Category Archives: Thoughts

It is like a Summer’s Day in Brighton

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This week will not be a great week for me personally, I have a couple of health issues which need resolve, so to find that the weather here in the UK is just like summer, and it is still only March, what better way is there to enjoy the present day and make the best of what the world has to give me.

With not a cloud in the sky, a trip to Brighton was called for. In less than two hours I could be by the sea, a place that I find invigorating, relaxing, empowering and enjoyable, just two train journeys, rather than driving down in my RX7, spending money on petrol, parking fees and the chance of endless traffic jams. Unknown to me, there were problems on the train network, which meant catching three trains, and wasted time waiting on station platforms for delayed trains.

Take a deep breath in, close my eyes, and RELAX.
At last the train arrived in Brighton, and on exiting the station, there infront of me, down the long road from the station to the seafront, the shimmering sea could be seen, and strange feeling of boyhood joy overcame me, I wanted to jump for joy, and I set out on what seemed a never ending walk, past shops and restaurants that had little interest for me. I wanted to be by the sea.
I was amazed at the number of people that were on the pebbled beach, sunning themselves, just relaxing. Perhaps they were some of the many foreign students that seem to go to Brighton to learn English, or unemployed or retired people, or people just like me, wanting to rejuvenate themselves?
Just walking up and down the promenade and beside the beach, just being there, being part of humanity brought me back to normality.
Brighton seafront and the Brighton Pier, March 2012
Brighton seafront and the Brighton Pier, March 2012
A walk down the Brighton Pier, one of the long jetties running out into the sea in the UK, which often have theatres, restaurants and amusement arcades on them, where people walk along, sometimes stopping to relax in a deck chair, perhaps imagining that they are sitting on an ocean liner sailing the seven seas on a cruise, gave me the chance to breath fresh air into my lungs.
I availed the amusement arcades, because I was hungry, and where better to go and have the traditional British meal of fish-n-chips than on Brighton Pier
Great British food, Fish n Chips
Great British food, Fish n Chips
I have not had fish and chips for many months, and although it was pointed out to me that deep fat fried for is bad for the health, it was also said that once in a while was OK. So why not, I may not be here next week, and after all, fish is good for you.
Why is it that everything I do not like is always good for me?
My mother always used to tell me to eat the vegetables as it would make my hair curl, or eat the bread and butter as it would make me grow into a big strong boy?
My hair is still straight, and yes I have grown into a big boy, but that is because I have eaten too much bread and butter and that has left me overweight.
So much for believing everything my mother told me as being true, including Santa Claus. coming down the chimney on Christmas Day, and the tooth fairy leaving me money under my pillow after I lost a tooth.
What a glorious day out. Now I can face what the week is going to throw at me.

Guest Judge at Speaking Competition

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At the end of the evening, it was a privilege to be asked as one of the judges of the Inter-House Public Speaking Competition at the Richard Challoner School in New Malden, Surrey, to present the awards and give the summing-up speech.

Along with two other judges, I witnessed the very high standard of presentations, coached by their teachers and especially Tanya Cheema, with talks entitled from “Why I Didn’t Have Time to Write a Speech“, to “Blood, Oil and Captain Hook“.
Although the speakers were allowed only 2.5 minutes, with penalty points if they were outside this time, the content was well researched, the talks’ structure was well defined, and the delivery was superb and articulate.
I remember as a young boy many many years ago being asked to join the Lichfield Cycling Proficiency Committee, and then being entered into a Public Speaking competition. That single experience had prepared me for the work I do now, giving talks, speeches and courses all over the world.
The evenings competition at the Richard Challoner School and the Youth Speaks Competition run by Kingston upon Thames Rotary Clubwill stand the boys in good stead in later life, giving them confidence, boosting self esteem, and preparing them for being able to present and debate in their future education, business and private life.

The Roundabout of Life, is it Towards or Away?

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Today I watched a donkey working at a watermill, it was just walking round and round in a circle, attached by a harness to a beam, which was in turn attached to some simple gearing system that operated a pump, pumping water from a well to irrigate the farmers fields and crops.

