Changing Direction

There are times in life when we think we know where we’re going but we find that life  takes us in a completely different direction.

We wonder why and may even try to fight against whatever path we seem to be taking. But, if we are to follow the words of Rheinhold Niebuhr …

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference

and remember amor fati , then life seems to begin to make sense and we can accept that the road not followed was maybe not the right one. We are perhaps heading where we should be going after all.

Occasionally, we see that there are times when even trees find themselves changing direction.

It was taking this photo in the Wood of Cree earlier today that prompted me to write the above post.





He’s there most days – surveying his territory. Sometimes standing motionless as if sculpted. Today the blue sky provided rather a nice backdrop – a contrast to some of the stormy grey we’ve had of late. I’ve yet to capture him against one of our beautiful sunsets though.

The Wigtown Book Festival started last Friday – hence the rather long silence and lack of writing anything here. So many thought provoking talks from a wide variety of authors. More on this at a later date. Just now, I need to take stock – rather like the gull.

On Saturday I’ll be listening to a man I greatly admire, someone I’ve written about before – Richard Holloway. He’ll be talking about his latest book Waiting for the Last Bus. As I mentioned on an earlier post, he has referred to amor fati – learning to accept the bad as well as the good things that we’re faced with. Today, I learned that a dear friend is about to  put that to the test as she waits for a major operation on her brain.

Somehow, the gull against the sky seemed a calming image to focus on.


Changing times, shifting sand

I found it relatively easy to think of a title for my blog. ‘Life’s a Beach’ because it seemed to fit with the idea of ‘Amor fati’ that I’ve blogged about earlier.

Life has times when things run smoothly and periods of rocky uncertain times. Looking at beaches – and we’ve done a lot of that since we moved to south-west Scotland – I see smooth sands, areas ribbed by the tide, parts smothered with heaps of sea-weed and vast expanses of sharp shingle and smooth pebbles. Then of course there’s the ubiquitous plastic which has proved to be a blessing and a curse.

We learn as we go through life, to take the differences, to enjoy what we can, change what we can and accept what we can’t control.

Or, to quote Reinhold Niebuhr, hope for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

It’s some time since I wrote the poem ‘Life’s a Beach’ and I’m still not happy with it. There will be a more drafts, but this is still ‘work in progress’.


Life’s a Beach

 Shifting sands

Soft- sliding dunes

Carefree castles

Sun-baked stones


Chilling waves

Turbulent tides

Pools of dark mystery

Sun-bleached bones


Dingy detritus

Sculpted driftwood

Scattered jetsam

Shells or shelled homes


Challenging boulders

Crumbling cliffs

Eroding edges

Dared us to roam to


Cavernous depths

Whispering grasses

Walls of kelp

Washed with foam


Bobbing like flotsam

Trapped in rocky places

Shingle crunching

Life’s maelstrom




Amor Fati

Amor Fati

Not  love of the obese

but an embrace of fate.

Nietzsche quoted, not

by me, but by Kate.

Amor fati, it sticks

in my mind, these found

wise nuggets,

captured not mined.

A short and sweet

maxim, difficult to keep.

Embrace the good and bad,

life delivers at your feet

so easy to say, but not to keep.

Amor fati.

Amor fati – found in the novel by Kate Atkinson ‘Life After Life’

Kate Atkinson isn’t the only one to have quoted amor fati. I came across it again when reading Richard Holloway’s latest book Waiting for the Last Bus, Reflections on Life and Death. This book, like much of his writing, is thought provoking and inspiring. In addition to Nietzsche*, Richard Holloway quotes extensively from many writers and philosophers. Have you ever read a book that you hesitate to lend to anyone because you don’t want to part with it? Then you’ll know the feeling I have about this one. I just want to make a bulk buy for some of my closest friends!

You’ll find the following in Waiting for the Last Bus on p150

* ‘…I hope I have enough time left at the table to get better at what Nietzsche called amor fati, love of the fate I was dealt, the life that wove itself on the loom, the person I was.’

What a man he is – and thankfully, he’s still writing.

NB Look for amor fati in Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo II