Friday, December 31, 2010

Surely you're not thinking of resolutions....Are you???

It is with some reticence that I write my final post for this year.  

In the northern part of Queensland, floods have been ferocious, engulfing thousands of homes, forcing families and individuals to evacuate into unfamiliar and not the cosiest of temporary refuge.  

How do you celebrate the auspicious closing of one year and the opening of a new one when, virtually in your backyard, thousands have been robbed of the spirit of celebration?  Or so it would seem.

I know that no sorrowfulness on my part will alleviate the flagging spirits of my neighbors.  I'm also reminded that, while the proximity of this latest disaster makes it less easy to ignore or even want to ignore, everyday, somewhere in the world, many more suffer disasters of one form or another.

So, here I am with a jumble of inconvenient thoughts and feelings.  Yes, inconvenient because they make me feel less than celebratory at this rather momentous time of years, old and new.

My expanding awareness of life's realities, however, provides some recourse.  

I can connect, in spirit, with the spirit of hope and faith within each of these people, here and everywhere else on this earth - hope and faith that things can and will get better even if we don't know the exact machinations of how.  

I can summon within me, the spirit of determination to focus on desirable possibilities rather than undesirable ones, and connect with others in this spirit of determination.

I can raise within me the natural spirit of glee and optimism rooted in my knowing that in any adversity, there are doors of opportunity.  We only have to have an open and willing mind.  (It wasn't all that long ago when I was homeless for eighteen months).

I can celebrate and increase the spirit of joy and hope that seeks to move freely throughout the world rather than be an obstacle to it.

These are the things that come to mind now.  They are anchored in my knowing that any outcome in the material/physical world has its origins in the mind, within the ever-expanding screen of our imagination.

I want to join all my friends and family across the world - those that I've seen face to face and those whose faces I've not seen but whose spirit I've felt deeply - in celebration.  

I'm not going to ask you what your resolutions for the New Year are.  But I do want to ask you what your dreams are.  Will you share them with me?

As for me, my dreams are of:
  • meeting my perfect partner and  having an amazing, exciting, fun, adventurous, inspiring, romantic, liberating and adoring relationship with him
  • enjoying the beauty and goodness and greatness of my two children as they experiment with life
  • doing something truly significant in the service of others, something that I will enjoy wholeheartedly and that will benefit them in big and meaningful ways
  • exploring and enjoying even more the friendships I have made, on and off-line - really seeing and enjoying the beauty and magnificence of each person I meet
  • traveling to places where I can spend time enjoying the people and their spaces
  • singing, playing guitar, writing, drawing, cooking much more competently, freely and frequently than I currently do
  • enjoying wealth and abundance 
Wow!  There they are.  I didn't think I'd be making any of this public but, hey, another one of my ongoing dreams is to live more freely than I've ever done!  This is one way of doing it.

I do wish you, my very,very dear reader, with all the warmth and affection in my heart, a truly spectacular 2011.  May every desire of your heart be delivered in bountiful measure! 

Thank you for being such a beautiful part of my life in 2010.

Love, hugs and kisses - TBT

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So you think that being vulnerable is sexy?

I don't know the precise sociology or chronology of events but somewhere along the line, Hollywood and psychologists decided that we needed to be vulnerable.  More accurately, they decided we needed to acknowledge and express our vulnerability. 

It became such a sexy thing to do, especially for men.  It truly melted the female heart (really, it was more like puffing up her ego) when her otherwise insensitive, broad-shouldered, square-jawed, crotch-squeezing-tight-panted (wait a minute - that's back in fashion!) male partner or colleague could admit to feeling afraid or insecure.

That was in the period predating women taking over the workforce and literally wearing the pants.  Following that, the new challenge was to get superwoman to express her fragility and insecurities, attributes that appealed to the male ego when it was fashionable and helped to bolster the latter's confidence and sense of purpose.

Yep, it's now become such a turn-on (for men), when a  ball-busting,  kick-ass, call-a-spade-a-spade, stare-you-down, unflinching (I mean, how often do you see a female professional on any of those TV serials have a doubled-over belly laugh as opposed to a 'I'm too cool for you' labored muscle stretch that we've come to recognize as a smile?) female would eventually drop her guard, let the tears flow and allow her male side-kick access to her marshmallow, right-brained interior. 

(Forgive me, that was an excruciatingly long sentence which I attribute to my poor writing skills - see, I'm being vulnerable or is it just modest? ;)

Okay, I might be guilty of some exaggeration but only fractionally, mind.  And I readily admit that tears and melodrama are not the only expressions of vulnerability, if they are even that.  But seriously, why has being vulnerable become fashionable? 

I happen to believe (and increasingly experience) that we are, by nature, male and female, powerful.  That is, we are filled with power, naturally.

Life is power.  Love is power.  And for me, love is just another name for life and love and life are just the raw energy of everything that exists. 

Right, I realize I'm starting to sound *metaphysical* but that is truly how I see the world.  The pure energy of everything that exists, that has ever existed, is filled with power.  It is powerful.  And we are, by nature, powerful.

So does that mean there is no room or cause for vulnerability?  Oh yes, there is plenty of room and cause.  Way too much, if you ask me. 

Why do I say that?  Because it is all to do with ego.  Yep, EGO.

Oh right, beat up the ol' ego now, why don't you!

No, no, no.  I have no intention of pulverizing the ego.  But I do want to share what I understand of this thing we call ego.  It is a state of mind that is ignorant of WHO AND WHAT WE TRULY ARE - POWERFUL, FREE, LIMITLESS AND INGENIOUS!

That is who and what we truly are!  That is what we experience in the stillness of our observing (non-judging) mind! 

The ego judges and separates and attempts to control because it does not see that none of this is necessary! 

The ego is unaware of our natural, limitless power, freedom, gleefulness and ingenuity!  And from its limited, self-grasping, pin-hole vantage point, it needs to protect and preserve itself from everything else that it sees as 'Not I/Me'.

Phew!  I just had to get that off my chest :). 

Vulnerability is not a virtue though I grant that it is highly fashionable.

Power, true power (which is not ego-driven), is a virtue.  Heck, let's dispense with these egotistical labels like *virtue* and *vulnerable* and *victim* and *victorious* (Sesame Street is brought to you today by the letter 'V' ....)

Before I get off this soapbox, I just want to say one other thing.  I'm not an advocate for intending vulnerability.  In other words, I don't hold thoughts or intentions of wanting to be vulnerable. 

However, it doesn't mean that I don't have behaviors or use words that could be interpreted as being vulnerable.  I mean, I'm not entirely free of the ignorance and torpor of my ego :)

Neither do I judge (or at least wish to judge) others for expressions of vulnerability. I do a fair lot of it myself - you only have to read my posts for evidence :)

But f anything that I've said here makes any sense to you, then it is my wish and intention to encourage you (and me) to express (more of) who and what we truly are - POWERFUL, FREE, LIMITLESS, JOYOUS AND OH, SO VERY SEXY WITHOUT EVEN TRYING - and less of what we truly aren't :).

Agree???  Come on, let me know what you think :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How about an explosion of freshly peeled orange on your tongue?

My post yesterday uncovered a new path of exploration for me.

Sure, virtually any philosopher you pick will have expressed the fact that we humans have a need to feel connected and that biologically and psychologically, we depend on feedback.  To that extent, there is nothing new in my recent realizations. But they are new and fresh to me.

Not entirely new, I suppose, but entirely fresh.  Rather like the flesh beneath a freshly peeled segment of orange.  The orange itself is not new to the eyes but the bit of flesh it now reveals is very fresh indeed and I'm salivating with eager anticipation of its sparkling, zesty juice on my tongue - guaranteed to generate an explosion of pleasure on my taste, I mean thought, buds :)

Forgive me, I don't mean to get all metaphorical.  I'm just relating the observations that my mind is making.

And, yes, it intrigues me, this need of ours to feel connected and to receive feedback.  Let me put it this way.  If I didn't believe that someone would be reading my posts and might respond to them, I'm pretty certain I wouldn't write them.

Nope.  I mean, I might pen my thoughts in a journal, whether electronic or paper, which is something I have been doing.  But blogging is a public affair, and for many of us bloggers, it's a public affair of private proportions.  Or might that equally be a private affair of public proportions?

Regardless, why do we have this need to feel connected?  Why are we looking for feedback?

As always, my best answers are the ones that are true for me.  So let me try and rummage through this rain forest of my mind and see what I find.

Wow!  Here is some of it:

I want to feel connected because THAT'S WHAT I REALLY AM and this sense of a separate 'me' feels neither real nor good.  Whoa...!

