guess that we were anywhere in Europe at all.

So, ‘travelling’, what is its appeal? Self-discovery, might best sum up the passion it instills. As a tourist, you are directed to particular pre-arranged destinations over which you have little or no say: you remain the passive partner. Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with that; on the contrary, such an arrangement is often the perfect antidote to the daily demands of life. But as a traveller you choose where you are to go and when, what you are to see, and with whom you are to communicate: you become the active partner. As a result, you expose yourself to various dangers, disasters and misunderstandings, it is true, but the pay-off is that you become responsible for the enterprise and make any discoveries personally.

We located the campsite close to Berat which we intended to use at some stage of the journey and after a meal prepared for us by the site-owners settled down for the night behind the mosquito net we just installed. I was still driving in my sleep and barely succumbed to full unconsciousness (not as bad as after driving along the hairpin roads of Montenegro where for nights afterwards it felt like I was laying in a boat out on the ocean…).

This morning we awoke to hot early sunshine – and a group of youngsters from Flemish-speaking Belgium who had appeared overnight and were sleeping off their journey in pod-like single tents.

I have had to wait until the campsite emptied during mid-morning before embarking on this – seventh – Balkans weblog.

In the perfect mountain silence and seclusion of the Suc church compound, it felt like you were waiting for God to speak (…now that Hoxha and his henchmen were out the way). As though some personal revelation were forthcoming. I don’t know if atheists ever experience this or any similar feeling. As for the peace it instilled – that is, the feeling of peace – it is surely not a human condition, not one that humans can realise by themselves. Peace is a holy, cosmic disposition only available through spiritual means. Peace must be actively sought, and only then can it be found.

Posted in the shade, near Berat

Novels by GLYN F RIDGLEY available from Amazon and bookstores worldwide

Balkans weblog #6

Albania – where we now are – not only sounds like California (give or take a syllable) but looks and feels like it too: hot, dusty, mountainous, with a long coastline.
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Set in the 1930s, in the opening of his anti-totalitarian and nostalgically British novel ‘Coming Up for Air’, George Orwell has his hero contemplating the likelihood of war as he drives his car and ruminates on the life and motives of the self-proclaimed King Zog of Albania…
Albanians…heh!?
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Growing up, Albania was the epitome of a secret surveillance society, but not even Albanians could have dreamed of the manner in which the CIA and Facebook would be using Silicone Valley technology to spy on and try to control its own population. And then blame the Russians for its – the state’s and private business concern’s – failure to do so.

In much the same way, the Soviets were blamed for Albania’s woes back in the second half of the twentieth century, when in fact it was the UK-supported White forces under General Wrangel which put the people under the imperialist heel, thereby setting up the conditions that would eventually lead to Hoxha’s paranoid and totalitarian control.
Albania and the old Soviet bloc were so conveniently othered for such extended periods when it suited over the past one hundred years that it has virtually entered the western democratic rulers’ DNA to blame someone from eastern Europe when something goes against their wishes and they risk losing control of the narrative. For example, when the west’s politicians are found out attempting to manipulate voters’ behaviour patterns through the likes of outrageously-expensive hireling companies like Bell Pottinger or Cambridge Analytica, they immediately set up false flags and blame these ‘others’ for the events. Their friends in the media get on board and there you have it: the perfect cover up and excuse for utter failure.
They wish. Like my old mum used to keep telling me when I was young (my older sister, too, for some peculiar reason that I won’t go into right now), “Be sure your lies will find you out.”
Or as the mystic John would have it, ‘You are the father of lies, for in you is no truth…’
Beware all you would-be World Rulers, when it comes to all your secret shenanigans at home and abroad. “Be sure…”
Communists…heh!?
Russians…heh!?
Never the western democracies.

(As an aside, just after despatching my last blogpost from Cetinje, Montenegro, I received a FB message from a Russian friend who just happened to be staying down the road with her family…)

And so, to the football World Cup. At its first inception the region we’ve been travelling through was represented by the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Kingdom of Yugoslavia, yug = south). That king was deposed by the Yugoslavian people, led by Tito (whose May, 1943 hideout from the fascists we visited at Black Lake in Durmitor), just as the Albanians got rid of their so-called king around the same time. An interesting point: the most recent claimant to the Serbian throne was born in Claridges, London, with Queen Elizabeth II his godmother; while the deposed King Zog immediately headed for the Ritz, London after war broke out (settling for a time with his retinue near my home village). So don’t be fooled by any propagandist bullshit which tries to create divisions between the east and west. The ruling families and big business don’t believe it, or care about it, and neither should anybody else. Which is to say, the ruling elites are all in cahoots.

