Wednesday, December 31, 2008

an overwhelming responsibility?... maybe depends

"There's a New Year on the Doorstep, Mother.
It's come to kill the past.."

Those are the first two lines of a poem I wrote at around age 17. I'll have to find the rest of it though as I forget most of the following lines. I don't recall it being particularly brilliant but I've always liked the rhythm of these first two lines despite that.

What did 2008 do in your life?

Did the year do anything at all? Or did you do something to your year?

I find myself "blaming" 2008, The Year, on most of the things that happened to me. Truth be told, it is me who is to blame for almost everything that has happened. We can never really know how the infinitesimal choices we make, with each and every breath, affect our long-term future, but they do I think. The fact is that Time is never at fault for the lot we have and it isn't always the hand we've been dealt with either.

Life is a series of consequences. It is physics and metaphysics, shape and shaped, by the variables of human existence. All the things we think and choose, decide and do, shape and create in the lives we live are no one's fault but our own, in the long run. If we respond with fear, anxiety, angst and pain: if we respond with gratitude, love, joy and acceptance, we are in fact, choosing the future we wish to live, even if we disagree with it.

Still, a part of me says "Bring on 2009!" I want to hurry things along in the hopeful anticipation of positive climes during the coming year. I've always been like this! I have always hoped for better things, perfect things, beautiful, wonderful, glowing, sparkling, resplendent things. And I have feared these very things too.

There is a line in Jethro Tull's classic operetta "Thick as a Brick", where the genius child poet "Little Milton" (Ian Anderson), writes in his 'Epic Poem', "God is an overwhelming responsibility." I think we do treat God like that. We treat our future like that. We treat our past and our present, if we care to notice it, like that. We expect far too much of ourselves in our response to life - and to God. We abuse the gifts of Life and Love and we presume too much power in the concepts of fate and destiny. The very things I desire, I also fear because what is perfect is never AS perfect as I'd hoped it would be. My choice! My standard! My response! My consequence! And yours too, for what I choose affects you even if I claim no responsibility for it.

It was never meant to be like this but that we made it so.

It's not the New Year that "kills" our past. It is not Time that directs our lives. It isn't even God who is defining each little step for us to tread blindly. It is our choice to kill our past and create a new future. It's the choices upon choices we make for ourselves - and in regards to each other - that creates our collective future. God may have plans for us, but he is kind enough to allow us the freedom to choose how we approach those plans and walk the path.

Where there is gratitude, acceptance, understanding, truth, hope, faith, integrity, loyalty, honour, and Love above all, within our choices, our futures, our years, become less battlegrounds and more like pockets containing useful tools for the rest of our life, and yours.

May you bring to 2009 the responses and choices that create the best tools to keep you living and loving well into the future.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The girl who couldn't cry: Chapter 4

The scientists had long since dismissed such notions as fractals. It was considered boring computer science. Ariadne however, had simply begun to draw them. Her art was similar to a fractal from the very first, only a static version on paper and not on computer. Still, like the computerised visual equations, her imagery soared in and out of the perspective, giving the illusion of spirals morphing into another set of spirals. Her work appeared very much like a refined series of artistic fractal equations that could be viewed one way from afar, another way entirely up close.

She gathered up a pencil and sat at the side of the bed. Arranging the paper on the small table beside her she began to fill in a small bit of the white space left on the paper, with her exquisitely attuned artistry. The spiral represented so much for her. It was her theme. For Ari, it was the physical embodiment of tears. Into every spiral she poured the pain that was lodged behind her eyes. The final pieces meant nothing to her and once one was complete; she viewed it, emotionally discounted it and set it aside. The process alone was her release and her fuel. Without it, she felt she probably would wither and die.

The scientists had argued vociferously amongst one another about conducting experiments on this version of The Ariadne Modification. Some wanted to see how she would respond if disallowed to draw her spirals, others said that whilst this particular modification was an exception to other Ariadne's of that same crop, it was still unwarranted to spend extra public monies on such foolishness as the response of a mutant to her art.

A quiet knock at her open door barely aroused her from her process. Smiling, the young male looked at the pretty woman sitting, slightly awkwardly and twisted, on her bed intent on her craft. She felt his aura first before realising he was actually in the room. Ari felt the shot of compassion for her emanating from the very tall, very thin young male. "Oh shush Dwayne! I'm fine!" she retaliated, even though he'd not spoken.

‘The Dwayne Modification’ snickered softly, loped slowly into the room, reaching out his incredibly elongated fingers to touch the crown on her head. His gesture was his way of showing her he was trying to understand the mysteries of her intuitive mind. Sometimes it soothed Ari to have such a person attempt to reach her, other times, it was such a thunderclap of emotional intensity thrust upon her soul that it made her head pound and her whole being ache to cry. She flinched instinctively and he quickly withdrew his hand knowing the meaning of it and feeling sadder he hadn’t been able to sooth her.

Dwayne looked down and perused her artwork quietly, still not speaking. He noted the complicated effect of her spirals and yet the simplistic device she used to construct such complexity. It was amazing. Staring it for longer than he should have, he felt dizzy as if the work was drugging him in some way. He flopped down beside Ariadne on her bed and breathed out heavily.

… To be continued. (I hope)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Luhrmann's Oz and The Moving Castle

Two movies this weekend.

The first was Howls Moving Castle on SBS Television late on Friday night (26 dec 08). An award winning film in the style of Japanese Animé, this lovely little story, blending fantasy and period, captured my imagination.

There is enough in the sub-text under the basic plot to have one thinking and musing on it long after the movie is done. There are themes about the substance of the moment, the quality of life even at great age, energy, vitality, spirit, love, honour, peace and extraordinary courage under difficult circumstances. The heroine is plucky and spirited, brave and big hearted and struggles with her sense of place in the world until Love fills her heart and the focus shifts within her. The hero is beautiful, wise and strong but tends to hide his deep emotional vulnerability from the world. There is evil which must be repelled and thwarted. There is friendship, good humour, magic and forgiveness. The main theme is "Sense of Place" and where one belongs, at least for me anyway.

The second movie I saw was "Australia" by Baz Luhrmann. This movie, which will undoubtedly win some kind of award I guess, is a pretty basic story told "old-style" like the Hollywood romantic fantasy epics from the "Golden Age" of movies. The characters are painted in broad brushstrokes and are larger than life, but the story carries well and it is easy to lose yourself inside of it.

There are also sub-texts in this story, strongly led by the aboriginal cast who bring the spiritual essence to this piece of dramatic cinema. There is the pale English upper-crust heroine, plucky, brave, a little bit lost at the beginning for whom Love fills her heart and her focus shifts within. There is the crusty, emotionally reserved hero all buff and gorgeous and dripping in dirt and sexual tension. There is betrayal, death, space, colour, movement, honour, creed, the substance of the moment and the demonstration of courage under extraordinary circumstances. There is evil which must be thwarted as well as friendship, good humour, magic and forgiveness.

Luhrmann uses the potentially tacky hook of "Oz" from The Wizard of Oz, to underpin the spiritual themes of the movie. Thankfully however, the dignity of the aboriginal cast subdues what could have become a silly bit of trite word-play (Oz is our short-hand way of saying 'Oztraiyleeya'), and makes it something actually quite sweet and profound. Again, the strong theme for me was the "Sense of Place" and where we belong.

Both movies weave tapestries quite different in context and style. The stories are on the surface very different. The themes are not at their base elements. This is story-telling of the Dreaming sort; the kind of stories mankind has told his tribe for hundreds of thousands of years. We never tire of these themes because they are our own themes, the plots may all be unique but the essence that generates those plots is not. All people everywhere seek that place where they belong. All people long to have the courage to follow their heart. All people wish for love that fills their heart so that the focus shifts from within themselves.

Perhaps not ironically, both movies used the concept of air-raid bombings to underpin the drama. The violence of war is depicted in both movies in quite realistic ways. The afeared loss of the beloved being a classic and very strong element in both narratives. It surprises me as I sit here and write this just how similar these two stories actually are despite the very different styles.