In other words, I want to remain in touch with a truth that seems to have become obscured by a dominant belief in separation!  But, I suppose you may ask (as I am now doing), why we need external forms of connection when true connection is ultimately felt in the mind and heart.

Yep, that is a great and very valid question.  My answer is that we are physical beings and our physicality predisposes us to physical/external forms of connectivity.

It's like eating food.  The physical body requires some food to keep it going.  Not a lot, but enough.  We'd die without it, eventually.

Likewise, I would think, with being connected.  The physical/external forms of connection help remind us of our fundamental connectedness - something that our false sense of separation obscures us from.

Without it, we might feel completely and falsely separated and that would not be a true and full reflection of who and how we truly are.  We'd die, psychologically and spiritually, without it just as we'd die physically without food.

And feedback?  

I think that feedback gives us information about our relationship with others and with ourselves.  Whether we're being drawn closer to them or pulled further apart.  Whether we're feeling more or less alive.  Whether we're experiencing more or less joy.

We don't need to be in agreement with other people's ideas in order to feel close or closer to them.  But we do need to know that we are not disconnected or distanced from them because of our differing ideas and beliefs.

I seek feedback as my way of testing out some of my ideas and beliefs.  What you say in response to them gives me new lenses to view them with and this could result in my re-examining and refining them or explaining them further or abandoning them altogether.

It also helps me recognize and respect you as a unique expression of the single connectedness that you and I are.   And that you have as much freedom and right to your thoughts and beliefs as I do to mine.  AND that the more I am accepting of your unique expression, the freer I can feel! Oh yeah!

I seek feedback also because I think, in some way, it tells me that someone cares and that I matter, in however minuscule an amount that might be.

So, what do you think?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ahem...excuse me, but why, really?

Honesty is both scary and exciting.  Titillating even, wouldn't you say?

Like this admission I'm about to make, which, incidentally, I had no intention of making when I began writing this post.  Matter of fact, I had a question in mind for you (surprise, surprise) when I first put paws to keyboard.

I'll tell you what that question is in a minute.  But first, I want to share with you the series of thoughts that has brought be to this point of embarrassing (yes, I'll reveal why in a moment although I;m certain you'll have it figured out before I do) admission.

You see, as soon as the question popped into my mind, I attempted to answer it myself at which point, two rather disparate and contending thoughts stepped into my mental thought cafe.  Before they could order their cappuccino and latte, I was compelled to find out who they were.

Well, the first quickly revealed itself as 'I don't know' and the second, glancing somewhat disdainfully at the first said. 'Well, surely what is true for you is probably true for your readers, or at least some of them.  So, you might answer the question by asking it of yourself'.

Right.  Got told.  And here's where it started to get embarrassing.

Huh???  Are you following any of this?  Alright, alright, let me put you out of your misery.

Well, you see, on this the third or is it the fourth or fifth day of perpetual rain (and I'm not complaining, just describing as I do love the rain and the drop in temperature that it brings about), having finally chosen my new blog theme and colors (at least for now), my mind was free once again to think about what I wanted to say in this post.

In actual fact, there have been so many things that I've wanted to write about, some of which could easily take me in a different direction of interest and application.  That said, one of the reasons why my blog has its name and description is that it gives me the freedom to write about virtually anything that I wish to write about.

Such, after all, is the ordinary content of my mind - untidily strewn with thought bubbles of every shape, color and description.  Well, perhaps not 'every' as that would suggest I have the omniscient mind of god, when, in fact, I have an infinitesimally sized mind, albeit an ever expanding one :)

However, before I distract myself and you any further, let me return to the original intent of this post and the embarrassing revelation it triggered.  The question I had wanted to pose to you was this:

Why do you read this blog?

I know, I know.  It does seem like I am fishing for eh...well..ahem...compliments but believe it or not, that was not (and still is not) my intention.  However, it might interest you to know why I am interested to know.  It's quite simple really.

Here I am wondering, as I often do, which, of the many ragged thoughts that course through my mind, I should pick up and stitch some kind of story or plot or post, if you like, with.  And then it occurs to me that it doesn't seem to matter what my post is about, some of my readers will take the time to read it and some of you, bless your cotton socks, will go even further and leave me a comment or two!

Well, as I said earlier, following the indifferent (or was it bewildered?) 'I don't know' thought, came the reproachful (or was it inspiring?) thought, "Ask yourself'.

So, here's the embarrassing confession.  It is in response to the self-directed question:  Why do I read your blogs? 

  1. I'm curious about what's happening with you, what you're thinking and feeling and what I might gain from reading what you have to say (and I always gain something, whether pleasure, inspiration, resolution of an old hurt or the joy of admiration)
  2.  I know I'm likely to leave a comment and (here is where it gets really, really embarrassing) it might prompt you to come read my blog and hopefully, leave a comment too
There.  It's out in the open - my shameful, self-indulgent motive for reading your blogs!  Didn't I say that honesty is both scary and exciting?

It is.  There's a chance you might snort in disgust at my admission, which in truth, probably confirms what you'd already suspected.  And you may choose to heretofore refrain from commenting on my posts even if you should choose to read them.  That's the scary part.

But, here's the exciting bit.  You may forgive me for my egotistical indulgence and ...wait for may even admit to a similar indulgence!!!!!!!  Farrrrrrrrrrr out!!!!!

But really, so what if we did read and comment with selfish motives?  I mean, SO WHAT????

Is that such a bad thing?  I mean, you might just as easily ask:  Why do I bother talking?

Isn't it for feedback?  Of course we have other reasons such as wanting to make a point or share some fantastic or tragic news or enquire about something or someone.  But ultimately, it's for ourselves, always and every time, even those times when we want to let others know that we care about them.  It's because when we do, we feel good or better!

Right, I'll get off the soap box now.  Oh gosh, did you notice how I felt a need to defend myself there???

Anyways, embarrassing, selfish, self-indulgent, virtuous or outright manipulative, I reckon we're all motivated by feedback in one form or another and so I'll boldly and with utmost sincere selfishness ask my question:

Why do you read my blog?  I mean, really?

Oh, and while you're at it, feel free to answer any other questions that may be lurking in this post or any that pop into your mind or leave a comment about anything at all.  You know how much I love reading your comments :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What is it for you, this so-called 'Spirit of Christmas'?

This is a post I've been wanting to write for some time now but just didn't find the time and when I did have the time, the energy to write it.

You see, my working hours and days at the store have tripled due to the Christmas season and being on my feet all day and enjoying every moment with customers leaves me completely spent - in a good way, of course.

It also means that, for the moment at least, I feel unable to do much when I get home other than make myself dinner, give my dog hers, put my feet up and watch some docco or comedy on TV.  Oh, that and make a few Christmas presents and cards for the few people that I have on my mental list for giving cards and presents to.  I should add that the warm (hot, if you ask me) and humid weather isn't conducive to much else.

So, what was this post I so badly wanted to write?  Well, it's really to ask you this question:

Do you feel you have the 'Christmas spirit' happening for you and if so, what is it?

It's a question that I've been asking myself.  I mean, I wonder what the 'Christmas spirit' is, you know?

As a child in an oppressively Catholic family, it was very much about the amazing birth of this baby following the arduous journey of its parents and the magical arrival of the Magi at the stable amidst shepherds and farm animals, all of which was foreshadowed by what we knew too well would be the tragic-triumphant destiny of this child.  At least that's how I remember it.

It was also the one of perhaps two occasions in the year (the other being birthdays) when we had new clothes.  Our family of nine kids  was too poor to afford them any other time.  As for exchanging gifts, well there was none of that for obvious reasons.  Those were the conditions within which the 'Christmas spirit' manifested for me as a child.

Actually, there was more,  relating to the ongoing brutality of my father which seemed to escalate to cataclysmic proportions on occasions of significance resulting in an atmosphere of unbearable tension between innocent enthusiasm and inescapable dread.

But that's all in the distant past and I have had many. many more joyous, gift-giving and pain-free Christmases since :).  (And I hold nothing against my dad, now some years passed on).

I suppose I'm wondering what is left of the 'Christmas spirit' now that the religious purpose and overtones of Christmas are no longer relevant (as is the case with me) and the gift-giving has been liberated from obligation and convention.

I know I feel immensely freer and more open to spending Christmas day with people other than family.  Admittedly, this has been happening for a few years now as the children have approached 'adulthood' (whatever that means).

I had this thought yesterday: So much for tradition...what's mine?  What's my family's?