Ah, yes, the Jules Rimet trophy… What a pity the host nation was knocked out on penalties: England playing Russia in Moscow would have been a great embarrassment to all those propagandists. So far, we have watched England get through the group stage on TV screens in bars around Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, then saw them win their first game of the knock-out stage against Colombia and quarter-final versus Sweden in Montenegro. Now we hope to see them progress further in the semi-final against Croatia at a bar here in Albania.
If the tea leaves of this trip have any meaning, then England will be meeting Belgium once again – this time in the final (we met a group of Belgians straight after the 1-0 defeat, and watched Belgium defeat Brazil alongside a couple of Belgians in Zabljiak.) No French.
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So far we have only seen one British car registration plate since one was spotted on the ferry across the river in southern Montenegro, as its inhabitants headed for Crete. It appears that we are the country’s sole representatives of our national football team currently travelling on the roads through eastern Montenegro and this part of of Albania…
Right now, we are resting up on a campsite not far from the border, planning to maybe take another ferry up the river into Albania’s alpine region for some good hiking, and certainly make the most of our time here before heading into neighbouring Macedonia.

By which time, we hope, England will be FIFA World Cup Champions.

Can it really be true that one country – even the largest country presently on the planet – is responsible for all the world’s troubles? Maybe it is. Most likely it’s not. Maybe it is the capitalist elites. Or maybe it is down to David Icke’s lizards.

How about individual countries taking responsibility for their own societies?

Posted from a spot beside Lake Shkodar, Albania

Novels by GLYN F RIDGLEY available at Amazon and bookstores worldwide

Balkans weblog #5

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, as everybody knows. Still, sometimes it is necessary to look back at the past with some affection if one is to move forward in a positive spirit.

This notion was kind of forced upon me here in Montenegro this week. Photos on FB reminded me that I had turned down the offer of a ticket to see Iggy Pop at Finsbury Park because I knew this Balkans trip was imminent. Finsbury Park is where Anne and I married! And Iggy Pop was THE iconoclastic rock idol of choice for me and my friends back in the day. It was just one of those friends who had offered me the ticket. So then I only had the photos of the sunny day in London to enjoy.

Coincidentally, listening to music on YouTube at the camp site in Virpazar, ‘Bron-Yr-Aur’ by Led Zeppelin came up on the feed, replete with accompanying images. There was the little stone cottage in rural Wales, nestled in that typically green, misty Welsh setting. There was the little track leading up to the building. There was the band hanging out in the garden, all long hair and denim flares. Magic!bryn-yr-aur
As a boy, I spent many holidays in Ireland and Wales and Scotland and the west country, and those little Celtic stone cottages tucked away amongst the grass hillocks and sparse woodland have been indelibly linked in my mind with images of freedom and rural tranquillity all my life. (Such a scene and accompanying emotions have been referred to in a previous Balkans blog, discussing ideas of simplicity and liberation.) At sixteen, my friends and I hitchhiked down to Peter Tavy in Cornwall and this trip of adventure, too, has stayed with me as an emblem of freedom and discovery.

In fact, I was reminded how in the summer of ’76, unable to obtain a grant and start a college course in London, I set out for Cornwall once again immediately after seeing the Rolling Stones and Todd Rundgren at a festival with those self-same friends. Once again, the Celtic coasts and moorland drew me away from the now inevitable drudgery of paid labour, enticing my wild spirit to rebel.

Anne and I moved to the west country soon after our marriage. But that’s another story.

Nostalgia, too, is incredibly linked in my mind with melancholia. That is not really so surprising since at the age of three my eleven year old sister drowned off the Dorset coast and I spent long, long days waiting for her to return home. Which, of course, couldn’t happen. So that melancholia, as a deep-seated emotion, became deeply embedded within my way of thinking. Probably the most famous rendition of this feeling is the woodcut of the same name by Albrecht Durer.melancholia Melancholia can be overwhelmingly powerful – and destructive – in its allure, but at the same time it creates an added depth and meaning to the nostalgic impulse. Every so often as a grown-up the melancholy desire threatened to carry me away completely so that I had to take active measures in removing it from my emotional library.
My own children growing up provided an anchor which helped me access solid ground and helped settle the wild emotions that promised to engulf my soul completely. Then my understanding was also aided and grew to the extent that I am now aware of how and when my poor departed sister was reincarnated. If you want to know how this happens, I will happily explain if and when you join my mystic society.

Nostalgia and melancholy draw us deep into the past and deep into our minds but are to be resisted if they become too strong when we wish to re-create the world anew from the inside out. The beauty of both is that they make us aware of how much joy and desire is actually available for us to work with.

durmidorBack in the now of Montenegro, we visited the history museum (more past stuff!) in the old capital of Cetinje and were given a good sense of how this country has been created from its own wild, mountainous past. We opted to rent a cheap apartment in order to visit the surrounding towns using public transport, but we miss the summery outdoors and are quickly getting back into our little campervan so that we can explore the north of the country, which includes the last remnants of rain forest in Europe.fiat doblo

‘Onwards!’ – as the Soviets used to say.

