Left brain right brain

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Thursday, 31 July 2008

After a furious phone call to the people at GoTalk, I am informed that I should receive my modem tomorrow, Friday, which will make it 3 and a half weeks since I first signed up. That's almost double what they told me at the beginning. Granted, hooking up for naked DSL takes a long time because it involves working through another telecommunications company as well. But sheesh, guys - if it's gonna take 4 weeks, tell me 4 weeks. Then I'll be prepared. If you tell me it's gonna be 2 weeks and then it blows out the way it has, then you'll just piss me off.

I've heard some dodgy things about this company. It remains to be seen whether their internet delivery is better than their estimations. Being without the internet for a month at home has actually been a good thing for me. I wonder if it is coincidence that all this weird spiritual stuff has gone on at the same time. Sometimes I think if I got rid of everything and sat in a field, I would have the most amazing experiences :)

I have been working with a writing book that uses clustering, or mind-mapping. I'm sure you've seen them somewhere. You write a word down in the middle of the page and circle it, and then just start branching out with word associations, writing down whatever comes into your head. It's an interesting thing to observe your left brain/right brain arguments during this exercise. The left brain is groaning, feeing uncomfortable, saying, "This is just stupid. What do all of these things have in common? I don't see any pattern here. You're just making it up as you go along. This is dumb." Yada yada yada.

Meanwhile the right brain is saying, "Ahh, trust me. Come along for the ride. Put your feet up. Have fun. There's purpose in my madness. Just trust me. You never trust me. Trust me."

And so sometimes, in these little vignettes I've been writing, the right brain gets to say, "See? See?" Because after writing a whole lot of different seemingly disparate words, suddenly I will get this little shift, this little mini aha moment where I get a sense that I am ready to write. Even though I still can't see the pattern. And so I start writing, and it's not until I start writing, with the left brain kicking into gear as well, that suddenly it will come into view, like being able to see one of those 3D picture things. And it all shifts into gear, the writing flows and I am surprised by this nicely rounded little self contained vignette.

Even though I have no idea where I am going or what I am doing, and even though this life is a painful thing, I know there is a pattern in here even if I can't see it. I know that. Life lived in the mystery is much more exciting and stimulating than a tightly-held life where I know where I am going next. I don't know how long it's been since I've known where I'm going next. And I don't care anywhere near as much as I once would have thought, because the story gets written richer here somehow, things come together when I'm not left-braining my life to death.

I can't see any pattern though. I can't see how all these disparate elements that are my life will come together. I can't see where my life is heading. It feels like a total bloody mess, to be honest. Looking in at it from the outside, it totally looks worse than it did 10 years ago. I feel like more and more I march to a different drummer's beat than many of those around me. Often I can barely hear it. Sometimes I forget there is a song. But it's such a beautiful one, like a pied piper rat I just keep moving towards it, you know?

Next Monday, continuing on my "going straight to hell, do not collect $200" version of practising Christianity I am going to a shamanistic healing session, where people will beat drums over me and Satan shall enter into my soul, causing me to go and have wild uninhibited sex with men I don't know and a couple of goats on a hill, where afterwards I shall drink the blood of a sacrificed dog. Or something. Whatever happens, it should make for an interesting blog post :)

Disclaimer: I have just drunk a can of Bundy and Coke overproof. I don't drink anymore, not really. I'm a two-can screamer at the best of times. If this post doesn't make sense, that's why :)

Heart Visions

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Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Demons and the dark side sound so weird to 21st century Western ears. Do I believe there is some dark being out there called the devil? Well, the problem with that idea is that it conjures up images of some bloke in a red leather catsuit with a pitchfork and a tail. But yes, I suppose I do believe there is some sort of dark force out there.

I haven't been too much focussed on it over the past several years. As my relationship with God has grown, my ideas of the dark side of life have assumed much less importance, have become something I barely think about. There have been a few strange experiences but the whole idea of the devil as has been experienced in the past just doesn't bear relevance for me. A lot of what we claim to be the work of the devil is the work of ourselves. The less likely we are to acknowledge the dark sides of our own personalities, the more we wll manifest that out somewhere into the atmosphere, methinks.

And yet, for all of that, I can't deny that I am feeling something akin to spiritual oppression lately. I feel like there is a time coming for me of real growth, of groaning forward into life, and for the first time in ages I am thinking that maybe there is something malevolent out there which is not happy about this. I don't know what to call it. I just don't know.

I asked for people to pray here last week, and in return T and K went ahead and had a few visions. How cool is that? I have this urge to post them here. I'm not sure what my motivations are. I have been questioning whether I am just posting them because it's kinda cool having people having visions, and I'm the centre of the sideshow. Maybe - who knows? Having elements of your personality reveal themselves that have remained largely submerged for years release my hold somewhat on any idea that I always know my own motivations. Mainly I am posting it because I feel like I need to, for some indefinable reason. I am feeling a sense of dark oppression which is the worst it's been for years and I really can't get through this one by myself. Much of the content of these visions ring true for me. I feel a bit strange about posting, a bit shy, but what the hell.

I love the way they got to share this together, and I love the community feel of others entering into my healing in some way. It feels really nice and lovely, somehow. I have a renewed sense of how much we all need each other this week. Anyway, here is what they saw.

T said:

As I was praying for you I saw a root, not a root system but a deep, deep taproot and it went all the way down through your abdomen and to your reproductive area. Whether this is because of the sexual abuse or not I do not know, but these were the words I heard, betrayal, violation, poison, anger. So I started coming against it, praying against it (and Kim is good at this too), speaking death and poison to it that it would dissolve.

Then I started praying about your heart and strangely I heard the word "squeeze" and saw that you have a heart like a sponge, something I have never seen before. I believe the reason you are feeling so awful is that your heart is pumped full of poison and bad stuff because of the violations you have endured, and the taproot from that area was feeding your heart full of bad stuff, which absorbed it like a sponge. So I started praying that God would squeeze out the poison, which I saw in the spirit, but there is a problem, once it was empty (which may be future) I couldn't see it absorbing anything but air. Now this may be good or bad but my praying would not affect it which is why I am submitting it to you and you may want to ask Kim what she sees because we all see in part.

And you might want to ask he why having a heart like a sponge is a good thing, because it must be or the enemy wouldn't have attacked it. Or maybe it needs to alter from a sponge. I don't know, but there is that. I will continue to pray but I will be gone all day tomorrow so I wanted to check in, tell you how much I love you and that I am ALWAYS here if you need me. I would face hell in prayers for you and I believe K will too. But I won't breach your privacy by going to her, I just know she would feel blessed to be able to do this for you.

K said:

The root is bitterness. It is a thick and hideous thing that runs deep - so deep that it can only be broken through prayer and by the will of the one in whom it runs so deep.

The heart is a sponge that absorbs that bitterness and spreads it throughout the body, poisoning everything it touches. This is the cause of much of the malaise in the body.

I see the sponge - the heart - as dark, absorbing darkness, the darkness battling the light.

It is fed by the root.

The root must be dug up and the sponge replaced in the same way an old kitchen sponge would be replaced with a new one. No, your heart is not stone. Not even stony ground. You absorb everything...sometimes, you absorb too much. You must learn what to absorb and what to guard yourself against. I look and I see this "new" sponge, but with a shield, gleaming golden and red, as if it knows what to allow to pass unhindered and what to protect itself from.

What T sees as empty, absorbing only air, I see as purified and absorbing the Holy Spirit: "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." At this time, the root chokes the heart. When the root is cut off, dug up and destroyed, then the heart can breathe the pure air and discard the poison.

I wish I had something more encouraging and uplifting for you, my friend. :( I will keep you in prayer. Much love and many hugs.

T said:

I saw your heart, as the sponge, alongside a seashore. The waters were washing gently over the sand and I saw the sponge in (your? I dunno) hand trying to soak up the waters, and getting sand all over it, and then the sponge would squeeze out the water and the sand would stay on and this happened over and over again. I felt as though this salt water was your tears that God had stored up, but that you kept soaking them back in but by doing so you were getting a lot of dirt on you.