For hours on end, the donkey walked this never ending circuit, like the second hand of a clock, forever passing the same number 12 at the top of the hour, time and time again, forever moving but getting nowhere, and like that second hand of the clock just showing the passing of time, getting nowhere.

The donkey was like that hamster or mouse on its’ wheel in a cage, spinning round and round and getting nowhere, but at least the donkey was pumping water, whereas the hamster or mouse is expending energy turning the wheel for the gratification of the animal’s owner. Like riding a roundabout in the fairground, getting nowhere.
I see many people on a similar wheel, roundabout or treadmill, doing the same thing time and time again as they progress through the short lifetime we have on this earth, never progressing, never learning new concepts and ideas, never learning from the mistakes they make, never experiencing new things and seeing the beauty that life can give. 
They are passing their time, never getting anywhere.
Perhaps they are trapped in a relationship, in a family situation, in an employment that restricts their future, or in a culture that is very restrictive, never open to new ideas to other peoples points of view, much like a lion in a zoo cage will have nothing to do but to walk round and round in their little world of understanding, forever in frustration and depression, following the same endless pathway they have made in that small world or enclosure.
As I look about me, I see people not only travelling the same pathway they have had inflicted by others upon them, or have placed upon themselves, but they are also being led, like that donkey, by a carrot hanging infront of his nose. Always that carrot is a small distance away, just out of reach, they are hoping that that tasty carrot will be theirs, that their never ending treadmill will lead to that Utopia one day, hoping that they will reach their Xanadu, their dream led by the Muse Kira, (the Greek mythical Muse’s real name was Clio, one of nine sisters, Kira being the assumed name), the daughter of the Greek God Zeus, or as in the poem of the same name, Xanadu, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, leading to the pleasure garden which Kubla Khan created in the Chinese province in China.