How we interpret these dreams, our stories, our history, through the heroes and heroines of not important. What is important, is that we tell them at all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The girl who couldn't cry: Chapter 3

Unable to grieve biologically, Ari had developed other means of dissipating the pain. For Ari, the only way she could find solace was in her art. She had a theme, which she assiduously studied and built upon to the point where her designs and ideas contained the seeds of genius. This caused some consternation among the scientists on the other side of the Perspex screens. Ariadne’s work was genuinely inspirational and ethically it would be wrong not to have the world see it and marvel at it - but because she was, technically, a mutant, it wasn't considered proper to parade these Human mutant GM crops to the rest of the world. It was best if the rest of humanity didn't really know too much about the Human GM project. What to do with Ariadne's art became a serious cause for dissention and argument among the project scientists.

Ariadne returned to her room after lunch and stood at the side of her simple cot and beside table. It was littered in papers, pencils and pieces of black charcoal - a very rare commodity since burning things had been long been outlawed, damaging as it was to the thin layers of oxygenated air surrounding the planet. Fire still existed and was feared but it was usually contained in the large global parks where humans were not allowed to venture anymore. The charcoal, so coveted by the world’s artists, was from one of these parks. There was a thriving black market - a term that made people smile at the obvious irony - in the sale of stolen charcoal from the global parks. That Ariadne had been given such an illicit tool to extend her artistic theme was testament to how others, outside of her Perspex cage, viewed her work. It was also an unspoken rule that mutants, treated as they were like prized lab rats, were to be granted anything, even that which ordinary people would have struggled years to obtain.

The mutants knew their lifespan was short. They were research subjects and as much as they were feted upon and had almost every need attended to, they realised early in their growth cycle that when the research needs for their crop genes had been exhausted, their bodies were no longer required. “Re-integration” was a euphemistic term for their bodies being returned to the cellular dust from which they’d been harvested. A number of vials of blood and tissue were retained in a repository for engineering new crops of their particular kind, and then all but the healthiest mutants were euthanised, their bodies mulched and composted for adding to the soils in the plant breeding centres.

Only one avenue was available to those genetic strains of humans who did not require daily medications, or suffered undue pain or discomfort in their body. These human crops were offered the chance to crew a Light Ship that would seek new worlds to colonise in deep space. It was an enormous gamble on the chance to live a full life on another planet; to breed as normal human beings do; raise a family, develop a culture, a race, a home to call one’s own. If no such place was found in time, they simply remained in deep space until the ships energy supply dissipated and they died. Margot was a strong candidate for such a journey. She was terrified. Ariadne could feel Margot’s deeply embedded terror emanating from every fibre of her being - every night and every day. It was probably the reason Margot was so acerbic. Ariadne would never be granted the Light Ship option. She could not cry and as such required far too much medical assistance to be considered a viable option for the re-colonisation lottery. Ari was, almost, comforted by this thought.

She stood there and stared blankly at a recent artwork. It was hypnotic. Ari had drawn a series of interconnecting spirals, that when you looked closer contained even more interconnecting spirals within spirals. Even within the very lines of spirals, tiny and fine as they were, were more, impossibly tiny, spirals co-joined and entwined. The web-like finesse and detail of her art was astonishing - even to other mutants.

…To be continued. (I hope)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Within 24 hours, calm claimed my anxiety and beat it to a pulp

yesterday she didn't have a job. Yesterday she was suffering mild anxiety and was desperately trying to be philosophical and resigned to her current situation.

Today she has a job! A good job from all accounts. One practically designed for her (well...that is when she figures out exactly what it is and how its done of course).


I have work.

I've been under more physical stress than I realised. Today my body feels like its just had a big weight lifted off it. It doesn't feel light and energised as such though. In fact, I am stiff, tired, sore as if I've run more miles than the average road-runner.

Of course, I haven't been, I've been pretty "slack" actually, doing "nothing much" and instead feeling oppressed and down-hearted about the search for work. Emotionally, it's the direct equivalent of running a marathon.

Today, it's like I've been granted Holidays after doing a really tough gig. Ironically, I've done very little this past few months other than "look for work" and write a lot. Still, underneath where no one see's - least of all myself - I was working harder than most to keep getting out of bed each day, deal with home, children, job applications, welfare angst, financial stress, career focus, passion, direction, loss, the list goes on.

Today, I can breathe and let the past finally go for good. I've been given a new shot at finding what it is I'm "meant" to do. That's a blessing and a massive Christmas Present.

I'm on holidays now...until the second week of January. Then I start my new life as a Volunteer Management Program Project Worker :) Go figure!

Of course this all depends on if I pass the Criminal History Check..... hahahhaha *smirk*

Monday, December 22, 2008

Musing back... Deciding foward

2008 has been one Annus horribilis

There's been a couple of good bits but overall, it's not been an easy year, a comforting or comfortable year or a year in which things sort of "flow" smoothly.

2008 seems to have been more about personal decisions and growth on the more subjective strata of the Inner Bean.

I've learned a lot more about what emotions are... what BIG emotions are. How they affect the soul, the core and how they impact on the ability to make choices.

I've learned how to live with very much less. I've done "without" and lived a lot more simply in many ways. I've railed against this on many occasions as I really don't like being thwarted by a lack of financial freedom but I guess its been a good lesson to rein in my tendency to be a little too free with money. I assume too much and rely very heavily on God to "provide". And He has actually in astonishing ways on occasion.

I've struggled with relationships - the really important ones in my life - close female friends I've known for many years and male friends. These relationships are so important to me and yet I struggle so much to be "there" for the people who count. I know how selfish and self-centred I am now.

I've learned when to call it quits with live-in spiders.

I've learned that badgers demanding I go about smelling coffee doesn't guarantee that these "magical visions" and synchronicities will turn out to be what you expect.

I've learned that I don't really know what I want in life other than a broadband internet connection and blogging and other writing. I would emotionally starve if I could not write or muse in words. It's not likely going to pay my bills anytime soon though and I don't know what to do about that right now. There is no clear vision as to how to turn this passion into something that makes a difference AND subsequently, feeds my family.

I've learned how to study for university but I'm not sure I'm that interested in University studies in an online context anymore. It's a LOT tougher to study alone than in the dynamic environment of being on a campus with other flesh and blood students. I still don't know if I have the courage and the fortitude to continue towards a B.A. in Internet studies via Online Universities Australia. That being said, I am seriously considering going back to school locally here and doing a Business Certificate course next year if work doesn't turn up by the New Year.

I've learned to clean! And How! Having spent some time cleaning in the spiffiest, cleanest motel in all the land...I really know the difference between clean and sort of clean! I hope that's a skill I can keep! :)

Next year will pose it's own challenges. There is no need for resolutions as such. I do want to make some decisions though. I can sit here, getting fat again, whining and musing about what I am "meant" to do and trying to figure out what I truly want to do or I can just get involved in life again and see what happens.

For too long this past six months of this year - I've navel-gazed myself into a confused frenzy of self-limiting beliefs. It's time to regain my equilibrium and look at God in the details of life again now. To head through the mists, terrified for sure...but just head through them without stopping to try and get bearings I simply cannot find by myself.

This year was the year of Let Go.

Next year I hope and pray it will be the year of Let God.

Have a wonderful Christmas season no matter who or what you believe. My hope for you is that the Christ child inspires you to practice loving large within small circles.

God speed

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Footnotes to the Girl story


Am getting a bit of feedback of sorts re the first two "chapter" posts for a story I've been writing called "The Girl who couldn't Cry".

You can find chapter 1 here and chapter 2 here.

The story is entirely a work in progress. I do have a few chapters written up but they may be tweaked or changed and even I don't know where this story is going to end up. I'm just glad I have more than one or two chapters in the current pipeline. I can lose interest in projects like this very quickly as I am completely and utterly results focused more than being able to engage with a process over a long period of time. This story however, seems to have a full universe of potential within and I am more than a little excited about seeing if it can and how it might develop.