It used to be going to midnight mass in our new clothes, checking out everyone else's new gear, listening to the choir's delicious harmonies and enchanting solos sung from the loft of a church that swelled and overflowed with people I didn't usually see at the weekly services and returning home to have my father open a bottle of sherry which we each, the eleven or so family members,  got a thimble full off (just about) together with a no-where-near-enough crumb of fruit cake.

I tried to keep this tradition going with my family, before and after I got divorced, with much more generous helpings of sherry and fruit cake of course :).  It lasted for many years but with my daughter now in Melbourne and my son experimenting with life as all of us are destined to do, I'm left with neither tradition nor anyone to pass it on to!

So what's left of the Christmas spirit for me, I'm wondering.  And I'm asking you the question certain that your answers will help me find and refine mine.  Care to share?

PS I wish you the true gifts of Christmas - Peace, Joy and Love.  And may 2011 thrill you with the wonder and magic of your dreams fulfilled!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Brown belt origami exponent - not!

I had this desire to make stuff with my hands, you know, crafty things, as well as draw and color and paint.  I rather fancied the idea of decorating my tiny unit with angels for Christmas so I thought I'd learn to make some origami angels. 

Would you believe, the day following my expression of my desire (as a thought in my mind), I came across not one, but several instances of books on origami (though not of angels), something that I'd never noticed before in the bookstores.  And they weren't even tucked away on shelves either but right out there on the display tables:).

Okay, the fact is, this sort of thing, i.e. synchronous events', if you like, has been happening to me more and more in the last few months.  I just have to think of something obscure or unusual (or even mundane and necessary like money) that I desire  and it appears within a few hours or a day or two!  It's been such a thrill. 

Like the time I was thinking of getting some music by Bob Marley, not having mentioned it to anyone.  That very day, the assistant manager at the store where I work played Bob Marley almost all morning.  And in the afternoon, when I went to meet my friend, J, at the Rocking Horse music store in the city, what album had he just purchased?  Yep.  Bob's 'Legend'!  And he is the last person I'd think would be interested in reggae!  I could go on but I'd like to get back to my origami angels and my general desire to get arty-crafty. 

Well, like any wannabe enthusiast,  I looked stuff up on the internet (Yeah, I'm deliberately avoiding using that 'G' word ::) and, as you can imagine, I found what I wanted and gazzillions more!  And, as you can also imagine, I got distracted and started trying out several things.  Some were tearful failures.  No, no, I didn't cry but anyone looking at them would have.

I mean, that origami rose would require an origami brown belt (or whatever the highest karate level belt is) to create.  Yep, that piece of paper that was poised to become a rose before I laid hands on it got rapidly crushed into a heap to avoid further self-embarrasment. 

Then there was the hexagonal gift box that I thought would be gorgeous to make and put Christmas gifts in.  Well, when I saw the number of folds that required and attempted to follow the video, I very quickly found myself marooned on 'Haven't got a snowball's chance in Hell' island, only to be rescued by the thought that perhaps there might be something just a little bit (I mean, a heck of a lot) simpler for an Origami pre-pubescent like me. 

That's when I found the simple, dunce-proof boxes which I simply enjoyed making, not only because they were impossibly easy to make but because I was able to put some simple biro pen designs on them.

I ended up making three of those although I could have easily made three times as many.  I have them sitting on my window sill where I can see them and marvel at their happy beauty :).  Oh, how easily thus soul of mine is thrilled :)

Here they are:

PS  I haven't got round to those angels yet but I intend to... :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A letter of love from me to you

If I were to try and tell you everything that’s in my heart and in my mind, I’m afraid I’d pass out from exhaustion and emotion.  Besides, why would I want to share those things that are so sad and so tender, they would dampen and weigh down even the most brilliant spray of sunlight on a magnificent spring day?

So, I’d rather tell you about some of my dreams, ones I have for myself and for you and for the other people that I have known and loved in my life thus far.

Standing right at the top of this heap of dreams is my dream of unceasing peace and joy for each of you.  Oh yes!  There is nothing more worthwhile than a heart and mind that is simply bursting with peace and joy.  Everything else, if there should be room for it, is just by-product.

Yes, just by-product, I say, and yet, it’s important to us who have been conditioned into human beings, though we are, above all else and ultimately, formless, limitless, eternal life, spirit, energy, love.  How do you describe something that cannot possibly be captured by words?  Best, I think, to leave it unspoken. 

Still, without these words, I have few other symbols or prompts to offer as clues to that which I wish to bring to your attention.  So please, accept these meager offerings and know that they point to something infinitely grander and more delightful and powerful than any word could purport to describe.

I also desire for you and me the dream of remembering.   

Yes, remembering who and what we truly are.  Oh, please, do look carefully at the self you see in the mirror and the self that engages with friends and family and the self that does things that you regret and lose countless nights of sleep and days of punishing guilt over. 

Do look ever so thoroughly at this self that you believe is defined by its thoughts and words and actions, none of which in fact defines it. No, never!  I beg you, do look at this self that thinks it is unworthy or imperfect or unlovable or doomed.  

It is but a projection of your thoughts and your beliefs, nothing more and nothing less, I assure you, for you only have to change those thoughts and beliefs and the projection is altered.  Another self materializes!  I assure you.  I have done it myself.  Many times.

Just as certainly as you have materialized one projection with your thoughts and beliefs, so you can materialize other projections with other thoughts and beliefs – the possibilities are endless and this is, in fact, the adventure of life that you signed up for!  Yes, my love, this is what I so want you to remember!  

I know, I know, that one, critical memory is buried under all the conditioning into human beings that you and I have inherited through our individual and collective ancestry.  But do not let it remain buried.  Unbury it.  Believe me, it’s easily done.  Much more easily than you dare believe.  

All you need to do is desire it!  

Yes, that’s all. 

Simply desire it.  

Don’t waste a moment pondering the nature of how it will come about for the infinite and inexhaustible and powerful source that you are will draw on its flawless intelligence and limitless possibilities to guide you on a path.  Yes, desire it and remain open to its guidance.  It could not be easier.  Seriously.

Change is but a thought away.  

With one new thought, held in faith and openness, in joy and unchecked desire, your whole world can change and you give birth to a new projection, one that you choose consciously.  Not one that you’ve been conditioned into and that you helplessly feed and reinforce and try and breathe life into.  

It is, in essence, lifeless, for it is a projection that has materialized from fearful beliefs, beliefs that deny who and what you truly are,

Oh, my love, every now is a moment of possible change.  Make this now your moment of change.  And the next and the next.  There is no limit to where you can go with this.  There is no limit to what you can be with this.  There is no limit to the adventures you can embark on with this.  

There is no limit to what you can choose

So, why wouldn’t you choose fun and excitement and joy and love and peace and laughter and dance and music and apple pie and romance and countless smiles and youthfulness and real power and comfy shoes and gorgeous dresses and amazing friends and fearless living and mind-blowing ideas and global harmony and perfect health and wisdom and genius and ravishing beauty and quietude and…

Oh, don’t fuss over how these must come about and what they will look like or feel like other than ‘wonderful’ for beauty takes all forms as does comfy shoes and amazing friends!  Just desire the joy of all of these and more and you shall have it!

And do not let the old projections cloaked in guilt, rage, unworthiness and helplessness define you even a moment longer, dangled by your false beliefs and erroneous thinking.  Let the memory of your true nature awaken with your joyful desire for it and let it create the YOU that you truly desire!

I swear to you, it couldn’t be simpler.

With all my love!  Now, my love, now!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

11-11-10 How much do you want this?

I believe in this.  I hope you do too and that, together, we can create a new reality - one that is free from suffering of all forms and filled with joy, freedom and creative endeavor for every person . Please, have a look:

I'm sooooooooo excited!!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

When does a friend become a 'true' friend and why?

I wonder if you've felt this way too. 

What way?

Well, you have friends and acquaintances, right?  The friends are people you probably like and trust.  The acquaintances are people that you may know 'from a distance', not well enough to like or trust.  You don't necessarily dislike them but you probably don't trust them. 

Right, so what 'way' am I talking about that appears to have something to do with friends and acquaintances? 

Well, when does an acquaintance become a 'friend'?  Or if you prefer, how does an acquaintance become a friend?  And while we're at it, when and how does a friend become an even better friend?  A really good friend?  A best friend?  A right mate?  A bosom buddy?  A true friend?

It seems to me that it happens when you share a really low point in your life with them, either retrospectively i.e. when you relate some deep or dark or intimate personal experience to them or when you are in the throes of such deep or dark or intimate experience during either of which they are a caring presence.