These people are being lead by ideals, promises, dreams, often created by others, like tales of the streets of big cities being paved with gold, where riches can be anyones, just by the taking, but often, just as they are about to reach their dream, it is taken away from them by those that created them, the chance of a kiss by a beautiful princess only to find that it is to be that donkey’s backside.
Sometimes I notice the farmer was walking behind the donkey as it worked that water mill, round and round that never ending circle, and the farmer held a stick in his hand with which he occasionally tapped the donkey’s rump, just enough to inflict a little pain, which spurred the donkey on, and as it is like most animals and humans, they do not like pain.
We are not only driven by dreams, but sometimes we are also driven by avoidance, to move away from something, some place, some issue, as when people experience fears or phobias. The easiest way to stop a phobia or fear people often find, is to avoid the experience which causes the phobia, to avoid that place where a spider or snake could be, not to enter that high building or walk across that bridge. Experience has shown though, that by avoiding the fear or phobia, it only re-enforces them making them worse.
In the past I had a client who had a phobia of tunnels, especially those where the exit could not be seen when entering perhaps because there was a bend in the middle, or it was very long. This lady’s train station had such a tunnel, and to get to the other side of the station from where she lived she would travel a very long distance to avoid using the tunnel. Participants on my courses will have heard of this lady, and I forgot to tell them that after seeing me that once, she overcame her phobia.
To avoid pain and hurt may not necessarily be negative as some people presuppose, thinking that such a person is always negative, never a “go getter”, but avoidance can often lead to a positive outcomes or results.
Many rich people have the fear of living in poverty, not to have the flash car, not to go on that exotic holiday, not to be recognised as someone of high standing, not to be loved. These people are driven by the negative outcomes, the pain of not being rich, and strive to create the wealth, the business, to get the qualifications to bring the knowledge of how to achieve those riches.
Perhaps it is the fear of being left alone, not to have a relationship, that drives people to become over friendly, to draw others into a relationship with them, only to find that the person they are left with is not the person they had expected as a life partner, but then when deciding to leave that relationship, they hurt the ones who had been drawn in by the carrot.  
Others choose to enter situations, relationships for the pure pleasure of a negative outcome.
As a small child, I am sure you remember when you lost your first teeth, the Milk Teeth as they are known in the UK? Did you put the tooth under your pillow when you went to bed for the fairies to take and leave a sum of money?
They became wobbly, loose, as the new tooth pushed up from beneath. I remember using my tongue or my fingers to move the tooth backwards and forwards, only stopping pushing or pulling when I felt that twinge of pain, but somehow I enjoyed that little pain, I was reassured that soon the fairies would be visiting, and I became addicted to moving the tooth until I got the pain, pushing the limits and the boundaries.
I observe people who have injured themselves, and keep touching the area just to make sure the injury is still there I am sure to experience that little twinge of pain.
I see many people who come to me for help, and insist on telling me how ill they are, how “no-body loves them“, how depressed they are, they take great joy and satisfaction from re-experiencing their pain and sorrow.
I watch the joggers, panting, sweating, red in the face, as they push themselves imagining they are on yet another London Marathon race. I look into the windows of the myriad of gym clubs around he world, and see people rowing imaginary boats, running down imaginary roads on the treadmills, getting nowhere like the donkey, yet pushing for better times, longer imaginary distances covered.
I had a friend Richard, who was/is a fitness fanatic. Every lunchtime he was in the gym, every night he was in the gym after his hour long run or swim, every morning he would arrive at his desk wearing his tight lycra cycle racing outfit, beads of sweat forming on his forehead and dripping from the end of his nose, his eyes bulging through the extreme energy he had exerted ridding his bike to work, imagining he was wearing the Yellow Shirt on the Tour de France
Why did Richard and other put themselves through such pain and suffering?
Some say it is to become fitter, healthier. But, when I asked Richard what happens when he does not go to the gym, does not cycle to work, he said he feels bad, that he just has to, to feel good. Research has shown that excessive exercise places the body under stress, and the body responds by producing the addictive substances called beta-endorphins.
So, the pain, the physical stress in the body makes the pituitary gland secrete the hormones of endorphins which are chemically related to Morphine. The name “endorphin” is often referred to as “endogenous morphine“, a chemical that binds to certain receptors in the brain, and act as a pain killer and become highly addictive, also known to reduce the appetite, decrease depression and anxiety, giving that feeling of euphoria.
It is no wonder some people are drawn towards pain and suffering and become addicted to such acts, as when the body experiences that stress or pain, chemicals are released to give them a high.
Yet others are drawn to pain because it draws attention to them from others. In extreme cases, people will mutilate themselves by cutting themselves, pulling their hair out. These cases are wide ranging and have multiple causes not to be discussed here, but in some cases it is what is called a “cry for help“, they want attention. We often tell our family, friends and colleagues what a terrible time we have had, bringing back, reliving the experiences only to bring that pain back, for to relive, to talk about, to think about something, we will have to experience the pain again.
So we are all driven towards something, a reward, a pleasure, a new car or dress, a visit to the theatre, or we are driven away from something, to avoid a dislike, pain, discomfort, certain food, a person or place.
In NLP terms (see the NLP Glossary click) there are the Towards People and there are the Away People.
When reading some books on NLP on the subject of Towards and Away People, the author says that a person is either one or the other. When teaching the subject, I will explain the concept, and ask for a show of hands who are Towards and who are Away, and too many people categorise themselves as only one or the other, because that is what they have been told and so believe.
When you analyse a person, ask them questions, and you will ascertain in one situation they will be Towards, yet in another they will be an Away from person.
For me and food, if you mention chocolate cake or ice cream and the chances of eating some, I would do anything for you, I would be your slave, I would sing a song for you, yet the mention of a fish meal would find me making all the excuses I could not to sit down with you.  
For chocolate cake and ice cream I am a Towards person, fish and Away from person.

Yet, if we take about fish in another context, I am Towards person. As a Master Scuba Diver, I have had over 600 dives around the world and have swam with some amazing fish, some dangerous like the Stone Fish and some humorous like the Clown Fish. (click her to see more underwater photographs)

A Stone Fish taken in the Red Sea off Jeddah, Saudi Arabia    Clown Fish taken in the Red Sea off Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

A Stone Fish or Scorpion Fish and a Clown Fish taken in the Red Sea off Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
if you cannot see the Stone Fish click here

Some people will draw others into their world by promising dreams, ideas, Towards, other people will drive people along by planting thoughts of suffering if they do or do not do something, Away.
Be aware of how we are influenced by others and how we influence others. Be aware of that carrot being dangled in front of you, or that stick prodding you onwards.