Originally, I just started writing "The Girl who couldn't cry" into this blogger screen on a whim, but when I got to over 3000 words, I balked a little at posting it in its entirety. I have written long stories in here before, but because I tend to write on the fly and because I need space between writing and editing to see the flow/grammar/spelling issues...I decided to split the Girl story into sections...chapters if you will... so that I can try and polish the text a little more than I usually do when blogging.

I have to say that this particular story has gripped my imagination like no other before it. Ariadne is fast becoming a very important person to me and I want to get to know her better. I can feel other characters itching to burst forth too. It's a bit surreal for me as I tend to rely so heavily on pure accidental creative energy for writing. I can rarely force it forth, it has always just flowed from under my fingers with the merest hint of a "hook" before I even knew the ideas were there.

As with "The Girl who couldn't cry", I start pretty much all my writing with a title. From there I just let the energy flow - if it will. I had no idea that when I wrote that title into the heading of this blog earlier this week, I'd be telling a story of a world I know nothing of, in a place that is alien and strange to me, about a woman who is very different to myself! My propensity for tears borders on the ludicrous after all! *blush*

The dear story 'fan' who is sending me editorial advice via email will prove useful in helping me to polish ideas, I think. Therefore, I extend an invitation for everyone who may be reading the story to also email me feedback. You can use the link from my profile here in blogger. Alternatively, you can just comment below each chapter with any suggestions or possibilities, ideas, spelling corrections (being mindful I tend to write in Australian English which spells differently sometimes, to American English), etc.

The medium of blogging is a wonderful way of collaborative story-telling. As an aspirational author, I have a lot of creative pride in my work but the times are a-changing and collaborative "instant" fiction may be a trend of the future. Authors with 'fans'- or followers - who can also write, think and contribute lovely gems to the final fabric of a "Jolly Good Yarn". It may be a bit of a pipe-dream perhaps, but it would be nice to feel that kind of encouraging support as one writes; writing is such a solitary hobby for the most part.

I do hope you will enjoy this process for as long as the creative fire, for it, burns.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The girl who couldn't cry: Chapter 2

The intuiting thing was a double curse for Ariadne. Her gift in knowing the feelings and mind of others could often cause her such grief that, at times, the pain behind her eyes threatened to explode her head. The need to weep in release of the guilt, pain and horror of what she saw and felt inside others, was denied her. He brain knew it as a response that was humanly natural but her genetically modified body did not. It could not produce the evidence to prove its existence. It was like there were two warring factions inside of her trying to make the other understand a concept the other could not conceive or imagine. She poured a few more drops of tears from the bottle into her eyes so that they streamed down her face, giving the illusion of crying.

As to why the Ariadne Modification was a tearless one, none of the mutants actually knew for sure. Ariadne’s, and particularly this Ariadne were regularly visited by the psych-docs, more so than other more obvious Human Genome Modification Projects. The fact that Ari’s body wanted to cry, and the fact that is was physically and biologically impossible for her to do so was a little bit mysterious. Most assumed that it was do with eye diseases and left it at that. Ariadne herself, intuited from the ongoing stream of psych-docs it was to do with eye diseases but she also felt it was something more too. Something to do with “Happiness” perhaps, although none of the psych-docs ever mentioned anything about that. They seemed rather more interested in her intuitive capabilities and her propensity for absorbing the emotions of others like a sponge. Not one of the doctors ever asked her if she were ‘Happy’. Most of them seemed as sad inside as any mutant to her anyway, so maybe on the subject of herself, she was simply a little off-target with her impressions. She learned to deal.

"What's the matter now Ari?" said the slightly blue skinned female opposite. Ariadne immediately felt the rush of annoyance emanating from the speaker. Critical judgment overlayed with concession for the humanitarian purpose of behaving "nicely" to others when really, you just wanted to punch their faces in so they'd wake up and get a grip and see things the way you saw them. Ari felt the pain behind her eyes get stronger. She looked at Margot, her sloe eyes streaming with the evidence of bottled tears.

"Shut up, Margot! I know what you're thinking,” she said simply.

"What am I thinking?" Margot veiled the question in a tone of, very nearly, pure sarcasm.

"That you think I'm an idiot to get so emo about the shit in other peoples heads. And, that I should just get a grip and get over it and stop being such a baby” Ariadne said the words as if they were clinical facts. In any other person, human or mutant, this statement, delivered so matter of fact, would have been a mere assumption. From Ariadne, it was always the truth. She had very few friends for this reason - because she could know someone’s mind - and heart - long before they knew it themselves. It's discomforting to be known before one can know oneself. Ariadne knew this too and it grieved her yet again that she was not able to turn off her abilities in this matter.

Margot snorted briefly and re-focused on the bread she'd been running around the edge of her pannikin, scraping up the remains of the gravy left behind from her meal. The blue tinge of Margot's skin told the world she was a genetic experiment in light refraction for the purposes of withstanding Ultra Violet light at extreme levels. One hundred years ago, humans had been dying in the thousands because they loved the sun too much. Now most humans couldn't be in the sun for more than a few minutes, and that was filtered sunlight too. Most normal human beings were so pale now; no sunscreen could protect them from the damaging effects of sunlight. Margot was the proposed answer to this conundrum. She could sit in the sun for hours and never burn. They were keeping her healthy and alive for as long as possible to watch for any evidence of cancerous lesions on her skin. Her skin was regularly removed in patches so that her genetic strengths could be analysed and replicated in future Margot experiments. She currently bore the evidence for a recent skin patch removal operation, in the form of a large dark bandage on her upper right arm. Margot regularly cried, privately as she could, to release her pain. Ariadne - along with their ever-present observers outside of their Perspex cage - always knew when Margot cried but never said anything. She felt Margot's pain as keenly as Margot herself.

…to be continued. (I hope)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dropbox is jaw dropping wonderful

I downloaded a little application to Preciousss here today that may have the potential to revolutionize the way we do business, communicate, share information and generally collaborate over distance.

It's called Dropbox and works with either PC or Mac, interfacing between the two platforms if necessary.

Essentially, it's a secure way of backing up your own personal data to a web interface OR a way of mirroring that same data in other locations.

For example. Say I have some files on my computer which I copy to my Dropbox folder on my desktop. I go away without my computer. Someone wants something that I think..Oh.. I have that file. I get on another computer, go to the web interface, put in my email and password to log into "My Dropbox" page and voila! There is my file, which I can then download and do whatever I need to with.

The mirroring of files is VERY useful if you wish to share a file with someone on the other side of the world. Don't worry...your computer is safe. Dropbox uses 128 SSL Encryption. That person can ONLY see the files you have in the shared folder for which you have given them permission to view. They can't edit anything else on your computer. You have the option of choosing whom you wish to share files with. They download the file from the shared folder in the Dropbox web interface onto their computer, can edit and add to the document/file and within minutes, the updates will show in your own folder!

I sent a .zip folder of data which amounted to an excess of 72 megabytes to bat today - he lives in Europe remember and I'm in SE Australia! That's quite a hefty distance and a real PITA for posting data on discs and flash-drives! However, with Dropbox, he was able to access and use that data in less than 10 minutes. This is pretty much impossible using email, and I soooo wasn't looking forward to burning it to disc and packaging it up for the post.

The free version of Dropbox is a very generous 2 gigabytes with a paid version of 50gig for approx USD$100.00 per year thereabouts. But for on the fly file sharing for business managers and writers, 2 gig is probably going to be ample - at least if the shared folders are regularly cleaned out.

There are other little tricks that are important to know about dropbox. On the Mac, you can use Growl to notify you of changes made to shared folders. Not sure what the notifiers are in PC these days sorry, I'm sure there are plenty *grin*. It's also important to copy files across (alt+drag on the Mac) to the dropbox folder or you will be physically moving the file to Dropbox and it won't reside on your local disk anymore. Templates for application sharing can also be a bit tricky... don't lose your templates folders!

If other people don't have Dropbox, you can still share files with them. By slipping files across to the public folder in Dropbox, it will assign each file its own URL and you only need to provide that link in an email, which your colleagues can access from there.

It seemed a bit overwhelming this tech for about 3 minutes. But when it worked, I was beaming like a cat who licked cream! I couldn't get over the speed, efficiency and the really easy interface. For collaborative projects, Dropbox could perhaps prove to be among THE applications of the decade!

