I’d like to start with a quote form Zora Neale Hurston; love is like the sea – it takes its shape from the shores it meets. As every person is different so every relationship is different.
I’d like to say a few things about dad and how his uniqueness shaped our relationships with him
I spent some time thinking about which memories of dad I should share with you all here, and there are many happy ones, so it was no easy task. I finally hit on a time the family were up Twyford down at a big protest against the road being built there. In a rare occurrence dad ran into someone he knew who was clearly from a very different walk of life than dad’s. He was a bearded hippy type about ten or twenty years younger and quite a bit more ‘salt of the earth’ than dad was. I’m not sure how they knew each other but I think it was form some kind of Green Spirit type group. Dad once told me that he didn’t know how to make small talk but on that occasion he did and it was very sweet to watch, the man asked him what he was up to and dad replied that he was going to Argentina for a conference on gravity, the man replied that that was brilliant and was he going to talk about the gravitational influence of stars on our lives. What I like about the encounter is that I saw the rather lovely way dad handled a conversation with someone quite difference from him, but also the fact that, although dad was extremely friendly and personable he didn’t take any nonsense. He told the man that it really wasn’t helpful to mix up the paradigms behind astrology with those behind physics which I think was not at all what he’d expected to hear and I guess it kind of encapsulates dad’s wisdom and love of life but also his unshakable commitment to doing and thinking what was right, that he had a very clear, Occam’s razor viewpoint on the way the world was and the way it should be and at every turn he did what he thought was best to bring this about and that really is a unique quality in a human being.
It’s not going to come as a surprise to all you who knew him that dad taught me an awful lot of things. One of them came from what he wrote about time in his book ‘Living in Connection’. He addressed the themes of chronological and Kairological time and discussed the idea that time is not linear and, like love, it is a boundless sea which our own perception reside in. I’d come across this idea before but I’d never really understood it until I got it from dad and I think it’s important to mention today because its shaped my outlook on life and I think it shaped dad’s. He wrote about wisdom in some of his blog entries in recent years and I remember him writing that he had been intelligent but he had never been wise. This is of course typical of the wonderful self-effacing modesty. I think dad was very wise and I think a little bit of this wisdom will help us to remember him the way he might have wanted us to today – if time and love are infinite seas then maybe death, like life is a part of that sea and maybe he would want us to celebrate his life with the wisdom that comes from that understanding, that he carried with him, that has influenced my life and that I will try to pass down to Alex and Millie my children - that there is something cyclical about the universe, about our existences and that is something we should celebrate not something we should mourn.