Oh dang, gosh just figured it out. That is how bitterness works, instead of crying the tears and then filling with new tears and crying them out, bitterness soaks back in the old grief instead of simply experiencing a new level. Soaking back the old tears, to me, may speak of picking things back up again in unforgiveness, as we do when we want to be angry. But then you squeeze them back out (which seems like forgiveness) but you have this sand left on your heart and it happens over and over again. Whether the sand is good or not I do not know. It's something for you to explore or toss, your choice.

And i don't think the sponge is a bad thing, otherwise the enemy would not be attacking it. For some reason, having a sponge heart is important. I am clueless about why that could be.

WHOA -- It's about EMPATHY. DUDE, you have a heart like a sponge because of empathy. No wonder he is working so hard to fill it with crap.

Oh, as long as he can fill it with crap you will be crippled by being unable to separate the pain of others completely from your pain. You will always get triggered if there is something similar and be driven into a funk, even if it is just a little one.

ooohhh, this is a good thing.

K said:
I began to pull on the root and it moved, ever so slightly. It is a large and deep root indeed, because even in pulling with all my strength, I could barely budge it. So I took a break.

Later, as I lay down to sleep, I looked and I saw the thing from a side view, and I saw the conditions that would be necessary for the root's removal: the earth that holds it in place must become parched, dry. A root that is not being fed or watered easily loosens its grip, mostly because it shrinks and shrivels up and can then be easily pulled out. I looked and I saw the earth around the root become dry and cracked and the the root just dried up and was pulled out as easily as a sword is pulled from its sheath.

As I saw this, I was reminded that though it was only a three day trip through the desert from Egypt to the Promised Land, the trip took forty years because of the Israelintes' disobedience and complaining...Tell Sue that because she is being obedient (unlike the Israelites), because she is letting God into those places, my feeling (though this is not "thus saith the Lord," hehe, it's just my gut feeling) is that she is a lot closer to being through this shit than she thinks she is. :)


Let me introduce you to a concept anthropologists call "liminality." It's also called liminal space. The Latin word limen means threshold. It is central to initiation rites and is a good metaphor for preparation for transformation. We discuss it frequently in our men's retreats. We find ourselves in a strange position in the West. We alone, of all the centuries of civilization, culture, and tribe, do not have initiation rites for the young, especially for young men.

Other cultures have recognized that people in general, and boys in particular, are not born; they are made. These cultures took it upon themselves to transform a boy into a man. Certain things had to be told him because he would not come to them naturally. The boy would naturally want to ascend, and religion had to teach him the language of descent. He had to learn the way of tears and how to learn to let go.

These initiation rites are always about leading the boy out of the world of business as usual (the cultural trance we sleepwalk in) and leading him into liminal space. It's a voluntary displacement for the sake of transformation of consciousness, perspective, and heart. People didn't assume that just by getting up every day they would learn what they needed to know. They had to be displaced and shocked to teach them that this isn't the only world. There is another world, much bigger and more inclusive, that both relativizes and reenchants this world that we take as normative.

If we bring to a retreat all the baggage and mentality of business as usual, we aren't really making a "retreat." So nothing new or transformative can happen. I've given lots of retreats. Certain people come to hear what they already know. If I say something they don't know, I can see their arms cross and they mentally pack up and leave. But if we hear only what we already
know, we simply cannot learn or grow. That attitude is a sure ticket to ignorance. Alcoholics say that without humility and honesty, nothing new happens. These virtues, humility and honesty, are the foundation of all spirituality, but they are hard won. Most of us have to crawl our way back to them. Usually we don't go unless the pain of circumstance forces us. Jonah didn't dive over the edge of the boat; they threw him in!

Liminal space induces a type of inner crisis to help us make a needed transition. In brief, it should wake us up a bit. That's what is meant by a liminal experience. The two greatest liminal experiences, of course, are birth and death. My mother's death experience was a liminal experience for me as were two births I was privileged to attend. We can't understand such events except through experience. Many people try not to experience them. We use denial or drugs to prevent us from really experiencing what is happening.

The experiences don't have to be so difficult, though. A visit to another culture can jar us awake, if it is truly a visit to another culture. If we go and stay in an American hotel, eat at McDonald's, and complain because things are not like they are in Chicago, we really haven't left home. We've
let go of nothing. We have to see that others don't see things the way we do. We need to have our fundamental assumptions questioned. Maybe our questions are not the only ones and maybe America is not the center of the world. Maybe our religion isn't the only way to look at reality. Or maybe I haven't really understood how my religion has transformed many people, as
have the other great world religions, each in its own way.

Liminal space is always an experience of displacement in the hope of a new point of view. No wonder Jesus called it "turning around." Unfortunately, the Greek word metanoia, which literally means to move "beyond the mind," is usually translated "repentance" and no longer points to its much deeper meaning.

- Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs

Who Are You?

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Saturday, 26 July 2008


Baby Scops Owl
Originally uploaded by BrianScott
"When we see that the world is enchanted, we see the revelation of God in each individual as individual. Then our job is not to be Mother Teresa, our job is not to be St Francis - it's to do what is ours to do. That, by the way, was Francis's word as he lay dying. He said, 'I have done what was mine to do; now you must do what is yours to do.' We must find out what part of the mystery it is ours to reflect. That's the only true meaning of heroism as far as I can see. In this ego-comparison game, we have had centuries of Christians comparing themselves to the Mother Teresas of each age, saying that she was the only name for holiness. Thank God we have such images of holiness, but sometimes we don't do God or the Gospel a service by spending our life comparing ourselves to others' gifts and calls. All I can give back to God is what God has given to me - nothign more and no less!

"Our first job is to see correctly who we are, and then to act on it. That will probably take more courage than to be Mother Teresa. To be really faithful to that truth is utterly difficult and takes immense courage and humility. We have neglected the more basic and universal biblical theme of 'personal calling' in favor of priestly and religious vocations. The most courageous thing we will ever do is to bear humbly the mystery of our own reality. That is everybody's greatest cross."


- Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs

The Environment

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Been thinking about our propensity to refer to this giant slab we live on and depend upon at 'the environment'. There's something a bit creepy about that term to me. It's always bothered me. It's like a reminder of someting that we vaguely know is important, but there is a disturbing emptiness about the term, a commodification of the land which is pretty apt, when you think of the way we treat it.

Maybe it's living in suburbia. AS we get out on sealed bitumen roads, maybe 'the environment' becomes the tree we see outside the shopping complex, the far-off place where the vegetables in the little plastic containers come from.

Some people go for days and days without feeling anything but man-made fibres under their feet. What happens, if anything, when your body touches mainly plastic, nylon, laminate? Does it make us more plastic, less grounded?

There seems to be an inbuilt need for us to return to basics, to the earth, to doing stuff with our hands. Maybe this is why more people are doing craft work. We can only consume so much that's made by hands or machines we will never see or touch before we start being unable to see ourselves.

I think about how for the majority of human existence people lived in environments where they could look around and see everything familiar because they'd made it themselves or someone they knew did. I wonder what they would think of our houses, packed to the scuppers with stuff made by people who don't even live on the same continent? How strange that would seem to them, how cold. Maybe scary, when they see the extent their kind can stretch into alienation given the right environment. Maybe they didn't think it was possible.

Or maybe it would be completely understandable to them, how easy it is to live alienated in this world? Maybe they would look at us, and see our helplessness to change the system, our unwillingness to enter into ourselves and God because we are terrified of how little we will find there (or how much). How the system shapes us. But we are bigger than the bottom line and than what we consume, whether a little or a lot. But our consumption makes it harder for us to enter in the dark door. We have unlearned all the necessary things or not been taught them in the first place. What a strange little society and what bizarre times we live in.

It scares me how us people love to be so ignorant, love to think we know when we don't, love to have someone else tell us what to think and say and do. We are a people who live in the terrifying place that rejects the authentic and embraces the counterfeit and we can't even tell the difference half the time. We clamour for kings and reject the King, because he is a pauper. We scare me, how easily we slide ourselves into small places advertised as spacious, and even in there can still reject the small dark path that leads to cracked-open reality.