So far so good. Oh...and btw...I am not getting paid for this bit of free advertising for Dropbox! hahaha When I find something incredible, I simply share it with the world and today...this was jaw droppingly incredible to me! I can't wait to use it for a joint project.

Can you believe it?

Found this cute little article by someone who calls themselves "Divine Caroline" on the beta version of the new age spirituality website,

It made me smile because I really like it when some of the sillier aspects of the Christmas story are shown to be...well.... very silly!

Laughed my head off about Mary being "preggers" trying to ride a donkey!

Exactly! *Applause*

The POINT to the reason I celebrate Christmas, and for the millions of Christians around the world who share this belief system with me, is that the wisdom and graciousness of God is way more incomprehensible than the collective wisdom and graciousness of humanity.

We can't "get" God's perverse and counter-intuitive actions in the world, both the miraculous and the mundane, then or now. Nothing God does, ever really makes total sense in the moment, but it does tend to make sense a whole lot later on.

What man breaks, God restores, just not always from our immediate vantage point and in accordance with our sense of propriety either. We can complain as loudly as we like about when and how God "should" intervene, and he might do that occasionally. We can, and often do, complain when God's interventions don't follow our plans or don't make sense to us. We tend to - very quickly - forget God's interventions when they happen to suit us very well.

The thing is, we can't see the whole story because we can only ever belong to the chapter we are living. God isn't being precious, mean or prevaricating towards us, he just has inside info we cannot yet know.

Two thousand years after the original Christmas Day (give or take 4 or 5 years either side of Year Zero and soooooo NOT December 25!), we look back and go "Aha!" at the birth of Christ, because what was an insignificant event in the view of humanity back then, became - and becomes to this day - a very significant global perspective indeed.

Somewhere around 33 AD with a brutal killing, followed quickly by a defiant metamorphosis from the tomb, God, the baby, became God the man and changed my life - your life - forever.

No Three Kings of the non-crying babies in barns... no donkeys or cows, octopi or lobsters staring googly-eyed at a halo-lit mother and child... just God, present, among us, saving us from ourselves.

You won't believe it until you see it with God's eyes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Long way to Intentional "Community"

I'm a "sort of" member of an "intentional community" currently finding its way in Second Life. I am not really a full member as such as I deliberately stay on the side-lines, preferring not to get just "too" involved.

The community is experimenting in creating a virtual "tribe" of people who 1) want to live sustainably 2) want to build lasting commitments to people they love 3) want to practice 'Love, Conversation & Community'. I've been a full member of a very Intentional Community all my life... that being the Christian Church! Yes! That "silly old fashioned bunch of crackpots" called The Church IS an IC! A common purpose and a REASON to be together far beyond ourselves. The IC in Second Life has too many ideas, more rules than most churches and a lot of really different purposes for existing.

The Second Life IC a bit of a Utopian idea really and I admit to be more than a little sceptical as to its success. People tend to gather for strange reasons and this community is attracting diverse cultures from all corners of the globe, stretching the boundaries of such prosaic things as meeting times and authoritarian concepts. It's muddy, murky, silly, strange and kinda beautiful when you watch from slightly afar. I love the people...well most of 'em, but I shake my head and smile to myself a lot. I guess that makes me more arrogant than most of them put together. I must amend this haughty air I know!

Whilst I personally believe the IC, I'm toe-dipping into, is deeply flawed and will most likely fail in its purpose and goals... I watched an episode of "The Long Way Down" tonight on SBS Television.

Watching the 8 blokes all attempting to get along through some rather tricky goals was quite enlightening. This WAS an Intentional Community albeit not a permanent one! Eight very different men (and some girls behind the scenes too mind you), one vision, a unified team!

I've been musing this evening quietly in the back of my mind as I attend to other duties, wondering what it is about this IC that is so different from the one being attempted in SL.

I'm still at a bit of a loss but my hunch is that it's to do with Shared Purpose. There are no hidden agenda's, no personal ego's getting in the way, no misunderstanding each other and so on. Just one clear, unequivocal REASON for them to be together, learning how to get along to make a collective vision happen.

It's quite, quite different to the Second Life IC I'm currently watching from the edges. There is no real purpose to the group...not a definitive one that everyone clearly understands anyway. There is too much shoving and jockeying for authority among certain members and a LOT of general misunderstanding of the platform of SL itself as in its social dynamics and the reason people use it.

Now of course, a lot of this is my personal observations and it may well be that the SL/IC will be a rip roaring success despite its early birthing hurdles and I'll have to eat my arrogant hat for saying all this stuff. Honestly? I don't see a lot of success in the IC wind for this puppy. It will be nice to be wrong about that!

'The Long way down' is different I think. Very different in that this collective bunch of blokes that rarely have anything much to do with each other for the most part, who all come from different corners of the globe, who are all intrinsically different temperaments, they all seem to share a singular vision that is, well...pretty much identical for all of them.

The vision is to get Ewan and Charley to ride their motorbikes from the top of Scotland all the way down to Johannesburg in South Africa. That's it! That is THE purpose. It's clear. It's precise. It's do'able (they hope). It requires leadership but no actual defined "Boss" so there is no jockeying for a position. Everyone has a specific purpose on the team aligned with their specific skill set. Yes! All the various ego's are sometimes in conflict but they get over it and keep going and get along. They have a reason to BE together and because of that reason, they're learning to care about each other a very, very, very great deal!

SBS TV is televising the Long Way Down series on Wednesday evenings Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time at 20:30. You can watch entire episodes on the web each week after the show has aired on TV here. Just click the tab that says "Watch Full Episodes"

I highly recommend it. They squeeze an awful lot into each epi...and it can seem a little bit light on occasionally I'll admit. Still, tonight's episode (no. 3), really highlighted the commitment and camaraderie of this particular 'Intentional Community' very clearly for me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The girl who couldn't cry: Chapter 1

Pain seared the spot between her eyes where no one could see. It was as hot and as sharp as if a poker had stoked her brain instead of fire. She longed to be able to weep for in the weeping, it might be cooled. She could not.

Ariadne reached into her bag and scrimmaged about for the small bottle of tears she kept with her at all times. In the autopilot of long habit, she twisted off the cap, holding it between thumb and palm while tipping back her head and dropping two small drops of liquid into each eye. The cold shocked her dry eyeballs, bringing the familiar sting as the salty solution cleansed and moistened them. To cry would be a much better option and this was as good as it was ever going to get for the girl.

She looked across the table where she and a small band of other mutants sat in silence considering each mouthful of the meal they'd been given. Ariadne looked almost normal in comparison to the array of slightly misaligned human test cases. She considered them more human than most. For all their mutantcy they had the familiar idiosyncratic tendencies of most human beings - the desire for unconditional love, connection, happiness, prosperity and power. None of them was any less normal in that regard than those who considered themselves more human.

They had no parents, these kids. They'd been grown in petri dishes and test tubes. They were a new kind of genetic modification organism, bred to specifically help normal humans - who obviously weren't mutants - live forever. Ariadne had been bred in such a way that her gene for the ability to cry had been turned off. She could not shed tears in enough quantity to weep. The barest amount of fluid escaped what tear ducts she possessed and because she was pretty and apparently physically normal in all other respects, and because she was quite good at intuiting what other people were thinking, they'd given her the eye drops to keep her eyes moistened instead of "re-integrating" her cells into yet another crop of Ariadne's who couldn't cry.

…to be continued. (I hope)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dreams et al

What are your dreams?

You know? The disembodied visions sequestered inside your cortex responsible for imagination and emotion? I don't mean the dreams of your subconcious as you sleep as such, but the imaginative aspirations you place far beyond capability and possibility in your life. The kind of imagination that builds a story about what you'd love to do with your life and which makes you feel a certain way. Do you feel wistful about that story? Do you feel uncertain? Sceptical? Content? Energised?

My own dreams are wafty, uncertain musings I tend to compartmentalise into the "Never-gonna-happen" bin from the file "No Way THAT's possible!" What I dream about makes me feel a complimentary mix of wistful bliss and baleful regret that it could "never" be reality.

