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Your Wellbeing: what makes us tick?

Revd Chris McDermott, Lead Chaplain for the University of Sussex.

A few months ago my wife bought a new car: a black Ford Fiesta, with an array of technical features that make it a pleasure for her to drive, including a screen that serves as Sat Nav when she plugs her smart phone into the USB port.

A few months ago I bought an incredible sound system to which I can attach my iPhone and listen to my music. I think there is a car built around it. The car is black – which is cool because it matches most of the clothing in my wardrobe.

It’s all a matter of perspective. As Rose (my wife) does most of the driving, she was attentive to certain features - as indeed I was from within my set of priorities. But we are both happy.

It is no dazzling revelation to point out that so much of our decision-making emerges out of the set of values and priorities that sit most deeply within. Not that sound systems and Fords are necessarily choices that emerge from a set of profound values – unless of course you actually could afford a Porsche but made a principled decision re: a lifestyle choice. (No, I could not have afforded a Porsche!)

But other choices we make re: every day matters will resonate with our chosen values and beliefs about what is truly important. When in leadership roles, do we coerce or enter dialogue? Do we dictate or enter into a conversation to explore consensus around other possibilities? Where and how do we spend our money and use our resources? How do we use our free time? What political choices do we make and why?

What are the values that motivate you and me? Compassion and kindness? acquisition and success at any cost? Community and a society that protects its most vulnerable citizens? Strength, power and influence? What makes us tick will shape our lives and impact those around us.

Another lifestyle choice for me is to keep cycling as long as I can! I value my health and wellbeing and will often choose to walk or cycle when I can. I will choose my red hybrid bicycle over our Ford any day!

My enjoyment of cycling recently collided – perhaps not the best verb in this context - with my love of poetry and creativity. So I end on a seasonal note with a celebratory poem about cycling to work on a summer morning written recently. (Close your eyes now if you are not a fan of poetry – or certainly not a fan of my poetry):

Cycling to work on a summer morning

The night had crept away and light lay long

already across the roofs and tree tops,

and the world a-song with the sound of birds

when I mount and sit astride my red and

road-ready ride on a summer morning.

There are slender rumours of cool air,

kissed by the long-fled night, that brush my skin.


Shorn of coat and scarf and bare skin unsheathed,

I bear the lightness of my kit and ride

while the asphalt glides and slides beneath me

along Lewes Road with a summer ease:

in the growing heat and torpor of mid July

the morning chill assents and then gives way

to the warmer air and damp summer swelter.


The world has the glint of unfailing gold

and the sun gilds a morning that transfigures

and crowns my brow with light and casts my skin

vermillion and my ride with fiery tones

as I hover above the road, sailing by,

work-wards on my red bike one glorious,

cut-glass, coruscating summer morning.


So in your face, Ford Fiesta!

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By: Sean Armstrong
Last updated: Friday, 10 August 2018