I think we call it 'the environment' in the same way that we call God a small bastard and ourselves random matter. We have lost touch with all of those things. And so if any of us feel we have had encounters with those intangibles that are called Reality and God and OUrselves, it is not through coercion, or control, or condemning people to hell that they will begin their own journeys. It is not through reminding people of their unworthiness. They already know those things, whether filling the void with plasma TVs or chroming it up through a plastic bag. People don't need to be brought low - they already are. They need to be loved. Any of us who claim to have touched the ineffable need to be willing to allow God to do whatever needs to be done to enable that to happen in us and through us. The way has always been sacrificial.

True contemplation, true religious experience, dissolves the fortress of "I" by abandoning its defences. It looks out from a place of perfect simplicity. You can't stay there, I know, but if you know this simplicity once it is enough for a whole lifetime. If the veil parts once, and you know life is radically okay, then you are - to use the normal Christian language - a child of God. You are in union. There is nothing to prove. Nothing to attain. Everything is already there. It is simply a matter of recognizing and honoring and trusting. All spiritual disciplines exist to help you rust this personal experience of yourself, which is, not surprisingly, also an experience of God. People are usually amazed that the two experiences coincide: when we know God, we seem to know and accept our own humanity; when we meet ourselves at profound levels of recognition, we also meet God. We don't have any real access to who we are except through God, and we don't have any real access to God except through forgiving and rejoicing in our own humanity.
- Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs

Crystall ball gazing a bit wonky

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Friday, 25 July 2008

Betting is a mug's game. I just did 20 bucks I don't really have.

My waters must have a bladder infection because my team lost by 11 points. Or else my crystal ball is an idealistic one (of course it is), because my team should have won.

Oh well, should make the finals race interesting. And I have been all Zen all evening saying that the worst thing that can happen is that we will lose.

Which we did. Oh well. It's just a game, right? Right?

Crystal Ball Gazing

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20 bucks I can't at the TAB (betting is a mug's game) says my football team, after a disastrous loss last week, are going to beat last year's Grand Finalists, who are coming off a wonderful win.

We have the mozz over them. We're getting back to full strength after our lull. We're gonna win by 15 points.

(I always get annoyed at myself when I prognosticate. I am wrong so often - why do I need to childishly go out on limbs and make such stupid predictions? I don't know, Kimmy. I just feel it in my waters.)

GO HAWKERS.

(In other news, I should receive my ADSL modem on Monday or Tuesday. So I shall be able to blog again. I miss my blog *hugs blog. Ouch. Blog is square and not easy to hug. Hugs readers instead, across ether. Ahh. Nice! :)*

I miss writing here so much. But in the meantime, I'm enjoying the extra time. It's amazing how much more you can get done without being online. I haven't been late to work once in the past 2 weeks :)

Oh, and I got a pay rise - 4 bucks extra an hour. And I got a High Distinction for my Writing Selves subject. Yay me. And I got some sort of healing thing going on, which I look forward to talking to you about. Something about taproots of bitterness and such things and ever since then I have had this lightness in my being and I don't want to hope too much that maybe this horrible darkness which has been spewing out of me for months and months is gone? Maybe? Maybe? Pliz? We'll see.

Thanks

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Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Thanks everyone. I really really really needed you to pray and some of you amazing superhero-type people with special superhero powers did ;) Thanks.

I don't need to go ride rollercoasters. I just live in my body these past few years. Ecstasy one day, happiness, contentment, a smattering of joy, amidst tears, the dislike of the feeling of being a bit more denumbed, wonderment at the beauty of life, floating, swimming in creativity. Then wham, bam, I open a door into a room of self hatred and fall in, no floor, deep waters, swimming, flailing. Then out, again, somehow, on the banks, sunning dry, the gentle warm sun of God. Then wham, out again, in the dark, needing prayer, getting it, thanking you :)

Rereading Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs. Highly recommended stuff. Reminds me of the work God does in the darkness, helps me to see again over again that everything does indeed belong. Born again and again and again and again.

I would post a portion here that yelled at me in watery voices this evening while waiting for the train, but the battery on my laptop will not allow for such lengthinesses. It shall have to wait until my home connection happens - hopefully by the end of the week.

Today

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Saturday, 19 July 2008

Today I would like to celebrate feeling alive, though wrangled and mangled. I would like to celebrate feeling healthy in the middle of winter (it is the middle, too. Oh, boy, it’s the middle. Come to Mama, Spring, wrap me up). I’d like to celebrate that it’s Saturday, a beautiful sunny one, and I live in the middle of a country so rich we don’t know what to do with ourselves. I’d like to celebrate living in a city that is full to overflowing with creativity, and I hope to walk in the midst of some of that today. I’d like to celebrate meeting up with my mother off the train, my kind mother who has done a whole lot of washing for me and who is now going to accompany me to the football this evening. I’d like to celebrate that, even whilst a poor worker by the standards of this country, I am able to sit down and eat food prepared by someone else, in peace and comfort. I’d like to celebrate that my mother will probably foot the bill :) I’d like to celebrate that recreation in the truest sense of the word is so rich and vibrant that it surprises me anew that that is the level to which God lives. That is reality, a great macro and microcosm of colour, texture, light and shade, fun and frivolity. I would like to celebrate that that is really what it means to live, and I would like to celebrate the fact that none of us really know what it’s like to live. Isn’t that a celebration? Yeah, okay, it’s a death. But always the death first, the celebration beyond. The celebration is that these small little lives we inhabit, despite their levels of God-fill, aren’t even close to living. Not even close to it. But we shall live …

I’d like to celebrate all this stuff, and I will, and there will be (hopefully) little guilt. But still always, fluttering at the corners of my mind like tassles on the edges of a curtain, are the questions. You know, the questions. I’ve got about 10 that I imagine will remain relatively unanswered in the great scheme of things until some future age when the God-fill is overflowing and the colours are turned up. Or maybe not. Maybe some of these questions will get answered in this lifetime. It’s so hard to know whether the horizons we see are because that is all there is to see in this life, or whether it’s the prevailing culture and systems that insist that this horizon is as far as you go and no further, and in actuality we are all wandering around dazed and confused in 2 square inches of space.

One of the questions, one of the biggest of all, that I ask over and over, not sure if I am moving forward, is this: how do I get to spend three hours fashioning a clay mask, losing all sense of time because I have put on the heart of a six year old, while people starve to death somewhere else? But then, is not spending three hours fashioning faces out of clay going to stop one person dying? The question, of course, isn’t so much about me doing this particular thing while people starve to death. It’s not the fashioning of clay that is the problem here. It’s the question of how much can one person do? Is this too frivolous a pursuit to do while countryloads of people are starving? Is it? I could send money; does that do enough? And what constitutes ‘enough’? And why is the question of ‘enough’ coming up anyway? A guilt appeaser? I think a great deal of things get accomplished in the name of guilt that have no love resonance about them at all and perhaps even do more damage than good.

But even asking these kinds of question show my Western privilege. Is debating whether guilt should be an appropriate motivator just hedging around the reality? Is saying to myself, “Do I sense God asking me to go and help people who are starving to death”, and the answer, “No” – is that also just another way of hedging? Is God perhaps saying, “You’re a big girl. If you have it in your heart to go and help starving people, then of course I will be behind you. I am Love. You get to make many more of your own choices than you think you do. It’s only when you think I am a hard god and am going to take your talents away that you will bury them in the ground in response.”

Okay, then, fine. This is coming a little bit closer to the reality, maybe. Or maybe I’m just pissing in the wind. I’m really not sure. So anyway. What was I saying? Yes. So I can ask whether should I be sitting here and making clay masks as if not doing that is going to make any difference to anything. As if my tiny little life should be counted that way, as comparing itself to a worldwide problem and then saying what it does or doesn’t do is going to make a difference, or even that the two should be compared. Doesn’t that kind of thinking just throw me down in the guilt ditch and leave me there, no further ahead in working out the problem? The guilt ditch never done nothin’.