We are told to take hold of our dreams and make them come true; that the aspect of true success is the fruit of our proactive creating the life we want and the living out of our dreams. If we aspire to write that glorious novel, the one that changes "everything" for the next 100 years of human history; the Classic that stands the test of time long after we're gone etc. Or, the dream of travelling the world and filling our life's plate with a taste of the colours, cultures, sounds and smells vastly different to our experience thus far. Or, the dream of meeting the one person who truly "gets" you and with whom you do not need to be anything other than entirely your truest self. Or, the dream of opening a restaurant, a business, a bank, creating a really nifty gadget that doesn't yet exist... we should simply begin to do so.

The list of dreams is as endless as the sea of humanity.

There are some people in the world who know exactly what they want, why they are here and where they're going and what they want to leave behind. They do not quibble - as I do in this blog far too often - about the vicissitudes of establishing their dreams in reality, they merely begin the first step and with jaw set and chin pointed forward, they march straight towards their North. They fall down, they get up again and they do not meander even when life forces them to. They categorically refuse to be denied the evidence of their dreams, made physically manifest through the genius of perspiration and the kicker bit of inspiration they started with.

What do I want?

For this past year, I've asked myself this question over and over and over again until my whole body wants to burst with the frustration of having to answer it.

I still do not know! Other than wealth in abundance so I don't have to think about budgets and being financially scrooge'ish towards others, I really don't know what I want to do that I CAN do as easily as breathing without over thinking it and with utter pleasure in the process rather than fear of never achieving the final result.

This isn't supposed to be a struggle, it's supposed to be incredibly simple. Those people I mentioned before simply dream and do, they don't vacillate and moan about the improbabilities of achievement or of not succeeding in their hopeful aspirations. I do though.

My natural inclination is to do what I want to do. If I want something I generally make an effort to achieve it so long as I don't try and turn it into a fantasy inside my head! However there is a very strong genetic restraint I inherited from my mother (and to some extent my father too), which says that I CANNOT achieve what I would like to achieve in living out my fantastical dreams, simply because if I happen to succeed at it...I'll have to work harder, longer, better and more frentically to keep up the pace. It's a law of perfection that effectively stops you producing a dream to reality in the very first moment of your dreaming. It says that fail or cannot really hope to match this perfect illusion you have inside your head. Yes! I know it makes your heart tick with pleasure but remember you're "only" human and you are sooooo NOT that clever and this will be incredibly difficult work and if you happen to be good at will turn out to be very bad for you in the long run.

Since the age of about 17 when I first read "Out of the Silence" by Earle Cox, I have wanted to turn it into a rollicking 'Hollywood Blockbuster' screenplay. That has probably been the longest held dream I have to date.

To this day I often think wistfully on this dream and sigh ruefully that I "can never" actually write this old Sci-fi story into a "fabulous" screenplay. I don't have the balls! As soon as I think about transferring this dream across to actual gritty reality with the determination to make it come true - the beautiful sheen on that dream becomes a mere fantasy and an impossibility.

It's not that I can't write it...I probably could, probably really badly - it is however that I can't write it because I fear I will lose the ability to keep the dream alive. Once outside of me, it is not a dream anymore, it becomes a duty, an obligation I must fulfill and I am so lazy it's just "not possible" to do it justice. When I get bored with going uphill on anything, I lose focus and simply let the ambition die. If it stays a dream I am the only one who will regret never bringing it to fruition, no one else needs to be disappointed in me!

For the past few years I've harboured ambitions to be my area's first Professional Organiser. Helping people get their stuff and their lives decluttered, sorted, stored properly and their spaces opened up so their minds are free to finally play instead of feeling guilty and trapped by their crap. I have wanted to help people be free of the junk (and recognise what IS junk too), and liberate them to orderly and functional, organised lives. I've dabbled a little bit at seeing if this dream could even remotely be viable. I still don't really know. Some would suggest I dump it as "No one in this town will pay for that kind of service!". Others, like my mother would, in the gentlest possible, non-direct way, openly disparage the idea as a mere fantasy and that I could never hope to achieve such a glorified position in life! I kick myself for aspiring to this notion when I see the clutter that follows my own family's wake!

Dreams "Cannot Happen" is my psychological wiring. Logically, I realise that I have the power within to change this attitude and response to dreams. Practically, I do not have the skills - at least not right now.

I don't know what I truly want enough that not doing it would make me unhappier than the process of actually doing it.

When I figure that out, a lot of this current angst should dissipate into the ether. I hope.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Long View of Moving it

The Long Now has this wee little post there this morning that on first glance doesn't appear to be "much".

It's a simple post asking us to consider updating the storage of our digital data as regularly as every 5 years to new storage formats.

It's a valid point.

In this age of instant access to everything, information is becoming as transitory and as ephemeral as mists across mountains. Nothing we think we are keeping for prosperity is likely to last as much as we hope it would and expect it will.

Since I was a little girl, I've always had a very long term view about my writing. Even when I was little I can remember the strong will and urge deep within to write "something" that could perhaps be seen by those that came long after me. When I was in my late teens, I began keeping "Mood Journals" which in hindsight were an early version of paper blogging. My Journals were not standard "I did this and this today" diaries as were usually kept by girls my age. They were flexible, mutable documents of my moods, feelings, aspirations, creative writings and memories. Very much like this blog I write now.

The paper books I wrote my angst and thoughts into back then have survived over 25+ years! I can still access them and read them at leisure. I haven't lost my poems of that time, or the stories. It's all still there, readable and accessible.

When I lost my hard-drive in this lap top earlier this year and could not retrieve the data I had accumulated in the year prior to that, I lost a very large number of photo's, writings, ideas half formulated and documentation I cannot replace and never will. It's gone.

My sister and brother-in-law recently had to spend a very large sum of money on having thousands of family photo's from when their children were very little, retrieved when their computer "died".

The human response to tech is that it is "permanent", that the new inventions, which promise so much, will remain long after ourselves. It's an assumption that these digital space-age devices which seem so inherently simple and usable to us, will be the same for many to come after us. Not so!

As people change, so does the tech they use. What we think is about as good as it gets, changes in about 5 to 15 years to something "better" or "worse". It's change and change is here to stay.

History is important to the human psyche. We long to know where we have been, how far we've come, what our forebears thought and did. We long to be surprised by the ingenuity of our ancestors - that "Gee Whiz" component of amazement that they could survive and flourish in such "primitive" circumstances! It gives us hope of our own survival and ability to progress forward to what may come. History anchors us and helps us learn - well, hopefully it does.

Much of our social history will be lost within as little as 50 years if we assume we can keep it on the data storage devices we use now indefinitely. We can't and we won't. The Long Now post I linked to in the title is an important reminder that if we wish to keep the NOW we are living alive for the THEN of our children' children - we need to be proactive about moving our images, stories, writings, thinking, ideas and accounts of our events into the new storage devices to come.

Remember this so that those who come after us remember us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Creating something that lasts

Steve has written one of his usual counter-culture blog posts on the nature of work and how we can approach it - or not.

I read this post this morning after I'd posted my own deeply disturbed (and perhaps disturbing) feelings today on being long-term unemployed. I strive after paid work because it's what I know and understand. Steve's approach is so alien to my thinking and style it leaves me gasping!

Of course, the way he writes it makes it sound so easy! "Just" create something of value and deliver it!

I shake my head in abject confusion.

I STILL don't know what it is I'm actually good at! I still don't really know what my passion, and what I truly love to do, is, apart from writing here in this rather pitiful forum. I am at a complete loss as to what I really want to do with this life I've been given.

Create something of value huh? What the hell would that be perchance?

My head has been spinning with this conundrum all afternoon. Maybe I'm over thinking it perhaps. There is definitely something amiss in how I am approaching all this career stuff of late.

I shall find my way... my machete is hacking away at this forest of confusion and lack of direction to make a path of some kind. Thing is...I think I currently can't think far enough outside of this jungle to make sense of trying things I've never tried before let alone thought about!