Posted from Cetinje

Novels by GLYN F RIDGLEY available at Amazon and good book stores

Balkans weblog #3

I have surprised myself.
By becoming enamoured with our Tito-era campsite and the bombed-out Adriatic coastal resort nearby, I have learned to settle down for a while and experience the Mediterranean feel emanating from this part of southern Croatia. And in so doing, have broken the habit of a lifetime.
Let me explain.Soul_Journey_Cover_for_Kindle
This time last year I had gathered together all my novels and issued them on Valley Independent Publishing. The effort nearly killed me. I can barely recall the succeeding summer. Off to teach in the mornings before coming back and vanishing for the remainder of the day. Around autumn my symptoms included a diminished appetite, nausea and a metallic taste affecting the mouth. Blood tests showed that nothing horrible was growing inside me but that I had become anaemic while an overload of iron was contaminating the liver. Haemochromatosis was mentioned for the first time. Usually an hereditary condition, often known as the ‘Irish disease’, the most effective treatment involves the medieval-sounding practice of blood-letting; about a pint a time for an extended intensive season, until enough new blood with a lower iron content starts flowing around the body. A truly enervating procedure.
That didn’t sound right to me, so I cut out alcohol and began taking turmeric and milk thistle capsules. Then I initiated a short course of acupuncture with a local practitioner. Best of all, my good old mum treated me to a week-long holiday in Gran Canaria as an xmas present. So that by early spring of this year I was beginning to feel normal again. Also, I had cut out the teaching and taken on a role with the social activities programme at my school instead. This created time and space for me to relax and think. As a result, I was able to publish SOUL JOURNEY, a politico-mystical thriller far more radical than anything by Dan Brown, which I’d been working on throughout this period of time.

The Essenes in their desert hideaway more than two centuries ago evinced through their writings a contempt for the ‘lovers of smooth things’ and I have for a long time imposed this teaching in application to myself. And, indeed, there is a lot to be said for a willingness to embrace hardship and experience denial in one’s daily habits. Especially if such procedures are aimed at achieving particular ends. As a matter of fact, certain results are only made possible in this manner. Those of a spiritual nature, for example. Similarly, the acquisition of long-term goals invariably requires some kind of personal sacrifice.
That said, simplicity really is a wonderful virtue in itself and needn’t incorporate any type of suffering. In regard to writing, Solzhenitsyn, in his auto-biographical ‘The Calf and the Oak’, recounts the time he spent living in a little riverside hut which regularly part-flooded and froze on early autumn mornings, and provided only elementary accommodation, but which generated within him such a freshness of being after his incarceration within the Soviet gulag system, that it helped fortify him for the task of completing his most important writings. Once again, following exile from his beloved Russia, he set up his new life in a spartan compound in chilly Vermont. No Florida excesses for him. Incidentally, you get a similar feeling concerning poor old Ernest Hemingway in his ‘Big Two-hearted River’ stories, whereby it seems a simplified existence would fit him perfectly, if only he could truly adopt it and not be frightened by what lies on ‘the other side’. And if only the burned-out Jack Kerouac could have attained this feeling of serenity achieved through self-denial during his failed attempt at Big Sur, who knows how he might have turned out. Mind you, expecting such a transformation from the author of ‘Desolation Angels’ was always going to be bit of an ask. Still, this is the kind of simplicity Gee Ward yearns and strives for after his release from prison in ON RELEASE, despite all the setbacks which seem to make such an outcome beyond reach.
fiat doblo
When Anne and began to wonder how we might go about re-shaping our extant lives we knew that some form of simplicity had to be factored in. Our lives weren’t terribly complicated or our living conditions especially sophisticated. Nevertheless, a further paring down seemed preferable. For a start, we would use our van for the initial getaway. This little fourteen-year old Fiat Doblo high-top is about as basic a form of travelling around as you can imagine, with some cooking facilities and fold-down double bed it is essentially a form of glamping on wheels. By fitting curtains and removing the rear seat for this trip we have added storage space and made bedding down even simpler. So far, so good. Touch wood.
While we are away we will be looking at the possibility of acquiring some sort of old dwelling we can occupy with a parcel of land to beautify and produce our own food. Who knows, that may or may not happen. But, certainly, you gotta get out there to see if it’s possible – or, in fact, even suitable. Time and miles covered will tell. Certainly, from now on in we seek to make the trip easier rather than more difficult, mainly by better forward-planning. Normally, when we embark on a project or a journey of some kind, we are straight out the traps and then up-and-running until after the finishing line has been crossed. This time round things really need to be a little different if we are to achieve what we currently can only imagine in the abstract. Some kind of adjustment will be required in our outlook. Already, some ideas are brewing…
But right now, just to be here on the campsite surrounded by cloud-topped mountains and shaded among the pines, palms, planes and oleander, alongside the bombed-out ex-Yugoslav army resort complex by the sea at Kupari, I, at least, am able to start feeling the slowly unfolding impact of not being driven almost entirely from the waves of anxiety released by my earlier undertakings. That’s some surprise.

Posted from Kupari campsite, near Dubrovnik

GLYN F RIDGLEY NOVELS