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2024 / March

Who are you?

Who are you?

The Retune Blog - 1st March 2024

I took part in a poetry writing lesson a couple of weeks ago. It was a really interesting and enjoyable experience. As we were led through thinking about what comforts us and where we feel inspired I discovered I had a bit of an obsession with ruined post-industrial landscapes and the abyss!

At first I thought that seemed a bit odd, but as we progressed through the class I came to realise what inspired and comforted me about the seemingly despairing landscapes; they were places where something new could begin. They were places of hope and potential. Places where what had come before didn’t matter, but what did matter was what would happen next.

OK, so I’m not going to convince many people that there is beauty in decaying industrial landscapes, but I think it is interesting for us to ask ourselves what it is that inspires us, and what it tells us about ourselves. Or, more specifically, to use a lyric from The Who’s song of the same title:

Who are you?

There is some debate over the meaning of the lyrics in the song. Pete Townshend, its writer, says he intended it to be a question as to whether he had sold out, but that when Roger Daltrey sang it, it sounded more like a cry out to a distant god.

I think it works both ways, and I think it gives us two really good philosophical questions related to living life well:

  • Who are you - self:

Are we the people we intend and want to be, or have we just gone along with the pressures of life and been moulded into someone else?

  • Who are you - others: 

How much are we looking outside to blame others for the circumstances in which we find ourselves?

And I guess it’s the combination of these two questions which inspires me so much when I see decaying post industrial landscapes. In life, like in architecture, we can often look back and see life in the past as a golden age which has long gone and the relics of which are now decaying. Yet, if we choose to embrace it, this very same context can become a place for the spark of something new to grow.

So, no matter how despairing our context might look, rather than looking outside of ourselves for blame and fault, a more constructive question is to find a way to create something new in the situation and remind ourselves of who we want to be.

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Founder and Director of Metanoeo CIC and Metanoeo Coaching. Working with individuals, communities and business to co-create #wellbeing4all through life coaching, resources for living life well and training and supporting life coaches.

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