Now, here's what I'm really interested to know:  Why is it that we seem to need to share something very personal and usually something that has caused us considerable pain or embarrassment with someone before we feel really 'close' to them?  Before we'd feel prepared or able to consider them a 'real' friend?

Have you ever wondered about that?

Please tell me if the person or persons you consider your best friend or friends do not fall in this category. 

So, why?  Why do they have to pass this 'test' or meet this 'criteria' that we seem to set them, unconsciously, albeit?

Why does a person whom we share only really good times and good news with never quite make it to this 'best', 'dearest' friend status?

I am really curious to know.  Do you have any thoughts on this? 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

It really p***** me off

It seriously pisses me off when my sincere efforts to share only what I truly think and feel with as little censorship as possible is dismissed or overridden by the fact that I maintain anonymity online.

Most people, I am relieved to say, do seem able to focus on what I share and some actually do respond with an equal measure of sincerity and thought.  You'll find some of these people through the comments they have left at this and my other blogs. 

There are a few, however, who cannot seem to get past the pseudonym that I write under and consequently sum me up as 'unknown' or 'mysterious'. 

For crying out loud, I could easily have used a probable, yet fictitious, name such as Christine Kent.  Would that have made me less 'mysterious'?  More 'known'? 

I could also provide a random age, like 29.  Would that suddenly make what I share more believable? 

I know that I'm making a big deal out of a situation that involves a very small number of people but it does get my goat.  You know? 

I mean, here I am sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings, things that I would ruthlessly edit out from my conversations under my 'given' name.  (I have decided that the term 'given' is a more correct description of that name rather than 'real'). 

After all, under that name, I have a reputation to upkeep and an image to preserve!  Is that the 'me' that  these people would rather know?  The peachy version?  Is that who they assume I 'really' am? 

I'm choosing to write about this because I want to get it off my chest.  I also want to know what you, my reader, think?  Do you use a pseudonym or a plausible fictitious name? 

If so, what has your experience been, as a blogger and as someone who leaves comments and participates in online discussions?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I didn't take it personally

P enters my apartment, his opening statement hanging off the edge of his tongue:

'I had a rude awakening today'.

I checked to make sure he did mean something negative, ''Rude?  Not pleasant?"

'Yep, rude as in bad.  Well, actually, it wasn't bad,  It was just the shock of reality, really'.

P deposits his bag on my couch, sits on its arm while making a half-hearted attempt to fend off my lascivious dog.  (No, I'm serious.  She just about molests all my guests, or is that 'our' guests?  Well, they certainly don't come to see her, at least not at first).

I'm chuckling internally which results in a broad smile on my face.

'Oh, tell me all about it', I say, really eager to know.  'But hang on, let me just sort this molester out'.

I can see a mixture of emotions reflected on P's face - impatience, relief, eagerness, excitement....

Well, we were put on the phones today with real customers for the first time.  It was real.  This lady was really ticked off,

'I've been waiting four hours to get through.  /This is just not good enough. No, I'm not going to create another account.  I expect you to sort this out....blah, blah, blah'.

'I didn't take it personally', P was eager to assure me.  'They told us all about this during our training so I knew not to take it personally, but it was still a shock.  Some of the girls cried.  But it was good, good experience, continued P, nodding his head as if trying to convince himself.

'I just wished I could have actually solved some of the problems.  But I couldn't and that was not so good.  I mean, we always suggest things to them but they don't necessarily solve anything, just sort of gets them off your back, you know?  But there were some good calls.  One customer called me 'god'.'

P has recently started working for a very large and well-known IT company in customer service.  After three weeks of training, this was his first day on the phones with actual customers.

It was good to hear his experience as I warmed up the meal I'd prepared for us earlier.  It felt like I was with someone who'd just stepped out of a battlefield -slightly traumatized but mostly determined to find meaning in it, knowing he would be back for more the following day and for a while hereafter.

Bonnie had finally settled and P was heartily tucking into the osso bucco I'd pressure-cooked with carrots, celery, onions, garlic and a tiny sprinkling of dried red chilli, served with rice cooked with brown lentils.  I'd bought the meat for him as I generally don't eat meat.  I was pleased with my cooking as clearly was P.

After he'd finished, he went outside to the courtyard to drag on a cigarette.  The evening was mild enough for my t-shirt over a light cotton dress.  P shared his music with me, his favorites as well as his own compositions.  I enjoyed the soothing sounds of electronica although I didn't care for one where the tempo was 160 bpm.  The lack of variety in the sound at this tempo just makes me feel anxious, as if I'm hopelessly trapped :).  P laughed understandingly when I told him this.

He left not long after, concerned that he'd need a good night's sleep in preparation for another grueling day on the phone with real customers!  I was all for it.  I walked him to the bus stop and gave his a hug and kiss when his bus arrived.  I was glad for his company, brief as it was.

As I walked home, I finally gave the thought that had been rattling in my head some attention:

"If you hadn't taken it personally, why did you feel upset?  

Isn't it true that we always take things personally, to a greater or lesser degree and with a greater or lesser recovery rate?

What do you think?

Friday, October 22, 2010

You just don't get it

This day
blushing with sunlight
and pregnant with air
keeps itself afloat
as it chooses to
by our breath

Feeding itself to me
through my senses
with Divinity's chosen notes
impeccably spaced
on a Spanish guitar
and the comforting , raw tanginess
of a freshly composed chocolate orange shake
along with the cold tiles faithfully beneath my feet
and the quivering bamboo fronds
doing their delicate dance of
shudders and shakes

If heaven were to appear to me,
would it be much different?
Would I recognize it,
trapped as I mostly am,
in my cleverly disguised fears
and my battle-ready defenses?

Holy sunlight washes over me
Blessings of the cosmos
Trees stretch upwards, their branches
flush with leaves
unashamedly drinking up this free nectar
and free from any doubt
that this is the perfect enactment
of their sacred purpose.
What is mine?

What is mine? I have asked
three hundred and twenty-five times
to the best of my knowledge.
I ask as if someone or something
other than myself
has the answer, mystically shrouded,
only to be revealed at some
stupendously significant moment
Hopefully, in a blinding epiphany
rather like Saul's

Wouldn't that be a story to tell!

Holy fool!
Why should any moment be
more significant than any other,
when the sunlight bathes each equally?
Why should this meaning be
worth more than another,
when all arise out of the same
cosmic mind, and you are but
one of its infinite points of reference?

Why are you so addicted
to 'specialness',
desperate to define yourself
by it?
When all of life, every miserable
sodding, orgasmic, uplifting, enchanting
scrap of it
is 'special'?
Why, in other words, do you
long  for what
already is?

There can be only one reason.

You just don't get it.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"You'd let a 63 year old lady on a disability pension spend the night in the park...?"

The lady next door knocked on mine.

"I seem to have lost my key while I've been out and although I've got a combination code for the spare key that I leave on the wall by the door, I just can't seem to remember it.  Do you have the Yellow Pages so I can call a locksmith?"

It was after six o'clock and I really didn't fancy her chances.  I was also feeling resentful about this 'intrusion' especially because I was really rather afraid of her.

I should explain.  I've had little occasion to interact with her (I somehow feel the choice has been mutually shared).  However, I'd heard from another neighbor that she's a little mentally unpredictable, to put it gently.  The fact is, I've discovered a couple of times, plastic bags with rubbish in them placed outside my door and my other neighbor, J's.

When I mentioned it to J, he told me that E was responsible for the unwelcome 'gifts' and that was mainly because she'd decided to go off her medication.  Now, I could launch into a whole discussion about my opinion about how mental health is evaluated and treated but I won't.  Suffice to say, I don't agree with much of it.  Anyhow, as a result of this and other similarly oblique encounters with E, I have been pretty happy about the fact that our paths rarely coincide.  But, here she was at my door.

I invited her in or should I say, I let her in.  She has a somewhat superior manner about her, speaks much louder than necessary and with a sharpness to an already stretched local accent.  The idea was that she'd look up the Yellow Pages and make some calls to see if she could get someone to come out.

She began her calls but the fact that she didn't have the money to pay the tradesmen in full for their 'out of hours' service although she attempted to assure them she'd pay within the next couple of weeks didn't seem to help.

Meanwhile, I went to see if I could get help from the 'head tenant',  S.  She would know who to call.  S took a while getting to the door.  I wasn't sure if she'd been asleep or making love.  She did seem to be out of breath, something greatly assisted by her heavy smoking.  She was remarkably composed though, and was quickly able to give me a number to call.  I was grateful for two main reasons.