So what, is it survivor guilt? Is it saying, “They’re starving to death so I shouldn’t be doing anything life affirming”? Well, I don’t know. Maybe sometimes it is. Maybe sometimes we should be down on our faces crying before God. I don’t know. Maybe sometimes we shouldn’t. Maybe we’ll get nothing but table crumbs rolling around on the ground. I just don’t know. But it doesn’t seem to do much good to me. Again, guilt never done nothin’.

But life is life. We spend enough time in this strange little planet called the West running away from reality, our own pain and torments, our own love. What use is running away also from life and colour and joy? Maybe it’s only through those things, in living more (consuming less), allowing God into the weft and weave that love will burst its banks in such a way as to propel us forward for change, if it’s possible, for help where possible. Maybe the problem is with us, with our hearts. Maybe the problem is that we have enough compassion to feel for those brothers and sisters in the world – of course we do. Most of us do, how could we not? But a bit of compassion isn’t enough to fix anything. Making people aware of things isn’t enough to fix anything. We can have an entire year, each day full of Blah Blah Awareness Day, but it changes stuff-all. Awareness and compassion are not enough. And neither is guilt, so don’t even bother feeling that. This thing is way bigger than any of us. Maybe we don’t even get to fix it. Maybe it just is. Hell, maybe starvation is coming to a store near you sometime in the future. I don’t know.

But maybe part of the problem is that we don’t love halfway near as much as we think we do. Maybe it’s not until love explodes like a tsunami inside of us that we will have enough guts to system override, to system crash. Because maybe that’s what it’s gonna take.

Today I want to celebrate my belief that everything goes on. No matter what the world dishes up to you, no matter even if you starve to death on a dust plain, Love wins. Love wins. Love wins you and it wins them. Today I want to celebrate life and love. And Life and Love. And to celebrate that realising that I really don’t know how to do either is a good step forward, somehow, in this tiny little microcosm that is my life. I’m not sure I have ever really loved anyone in my life. Not in the way I am starting to see that love is. I want to celebrate that Life and Love cannot but burst its own banks into mine and that all of this burning, twisting and turning, this interminable kiln firing, is purposive.

I want to be shown what Love is. Luckily Someone knows. Maybe, as puny as our love is, maybe every one of us is capable of loving so to overflowing. Maybe that’s what all of this is about. Bring it on, Vine.

Gee, it's ugly in here, gee it's beautiful in here

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Friday, 18 July 2008

I have been indulging in some Buddhist-inspired-but-absolutely-Christ-involved embracing of my stuff. Actually sitting with the emotions when they come up - or as soon as I am able - and embracing them the way a mother embraces her child, finally able to smile at it, whatever negative emotion it is. It's quite amazing, really, and really quite lovely, as this great quest for self-nurturance continues. It's like the anger has been saying, "Finally, finally, you are listening to me." It's very empowering.

Following on the heels of that anger embracement has been these great, giant, massive pools of self hatred. I mean, I knew I had a bit swimming around in there but generally, you know, I thought I had a healthy self esteem. Which I do in some ways. The two opposites can coexist in the same body, definitely. It happens all the time.

But oh, goodness me. These pools. They're so black and dark. It's amazing what we carry around inside our bodies until we are ready to deal with it. It's amazing, the ability of a human to protect itself, to know when the right time is to reveal certain things to itself.

I want to get rid of this self hatred. I want to embrace it. When I embrace the anger, accept it, the love changes the anger to compassion. When I embrace the self-hatred, the love cahnges the self-hatred to self-love.

But oh, in the meantime, the pit feels so deep that I could drown in it. It's so deep that I can barely talk about it to anyone, can only throw it out into the blogosphere, the public confessional without the private requirements for looking into people's eyes while doing so. I don't care what anyone says. This blogging is a wonderful thing, but there is a shadow side to it, the way there is a shadow side to everything. This is not real life. It never will be. This is not the same as face to face communication. On here, I can speak my stuff, and you hear me, and it is wonderful, and we are friends. But until I can say it into your eyes, it doesn't carry the same measure of healing. It doesn't strengthen me until I can say it directly into your eyes. But this seems to be all I can accomplish, at least today. How I wish that were different. How I fear it will never be different again.

I used to be outgoing, friendly, capable. I still am. I will also never, ever be the person who I was. Swimming in these pools, though, everything feels distorted. Especially while they are transforming from one thing into another. I can't even see the shore anymore, to be honest. Is God in all of this? Yes, I'm sure of that. Can I feel him in it? Oh, certainly not. But sometimes that's the best place to be. I look at this past few years and the creative growings have been as great as the deathly dyings. Is that coincidence? Totally absolutely not.

Is it also coincidence that this week I have had two needy friends texting me, wanting to talk, for me to listen to their stuff, and I have been unable to do so, have said no, blatantly, have refused to cater to their requests for help because dammit, it doesn't suit me and I am having enough to deal with, swimming in my own pools of self-hatred? Is that self-love, protecting me, setting my own boundaries, or is it self-hatred, withdrawing myself and punishing myself, removing myself from the care and concern of people who care?

I don't know.

Full moon fever

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Last night I stared out at the full moon's lighting the clouds, watched a good movie, then dragged myself rather unwillinglishly into the playroom where a half-done clay mask and a lump of clay were waiting for me ... and then came out 3 hours later.

There is nothing like finding things that cause you to lose track of time. In fact, I would say it's elementary, really.

Life is so rich, the vein lies just below the surface. Being bored should be a crime.

That doesn't stop me from being bored.

All in All

6 comments

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Dear bloggers. Just like Jack's feelings for Audrey in European Vacation, I miss the shit out of you. But it's good having some sort of break, too.

So here I am, blogging at work, surreptitiously. I just had to quickly share with you what Mr Rohr said today:


Either you see the body of Christ everywhere or you don't see it. There are finally no divisions. But that is a mystical seeing that connects everything universally.

God is perfectly hidden in this material world. And for those who have learned how to see, God is perfectly revealed. God shines through all things. You want to kiss trees and honor what is.

You are even brought to tears sometimes by the least of the brothers and sisters because the divine image shines through so clearly.

Richard Rohr

Addict

7 comments

Sunday, 13 July 2008

You know what I notice when I'm offline? My loneliness has nothing to assauge it, and I notice how it is that I spend way too much time by myself, and how that was fine and good and healing for ages and ages and ages but now it's tiime to get out more and play (which is a bit scary). So mmaybe this means I need to get online less, and have a life more. Working on that one.

This post is the internet version of when I was a smoker and would run out of fags at 11pm and couldn't be bothered going up the shop, and instead I would just think I'd wait it out till morning but several hours' time would find me scavenging through the ashtray to smoke butts. Does wonders for your self-esteem, that one :)

This version of this addiction has me sitting outside Mocca's place on the laptop, juicing into his wireless connection. And all the attendant "it's only's" that go with addiction: it's only 5 minutes down the road, it's only to check my emails, it's only, it's only, it's only.

It's only internet addiction.

The nice thing about not having the net sitting there at my beck and call is that I've read more than half of a fiction book, and oh, the joy of reading a book, something that's not online (not that you guys aren't all wonderful and adorable, but reading books is another addiction of mine that has gone by the wayside since blogging has come into my life.

I'm enjoying the re-acquaintance :)

The Last Last Post

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Saturday, 12 July 2008

Have been reading Darin Hufford's blog. Good stuff. This post talks about emotionalism, about why it is that people can attend Benny Hinn-type meetings and really think they've been touched by God. I do like this dude's take on stuff.

(I will be eternally grateful to myself that when I went up front to be touched by the Lord's anointed, that I didn't fall down ... because nothing happened :)

The Last Post

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I am still online. Still here :) My landlord is moving out today, and his new tenants are moving in tonight. Obviously he hasn't packed up his computer yet :)

I feel like a junkie must feel when they know they've just had a fix and don't know when they'll be getting their next one. Kind of unsettled, like the weather, which is chilly, overcast and windy. This weather doesn't affect me the way it used to when my immune system was dodgier than it is now. My glands would always be standing up on the side of my neck in weather like this, and I would be lethargic and fatigued.