One up, All up

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Whilst watching people as I usually do, my mind went back to my Mother.

Sitting here, waiting in an airport lounge for my flight to be called, I watched a small family group trying to amuse themselves, to help time pass by. As seems to be the norm these days, electronic games play a large part in keeping the human race amused, although there are book shops to be found, I hardly see people with their noses stuck into a good book, for even real paper books are being replaced by electronic aids.
Each member of the family had their own gadget, each pulling faces as they won or lost a point, each moving their body in-tune with the movement of the game.
The mother must have finished her game, for she switched it off, put it away, and started talking to the father who was extremely unhappy by his wife’s interruption.
The two children were clearly oblivious to the interaction between the mother and father, as they were to the world passing them by, an assortment of human life, passengers flying here and there.
It was then the turn of the children to have the attention of the mother. At first they ignored their mother’s words, their minds and fingers were fighting aliens in the far reaches of space, but her foghorn of a voice and a not so gentle tap no their legs got their attention, with an “Oh Mom, I was winning that game.
You see, mother was hungry, and wanted to stock-up with sweets and snacks for the flight, and now was the time for her to go to the food retail outlets, which now vie for our money, to make our flying experience something to be remembered, to make extra money for the airport operators, for us to buy something we never knew we wanted, like that book that will end up with the rest of the books to be read some other time.
With reluctance, the father and the two children packed their electronics away, and followed mother to buy the snacks, dragging their feet, mumbling under their voices, for they were in the now, still fighting the aliens, not thinking about the future hunger pangs that the mother was totally aware could overcome them all on that flight of fantasy.
It was then I remembered my own Mother when I lived at home. In the morning, when she got up out of bed, so I was expected to be also awake and out of bed. I longed as a teenager who needed more sleep than adults, sleep that stretched until midday, that Mother would have a lie in, to sleep beyond her usual 8am wake-up.
Why was it that when Mother was awake, Phillip had to be awake, when she was up, everyone had to be up, but it was alright for Phillip to be asleep stinking in bed, whilst Mother was asleep, even if she slept to midday?
I was recently retraining my computing skills using the mouse on the computer, playing a game of Solitaire, (that is my excuse for playing the card game, retraining), and I noticed a member of our group was getting quite upset by my activity. “Why was I not interacting with the group?” Yet, not a few hours previously, the whole group was watching a soap-opera on the TV, a TV show I had never seen before and knew nothing about, plus, it was in a language I do not speak, leaving me alone and unwanted.
Why is it that when we are awake, everyone should be up and about, but when we are asleep, everyone should be asleep?
Why is it that when we want to do something, then everyone else should want to do it now with us?
Why is it that when we believe something, then everyone else should believe the same thing?
I have learnt that sometimes just because I want something, to do something, to be somewhere, to understand something to be this way or that way, that sometime I have to keep quiet, to not express my thoughts, my want and needs, to understand that others see the world differently to me, and have different needs, to have a different time scale to me.
What I do not understand, is why people do not see it my way, to understand me and do what I want to do now?
Oh life is Poo Poo. I can not win.

A Grebe Takes a Meal

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I love observing the world around me, finding the little things that people normally miss, and when I find the unusual, I need to know what is gaining on, what is the history, what makes it work, but sometimes I just like to observe and enjoy the time.

A grebe on the River Thames, Kingston Upon Thames
A grebe on the River Thames, Kingston Upon Thames
Walking recently by the River Thames I noticed the bird called the grebe swimming low in the water, and diving down for what seems an age, to resurface a long way away from where it entered.
It was the first time that I saw the result of a dive, that the grebe had caught a fish. Nature can be so cruel when you think of the poor fish that was just swimming about just a few seconds before, but life on earth is like this, a tree or plant will take nutrients from the soil, perhaps depriving another plant or tree which will then die. A lion will kill an antelope to feed to live. A bird will eat a caterpillar so we will never see a beautiful butterfly, and then perhaps the bird will be eaten by another animal.