One, I was glad that S knew what was happening.  You see, for some pathetic reason, I was afraid that E might lose it and I didn't think I'd be able to handle that too well.  The other reason was that I was really, really dreading the possibility that I might have to put E up for the night.

Yes, I know, I can be dreadfully selfish and cowardly.  And unduly pessimistic.  However, as I was returning from S's, I thought to myself that I would be calm, confident and kind.  So saying, I returned to my apartment to hear E persist in her assurances to someone on the phone that she has always paid tradesmen who've done any work for her and she was prepared to give them the name of the tradesman who'd most recently done a job for her.

There was some response from the other end and then, 

" that's terrible.  So you really think that a 63 year old woman trying to live on a pension should have to spend the night in a park??

Her voice began to falter (and I couldn't help thinking it was put on), as she added,  " ...and with arthritis".

"I'm not having much luck", she reported to me when she put the phone down.  Tell me something I don't know, I thought.

"I've just been up to see S, " I said, "and she suggests that you call these people because they are the ones who service our units".

The long and short of it was that E did call them and they said they'd be forty minutes and they agreed to accept a part payment with the balance to be paid in two weeks.

I could have offered to lend E the money but it would have meant going to a cash machine for the cash, which in itself was hardly a bother.  But I was secretly afraid that I might not have enough myself.  I only get paid tomorrow, you see!  In fact, I've been putting off paying a few bills for just that reason.

I did make E a cup of coffee, white with no sugar.  I did invite her to sit down.  And I did chat with her.  She became very curious about me, probing to find out if I'd studied psychology (she saw a copy of Jung and the Lost Gospels on my coffee table).  She also explored my much downsized collection of books on my makeshift bookshelf and picked out Tagore to read.

She was keen to talk and tell me that she'd gone to University many years ago and had a daughter in Canada, married with two kids and who was a medical doctor as was her husband.  I did not feel obliged to say too much or even ask too much.  I felt it would be best to let her talk as she felt inclined to.

She remarked that my apartment felt very peaceful and later that I was very peaceful.  Oh yes, by this time, her voice had lowered considerably in volume.  She was very appreciative of my help.  I told her matter-of-factly that I would always try to help when I could and that when I couldn't, I wouldn't.  I think she sensed the sincerity of my words.  I think that the encounter might have given her cause to reconsider her somewhat superior attitude.  Yeah, I know, how wishful and perhaps arrogant of me:)

But, more importantly, it's given me a little more confidence.  I feel less afraid of her and sense that I'll be generally less afraid of people who seem to lose control of themselves.  It's shown me that I can somehow get past my fear to being naturally kind and accommodating, even if at first I'm convinced that I can't and that I don't want to be!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ode to George Mackay Brown

Where are you? I ask

In flashing steel across
the cobalt river beside
the humdrum length of
stately buildings swathed
in false impressions.

So you answered,
poet I have not long
come to know, but
who knew us all
a very long time ago

when our eyes were still
held shut within
the crusted gates of sleep
and our bodies, a sorry reflection
of our unlit minds.

You sat among the crags
and upon the salted steps in Hamnavoe
Speaking silently with the elements
A pied piper poised to gather
meanings from unspoken words

spelt by glistening waves and
tides of herring
netted in the rituals of daylight by a
drop of humanity left stranded in eternity's
unflinching cycles.

Gone, though you are,
back to the unformed
your reach is even wider now
and reassuringly

Usurping our chaos that stages its
daily dramas of apparent realness
when, in fact, a contusion of life
pleading for healing
though needing none.

You bless us with the
torture of unimposing truth,
mystifying echoes that
surge in grunts and groans
across our emptiness

dripping life,
such as we allow,
into thirsty lanterns
long burned out by
our blindness,


Sunday, October 17, 2010

On that score, at least, we're even

My sister and I need to get back to Moorooka and we need $4 for our bus fares.  Could you give me $4?

This good-looking, well-dressed lady looks directly into my eyes, as if defying me to disbelieve her.  I am feeling terribly uncomfortable.  I don't intend to give her the money for reasons I am not entirely clear about.  At the same time, I don't wish to be disrespectful in any way.  If any thing, I feel a desperate need to assure her that her request for my money has in no way diminished my respect for her as another living creature. 

But my emotions are stirred from their convenient sleep into an unsettling, incongruent, conflicted mess.  Why am I unable to say a straightforward, respectful 'No'?  Why is my mind scrambling clumsily for another way of saying 'No'?  Why is it grasping for some euphemistic alternative disguised as a credible excuse or what I feebly try to convince myself is one?  I know that she is not going to believe it.  Just because she asks a stranger for money doesn't make her insensitive to people's motivations. 

I give her some half-baked excuse amounting to a lie that I don't have any change, hoping that she gets the hint.  Instead, she asks if I've got $5 (a note).  I vacillate between feeling slightly miffed by her cheek and still trying to find a dignifying way out.  No, I say, I don't and this time, it seems I have stopped trying to lessen the blow.  She looks at me with the same expression that she's maintained from the start of our encounter, almost dour faced.  I briefly wonder what she's thinking. But most of my thoughts are already embroiled in a post mortem.

Why do I feel so uncomfortable about being approached for money in this way?  Why don't I give it?  What am I really saying when I don't?  How can I respond in a way that leaves me feeling good and, hopefully, does something useful for the other person? 

I think that most of all, I don't give because I believe it's an inadequate, short term response that at best, would meet an immediate or short term need that's likely to do more harm than good.  It's also because there's a very strong voice inside my head telling me that the money will be spent on grog or cigs or drugs rather than getting this lady and her, thus far, not-to-be-seen sister anywhere near where she says they're hoping to go.

In short, I don't believe her story any more than she believes mine.  So, on that score, at least, we're even.  But beyond that, I'm sure I feel I'm in  a better place than she is.  If all or most of my assumptions about her are right, I am reassured by the fact that I have not acquired an addiction and worse still, one which I am unable to support financially.  Neither am I likely to ask a stranger for money or lie to them about what the money is for. 

I know, I am passing judgment on this lady.  Or am I?  I like to think that I'm making observations about a person and about myself.  If anything, I am more concerned with my response and my reasoning (or lack of) and what beliefs and values underlie them.  One by one, I hope to pick them open and examine them for I sense there is much I shall discover and learn about myself.  Things that will help me regard another human being with true respect and regard, not just for who they are but for their right to their choices in life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I'd rather be appreciated than rewarded

I work in a retail store anywhere from one to three days a week.  It's a store that operates on the principles of fair trade and sources all its products, almost 95% of which are handmade by women, from  countries such as Thailand, Peru, Sri Lanka, Paraguay, Colombia, Kenya, the Philippines and East Timor.

The handcrafted goods, including the very popular owl shaped shoulder bags, waste paper baskets made from recycled telephone books and spider-weave table runners are each uniquely made and are an absolute delight to our customers.  Sadly, although our store is located in an expensive suburb and on the main drag, because it's not part of a big shopping complex, its clientele are mainly passers-by. Which means, we don't get as many as we need.

Yesterday, what with the rain playing cheeky on and off games with us, we had a total of twenty customers.  Hardly anything to crow about although we did have a fifty percent conversion.  The manager attributed that to me insisting that I have a way with people.  The truth is, I do enjoy engaging with them and I smile a lot and I am known to say some rather strange and unexpected things that seem to  make people smile and often explode with laughter. I don't plan any of this, of course.  It's just a natural reaction to people:)

For instance, I was serving a couple of girlfriends not long ago.  It was a day for girlfriends.  There must've been at least four pairs that day,  Anyways, I was serving this lady whose friend had come in a week or so ago on her own looking for some amethyst earrings for a friend.  Apparently, it was the friend's birthday.  Well, sadly, we didn't have any amethyst earrings although we did have amethyst necklaces which was not quite what this lady wanted to give her friend.

When this lady and a friend turned up at the store I wondered if this might be the friend she'd been wanting to buy the earrings for and when I had a chance, I quietly asked her.  I think she was chaffed by the fact that I remembered her and her thwarted intentions.  So, knowing I was in the good books, I naturally gave myself freedom of speech.

The lady's friend had decided to purchase a shoulder bag and when the two of them came to the counter to pay for it, I asked the friend if this was her first time at our store.  Yes, she replied.  To which I said with deliberately muted excitement and a hint  of gravity, "Ah, a virgin".  Well, you can imagine the uproar that caused.  The friend just could not stop laughing (and laugh she did, all the way out of the store some ten minutes later) while everyone else in the store (it's quite a small one) pricked up their ears hoping to catch more juicy tittle tattle.