Now I'm just going to be lethargic and fatigued because I'm going off to yum cha :)

This is a pointless post, my last post until I don't know whenever. Being offline is really not that much of a big deal, you know? I don't need the internet. It's amazing how when I can't get online, how little it bothers me.

So how come I've got the junkie twitch? *grin*

See you whenever, dudes.

Any suggestions?

14 comments

Friday, 11 July 2008

I am in a writers' group that meets once a month. It's a rolicking good time, with a disparate group of people coming together for hours and hours on end (the longest meeting I have attended went over 3 hours). Some months everyone brings cheese, other months no one brings cheese to compensate for the month before, but everyone brings wine, and their stuff to read. It's good stuff and inspiring. Nothing like getting around other writers to encourage yourself that maybe, just maybe, you are one of them in some small way.

Anyway, we are putting together an anthology. The theme is Undertow. I am aiming to write something for it. Whether I succeed is another story. I need to insert that caveat in there not because I'm planning on failing (I hate those pithy little sayings - failure to plan is planning to fail, pshaw. Empire speak) but because I need to be realistic. I haven't written any fiction for a year. I have begun one story over the past few weeks, but that has stalled (I actually need to catch a train for that one - research - so it's not like it's totally fizzed out, as such, yet).

So anyway, I was wondering if you guys had any ideas. Some of you have been reading my blog for over 9 months (just think, if we'd had blog sex when we first met, we could be having a blog baby by now). Anyway, I was just wondering if there was anything that stood out to you, ideas maybe, posts that have grabbed you that you think might be good groundwork for a story?

Don't worry if you can't think of anything. I may have been terribly self absorbed over the past year, but I'm not so self-absorbed that I imagine you're all lying awake at night thinking about my blog :) Just thought I'd throw it out there, you know? Sometimes there's obvious things in front of your eyes and you can't see them 'cause you're duh duh dumb.

(Speaking of self-absorbed, Kent, the epiphany really is beginning (or the decade of awfulness is ending, one way or the other, or both together :) It's not about me, it's not about me, it's not about me.

________________

Edit: You know, I'm not even sure why I'm asking you guys for ideas. It's not like I'm not having any. Like, this evening, for example, I am watching a movie where they are walking down a steep street in Georgia (the one next to Russia, not the one that has Atlanta as its capital) and then I get this idea in my head about a story where the main character lives on this really steep street. And then that's all so far. But that's how stories start. You put a couple of characters in, ask a couple of what if questions, then you shake it all about. You do the hokey pokey and you turn around. And then you get a story. What I do lately is I get all these little ideas, and run with them for 10 minutes, and then discard them because I don't know what to do with them and they seem to somehow deflate while I'm thinking about it. And, I suppose, I lose confidence that I am going to be able to make a story out of it. None of them seem interesting enough. As if stories are all about amazingly complex plots (at least, none of the stories I like most are. I find plot-driven stories pretty boring, really).

I just don't want to park my arse down and do the work :)

Level 3 (meat)

2 comments

These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their hearts aren’t in it ... so I am going to step in and shock them awake, astonish them, and stand them on their ears.
—Isaiah 29:14, Eugene Peterson translation

I believe there is a deep dilemma and contradiction at the heart of institutional Christianity. Maybe it is even a necessary one. All I know is that it can only be resolved—by authentic inner experience, “prayer,” mysticism, or dare I call it, “spirituality.” I am convinced that religion, in its common cultural and external forms, largely protects the ego, especially the group ego, instead of transforming it. If people do not go beyond first level metaphors, rituals, and comprehension, most religions seem to end up with a God who is often angry, petulant, needy, jealous, and who will love us only if we are “worthy” and belonging to the correct group. We end up with the impossible scenario of a God who is “small,” and often less loving than the best people we know! This supposedly divine love is quite measured and conditional, and yet ironically demands from us a perfect and unconditional love. Such a salvation system will never work, unless we allow an utterly new dimension of love “to astonish us and stand us on our ears,” as Isaiah says above. Unless God is able and allowed to love us unconditionally, we will never know how to do the same.

Richard Rohr, Awakened & Astonished


I started reading Isaiah last night. One of my favourite books along with the Psalms. It feels like relatively safe territory for me to walk. My hope - to read with a few layers of religiosity unpeeled so I can see beyond the surface, get stood on my ears.

The Sound of Winter

8 comments

Thursday, 10 July 2008

The sound of winter is a decidedly foreign sound to drought-worn ears. We have had some rain smatterings this winter. Indeed, once it even beat on the flat roof of my house, sending Lester to my side. It's not until you hear it again that you realise how much you have missed the sound, how it joys you up, kids you down. I own no gumboots. Today at work I saw footprints from people's shoes in the carpet and thought, "I forgot this happens."

The sound of winter is the wind, blowing southerly off the ocean, freezing the snot in the nostrils of dogs whose owners are stupid enough to let them hang out the window while they run the car heater on 5. The wind whips, it slices, it dices my long red coat around my calves when I walk for the train.

The sound of winter is my heater. The simple pleasure and thankfulness of instant heat, instant hot water. Could you imagine having to wash your clothes in winter in a mangle? Imagine the freezing cold of the air against your chapped hands as they work in the hot water and steam? We have it so easy. The sound of winter is my heater going. Heating myself. Which is fine, you know? We all deserve to be heated. But then, having one heater for one person while some people have no heaters at all - that doesn't sound fair not matter how softly you say it.

The sound of winter is my gums chowing down - the more carbs the better. It is so cold this week; therefore I must eat for 7. My friend Jane and I just spent two hours on the phone and probably an hour was spent talking about food in all its permutations. It's no coincidence that neither of us are having sex. Sometimes we just said something like "naan bread" and then made Homer sounds afterwards. We are meeting on Saturday for a yum cha. I plan on wearing elastic waisted pants.

Internet Fast

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Wednesday, 9 July 2008

I have finally chosen a new internet package. Something called naked DSL, which basically means I don't need to pay rental on a phone line (but I can take my current phone number with me). So for 50 bucks a month, I get 3 gig of downloads (in peak, and even more if I'm online after 1am), and local calls costing 9 cents. Bargain. It will cost me 100 bucks to connect the sucker, and then that's that. So I'm pretty pleased about that. For what I'm paying now for my phone line and sharing internet access with Nigel, now I'll getting the same amount but with a cable connection to my computer so it'll be faster than what I'm doing now.

The only downside is the 24 month agreement terms. Which kinda made me balk, you know? I felt like I was being asked to get married to a telecommunications company. How do any of us know what we'll be doing in 24 months? And if you cancel out early you get slugged 200 bucks, which really is truly disgusting. I mean, I could come at 50 bucks, but 200? That's just criminal.

The other downside is that I shall be maybe offline from this Saturday for a week. I'm not sure when I will get connected. But it was interesting to observe my reactions within myself when I was first informed of how long it could take to connect. My first thought was a mild flutter of panic. A week? Offline for maybe a week? Oooh. But then following closely on that was a feeling of acceptance and almost ... gratitude. Which sounds naff, but there you go. I was glad that I was going to be forced to be offline for a week, because being separated from something reinforces how I do not need it to be happy, that I do not need anything material to be happy, even though I enjoy it. (And of course, I will be able to get online at work, so it's not like I'll be totally cold turkey without the needle sliding in).

It's the same reason why I looked forward to going away last year, when I went to that country house that had no access. I got these mild pangs while I was there, but most of the time it was fine. In some ways a welcome relief. Still - when I got home, I threw my bags down right where they were in the doorway and wouldn't even put the kettle on until I'd got online :) Actually, I'm planning on going back there again, if I get some money back on my tax return. I wanna go hang there for a whole week and see what writerly convolutions can strike forth from my pen.

We get taught in so many ways to hang onto what we've got. And it's not like we need to get taught as such - we learn it ourselves without any lessons. Advertising reinforces it though, those snide little tendrils inserting themselves in your brain and twirling themselves in, whispering that you need XYZ. We don't need anything except a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs and I remember some dude somewhere talking about the simplicity of such things. (But our wounds, our wounds, they muddy up the waters, and our grasping, our grasping, muddies them even more. Oh for clear waters for all of us).