A grebe on the River Thames, Kingston Upon Thames, eating a fish.
A grebe on the River Thames, Kingston Upon Thames, eating a fish.

It is a dog eats dog world.
Even in business, cultural or beliefs systems, in living or existing as we have seen in recent months say in Libya, it is the same, it is dog eat dog or the survival of the fittest.
Life can be Poo Poo seen from one perspective, or beautiful and productive if seen from another.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero Update

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In the past I have written about the Italian Second World War aircraft, the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, or Sparrow Hawk.

It was my privilege to talk to Gianni Golfera’s Grandfather, who had flown this aircraft during the war, and how he had shot down two British Hurricanes.
It was on one of my trips to research my interests, that I visited Bletchley Park, once home in the Second War World to the Code Breakers that were able to break the secret Enigma Codes of the Germans, plus the home of the world’s first electronic computer, Colossus.
In Bletchley Park’s many displays, there are models of many aircraft that flew and fought in WWII, but one aircraft that was missing was the Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero, and as I had found as in my articles on Part of My History is Missing, I wanted other visitors to be aware of more of the WWII history.
Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero

So, to honour a great man, I donated my little plastic aircraft to the museum. I hope others will see it and wonder what has been missing from their learnings.

I failed to tune in, internet access is a big problem.

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For the listeners who tune in to my weekly radio broadcast on a Saturday, (visit web to listen), whatever time it is in your country, I must apologise for not being on air on the 27th August 2011, this program and the subsequent recording will be rescheduled.

Often when I travel, internet access is a big problem.
In todays modern communication, (today being August 2011, how time flies when I read my first entry in this blog), new ways of connecting to others are emerging all the time. Some of the best, Skype, MSN, Blackberry, SMS, all require access at some point to the internet in some form to make instant connections. These connections via the internet could be by the mobile phone providers eventually routing a call or message from a receiving station say in the USA, into the internet system, then in the destination country from the internet into their transmission station to the persons receiving the call or message.
On an iPad or tablet computer a similar system could be employed or through WiFi, when the device or computer has the ability to pick-up and transmit radio signals, enabling connections to the internet, or there is the hardwired ethernet cable, where there is a physical wired connection to the internet.
All the above require a node, an access point from the computer or telephone, and without it you are lost. 
How often am I without communication as my mobile phone cannot locate a cell?
How often is it that I cannot send or receive emails as I cannot find an internet connection?
Many times. Often it is as if I am in the middle of no-where, no civilisation.
But then there are times when there is access, but because companies, individuals place restrictions on accessing via their node, perhaps by the radio frequencies or passwords I am again internet-less. I agree in principal as the  infrastructure, the equipment needs to be provided and paid for.
But, as in many cases, service providers overcharge for this access. 
Take making and receiver telephone calls when out of one’s own providers country, they are making a fortune out of travellers, data access via smartphones and tablet and mobile computing is excessively expensive.
Then there are the hotels that already have the access points, so the infrastructure has been paid for and they pay a set fee to the internet service providers for access, yet charge their guests extortionate prices for access, maybe 25 euro per day.
Yesterday I was returning from Spain to the UK, and my slot for the radio broadcast coincided with me being at the airport in Malaga preparing for boarding, but I would have time to do the interview.
Although I have a UK internet dongle for my computer, I could not afford nearly one hour international data connection charge to the USA. I tried to purchase a Spanish providers internet dongle at a cost of 49 euro, excessive cost, but non were available, so many travellers had my idea.
Surely there would be access via WiFi at the airport?
With half an before my slot, after booking-in and going through security, I sought internet access, and the only one available was Telefonica, the biggest Spanish broadband and telecommunication provider. I was able to access their login page or registration web page and found it very confusing as it was in Spanish, another language I do not speak, then I eventually found a tab for the English language, but pressing the tab I received the message in Spanish, page not available.
Fifteen minutes to go.
Not to be outdone, I asked a Spanish lady for help, who could not quite understand what I wanted, one hours worth of access to the internet. “this is not possible” was her replies to my requests, and her friends agreed with her.
Ten minutes to go.
I knew I was right, one hours worth of internet access is available.
I persuaded her to keep helping me gain access, and I led her through the web pages, until we found a registration page, for name and other details. A great debate took place as to where I placed my first name and my family name, plus other information.
Five minutes to go, still time.
I came to the entry of passport number, now I had to find my passport. People around me wondering what this madman was so anxious about.
Done, three minutes to go.
Credit card ready.
Assess refused, I needed a Spanish passport.
One minute to go, and there was no way I could gain access to the internet and my radio program.
Modern communication works, “IF ONLY”.
Sorry for not making the slot.