Well, the stage was set.  I launched into the story of how I'd come about this particular phrase.  But perhaps I'll leave that story for another post and continue for now with how my 'personality has changed over the years - from someone who used to keep her gaze toward the ground and hope and pray that no one would notice her to someone who is just looking for an opportunity to smile at people.  If you knew me, I mean seriously knew me, you'd know that that has been a change of galactic proportions.

I've noticed that I tend to smile at bus drivers too these days.  The other day, one of them commented on it.  And the day before, on my ride back from my Monday evening Buddhist class, which incidentally is about the nature of reality (yeah, heavy stuff), I noticed a sign on the bus.  Well, actually, I'd noticed the sign several times before but only took the time to read it properly that night.  The last thing it said was: Reward the bus driver with a smile.

It made me wonder of course, as you must know by now, about several things.  Like, do I really believe in rewarding anyone?  Do bus drivers feel 'rewarded' when someone smiles at them or do they just feel nice?  Why do we buy into this concept of 'reward'?  Isn't it rather limiting?  Couldn't we just appreciate?  Couldn't we be encouraged to 'appreciate' rather than 'reward'?

In my mind, appreciation is such a natural response which is based on enjoyment rather than 'e-value-ation.  Reward, on the other hand, connotes a certain amount of evaluation and encourages us to think and respond in terms of 'degrees' of value and other such discriminating and restricting concepts.

What do you think?  I'd love to know :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reminiscing on a rainy day

I want to tell you about the rain that's been dripping down on us almost ceaselessly the last few days, and that, according to the weather forecasts, is likely to continue for a good few more.

I want to tell you about the rain because I do love it.  I love its tenderness and the soft sounds it makes as it falls upon leaves and fronds and earth and concrete ground and brollies and window panes and my hair and face and leaves its drops on all of them.  Yes, that sound is continuous as long as it is raining, varying only in intensity.  I love the way the palm fronds quiver and dance as raindrops land on them, so delicately.  And I love how green and nourished and satisfied the grass and trees and plants look, as if they've just had the most sumptuous and satisfying meal :)

Why is it that the rain makes us want to snuggle up in bed or on a comfortable sofa and get lost in a good book?  Is it simply because we can't go out (or should I say prefer not to go out because we don't wish to get wet?).  Or is there something more to it?  Light rain has such a comforting, constant sound/  Well, it makes that sound when it comes into contact with things of and on the earth including roof tops and drainpipes. 

When I was a teenager, I used to be too embarrassed to hold a brolly and walk in the rain.  Actually, as a teenager, I was painfully embarrassed to do a lot of things, including being me.  I'm talking about my late teens here and early twenties.  Oh, the pain!  I cannot say that I've lost all that shyness altogether but I guess you could say I'm much better at concealing it.  Actually, it would be truer to say that I've learned to focus on different things.

I remember I was at a party once and it was decided we each had to tell a story about ourselves (This was in my early twenty's).  We were all sat in a circle, about eight of us, and I spent the entire eternity of those forty or so minutes dying countless deaths inside me.  I was emotionally traumatized and my brain went into lock-down mode.  I simply couldn't think of what to say other than "I can't do this".

Oh my god, it was hell.  When it finally was my turn, I simply put my head down and shook it to indicate that I could not do it.  Of course, this brought on a cascade of encouragement from the rest of the party which only made it worse for me.  I had attracted more attention to myself (which was, for crying out loud, the exact opposite of what I wanted!).  It would have been so much easier if I'd attempted to say something but I simply couldn't.  It was truly a traumatic event.

When I was at university, just before a field trip to Wales, I found a note in my pigeon hole.  It simply said "You are the most beautiful girl I've ever seen".  A part of me felt thrilled but a much larger part of me went into panic mode and I was terrified and guilty at the same time.  Can you believe that???  Guilty???  What on earth for, you must wonder.  Because I had a boyfriend then whom I honestly didn't love but whom I'd pledged myself to (and ended up marrying and eventually divorcing some 15 years later).  Yes, believe it.

I had no business being attractive to others.  I must have believed that on some level.  Actually, I'm certain I did.  During the field trip, a guy came over to me and declared that he was totally attracted to me and wanted me to be his girlfriend.  The 'worst' part was that he was someone I'd noticed at lectures and was soooooooo attracted to as well.  He was good looking alright.  Terribly good looking - Italian and English features and gorgeous skin.  I'd naturally thought to myself that with his looks, he'd never give me a second look.  (Besides, I was this sky, awkward girl who never showed or spoke her true feelings).

For goodness sake, it wasn't as if I was ugly.  Quite the contrary.  People would often pass me compliments from which I would recoil with embarrassment and guilt.,  Yes, the guilt was always there. 

So, I never reciprocated his interest in me although god knows how badly I wanted to.  My life would have certainly turned out differently had I.  I can't say if it would have been better or worse but it would have been different.

Nothing like a bit of reminiscing on a rainy day, is there? :)

PS  In case you're wondering (I very much doubt you are but I thought I'd explain anyway), I often find the title for my post after I've written the post :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

An abstract need

I'm starting this with no idea where I'm going.  No idea where I'm beginning either except that it's here.  Perhaps you could say it's a stream of consciousness thing, but I'd hesitate to call it that, not entirely at any rate.

I'm listening to this powerful piece of music as I write this. It's Joss Stone allowing Jeff Beck to accompany her on There's no other Me. Has that girl got a voice!  The bass guitar is something awesome too.  Yeah, powerful, searing stuff.  No., not the bass but the whole composition.  I've only recently (in the last couple of years) discovered Jeff Beck and I love his style.  He can come play at my party any time :)

But really, before thinking to tell you about the music I was listening to, I wanted to tell you about this simply soft, lush canopy of green that's spread wide across my view from the window where I'm sitting and typing this.  It's the time of early evening, not long before six, when the sky is turning that dusky blue and there's just enough light to show you how green the leaves on the sprawling branches of this tree (whose name I still do not know nor seriously care to know) can be.

So you might ask why might any of this be noteworthy.  Why, furthermore, would I want to share it with you?  Well, for one thing, this is probably the most enchanting time of the day for me.  For another, the green is just so rich and fertile and promising and beguiling.  I don't know why, it just is to me.  And I am filled with this deep sense of beauty and enchantment, as if I were in a world of magic and nothing matters at all.

By the time you read this, the feelings will probably have left me and in all honesty, I rather doubt that you could even begin to get a taste of what I'm on about as I don't think I've been able to express or describe anything terribly well.  But, for some reason, I have a desire to share this and hope, in some vague way, that it might remind you of beautiful, tender moments of being lost in some kind of magic.

I've been reading a book by Neale Donald Walsh called 'Happier than God  I recommend it if you want to understand how things work and how you can be happy.  So simply put although there are profound truths which may require you to pause and read them over and reflect on them.

I went to visit my friend, L, today.  She's going to New Zealand for a holiday tomorrow, for seventeen days.  I helped her get her things together in her suitcase and carry-on bag.  She didn't really need my help.  It was more the reassurance of my being with her before she left that I think mattered.

We exchanged gifts, neither of us knowing that we were going to.  I'd got her a  sea-blue scarf with silver threads through it and a blue, glass-like bracelet to go with it.  I wanted her to have something from me on her trip.  She loved them at once.  And then, she presented me with a couple of gifts - a scarf she'd knitted ages ago and had forgotten about (actually there were four of them) and a desk lamp that I'd been eying to use by my laptop instead of the overhead l light that I currently use.  Of course I was thrilled with both.

I treasure my time with L. She's a cool cucumber. Sharp as a tack and ripe with life.

So, I took the bus home.  Two buses actually.  I no longer have a car.  It needed new brakes and it was going to cost more than I could afford and I was becoming less and less enthusiastic about using a car.  So, finally, I got the wreckers to come and collect her.  It took me several months to come to that decision.  Interesting how the inevitable plays itself out...

Gosh, I don't suppose I've said anything of much substance here.  Nothing for you to chew on, to ponder, to pick a bone with.  But it's satisfied a need in me, an abstract sort of a need.  Have you had any 'abstract' needs of late?  Care to share them?  Or at least, to share how you satisfied them?  I'm all ears. I mean, all eyes :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

If only I knew

I wonder.  Did you ever feel you knew exactly what you were meant to 'do' in this life? 

I've heard and read about people, mainly famous people, who seemed to know from a very early age what they were meant to do with their lives and got to it without wasting too much time.  Sure, there are cases where they may have encountered road blocks and were forced to make detours but that did not change the fact that they seemed to know just what they were meant to do.

