Some time ago I decided we had far too many books so I started giving them away in the street. I found myself judging which book to give to which passer-by and I quickly came to the conclusion that this was at best risky and at worst patronising. Then came the time when a woman and a man turned me down and I decided to call it a day. In future … anonymous giving.
The centre of Otley is the market square and at one corner is The Buttercross … a group of three comfortably solid wooden benches protected by a roof, so called because it used to be the corner occupied by butter traders. The name also appears in the Otley women’s folk dancers – the Buttercross Belles. There are usually people sitting there. I took to sitting there until I spotted a moment when I could get up and surreptitiously leave a book behind. I noticed that, whenever I checked, the book had gone. I liked the anonymity of giver and receiver. In India it’s known as invisible giving.
It has gradually evolved: I now leave, one at a time, magazines, cd’s, dvd’s, a glass I’ve painted with a candle in, and most recently a card – with an illustration, often a print of mine, on one side and on the other an insightful quotation or a poem … the most recent being John Keats’ Bright Star sonnet. I’ve created a document of poems and quotes. Examples:
All my work, my life, everything I do is about survival: not just bare, awful, plodding survival, but survival with grace and faith. While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.
Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
I will not say ‘pray’ because there is no God to pray to … My word for ‘prayer’ is ‘love’ … Love is not for some invisible God. Love is for the visible – human beings, animals, trees, oceans, mountains. Spread your wings of love as far and wide as you can. And remember – love needs no belief system … love is something intrinsic to you … nothing imposed from outside … It is your human potential.
The beginning of freedom is the realisation that you are not ‘the thinker’. The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated. You then begin to realise that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect of that intelligence. You may also realise that all the things that truly matter – beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace – arise from beyond the mind. You begin to awaken.
(Eckhart Tolle b.1948)
Morality’s pretty simple really: we all know what to do less of, what to do more of.
In an ideal world people will do what they want to want to do. (sic)
Dying is a mere interruption.
from Life and Soul (John Hendry b. 1943)
A couple of my illustrations I put on cards:
I also have three other sets of benches open to the elements so they depend on the weather. I carry a piece of blue-tack for when it’s breezy. Careful to preserve anonymity I also leave cards under beer mats in pubs, and in supermarket shelves and trolleys.