The UK Between Stories?

Exit in Three Languages, Abandoned Trennenpalast, Former East-West Border Control, Berlin, 24 April 2010

From the private Space Between Stories Facebook Forum this morning:

“My whole country (uk) just entered the space between stories, very interesting …”

As someone who voted Remain, I’m presently in shock, and in mourning for the European version of the UK which I’ve lived in for most of my life. I’m dismayed at the mandate which the result hands to the far and further right, to a wing of the political elite seeking to bluff and lie its way out of belonging to the political elite, in order to further its own power. I’m concerned about the unknown repercussions and complexities: political, legal, economic, environmental, constitutional, social, cultural, and – seriously – for the safety and peace of all UK citizens and residents not shielded as I am by a covering of white UK skin.

Next to this, I’m someone who spends a great deal of time staring into, as well as living in, the bigger global, cosmic and spiritual picture of crisis and transformation, and I know that this is how it happens. The containers that no longer serve get smashed, not tidily remodelled, when something utterly different needs to arise. You don’t get what you want, you don’t get to be in control, you don’t get the piecemeal reform option, the comfort of reason does not prevail. The immediate impacts are horrible, the longer-term consequences uncertain. Yet there is always an invitation to be awake and aware inside this process, to learn its dynamics, to surrender to what is happening instead of trying to resist and escape, to respond with love and connection rather than fear and withdrawal, and to become a big enough container for the new that is seeking to emerge.

My vote for Remain came from my mainstream realpolitik Guardian-reading eminently reasonable evidence-based self. I had positive reasons for choosing to stay in Europe, based on cost-benefit analysis of the facts, and personal experience of living and researching in other European countries with ease and for prolonged periods of time. I was also opposed to the right-led Brexit campaign, with its fomenting of racism and “dishonesty on an industrial scale”, and its tendentious reduction of the UK’s complex economic and social problems to one cause: belonging to the EU.

Even as I cast my vote, though, I was conscious of the negative responsibility of Remain: allowing business as usual to keep staggering on. While I don’t expect anything other than business as usual, with the gloves off and razor claws out, from those currently holding the political reins of Brexit, the result itself has – temporarily – shattered the status quo. In this shattering, I find myself stepping uncomfortably out of and stretching beyond my mainstream white skin and her version of reality, asking: what does this shattering reveal, what else is alive here, what are we being asked to see more clearly, without the preconceptions of our own preferred stories? Trying to see further than the frightening and dismal surface reflection of Brexit as xenophobic, backward-looking little Blighty wanting to pull up the drawbridge against Europe and the world, and look at the other energies at work in the Leave vote: like the working class communities at the sharp end of post-industrial decline and austerity, who experience immigration as a problem not a benefit, but for whom there’s no officially-accepted frame for that concern other than racism, or the advocates of a progressive version of Brexit who voted with their principles anyway. Not settling at the mainstream left response of trying to put Humpty-Dumpty – read: the Labour Party – back together again, but knowing that there is a call to far more radical positive transformation resounding here as well.


The call has landed with me in the urge to turn this blog, The Place Between Stories, into a book about facing and navigating a world between stories. The idea seeded and started taking root about a month ago – luckily I have my journal to hold me to account on the date – and circumstances around me have conspired to clear the decks and remove all excuses not to make a book happen. I’ve started mentioning the book to local friends, and when I do I instinctively put the palm of my hand directly in front of my face, to convey the decisiveness with which the idea planted itself at the forefront of my creative energies and sent everything else I thought I was planning to do – like nurturing a life coaching business – onto the back burner.

The referendum result has amplified my sense of why I need to write this book. To work out my own passage through this place between, while offering whatever I can in the way of inspiration and possibility to readers. Work out in two senses: to find, to fathom my way, and to pay my long-overdue dues to this upturning journey of transformation, in order to bring my life to where it needs to be, a next stage I have no idea whatsoever about.

If I have an ideal reader in mind for this book, it’s my mainstream self, and those who may identify with her. The side of me that knows things are changing big time, but doesn’t know how to make sense of this other than in the terms she already knows, by resting on reason and analysis and evidence and control, and to be honest is somewhat frightened and lost because it’s all too much. The book is an invitation, a bridge, a provisional orientation map, to help her step into the much bigger container of change and potential that is the global Place Between Stories, to plug into the streams of non-mainstream, expansive, connective, spiritual and restorative awareness that are currently emerging across the planet as a new evolution of human consciousness. She can let go and dive in, or she can wait to be pushed, but I don’t think she will be able to hold on forever to the option of holding change at arm’s length, separate from who she is and could be, a ‘nice idea’ to play with and then put away on a shelf. For what will become of her when that shelf collapses?

Ok, so now I’ve gone and committed myself, and removed the “going to hide quietly under a rock” option, I have to head off and write the damn dear book. This may mean that this blog goes quiet for a while, or that I post snippets of work-in-progress, or something of both and more.

It’s wait and see and step into the whirlwind all around.