I wonder if you also might have known?  I don't think I ever did.  Truth be told, I still don't think I do.  Which strikes me as rather unfortunate.  Why?  Because I feel I could have got on to it sooner and spent more of my life doing what I was meant to do rather than wondering about it.

Of course, all this presumes a number of things.  For instance, it presumes that we each have a certain 'thing' that we are predestined to do and/or be.  It could also imply that the time that we're not doing whatever it is we're meant to be doing is time wasted.  Those seem to be the most obvious implications of my line of questioning, neither of which I believe to be true.  At least, not completely.

I mean, the notion of something predestined seems to suggest that we really have no say in the matter.  I believe we always have a say in the matter.  If that weren't true, well then, we'd all be doing exactly what we're predestined to do, wouldn't we? 

I suppose you could argue that we are doing whatever it is we're predestined to be doing including all the things that we think (or I think) are not as clearly and conveniently defined as say, being a famous rock musician or a spiritual luminary or a brilliant actor or an exceptional scientist or philosopher. 

If so, I have two questions:

1.  Why isn't it as clearly defined?
2.  Why is there a sense of not feeling and knowing that 'this is it'?

As for the 'time-wasting' proposition, well, I don't really believe that anything is ever wasted although I do believe that many benefits in life often go unrecognized. 

So, do you have any thoughts on this?  I'd be most interested to know.  You see, I'd really like to know that I was getting to where I want to be, if only I knew where/what that was!

Monday, September 27, 2010

This unremarkable drift

I was going to write about this child who got lost and how, although he seemed pretty sanguine about it (you know, ignorance is bliss), it was heart-wrenching for me.  I was feeling the anguish of his parents or at least, the anguish that I would have felt had my child gone missing for 5 minutes let alone forty minutes and then some. 

And I couldn't help feeling both grateful that the child (about two and a half to three) was oblivious of his situation as well as how terrified and alone I'd be feeling as a child if I'd had the misfortune to be clued in. Know what I mean?

I waited some forty minutes as I watched one of the girls from the park management team keep this tiny angel company (or was it the other way around?), distract him by talking to him and making up games to play, all of which he took to with the calm and decorum of someone who knew no fear.  Oh, how I wish I could be as calm and unperturbed when unexpected or undesirable things happen to me. 

Okay, it's true, I'm a lot more calm and relaxed about most things and I tend to be more so when others around me get into a bit of flap.  But there are times when the entire world is spinning out of control inside me though you'd never know it on the outside.  Well, perhaps I exaggerate.  Perhaps it's not quite as out of control as I seem to think it is.  Perhaps it's just my fear that it is.  This mind can get pretty conflicted sometimes, you know?

So, despite changing my mind about what I was going to write, I have managed to tell the original story and I find that I've no where else to go with it.  It's been told, it's done and I'm glad I've got it out of my system.

Now, for a not so subtle change of direction, did I ever mention how much I love the blues?  I really, really love the blues, especially blues rock.  I wish I had a scratchy, blues voice or a deep mama voice.  I have neither.  Not that those are the only voices that can sing the blues well, just that I kinda wish I could sing 'em like that :)

Right, am not even sure why I've started talking about the blues.  Could it be because I'm listening to a cool blues program that's on the radio just now? :)  Or the fact that I'm so looking forward to my guitar lesson/session tomorrow with a local muso whose blues style I just love?

Anyhow, I best call it quits here before I drive myself and you insane with this unremarkable drift...apologies if its been irksome.  But if it prompts you to share your thoughts, please do. I always love reading other people's drift :)

 PS  Oh, how could I not write about this part of the story? 

The park girl assured me that a crew was going around looking for the parents.  Still, I really didn't want to leave without the assurance that the child and his parents were reunited.  So I held this intention - I just want to know that it's going to happen soon because there's already been too much suffering (on the part of the parents, at least).

Instead of making my way back towards the bridge which would take me to the city - it was after seven and dark - I started walking back into the park.  Well, I hadn't gone a few meters when I saw two women, their faces filled with an anguish that was not yet ready to go, and a security man who was leading them in the direction of the child. 

My heart just soared way over the clouds that had been lingering around it and I called out to the women, "Your child is safe.  He's right over there!"

I floated along that bridge and home that night :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

And some time it's been....

Sigh - Yeah, it's like that. I'm beginning this with the weight of guilt and disappointment for not being more consistent with this blog.  I'm also encumbered by the uncertainty of when my next post will be. makes me wonder...why am I posting now?

Truth? Because for a very brief, nanosecond-like moment, I felt like I wanted to and so here I am.  Which is one way of saying that in all the time since my last post, I've not had that kind of a moment. makes me wonder...why I haven't...

'Honestly?  I think it's because I've had other things on my mind.  Like a romantic interest (although NOTHING was said or done by me or the object of my desire - was he completely unaware of how I felt?  Or was he just as scared as I was to say or do anything about it?  Or were the feelings simply not mutual?).

And besides that, I've been blissfully engaged with my music, songwriting and recording and songwriting some more.  And I've been writing for money - quite a bit more money than I was getting.  So that's all been good.

But this songwriting journey, yeah, it's taken a bit of a new direction, which is a little scary.  The last lot of songs I wrote and recorded were risk-free - transcendent stuff revolving around the eternal truths of life and love. 

But the songs I'm writing now are different in subject and sound - speaking of vulnerability and uncertainty and longings that may never be realized and that may even be considered unconventional or at least unpopular...but at least they're all true.  There's integrity,  

Not that the previous lot lacked integrity - no, not at all.  Just that they didn't feel as close to the bone as these ones.  Doesn't make the latter more authentic, I don't think, but might make them more accessible, more the sort of thing that more people can relate to.

Funny, I didn't think I'd be writing about my songwriting.  For that matter, I really had no idea what I'd be writing about.  So, forgive me if this isn't quite your cup of tea, assuming you're reading this.  /Well, there's nothing to assume there - if you're reading this, you are. brain's gone mushy, I think.  Mushy peas?

Perhaps this might be a good place to stop?  Yep, I think so.  Do stop and say 'hi' if you're reading this - it will put a big smile on me face :)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sunday reverie

Sometimes, when I start to write, some of those gorgeous images that I'd been watching on my mind screen, those tender stories that had started to take shape, just disappear.

It is as if my fingers are not meant to capture them.  As if words have no right to describe them, or even hint at them.  As if it would be sacrilegious to express them in any way other than how they appear in my mind.

In some ways, this feels grand.  As if these images, these scenes, are sacred, meant only for my mind's eye, for my heart's senses.

Yes, in some ways I accept this is bizarre, that I should even think to use little lines and curves that make up words to capture something so ephemeral, so untouchable by anything other than the senses, so shy of exposure.  So obviously meant for a private and intimate audience - me.

But if I don't make some attempt to capture them, how shall I remember?  How shall I share them with others?  How shall I relive those gorgeous, delicate, brilliant, tender, exquisite, sweet, enchanting moments?  Moments so wonderfully free of history, of time, of meaning, of purpose?

Perhaps I am not meant to.  Perhaps, if I let them come and go as they please, they'll send along their friends and family and distant relatives who may be just as pleasurable and sometimes more.  In other words, I shall never run out of such mindful pleasures.

All I'll have to do is show up.  How hard can that be?

Monday, May 31, 2010

What motivates you? Really? Time to find out.

It's been a while since I've got out of bed deliriously excited about what I will accomplish during the day.  To be honest, I don't think I can remember when the last time was that I did.

Mostly, I rise with a sense of determination that I will get a few things done, things that are mainly related to work.  Occasionally, that determination is garnished with a sliver of enthusiasm.

I think the size of the latter would increase if I wasn't so afraid of not making enough money to meet all my expenses. And I'm certain that the determination could easily be replaced with a raw, spontaneous and unflinching sense of purpose that aspires to put my creative nature to good and novel use, not just for my benefit but for the benefit of others.

With that kind of purpose, who needs determination? The need to create and the application of one's mind, body and spirit to the creative process is just gloriously congealed into one's purpose.  At least, that's what I've discovered.

In the world of cognitive psychology and in corporate and educational circles, this sort of stuff is loosely wrapped up in the concept of 'motivation'.  It's complex, as we tend to discover about most things we give words to.  But, I still found this video both entertaining and informative.

Surprising too, if you haven't really been paying attention to what motivates you (or been completely honest with yourself) and others.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And do let me know what you think.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A woman with hardly unique imperfections

Oh dear.