If only there was a clear sign I could see ahead that I can cross-reference against a map! Do I even have the map up the right way though? Today it seems like it's in a foreign language.

Create and Deliver Value!

Who am I? What am I here for? Where am I going? Why? And who for? Do they even care? Do I?

It's supposed to be easier than this yeah Steve? "Just" do what I love and let the money come? Right! Right!

Control and the removal of rugs

Five weeks almost. Five weeks of being in a state of limbo so deflating and dehumanising, I am losing the urge to create the momentum to keep going.

The motel where I was working casually as a cleaner has all but given up calling me for work. It seems I was too much of a cost liability. Because I was open and honest with them about my desire for full time stable work and because my Government welfare payments demand that I apply for at least 7 to 10 jobs a fortnight, the motel reasoned - fairly - that it would be pointless to train me to any standard as a casual cleaner because I would be likely to leave as soon as I had full time work!

It is a fair assessment of my situation. I quite liked the work at the motel on the whole although I seem to find it very difficult to fit in with already well established teams of females! That would be my problem though, not theirs. I tend to feel the undercurrents of mistrust and caution in others so acutely it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was slowly getting better and covering the minute details of the work, noticing marks on mirrors missed and the errant hair on the floor etc.

But all this is moot now. They had promised to train me for the office but I still have not been called in for training even though I have rung them to ask.

This past five weeks of needing to do a minimum of 30 hours work a fortnight - and not being able to - and apply for at least 7 to 10 jobs as well (at least I have been able to do that) to justify my government payments so I can house and feed my children, is getting me down now.

I woke up late this morning. Not long ago, I was an early riser and proud of it. I used to regularly rise between 0500 and 0630 in my mornings and get things done before the day really kicked into gear. This past three weeks at least, I find myself drifting in the behavioural patterns of those who have given up caring! I got up at 0900 this morning! Which I deem abhorrent in my personal scale of responsibility and ethical control of ones person!

The will to keep positive and upbeat, to be proactive and determined about my life at the moment is drowning under an emotional ocean of Blue. I feel unwanted, unemployable, unattractive and unneeded. It is even difficult to find enough voluntary work that will be acceptable for justifying my payments.

Right now, it feels like I'm in this hole and I cannot see the rope or how to climb out. All I want to do is sit down in the bottom here and focus on the computer screen and write. The ironic twist in this sordid self-pity is that my creative output seems to be double the usual for me. The need to express things in words is bordering on volcanic. My brain is spewing forth words in convoluted ways as if in desperation to string something of worth together when all else is falling apart.

Long term unemployment feels like losing ones religion. The hope you aspired to so valiantly and confidently is needled apart until the knots at the edges of your soul tapestry undo and the image of your most treasured beliefs and dreams frays. The more you try to redo the knots - the more the canvas repels your efforts. You simply give up and live with the fraying edges of life because it feels like it doesn't matter anyway.

I used to be a proactive, organised woman. I kept lists and I got things done efficiently and there was not much that crossed my desk that did not get processed and filtered through its required steps. I've lost much of that drive this past year. The energy and the will to create order in my life is so very muted. Today it feels like it is in its death throes. I feel burdened by the guilt of not being able to achieve something useful. I have been rejected by all of the jobs I deeply believed I wanted. I don't know why.

Monday I begin cleaning a house. Perhaps that will lead to other houses to clean. I can barely clean my own right now. I am so worried about not working right now and I am deeply frustrated I can't fulfill my obligations for my payments - I will probably have to pay back this past months income for not following through on my agreements.

My soul is ambiguous about it. I wanted so much to be something "more" than a mere cleaner. There is a deeply rooted prejudice in me that cleaners are people who are not intelligent enough to work in offices. This belief is in error but I hold it nonetheless. For is a menial job of the dumb! I wanted a grand office job! I had visions of being neatly attired and efficiently typing documentation and forwarding important phonecalls to important people in next door office rooms. I could see myself happily filing papers in vast walls of filing cabinets and taking down the disjointed notes of some hapless VIP on the Dictaphone, making sense of them for him and creating worthy important papers that in some small way made a difference.

Now I clean houses like a servant. I understand logically that my thinking is flawed in this. It does not negate the impact to my spirit. The core of what I believed about myself is being shaken and the various rugs I wanted to control are being removed from under my prejudiced feet.

Maybe this is will be my lesson.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I go to my wardrobe and extricate my Asics with the expensive orthotic inserts that re-align my feet to the approved bio-metric stance for optimum performance and health. I tie the laces perfunctorily not really noticing as already, my mind is in escape mode...musing on the possibilities it will heretofore cogitate on during the journey I am about to commence.

I go to the drawer and take out the pedometer and open its face and check the time and reset the step counter. I look at the ipod and consider if I desire music for this walk. My mind says "No!" it wants to muse. I leave the ipod in the drawer and it seems to be pleading with me, casting a sort of emotional blackmail pall - of some significance - as it peers up at me with its blank square eye. I am strong. I ignore the ipods plea for attention and close the drawer. "Maybe next time" I promise valiantly, knowing full well that my mind is stronger and its need for the drug of fantasy more persistent.

I decide on the weather and the appropriate apparel. This is always the most difficult decision to make before a walk. Is the weather going to play tricksy with me, appearing to be calm and mild, only to have me sweating and overheated after an hours walking? Will the weather seem quite warm, only to have a blisteringly cold southerly whip up across what water there is left in the river to chill my skin and raise the hairs on my body so I appear to be wearing the lumped skin of a plucked chicken? Layers are usually the answer. A light jacket I can remove with arms long enough to tie around my waist if needs be.

I snib the front door behind me as I leave. My daughter has commandeered the laptop and is on Myspace uploading photos, chatting in MSN and listening to endless repetitions of "Black and Gold", she doesn't hear me when I yell down the passage,"Would you do the dishes and feed Sevvie while I'm gone!" I know that when I come home, the kitten will still be unfed and the kitchen still in disarray. I never learn this about my daughter. She never understands my frustration about the house being "tidy".

I step out of the front door and close it quickly behind me before the kitten has a chance to experience the wide open spaces beyond the home she has been growing to know these past four weeks. I have decided that this cat will be a permanently indoor cat. It's my token gesture to being environmentally friendly to the delightful and colourful native bird population that visit my back yard.

I walk the few steps to the edge of the cement portico and then down the single step to the driveway of our home. I walk to the white letterbox with its flip top lid and check inside for mail. There are letters. I return up the driveway, cursing that I really should have checked the mail earlier in my day instead of now when my mind is eager to indulge the blissful fantasies and possibilities of the Unreal. I shove the mail under the front door mat so I don't forget to notice it when I arrive back home, turn on my heel and re-establish my direction.

My feet know this route now, they tread it purposefully and decisively. My mind eagerly grinds its gears into position for thought. It takes time for my mind to work itself into the grooves of fantastical thought. When my feet walk through the suburban streets it feels as if I am in "neutral", in a purgatory-like space entitled 'Between'.

Once I cross the road that follows the river, now drying again to its sandy floor, my mind begins to slowly form the thoughts it wishes to muse upon for the duration of my walk.

Today my thoughts lead me into the realms of my current unemployment. Career! My mind wishes to muse upon career. What do I want to work in? Where do I want to work? Bring me the work that is right for me! My mind stretches its formidable power of concentration over this topic.

And in that moment I am split in two. The half of me that sees everything I pass by on this walk. I hear and smell, touch, taste, notice, understand, grieve, find pleasure in the physical construct of the natural world on my right and the man-made constructed world on my left. At exactly the same time as I note the angle of branches, the synchronous ducking of pelicans in the remaining river shallows, the smooth cruise of brown ducks leaving little wakes in the deeper waters behind them - at the same time I notice the path, I am musing on the possibilities and fantasies of Career.

I traverse the road with the red soil that bends and twists alongside the bend in the river. The water is slightly deeper here, the river narrower and the other side less distant. I notice the regular landmarks of the journey - the large chopped tree stump that stands precariously on poles of its own roots, like a filigree series of little stilts that seem to defy gravity. Sometimes buried under water, sometimes exposed and accessible on foot the stump is like a mysterious harbinger of a Fantasy Story waiting to be told. I promise myself to bring the digicam next time and take photo's of this naturally occurring thing with no context or description that can do it justice.