The London-Surrey Classic Bike Race 2011

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This morning was so quiet, with the major road from Kingston upon Thames to London closed for the rehearsal and test cycle race for the 2012 London Olympics, the London to Surrey Classic Cycle Race.

Although the roads in the area were closed at 6am in the morning, it was not until 11:45am that the two leading riders rode through Kingston and Norbiton.
One second they were there, and the next, they were gone. Who the riders were I have no idea, nor could I read any of the logos they were wearing on their tight lycra outfits.
About a minute later, the main group rode by at speed followed by the support cars. I think most people found the cars just as interesting along with the other support teams, police, organisers etc, as the spectacle lasted longer.
Another minute went by, and a second group zoomed past.
Then followed further waits for the slower riders in smaller groups, including a rider who we were told had been knocked off his bike by a support car and who finished the race supported by two of his team mates.
All too soon the event was over and gone, and it took some time to re-open the roads to the noisy and polluting traffic.
Ban all traffic from the roads I say, well until I want to go out in my car.

So quiet, the London-Surrey Cycle Classic

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Today is the London-Surrey Cycle Classic bike race, a test and to prepare for the 2012 London Olympics.

The race, some 250km for the men and 140km for women, runs from The Mall (Buckingham Palace in Central London, out into leafy Surrey a place called Box Hill and back, passing through six London Boroughs, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth, Richmond and were I live Kingston. 

From Kingston the race will pass through many small towns and villages in the County of Surrey.
To facilitate the race, many roads have been closed, and will be for most of the day. The road I live on is a major route, carrying many hundreds of cars and buses per hour, but today there is nothing, save for one or two “official” cars.
Our roads in Kingston upon Thames will be closed between 6am and 1500pm, yet the race will pass we are told at 11:50am. Why is it required to close the road so long, especially if the race is anything like the Tour De France, all the racers pass in one big block, blink and you will miss them?
For anyone who has stayed with me, traffic noise can be a problem, but today, it is so quiet, I can even hear birds singing and pigeons cooing in the distance.
It is like living in the country-side, so I am not complaining, even if I like many people are locked into their home as they cannot leave their premises because the roads are closed and the only way to use their car is barred.

How do they know?

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Today is halfway through the moon cycle, that is it is a full moon. It is also halfway through for Muslim’s the holy month of Ramadan, as their Islamic calendar is based upon the phases of the moon, as is the Chinese calendar.

The moon has a very big influence upon the earth and life upon it, from the weather, the tides of our seas and oceans, animals, plants, our health, beliefs and not forgetting werewolves.
In my home in Norbiton Hall, Kingston upon Thames, there are plants, and one in particular a cactus on occasions produces a spectacular flower on a long stem which grows in a couple of days, and fades in a similar time.
Over the last two months, a couple of days prior to the full moon, the cactus has had a flowering shoot or shoots, and on the eve of the full moon, the flower opens.
Three blooms in July 2011 at full moon.
Echinopsis Oxygona flowering cactus

Echinopsis Oxygona flowering cactus
Single bloom in August 2011 at full moon.
How does it know when to open?
How do the turtles know when the moon is full to hatch, burrow themselves to the surface of the sandy beach, to then scramble out to a life at sea?
What power, what forces are the animals and plants being influenced by?
Echinopsis Oxygona flowering cactus
Close-up of cactus bloom
Why are we as humans not consciously aware of these powers?
Life has so many mysteries.
If you know the name of this cactus please let me know.