I can't help feeling a little bit sorry for her. If, as the media reports, she's been in financial strife for some time now, any easy money would be a welcome relief. Besides, 15,000 pounds a year for an ex-wife of a British Prince and the mother of potential heirs to the throne does seem a tad tight-a*sed. 

I mean, doesn't she have airs to put on and an image to keep up (or redeem), regardless of how badly she's tarnished them in the distant and recent past?  It must be hard to live on relatively paltry funds when you've become accustomed to a  considerably more lavish lifestyle. It must be additionally hard when society retains associations of you and the royal family in its selective memory, using that association as an excuse for hurtful mockfests at your personal expense. 

I've never been a royalist and although I choose to remain oblivious to most of their business, I do occasionally get myself a spectator seat at the latest royal circus the media has spotted, or deftly contrived, for our entertainment, ridicule and/or judgment.  Fergie's latest gaffe is one such occasion.

I can't help feeling that the media has been particularly unkind to her over the years.  I'm not sure why. Why I feel this way and why the media has been so.  I don't recall her going out of her way to seek attention. If anything, I often wondered what it was like for her to be cast into obscurity by the blinding light of her supernova sister-in-law, whom I seem to think she had a mostly good relationship with.

I don't even recall her doing anything especially bad or unkind.  But then, as I said, I've not made it a point to follow the royal circus. She might have been horribly mean and nasty for all I know. Still, on the basis of what I do know, I can't help feeling sorry for her.

I'm sure it must have hurt terribly to be called the Duchess of Pork, a slight accorded her for no reason other than her (over)weight.  And to be frequently made the butt of cruel fashion jokes and unfavorably compared with a model-esque sister-in-law must surely have cut deep and painfully. 

No, I'm not suggesting that any of this excuses her latest installment of 'lack of good judgment', but taken in context, it highlights to me the bullying nature of society's unofficial judge and jury - the media - and the very public humiliation of a woman whose hardly unique 'imperfections' have provided many of us with cheap entertainment. 

It's a shame, in so many ways, for so many people, including her daughters. I just hope Fergie survives this.   And I hope that we can all be kinder.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Unconditional commitment - it's a four letter word

This thing called Risk
I just can't handle it
This thing called Risk
I must get round to it
I ain't ready
Crazy little thing called Rissssssssssssk.

(With thanks and 'You're welcome' to Freddie Mercury et al)

To be honest, this is not a word or a concept or a 'thing' that I enjoy. Nope. I like my life risk-free, buttered all around and served on a bed of brilliant crystal, soft to the touch and shatter-proof.

And, to continue in honesty, I really deplore the claims that you cannot grow or progress or gain anything you value without taking risks.  Either the world is inherently flawed in its creative process or we, I, have failed to master its true machinations. I'd prefer to believe the latter.

But how do I sustain such a belief against what appears to be an overwhelming body of evidence to the contrary?  A body of evidence that seems to give support to the claim that I so deplore?

I think I can do it my redefining what I have thus far thought 'risk' to be.  No more shall I see it as the treacherous wilderness I must navigate, fraught with endless possibilities of attack, pain and despair.  No more will it be the loathsome suitor that I must court as the torturous means to the rainbow's end.  No more shall I hide in its ominous shadow, afraid of being noticed and summoned to undesired action.

Instead, I shall redefine risk as love.  Love? And what might that be? Or passion. Oh? Do tell.

Unconditional commitment. According to Kiekegaard. Whose work, Either/Or was mentioned to me by C.Bosco.  That's what passion is - unconditional commitment.

Can you imagine that? To be unconditionally committed to something so that notions of risk and failure and pain and disappointment have absolutely no room, no meaning in your worldview?   What kind of life would that be?

Perfect. Passionate. Wondrous. Glorious. Truly beyond belief for it would supersede all beliefs and all need for beliefs.

Actually, to me that would be the only worthwhile meaning of life. That life would be love.

Give it to me baby!

Better still, I give it to myself.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

These vague feelings that had been prowling around my mind

Four million deaths since 1998 in the Republic of Congo.

Less than $1 for a day's work in a rice field in Thailand, provided you make your quota. If you don't, your wages get docked.

An innocent man who's already spent 12 years in a prison in Texas for a crime he never committed.

A twelve year-old girl in Afghanistan who was set on fire for refusing to marry a man thirty years older.

A  three-month old infant in Nigeria dies from a preventable disease.

A protester shot in Bangkok.

100 million more Indians living under the poverty line today than six years ago.

Part of my TV dinner.  This is the world at 6pm on a very normal day.  There is nothing abnormal here, neither my reaction (or lack of it) nor the events that have occurred and that continue to occur.

The words of Phil Collin's 'Just another day in paradise' keep running through my mind. What an odd, odd thing.  Or is it? Perhaps it's as normal as everything else on this very normal day.  But paradise?

Have I lost sight of what's normal?  Is it just as normal for me to be blogging about it?  Am I really interrogating the meaning of 'normal'?  What is this really about?  Is there anything I can do?  Do I want to?

This afternoon, I had a chat with myself. I asked myself what it was that I really wanted?  As images of a grand home, loving partner and family, wealth and world travel fleeted through my mind, another set of images hung around persistently.  Images of homeless people, children dying from preventable diseases,  people living in stinking, putrid squalor and children and adults laboring long hours everyday and not always earning enough to feed themselves.

I asked myself if I felt guilty about wanting the things that I wanted and if having them would be denying those who didn't and couldn't.  No, I didn't feel guilty and no, I didn't believe that.

I asked myself if I still wanted what I'd previously identified I'd wanted as they appeared in those images. Yes, I did.  So why was I still feeling this unease? 

I realized then that more than what I'd wanted for myself, I wanted to share with those people what I knew and believed - that they could have a better life if only they'd believe it were possible.  I just wanted to share with them what I knew and believed, and, if they wanted it, I would help them in whatever way I could. 

My spirit lifted then upon this realization. It was the first time I'd fully articulated these vague feelings that had been prowling around my mind for what I now realized, had been years, in terms of their associated desires. This was perhaps the least  normal thing about my day.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My confession today is that I...

I realized something today, something that I'm afraid to admit but that I want to. It will be one more inhibition to liberate myself from.

I happened to watch The Notebook last night. I should say early this morning, after I had finished a couple of writing assignments.  It was well after 3am and although I could have easily gone to sleep, I just felt I'd rather watch a movie.

I enjoyed every bit of it. Every bit. The charm, the innocence, the longings, the desires, the laughter, the poetry, the scenery, the music, the beauty, the sadness, the thwarted affair.

No, no, that's not true. I did not enjoy the sadness and I certainly didn't enjoy the cruel turn of events nor the pain before its eventual resolution.

Oh, you might say that it was Hollywood doing what Hollywood does best - sell you a fistful of unrealistic dreams that you can lose yourself in for an hour or so. So what? What's the harm in losing yourself and all your stuffy and starchy beliefs and proclamations about the 'real' world if only for an hour of your life'?

As far as I'm concerned, nothing.  Nothing at all. On the contrary, it might actually reignite your dying imagination, release you from your self-imposed exile from LIFE. True LIFE. Not the life that you've become conditioned into but the life that glows naturally within you like a flame that refuses to die no matter how hard you or anyone else tries to snuff it out.

Isn't this the reason why we are so drawn to such 'flights of fantasy'?  Because they have an inimitable ring of truth to them?  Because, surely, this is what we most desire?  Because, let's be completely honest, this is what makes us happiest?

It might help you realize what it made me realize, or should I say, admit - that I do want that pure, shameless love, the kind that you would devote your life to. The kind that makes everything else pale into oblivion because it is so fulfilling, so nurturing, so life-giving, no needless of explanation or reasoning.

The reader of the notebook says, at one point, something to this effect:

I have not achieved anything of significance in my life. I haven't acquired fortunes or invented anything. I haven't done anything that might be considered noteworthy. But I believe I have fulfilled the purpose of my life because I have loved another so fully and completely.

I'm a bit of a cry babe. Typing that just brought a lump to my throat and the tears all but fell. For goodness sake, can there be a more beautiful purpose for one's life? I certainly can't think of any. And my confession today is that I do want to experience the complete joy and awe and pleasure and rapture and beauty and freedom of being so completely devoted to one other.

How Do I Love Thee

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
for the ends of Being and ideal Grace,
I love thee to the level of every day's
most quiet need, by sun and candle light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
in my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
with my lost saints,-I love thee with the breath,
smiles, tears, of all my life!-and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning


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