I choose to either walk the road or the foot/bike track that is directly alongside the west edge of the river. The road is not sealed. It is a either a white Koliche-like clay material, or orange and softly yielding like margarine or a burnt red and very dry. The road changes at every step. It's wide enough but it is preferred you take it slow. Water makes the different soils all soggy and slippery and the wheel ruts of vehicles melt into the surface to dry there and remain long after evidence of water from the sky is remembered. The track along the river is narrow and highlighted white or pale grey. It bends and twists and wiggles along the side of the river bank and is the preferred route for cycler's who whir their wheels along it at a furious - and potentially injurious - pace. It is best to walk the track with no music in your ears for you may not hear the cyclist behind you coming at the speed of light. I am grateful I left the ipod at home this day.

My mind is happy to muse on black thoughts. My mood and emotions reflect the purposeful striving of my thinking. My thinking responds and reacts to my moods and emotions. There is an interwoven tangle of logic and emotion, fantasy and the struggle to identify with Truth and Reality in the NOW that if drawn would appear to be like the river gums that stand as sentinels along the rivers edge. Their branches are twisted and knotted together in perverse structural sculptures only nature could have devised. There is no Celtic order or perfection to the surreal tangle of branches overhead, it is merely a conglomeration of branch, each one defying another, each one interweaving, delaying, supporting, avoiding, reaching toward another - just like my emotions and thoughts do inside my corporeal self.

The slopes of the river banks on either side become steeper. The river is at its deepest here. The water takes on the hue of the river I remember when I was much younger. The water is a muddied khaki-green, grey. It is like a camouflage suit. It is not a bright, pretty little river - never was - never will be. This river flows inland towards the heart of the country. It is dying. I can hear its death moan each time I walk beside it. It is not going out with a bang or a roar, it can barely mumble now and in its feeble hold on existence it still keeps trying to give to the land as if somehow it believes it can fulfill that purpose beyond its very life. I yearn to own such a resilient purpose.

I follow the track and note the photographs that I "could" take if I were able. I promise myself to bring the camera one more time as I stand and observe the classical white-grey of a dead eucalypt on the other side of the river bank. It lives on in death as a statue of stone, its branches stretching and weaving into the sky like the stiffened snakes on Medusa's crown. It is beautiful beyond belief - even in death.

My mind calls me back to its established purpose. I need a job! Not just "any" job. A job that has meaning, that I am good at, that I have natural affinity for. I pray for a career that is right for me with all my talents, abilities, skills, needs, goals and desires appended. It is a fantasy ask. I want to believe "my" job is there waiting for me but the cynical critique that wars endlessly with my good intentions has determined that no such thing can exist in my town and it enumerates the reasons.

The bench chair set in concrete overlooking a particularly lovely part of the river comes into view. I immediately walk to the chair and sit and I imagine my friend sitting alongside of me acting as a kind of anchor to my thinking. They play devils advocate and give voice to the parts of me that refuse to accept possibilities as being...possible! I want so much to believe in the stuff that could be possible but the seed of doubt is a trickster seed and feeds me with illusion rather than truth.

The seat has a label, a brass plate engraved with love and cherished memories. "In memory of Barry Petrie. At one with nature" and it is signed by a dear friend I know in this town. I remember Barry although I never knew him personally. He used to write natural science stories in our local paper. He was a naturalist and a raconteur. He had passion for nature and was intensely interested in protecting the river. It would break his heart to see it now. It is like the river died along with him nearly 12 years ago. I love this seat. I love this spot in front of the big river gum with its mass of tangled branch reaching out over what is left of the water. The ducks are peacefully at home here. A small black bush wallaby hops along the opposite bank and I am surprised to see it so close to town. Water is a magnet for the thirsty...body soul and spirit.

I disentangle my thoughts and get up. My legs feel stiff from sitting for this past half an hour talking with my imaginary half and trying to get clarity and coherence in this now time of life. I always find it so difficult to be in the now. My head prefers the known of past and the potential of then - it rarely perceives and identifies the now. I know I need practice in accepting Now.

I re-engage my steps homeward. I decide to take the wider road further out. It still follows the river but my concentration won't be assaulted by the forms of the river. My imaginary friend walks beside me for as far as the gravel is white, orange and when it hits red...they fade and are no more but a memory.

My mind spins convoluted hopes and dreams on top of abject despair and disappointments. I struggle to KNOW what is ahead for me. I want so much...I fear I do not deserve any of it. I am replete with thought and imagination, sensory appreciation and fantasy. I am distraught and unsettled that I cannot compose a concrete plan for my future that gives me security and is a foundation I can build on.

My steps waft back towards home arbitrarily. The light of the sun is waning and the sky is becoming a pale grey, the light diffusing into unshaded sameness. I wander across the road, turning my back against the wide part of the river that is almost waterless except for out in the middle where the pelicans roost on the central island. I feel my mind shutting down slowly. The act of walking along the footpaths of my suburban street dulls imagination and fantasy and I am left feeling like the wheels of my mind are slowing, steadily, to Stop.

I turn into the driveway at my white letterbox. I can feel the pull of exertion in my upper thighs. They've been walking, they are tired now but satisfied. I pick up the mail I left under the mat and I open the door. The cat has not been fed and the kitchen is in disarray, the same as how I left it one and half hours before. I smile. I expected this. What I expect to go "wrong" usually does occur.

What I hope to go right, I need to forget so it can surprise me... maybe.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

If nothing could stop me...I would


yeah? What would I do if nothing could stop me from doing it? Not the weather, other people, financial constraints, emotional issues like fear of failure or fear of success, location, children, obligations to groups and society...nothing at all?

What WOULD I really WANT to do if nothing in all creation could ever stop me from doing those things?

Asking this question generates this vast cavernous space in my being as if I just opened a door from a closed room and outside the door is the vastness and wonder of space itself with colourful nebula's spinning in the expanse of the light of a zillion stars! It's a vista of incomparable wonder and deafeningly way too awesome to comprehend in a moments viewing. I need to contemplate and sit and view and wonder and muse on it.

I need to make it all make sense first. Categorize everything under the headings. Box everything into understandable functions and subjects that can be quickly referenced as required. Encyclopedic sorting of the information is necessary to my sense of coherence. I can cross-reference the stuff in the boxes easily - no problemo! It's getting the stuff into those boxes in the first place that takes up my entire minds work in the interim.

Asking this question is like sorting out the garage. You open the door and immediately trip over the flotsam of family life; bikes, the BBQ, tool boxes, boxes of home-brewed beer bottles waiting to be filled from the still on the bench. There is rubbish, debris from past projects never finished, painted bonnets on cars your son was into air-brushing for hours three weeks ago, ropes, discarded tarps from the garage party your daughter organised three months ago...the list of piled up plans and projects dumped inside the door of the garage goes on.

You take a deep breath and you narrow the focus. You bear down on the overwhelming urge to turn and close the door again. You simply start and pick up the first thing available and take it outside. My usual strategy for "cleaning up" a mess like this is to remove EVERYTHING OUT of the space and then clean and sort what goes back into the space in a lovely orderly fashion. Once inside this process I find it enormously cathartic and good fun too - especially if I can play my music loud on the stereo as I work :)

But if NOTHING could stop me from doing what I deep down genuinely really wanted to do?

I can barely find what that is among the junk behind the door! I can barely begin to grasp the amazing and mind-blowing expanse of beautiful lit space outside that door!

Overwhelmed by this question, I want to dump this post and come back another day. Let me go sort it out... think about it... muse on it...catergorize...

You know what?

That's probably what I would do!

If nothing could stop me.

Friday, December 05, 2008

My future self wears a beige dress suit

This post will probably guarantee that my friends and family, who read this missal, will certify me completely deranged and in dire need of psychological assistance ;)

It's okay guys...I realise this is purely imagination and I promise I won't take it literally to the point of believing it to be an actual outcome.