I have been enjoying my meditation classes (not least of which on Monday night was the THREE HOURS my dear cousin and I spent sitting in her car afterwards talking about Buddhism, Christianity, reality, Jesus, life, love, pain and suffering ... and eating McDonald's. It was edifying as it so often is with her. We talked so long though with the car heater on (it was c-o-l-d) that Andi's car battery went flat. I learnt that the red plugs are for positive charge, black for negative. I've never put jumper leads on a car before. I get great gratifying gulps of accomplishment when I do something manually basic like that, like using a screwdriver for something. Such small enjoyments at small accomplishments :) I find that the more I simplify my life and try to hang on loosely to everything, the more I enjoy what I've got without feeling beholdened to it. It's a cool thang.

The meditation classes are edifying too in themselves. So much about hanging on lightly to things, about our own ability to still our minds, about the way to peace involving loving others. I love sitting and stilling my mind each morning, the sense of mastery it gives me, the reminder that here in the moment is where it's going on. The book I am reading at the moment talks about a type of meditation where you examine your own mind, observe how it is working, to enable you to search down for the roots of certain problems instead of dealing with just the outflow. I don't know how this is done. I don't know how it squares in with my ideas of only God being able to heal things, but somehow I think the distinctions are quite fine blurred, thanks very much. God doesn't seem to be having to gather all the kudos to himself, despite being the originator of all the fine things. He seems to be quite happy to allow us to enter into our own healing as co-creators, seems indeed to have granted us so much self-determination that it extends upwards and outwards and goodwards just as much as it extends in the downwards ways that some legalistically minded Christian sermons are so intent on dwelling on.

It is an edifying thing, to find the roots of certain behaviours. Sometimes I feel like I am hitting upon the roots for the behaviours that have damaged me the most, roots which have been pulled out in some measure but which I won't be happy until they are fully gone. This tree is rotten to its core. I always knew about its rottenness, but I guess I never quite saw as openly as I'm seeing lately how ugly the fruit is. This is a painful thing, to sit and watch your own ugliness. It is so painful that sometimes we spend forever running away from it. When we need to stop, turn and face, to integrate the ugliness within our selves, name it, until we can begin to dispel it.

These roots are not really something I can name or talk about because there are no real words for it at this stage. But it is dispelling certain angers, and it is giving me some hope that maybe, maybe, there is healing for me. A thought almost too lofty to contemplate, but therefore which must be embraced. Embracing unembraceable things is not only accomplishable, but it just changes the whole complexion of the moment. Sometimes it causes chinks of light ahead; sometiimes it's like I am in a room made up of large stones, and one of them shifts slightly, filling up the room with an earthy smell, making me see that an opening is coming where none has been before, even though I can't see the light chink just yet.

Embracing the unembraceable is the ultimate in adventure and freedom. All without white water rafting or leaving your house. Stilling my mind shows me the possibilities, quietens me down so that I can hear Love whisper. I take a deep breath and remind myself, Love is in love with me. That changes everything. Fans the flame in my heart, the one that extends inwards to myself and outwards to other people. Maybe I can do the things that make me want to wet my pants. Maybe not today, maybe tomorrow. Love never fails. Love heals your heart.

Freedom of Choice

4 comments

Monday, 7 July 2008

Is what you think you want. But in the end it just gives you a major stress attack.

My landlord is moving out of his house and moving in with his fiance. We have been sharing a cable connection the whole time I have been here, which has worked out cheaper. But it's meant using wireless. I don't like wireless. I feel like I can feel the interference. Perhaps it's just some weird leftover sensitivity thing from being sick, but I get affected by stuff like that in the same way that I can feel this low-level feeling from people using mobile phones. When I use my handheld wireless home phone for too long, I get a headache. When I am in hte middle of the bush and there is no mobile phone stuff and no electricity, I can feel the difference. Can you, or is it just me? I think perhaps I am overly sensitive to this stuff, and so now I've got the opportunity to have some of the nasty little electrical stuff bound up within a cable, I'm going to go with it.

But boy, oh, boy. The choice. Cable or ADSL. ADSL or ADSL 2? VOIP or landline? Yada or yada? Blah or blah?

Bells or whistles? And keep in mind, if you don't get X and Y, then maybe that means you're a loser 'cause everyone else has X and Y on their plan. What would it say about you if you just got something vaguely simple and reasonably cheap? Would you perhaps be able to sustain your identity in some other way than making sure you've got a "good" broadband plan?

I think so. I think I'm so not interested in playing the game anymore. I think I just wanna be able to get online, and I really don't need 186,000 GB downloads a month, and I don't need yada and yada and yada. Because even if I am on the most basic basic basic plan which costs about $20 a month, that is still more than some people earn from backbreaking labour in months and months. Just so I can be on here and look at you, and you look at me, dear reader.

Them's the only sorts of comparisons I'm interested in these days. The ones where I look at the poorest of the poor and think any kind of contortions on my part over feeding into this sick, sick system is a contortion I am unwilling to bend myself into.

I Want a Blow Shit Up Life

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Sunday, 6 July 2008

Rob Horton and his boys celebrated Blow Shit Up Day yesterday, for their 4th of July celebrations. Apparently where he lives, that day is the only officially sanctioned day that you can let off the fireworks that it's legal to purchase there.

Fireworks are illegal here in Australia. If it was the same deal here as there, I would buy them all year and then let them off in a day of riotous joy (after deploying Lester somewhere else so he doesn't have a complete nervous breakdown). I love fireworks :)

Yesterday we walked along the river again. I noticed two different types of people. I noticed how I resonated strongly with the second type and felt a bit dismissive of the first. I wondered if it was purely rebellious, anti-authoritarian, childish irresponsibility that caused me to feel this way, but I think it goes deeper than that and I wanted to thrash it out here on the "page" with you, dear reader.

The first group was a family of four, two parents and two children. Both parents were riding those bikes I'm seeing more of lately, a kind of a hybrid tandem bike type thing. The children were probably somewhere around the ages of four and six, I suppose. The second group was two blokes in their early twenties, who I came upon when I went to cross the bridge (who's that clip-clopping across my bridge?) The council has installed some steel railing things at each end of the bridge as a deterrent to young larrikins like these two riding their dirt bikes across the bridge and noising up the environment. So, when I came upon them, they had got one bike over the railings and were in the process of hoisting the second bike right over the top. I waited for a minute or so for them to grunt and groan the bike over, and then they were free.

They were very polite about holding me up, apologetic about the inconvenience (that was the words one of them used :), maybe thought I would be all grumpy at them for being young little bastards who probably go and thieve things out of people's cars, when what I really wanted to do was have a ride on the back of one of their bikes, hehe :) I guess as a good, law abiding Christian citizen, I should feel more kinship with the first group of people than the second, but I just didn't. And this is partly why.

Those tandem bike things are cool in their own way, right? Cycling together - it's sweet. It means that you can go riding with your kids but also actually get a bit of a workout for your ride, instead of having to wait for your kids to get a jolly-up. Four-year-old legs can't pedal fast, right? But when I look at that tandem bike deal, all I see is boring efficiency, and fear. (Which is taking things out of context and a prime example of why using real-life people as models and examples of the points you're trying to make is a pathetic enterprise, but I do it anyway :).

Now, for all I know those kids spend 20 hours a week with their arses parked on their own bikes, having fun and being kids and getting to cut loose. But somehow, I would bet a lazy 20 that they probably don't. But that's beside the point. The tandem bike deal: with this fine little contraption you get your workout, but even better than that you don't have the nagging worries and fears that Madison or Taylah are going to accidentally ride their bike into the river, or into oncoming riders or walkers, or fall off and graze their poor little knees.

