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Message At The Waters Edge

July 17, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, one of my clients got up to leave and said that as it was a lovely day, he’d spend a couple of hours at the waters edge. He is a fisherman, so I assumed that he was popping home to get his rods and come back and do some fishing.

At the back of my flat there are some steps that lead up to the riverbank. Ever since I moved here last November, I climb the steps and turn right, heading towards the lock and the cafe and beautiful pub. I don’t know why but last week I turned left and headed off upstream. After walking for about 10 minutes, I came across a pub nestling by the marina. It’s called The Waters Edge. It’s idyllic.

I’ve been sitting here for the past couple of hours, lost deep in thought whilst watching the life of the river. My attention is caught by the barge that is moored right next to where I’m sitting. The boat is named, “The Voyager’s Energy”. There is something written underneath the name and I get out of my seat to have a closer look. It says, ” Give your energy to the voyage that matters”.

Shit. A few cosmic tumblers click into place. I’d been thinking how bleak this week has been on Planet Social Care. The Bubb report. The ATU dismay template. The depressing news that only 4 people turned up for the Justice for LB session at JSWEC. The utter self indulgence of all those people on the inside of social care who aren’t the slightest bit interested in changing things. I could go on for hours and I probably will.

I’ve had a few conference invites that I haven’t responded to yet. I know why I’ve been putting off replying. I don’t want to offend anyone who organizes or attends these events but I’ve had a growing unease. I’m a good narrator. I know the Get Steven Home story moves people. I know its a very real, human experience. But I don’t think it changes anything. You can be engaged but be cushioned by the belief that “it could never happen here”. I’m beginning to wonder if, the more horrific the story, the less likely it will lead to anything changing. Then a passing swan bites me on the arse and says, ” Don’t be so arrogant Neary. You’re not an agent of change. You’re just a turn”. And I think the swan is right. Because whether it’s ego or blind hope, I’ve assumed that something good might come out of telling the story. But that presupposes social care is interested in the people it is meant to serve. That it is interested in changing things for its customers. There’s not a lot of evidence to support my assumption.

What is my voyage? Where should my energy be going? The waitress brings me my tower burger. And I think of all the people I know, who I neglect, who I’d like to be sharing my tower burger with. Even Steven. He would love the pub and the setting and the bacon. It might not be changing the world but then again, its pointless energy if the world you want to change doesn’t want to change.

I might sit here another hour. It’s a good place for reflection. And sometimes you have to go right to the waters edge to see the reflection.

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From → Social Care

7 Comments
  1. nic permalink

    good comes from telling your story. I am sorry I don’t get contemplation. You saved your son and you can protect others by passing on knowledge. I am not equipped to help my friend in truth, I don’t have experience of autism and epilepsy except that observed through our decades of friendship We are now older Mums, when she has a couple of procedures later this year the worry won’t be how the ops go it will the fear of her being ‘ out of action ‘ for any length of time and what that might mean . Only through mydaftlife do I have any knowledge of your fight, I have never heard of you, she neither. I am getting your book via amazon because the review said it was love in action. Hard as it is action is required, replies, conferences the works. I don’t think you have an ego problem although that book cover is a bit ‘ the guvnor’, buying anyway.

    • nic permalink

      excellent buy, Page 5 loving it already ( needed that page alone so badly in the beginning ) I can pass it on as the gift I hoped it would be. Universally appropriate for anyone in a caring role. I got What is my voyage ? all wrong, you were ‘ having a minute ‘.

  2. weary mother permalink

    Where to put our energy?
    Mmmmmmmm?

    Do we keep it for the only too short so very transitory fun times with the grandchildren etc. Do we immerse ourselves in learning how to paint – write our novel – carry on working in a career that we love that could just make a difference, perhaps?, We can do all this by ignoring the last and the next review that hits us even harder. Or do we gird the loins (again) hire the solicitor (again) and dig in for the only too familiar energy sapping long fight ? While using what is left to stitch the fresh gashes in son/daughters support

    Do we keep on burning it up fighting back when everyone says, ‘…………. LA’, ‘don’t bother for you have no chance’. ‘They will break you’.

    We have choices, it all depends whether we can live with them?

  3. Patsy Corcoran permalink

    Mark sharing your story creates many ripples, raising issues and awareness is purposeful and no one can ever know the full impact of these actions. I do believe that people inspire each other to keep making waves and social change is a consequence of this movement. You are an inspiring person and most days I’m sure you will continue using your energy to inspire and create change. On some days where your energy is spent and you find yourself reflecting on impact you are naturally questioning how far those ripples extend, please continue to do so as this will encourage you and us to uncover the truths that we all need to hear and help us all to maintain focus…thank you for helping me to understand how Stephen’s experience affects us all as we each create ripples we are doing so for Stephen and every person we advocate for.

  4. Pauline Thomas permalink

    I agree and second all the comments above.

    There is a time to fight and there is a time to take stock of your life choices and wonder if it was worth the devastating toll on your well being. Nevertheless, I believe where your loved one is concerned, it is always better to go down fighting. Thankfully in your case, you stand tall as a winner.

  5. Just a thought – could it be that the people organising these conferences are just reaching for the easy option? You are a well known speaker (tick the box) on DoLs (tick) and can put across the very human story (tick again) of how decisions affect real people. If you say no, what happens? They have to think of someone else! Who could they replace you with? They have to think…

    Old, but good:

    “Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

    Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

    The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

    The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

    The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!” ”

    https://eventsforchange.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-starfish-story-one-step-towards-changing-the-world/

  6. Jayne knight permalink

    Yes and that starfish story always moves me too. There are so many little groups and people trying to make people listen. There are some that have made a huge difference like you but the powers ratchet up the opposition every time a step forward is made. It’s completely overwhelming sometimes and I’m sure you want to give in quite often. Take those times as often as you can for reflection and looking after yourself. You know that by doing that you will be stronger to keep up the fight. The reason people fall away is despair not because they are not interested anymore. They don’t come because they don’t see anything happening. You will find your story has made a difference. It’s in there in people who have listened. It sets their moral compass in a better direction and to climb more mountains. Stories stay and do influence and make people think and change. You can’t save all but you can start on a few.

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