However, in the interests of trying to figure out exactly what on earth I'm doing in this place right now, I do think it is a valuable exercise even so. We barely do enough dreaming and imagery work these days in our practical, success-like-NOW, physically centred lives anyway. The really ancient spiritual practise of simply imagining can lead to very cool insights and is as valuable a technique as any logical goal-setting and future planning activity.

I did this because I want to explore what I MIGHT be like in 10 years time. Where am I at? How do I come across? What sorts of things do I say? What is my demeanour? How to I appear to be positioned in life?

All that.

The exercise is to slow down and stop and simply meditate with the specific task of visiting with your future self. You imagine knocking on a door and being invited in by yourself. You see yourself, slightly (or very much more) older than you are now with evidence of a whole bunch of life experience you know you have to go through before you get into her shoes. She sees you and smiles remembering all the stuff you've got to go through before you get to be in her shoes.

You know each other very well, but you're also somewhat strangers for that reason of Time being shifted between you both. It's like catching up with an older, wiser, more experienced and very close sibling in a way.

So anyway, I did this trippy thing this morning. Sat on the bed, closed my eyes and allowed my mind to wander into this territory.

I knocked on a door. A woman answered it and smiled this big smile of genuine joy to see me. She seems warm, open, kind and also very happy in herself. She comes over and gives me this big generous bear hug and kisses the side of my head and strokes my hair as if she were my parent rather than my own older self and she smiles at me very warmly and with a great deal of love in her expression.

I start to weep a little at her forthright open-ness. And this is what she says:

"Oh it's okay honey! No need to cry but yeah...I still do that too! Can't help it so I just accept it now. It's who I am and I don't fight it anymore. I'm simply weird in that I cry when things get a bit emo!" And she wipes away a tear in her own eye as she laughs about it and moves on.

She is not much thinner or fatter than I am currently. I have these grand hopes of being so very much thinner so I'm a little disappointed but she seems quite content in her skin really so I ask that very rude question about whether she ever did "go raw" in her diet and this is what she says to me:

"Oh yeah! Failed dismally! (laughs a big joyous belly laugh that comes from somewhere deep inside of her) I learned to just accept I like food and that the secret to me being healthy is to simply move as much as possible every day. Find stuff to do that makes you move mi! Nowadays, I walk whenever and wherever I can...even to work. I dance, I run a little, I learned to do what bat does and I pace when I'm talking on the phone! Great strategy for keeping the weight stable" and she smiles.

I express some surprise she is wearing a beige - almost cream coloured - dress suit. I hardly wear anything of the kind, spending the greater portion of my adult years in trousers, slacks, track pants and shorts. This is what she says to me:

"Yeah! Took me ages to get my legs to a point where they didn't chafe between the thighs (leans and and whispers conspiratorially) but there's some fantastic creams out now that really help...I suggest you go looking honey" and she winks at me like she's just given me this huge very important secret tip that will change my life forever.

I ask her about her life so far and this is some of what she says to me:

"Well, I have a pretty good life actually. I write a lot and I make money from writing but it's not my job...more my passion and hobby. The kids are doing great....(some words of encouragement about my/our children's future...they'll be fine :))...I live in a lovely house and I get to travel regularly every other year or so".

It turns out she designed the house herself in consultation with a draftsman and its very "green" efficient with a reed bed water filtration system in the back yard. She hires a gardener to tend the garden and the vege patch. She earns enough to be able to do this.

I ask her about the chain around her neck and this is what she says to me:

"Yeah! I designed it myself!" and she smiles looking down at it with obvious pride and pleasure. It's a triskele in silver on a long silver chain. I ask her about the Faith, Hope and Love chain I designed nearly 13 years ago and this is what she says to me:

"Ah yes! Well I wore that thing for so long you almost can't read the words engraved on the disks now... that thing should go into the family "Smithsonian" vault (laughs), I loved it but a few years ago I wanted to design another symbol of my Faith System and this is what I came up with (fondles the chain around her neck happily). It represents much of what I hold to be dear to me across a number of different areas of my life including my Spiritual Life and be damned anyone who tells me I should think otherwise!" she hints at some possible dissensions in some of this and I can see the fiery steel of determination underneath her warm persona to be exactly what she chooses to be including what she believes. This woman doesn't modify her beliefs and behaviours by what she perceives 'the group' wants anymore...she does her own thing and is fiercely determined to be exactly herself and not another!

I ask her about love and this is what she says to me:

"I have a couple partners yes!" she smirks with evident pleasure and the joy inside of her literally glows more warmly "I don't live with them though but we are very intimate and close. I found out that I very much prefer living by myself for the most part. But, I also have lots of house guests (I look askance at her..and she laughs and says "not like THAT!" and takes some time to regain her composure at my misunderstanding of her meaning, laughing uproariously for a few moments)...they simply stay at my the spare rooms...and its something like a mini international bed and breakfast really. I make them comfortable and welcome and show them around the Wimmera and stuff. Oh! And...I ended up continuing those German Lessons you started and they've proven very handy" she smiles very deliberately at me and I can tell she is making a strong hint to make sure I keep an eye out for doing more "German Lessons" in my future! I take note.

"You will be surprised to learn though that I have chosen to be...poly..but please don't make that just too public...not many people actually "get it"...even now" she sighs deeply and I blink in utter and absolute surprise! A very private conversation between us ensues and I won't elaborate on it here. Safe to say that I am astonished by this admission. Part of me rebels against it but she seems so utterly free and open and content with her arrangement...I'm still blinking!

The woman before me is utterly unselfconscious. She has this warmth and open hearted generosity of spirit that is so appealing...if a little disconcerting. She seems to have accepted a lot of her flaws and is content to simply be in the moment. I ask her what the most important things are that she has learned since being in my position and this is what she says to me:

"Always have a really good financial planner mi! What you are learning now about financial management is going to set you in very good stead in the coming years but you will need a good financial planner and a good accountant to help you through."

I immediately ask if she is wealthy. She laughs, leans in close to me, looks me square in the eye and says very cryptically "Oh..I'm extremely wealthy!" and then she laughs uproariously again at my obvious struggle to understand what she exactly means. "There are many kinds of wealth mi, as you will learn...but yeah... in your current definition..which I gather is financially, I'm pretty well off now and am planning on getting that apartment you always wanted in the Melbourne CBD" and she smiles with obvious pleasure.

I ask her what else there is I should know and this is what she says to me:

"I've learned to be a lot more content with myself mi. To let go of the struggle to be something I'm not, the struggle to make sense of a future I can never guess and to let go of the past I can never mend. I'm only responsible to myself and my kids and the man I'm in partnership with right now. I have learned to accept that what you think about is generally what you will notice in the world so I stopped noticing what I didn't want and began noticing what was already there and things got very much better for me after that"

There were other things we discussed that are too private to blog about.

An exercise in imagining that has uplifted me and even if its crazy and a little bit too "out there" for those of you who know me and read my stuff... keep it in the back of your mind and perhaps when I'm 10 years on from now, you can tell me if what you read here ever turned out to be sorta true or sorta not true.

Time will tell.

Monday, December 01, 2008


According to some, I only ever choose to believe what I decide to believe.

I don't know if I do or not. Belief might be something as intransigent and fixed in a person as is the colour of their eyes or the shape of their feet! Belief is like a limb except its invisible to the eye until that person behaves, speaks, listens or does something to express that belief. Then it shows its stripes briefly.

Others translate the belief through the lens of their own beliefs.

It's a mixed up, convoluted soup of misconceptions most of the time. A thing of wondrous simpatico, when in tune with others albeit rarely.

I don't want beliefs. I want faith and understanding but not fixed beliefs. I want to find growing things on beliefs that beget new beliefs as new knowledge and understanding come into being in me. I want movement not cement shoes.

Each of us is made of beliefs, some from our past, some from what we think we're seeing now and some we project into what we think may become. Refusal to believe is as much belief as is blind obedience to a fixed belief with no room for the new.

What I intend doesn't always match with what I believe. What I believe isn't always obvious to that part of me that intends.

Nothing is ever how we think it is or wish it to be and that might be a belief or not. It depends.