Now, this is the spot where I add in the "Yes, I knows". Yes, it's quite obvious I don't have children of my own. I don't know what its like day to day or what type of endurance you need to develop. I haven't experienced loving this little being as myself, that special kind of mother love that's protective and will do anything to ensure the safety of her children. And thusly it should be. Mothers should protect their children. If they don't, they're just bad mothers. What mother wants their child to graze their knees, let alone fall in the river? But does that mean that children shouldn't get grazed knees in their childhood? Not because grazed knees are good and kids should get stoic and all that stuff. But just because this life involves grazed knees. And if you don't get them, and your knees are four years old, then maybe you're not really living it.

Where does the line end, when protection becomes just a means to exercise your own fear? And if you're going to say that parents aren't too overprotective these days, and this is the level where it all should be, how do you define mothers of other eras? If I compare my mother back in the seventies to the stuff kids aren't allowed to do these days, she looks like a bad mother. And my Mum wasn't a bad mother. Does it mean that it's only now that mothers are actually starting to realise how scary the world is? I don't think so. I think maybe we are so starved of knowing what real love is, that we mistake our fear for it. Sometimes I wonder if it's not a superstitious thing, too - if I try and micromanage the people around me out of my own fear of something bad happening to them, then when something bad does happen, that lets me off the hook?

I think of what it was like in the seventies when I was growing up. Now, I can only vouch for Australia, but I don't think this country has become a ridiculously crazier place in the last 30 years, crystal meth use aside. At least, not to the extent that the fear levels have risen, like tidal bile. When I was growing up, I rode my bike around the streets all the time when I was, like, 8 years old or so. Our parents drove around in cars where seatbelts wre not mandatory requirements, where there were no booze/drug buses on the road manned by police to stop them being drunk at the wheel. There were way less laws, and way more freedom in everyday life. It extended out in both directions. Which I don't think is a coincidence.

Sure, people died at the hands of drunk drivers. Children got abducted riding their bikes and murdered. People crashed their cars sober, but because they weren't wearing seatbelts they flew through the windscreen and died. But all of those things still happen now, now that we have 40 million more laws than we did back then, and people have learnt to not trust their own instincts. We would rather have our stuff imposed on us from on high, than follow our own hearts, guts and minds. What a bunch of sitting ducks we allow ourselves to be.

Laws have their place, of course. You need them to keep things functioning to a certain basic extent. But people are still going to do what they want to do. Those young guys are still gonna ride their dirt bikes around the river, and I'm glad because they're living!!!!! Life has always got a danger component to it. When we make it all nice and safe, we distort it into something tedious and terrible and deathlike. We start thinking that our fear is evidence of our love. When really its just evidence of our fear.

I want a life where I get to blow shit up. And I will never know how different it would be if I had children of my own. And I'm sad about that. And I'm happy about that.

The Perseverence of Love

6 comments

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Even if Adam and Eve had never sinned, Christ would have been sacrificed before the world began. The sacrifice took place for the purpose of relationship and it just happened to atone for sin later on. The atonement for sin that later came about because of the sacrifice is evidence of perseverence through death. This is why God will persevere with you for all eternity. He has already died to Himself.

Darrin Hufford, The God's Honest Truth

The difference

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Katherine Gunn has written an account of the difference between knowing Jesus and knowing about Jesus. Wonderful reading :)

One is life, painful wonderful beautiful healing Life. Ever growing. The other is death, horrible, wounding, self-and-other insulting death.

Patriotism

20 comments

I feel majorly uncomfortable on Australia Day. All the flag waving. It's so selective about what it sees as "Australian culture". A great deal of it doesn't even exist anymore. In the same way we rode on the sheep's back for so many years, we also ride on the cultural sheep's back as well. But Australia 2008 is a vastly different place to Australia 1958. Culture is a fluid and changing thing. No country stays the same for very long, and indeed, it shouldn't. But of course, tradition is a powerful thing, and looking back has great value.

But I can't barbecue and celebrate Australia Day because I feel a total disconnect in celebrating the "founding" of a country that was in all actuality a "stealing". I would feel the same way if I was American. I'm sure that's probably pretty extreme sounding, but to me, in my paradigm shifts, it makes perfect sense. Those foundations feel rotten to me. Pretending they're different just because you don't want to see how some of the floorboards of your foundations are rotten is something akin to insanity. It is the place where the very things you fear end up coming upon you.

Of course, this could be considered a rather black and white view of things. Maybe. But it doesn't mean that you can't pick up and say, well, okay, fine. That's what happened. That's the history of my country. I didn't have any say in that - I wasn't even here! Do I need to feel guilty about what was out of my control? And this is my country, my homeland. If I can't live here, then where can I live?

I don't think those two things are different spaces. I actually think they're two sides of the same coin. You can exist in your Australian or North American country in peace even while acknowledging the usurption that went on to get you to where you are. Wheat and tares and all that, right?

In fact, I don't think you can really do the first without acknowledging and facing the second.

And this doesn't mean that people all over the US right now shouldn't be hanging out together and celebrating what they have. But it's always good to factor in the ugly into the story as well. Makes it real. Guards against propaganda.

Dancing in the Fog

10 comments

Friday, 4 July 2008

I have gone for at least several weeks without at some point of every single day wanting to be dead. I think one would say that this is a good thing, right? In fact, right now, I am so happy, I feel like giant chunks of my own soul are being born and reborn right before my own eyes.

This last decade, not so good. Chronic health problems invisible to the eye which stretched me so far I really don't know how I didn't snap. Marriage breakup, heart breakdown. Then falling for someone because it felt so right to me, and yet was a land I couldn't enter anyway. Like some kind of blocked drain, piece by piece, all of my shit has come to the surface over the past 10 years. If I could have seen down through them, seen through the past decade and out the other side to here, I would have put a gun in my mouth and pulled the trigger without hesitation because, as dramatic as all this sounds, I have never thought I could go through so much pain in such a compacted time and still be standing up at the other end. I can barely write about all of this stuff still. I imagine I shall need a good five years or so to disseminate it all, to let it all absorb, to have some unreeling years in between to get a good feetplant.

And yet in the midst of all of that - joy so intense that my heart feels like it's going to pour out of my chest. A cracking open, and out of all of that, greater love, and no one but me will know how painful and horrible its been and no one will know how much more I cherish myself out of the birthing. And, in some kind of crazy way, a renewed ... awe for God, that he lets us go so close to the wire. Seriously, he is serious about getting shit out of his kids, and he won't stop even when we scream, defy and deny. Sometimes I wonder if he's not insane ;)

Yet I look about the world and my suffering pales in comparison. Not to minimise my stuff of course. Indeed, I make no apologies for any scrap of joy I get out of the rest of my life because I know, on some kind of cosmic level, I have said yes to God curetting, cutting and scraping, because I want it, this unnameable thing, the great Yes. I can taste it even though I haven't tasted it before and I can feel it even where I've never felt it. And I want it because I know it's worth it. I know it's that pearl of great price except I don't know how to refer to it except in analogies 'cause I've never been there before. But it's home. I know these things in my bones. I just know.

This is hard for me to write. I'm tempted to delete it. As crazy as it may sound, being I'm honest and open and out-there, I have a corresponding room in my soul where I find it really hard to speak my own truth, 'cause in a lot of ways I got taught by the significant males in my life that there were shameful reasons to hide my own truth away. I can't explain this to many people. I think they think that because my main front reception room is bright yellow that I don't have any black rooms but I do, and they have been hidden for so long, and it's only now all the shit has come to the surface that I really finally feel like I can start speaking my own truth. And that feels like some kind of amazing healing thing.

It's the weekend, in the middle of Winter, and I feel good and my heart feels more whole than broken, and as I write this I've got tears welling in my chest because life is so raw and so beautiful and so fucking painful, and the world is reeling to and fro, and somehow, despite how ridiculous it all seems like, God's got it going on.

Chrome Sky

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Thursday, 3 July 2008

How do you enter
into the suffering of another?
Is it enough for your heart
softened from your own
to cry in your chest
when he looks at you
plastic bag chest height
eyes of blue
child face
and says

"Yeah, I know
it's sad, isn't it?"
and walks off
down the ramp
to Ashley Street
screaming,

"But I got nothin'
to live for!
I want to be dead!"

Screaming out
to the silent chrome sky?

Vegemite

14 comments

When I was 8, my best friend was Jane Thomas. She was English and had the fruit-skin of peaches and cream to prove it. She said interesting words and she drew really cool whimsical stuff. Her whole family had cool accents and their cupboard had interesting things in it like Marmite. I only ate it the once. Yuk. How they could eat it was beyond me.

But Vegemite? Well, that's a different story. Sometimes there's nothing for it but Vegemite on toast. Which could possibly be strange to a panel of taste-testers who have eaten neither, because I'm pretty sure to an uninitiated adult palette they would be on a par of disgustingness. Perhaps they wouldn't even be able to taste the difference. But to me, there was a world of difference. Marmite was just naff.

Barb wanted to know what Marmite tastes like and what you do with it, but I cannae speak with much authority on that. When Vegemite first came into being in the 1920s, though, Marmite dominated the market for dark road tar spreads. Bad sales of Vegemite in the first six years of its existence caused a name change to Parwill (a pun on Marmite, as in, Marmite, but Parwill. Geddit?) Anyway, luckily it was changed from one naff name back to its original naff name.

I think maybe you need to grow up on certain things to be able to eat them as an adult. My cousin eats black pudding, has since she was a child, just loves it. The very thought makes my toes go all curly. But eating black tarlike stuff that could take several layers of paint off your car, and cause your tastebuds to disintegrate? Get 'em while they're young and corrupt their tastebuds. I imagine if you started feeding a child road tar early enough they'd scrape it over their toast as an adult.

It's like eating lamb's brains and stuff like that, and kidneys. I could never eat steak and kidney as a child. I hated the sliminess of the kidney and it just looked horrible, sitting there in dark chunks on the plate. And yet, I had no trouble eating oysters kilpatrick. Or the actual cow itself. Whereas if I grew up vegetarian and you bought a cow to me, with her big heaving udders and those beautiful bashful eyes, the very thought of eating her! would make me shudder. And yet, last night on the phone, when my mum said she was having spaghetti bolognese, my mouth watered. I haven't been eating much meat lately, mainly because of the cost, but does my mouth water at the thought? Oh, yes.

Lamb's brains. My mum used to cook those up for my dad and they would stink out the whole bloody house. They smelt rather like how you would imagine frying brains would smell like but my dad ate them all down, yummy yummy in his tummy. Weird. In some Middle Eastern cultures lamb testicles are a delicacy. I balk at the idea, but am quite happy to chow down on the lamb itself (if I don't think too much about it. If I stop in the middle of the cutlet, even if smeared with mint sauce, and think, this was a frolicking lamb, I lose my appetite). The discrepancy makes little sense. Except to my stomach.

To eat Vegemite on toast, you really need to have a much greater proportion of butter than Vegemite. Here's one I prepared earlier. That piece of toast (rice bread. No wheat for me, thanks) is smothered in cholesterol forming butter and mmm, yum yum yum. And a spread of Vegemite. Not too much or it rips off several layers of my mouth. Some people though are amazing. Some people smother their toast in Vegemite and I can only admire them, while wondering if they will be able to taste anything else for the rest of the day. That stuff is salty, dammit.

Here are the contents of Vegemite, for your foodlish education:

yeast extract (mmm, yum yum!)
salt
mineral salt (just for a bit of added saltiness)
malt extract (from barley)
colour (150d - dark poo brown)
preservative (220)
flavours
niacin
thiamine
riboflavin
folate

Yeast is often an evil substance, or at least the versions that we have in Western foods are often the type that contribute to candida overgrowth. Candida is a yeast that lives in everyone's body in varying degrees, but becomes a problem when it proliferates. Causes brainfog and digestion problems and fatigue. But then, so do 400 million other things. The standard Western diet of sugars and certain yeasts contributes to the proliferation of candida, though.

But then, like everything, lump everything into the same category at your peril. Because brewer's yeast, the stuff used to make beer, is actually good for you. Made from the yeast species saccharomyces, which is good for your gut and also contains a lot of chromium, which helps balance your blood sugar levels. So there you go. Always exceptions to every rule.

Vegemite is good for you. Contains shitloads of B group vitamins, those saviours against hormones and bluedom. I have a Vegemite cookbook. I actually typeset the text of it, years ago, working for a firm that specialised in cookbooks. Suffice to say, I have quite a few cookbooks. There are tons of recipes in there to use Vegemite in, like stir fries, sauces. It's savoury taste adds a nice bit of tang. Just don't use too much of it.

I would love to know if anyone from outside of Australia has tasted Vegemite, and what you thought of it.

Celluloid Sydenham

3 comments

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

This morning on the train I tried to look at people as just people instead of potential subjects for my next train study :) And anyway, they were doing not much of anything really, it being a rather dull Tuesday, albeit a beautifully sunny one. Despite the sunny weather there was a dreariness about the day - tightarse Tuesday, the dude selling the Big Issue whispered to me (after I'd bought a copy, of course ;) Not much buying or selling or much of anything happenin' on the old Tuesday. I think there are lots of colds and flu's swathing their way through the streets of Melbourne at the moment, if the sneezing level at my workplace is anything to go by.

On the train, everyone being dull, I looked out the window. Actually saw a tumbleweed blowing down the tracks, like some kinda throwback to a wild west street a century and a hemisphere away. But of course, everyone has tumbleweeds, right? Just because they've been captured so much on film in that setting doesn't mean you don't have Thai tumbleweeds, Romanian tumbleweeds.

Went across the small bridge and then past the empty dirt field that caught my attention last Thursday. Today, like then, the wind was swirling around, having its own little dirt and wind party. There was something somehow whimsical about it, the way the dust whirled in circles, dancing for the entertainment of nobody. I gazed at it again this morning, in my fancy imagining invisible men in invisible cars doing invisible doughnuts.

Came home this evening and watched The Book of Revelation which is neither religious nor spiritual but instead, an Australian film about a man struggling to regain himself after a traumatic episode involving an abduction and torture and sexual abuse by three women. Sounds strange. But the role reversal really threw effectively into stark relief the disorientation, dissasociation and shame of abuse. I really loved this movie.

The movie would have affected me all on its own (indeed, Margaret and David, my favourite movie reviewers, both gave it 4 stars and I am always interested in seeing movies that both of them agree on). This would have reeled me in anyway, reminding me of my own struggles in a way, and of others I know, the silence and inablity to express what is going on when you are held prisoner within your own soul.

But blow me down with a tumbleweed if that little field with its dirt swirls isn't sitting there in that movie, with trains going past and that funny little bridge up in the corner. And dammit if it isn't going to feel just that much more poignant when I see it tomorrow morning.
ive been thinking about the whole idea of making money from writing and really i dont feel its the primary focus for me anymore even though i feel like yes of course i want to make money from my writing who wouldnt i mean im a bloody typist sitting for hours on end typing ASIC interviews where people have violated the corporations act or court cases where people have infringed things which often seem to come down to money or typing police interviews with people running clandestine laboratories making crystal meth in their second bedroom powdered shame for people to become more unthemselves or interviews with people who accidentally oops find their fingers or their penis inserted into the bodies of family members would i rather do something else like write for a living well duh what do you reckon but im not willing to go into ambition mode to get there i would rather follow the windy* path of resonation which may to the overly ambitious look like the path of resignation of uncaring of least resistance and which is patently not the case its the path where i am free i am free indeed to write stuff and do it in a way that will pay me not a cent and i am free to go down roads that might pay money and im free as the woman last night with the shaved head not competing with pantene-ed styled moisturised carefully coloured and all she needed to exchange for that freedom was vanity and the misunderstanding of the world but hey the world has the pungent reek of death about it anyway and not the sweet death unto freedom but the putrid death of refusing to see any other way but deathly safety unsafe death ambition narrow road of the spreadsheet nah give me the open road any day

and the world will misunderstand whatever road you take

but still for all that i still want to earn money from writing im just not kidding myself it would be a rose petal existence once i got there

++++++

* thats windy as in something that goes not straight but wind-ey as opposed to what it was doing last night so goddamn windy i thought the house was gonna fly off its stumps