Begging is Illegal

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Friday, 31 July 2009

While I was chatting with my homeless friend K this evening the coppers came up and asked us what we were doing.

"Talking about art," K said, looking up at them.

It's true, we were. K does the most amazing intricate pen drawings, all freehand. They look like they have been computer generated, they're that precise. Pretty amazing. I have one stuck up on my pantry door. Keeps me thinking and praying of K every day. I will scan it when I can get off my butt to do it.

I saw another one tonight and fell in love with it. Silver on black card stock. Couldn't afford to buy it as I have 30 bucks till next Thursday, heh. K said that she'll bung a big price tag on it so high that it might still be there when I come round next Thursday :)

The coppers suggested K remove her little hat that had a "donations accepted" sign in cardboard on the outside.

"Is begging illegal?" I asked her as they walked away. I'd never really given a great deal of thought to it before. K nodded.

Seems pretty weird to me. I did keep my mouth closed but what I wanted to ask them was whether there wasn't something a bit more useful they could be doing to maintain law and order, especially considering police numbers are so low. Seems like a law that means the coppers have to harass homeless people trying to get some cash should be taken to the court of petty sessions itself, really.

Is begging illegal in your area?

Half Baked

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Wednesday, 29 July 2009

I can't seem to finish anything. When I look over my life, it's this overarching theme. One that is showing itself up in a whole lot of different areas. I turn the world to blank and the game is done, you see. Can't finish a short story. Couldn't finish my marriage. It's pretty pathetic, really.

So it was understandable, you see, when tonight on my way home I was thinking about not going back to my clay class again. It's a bit of a loser sort of a thing, I guess, but what can I say? It's just there, like a sore thumb, you know? I don't know what informs it. Like I said in my last post, I'm trying to kill it.

Thing is, though, I was good at my marriage, and I'm good at writing short stories. If I'm good at those things, and I still can't finish them, then what hope do I have when it turns out that I am not very good at clay? To tell you the truth, dear world, I'm pretty good at a lot of things I turn my hand to, you know? To be in a class where I am the dumbest one there, the one who needs help from the teacher all the time, who forgets what she has been told two minutes after she is told it - it's so humiliating to me. I am patently not good at doing public things that I am not good at. Tonight I came away with nothing except a bag of clay to work on outside of the class because what I finished up with in the end was a big fat nothing where other people had these figures taking form.

Maybe when I'm by myself I won't feel so much performance anxiety. Why do I have to be so goddamned serious and overreactive about something so patently unimportant?

I hate myself right now. I hate this part of me. And so what do I do? I blog about it. Put it out into the whole world. What a dick.

I don't know how to finish anything :( I can't fix this in myself. It runs too deep, it's right in my veins. It's rutted itself into corners and I don't even know what it is anymore. Shame maybe. I don't know.

This is just a mood, anyway, right? Just a mood, and it will pass. It will pass and another one will take its place and depending on what it is I will see things differently. Maybe I will even dredge up the courage to go back there again, do something I'm not really good at.

A different mood. Everything seems so different depending on your transient moods, passing thoughts. Maybe that's why this post feels so pointless, so embarrassingly self-indulgent. People are starving to death and I'm upset because I'm not the clay queen? Big fucking deal.

But it is a big deal, obviously. Otherwise I wouldn't write this stupid post, would I?

I hate being so vulnerable. I don't want to do it. I want to get real crusty, grow me 20 cats, go live in the country. Sit on my porch with my gun and shoot at people :)

Okay. You're just being silly now.

Conversion is a process of disenchantment with our small, separate self, recognizing how truly afraid and insecure it is. The only way people can ever be freed from this fear and this insecurity is to be freed from themselves. There is almost a complete correlation between the amount of fear in one’s life and the amount of attachment we have to ourselves and our own agenda.

The person who is beyond fear has given up the need to control or possess or be right. Their being is grounded in the Being of God. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “I am who I am in God's eyes—nothing more, but nothing less.” A truly converted/transformed person does not need to impress anyone because they know that they are not who you think they are anyway—or even who they themselves think they are! Thinking one way or another doesn’t make it so.

That's what St. Paul meant when he so shockingly said: “You have died, you're dead” (Romans 6:3-5) when you are truly baptized into the death of the false self—the self that you don’t need anyway. Conversion happens when you finally face the real enemy, and guess what? It's you!


Richard Rohr

Yeah and ow. This life growing into ourselves thing is sure painful, ain't it? How difficult it is to grow into what we already are in some respects. I'm feeling this on the creativity spectrum most acutely at the moment. Creatively, I feel like a very small child doing very shitty creative things. I am judging myself, criticising myself, stopping myself from writing. I am screaming at myself to stop doing this pottery class because it is dangerous to be out in public amongst peers doing things I'm technically crap at. It is no coincidence that the day after the most recent class I came down with a mild tonsillitis/bronchitis combo.

Occasionally I see it - how it is when the watcher is away from the gates of my mind - the writing that comes up out of me, that takes me by surprise upon rereading because it's got a lyricism to it, a wholeness. It's actually pretty good, even if I do say so myself. I can tell from 20 paces when I'm writing from the guts. It's about 100 times better than when I'm not. There is a feeling to it that feels so fresh and warm and just-baked-breadlike, regardless of the actual content. It is what comes out of me.

Acknowledging this watcher at the gates is one thing. Believing that it is something that can be either killed, or at least lassoed and told to sit down and shut up until draft time is quite another thing. Living life, going forward, is a terror and a joy and a faith because we have absolutely nothing except the blind faith and the blind hope that we are moving towards anything at all. I have no guarantee, except from those people around me who assure me over and over again about my growth. It is the watcher who jumps up and says I'm not growing, that everything I do is crappy. It is abjectly, completely and utterly terrified of me failing in any way whatsoever and to be honest, dear blogger, that's not enough for me to back down from this ongoing commitment to, if not kill it, at least let it know who's boss.

So yesterday I wrote a couple of pages, in amongst the sore throat and the congested chest that have been keeping me inside, sort of half enjoying the respite from the rest of the world. This morning when I woke up and I thought about that piece of writing the same old same old thoughts came to me. Not so much that it's bad, because it's not. No, it's more insidious than that. It just flat out tells me that I can't finish it. That I've run out of steam. That it's not possible for me to finish anything I start because look at the trail of evidence behind me. Half finished stories in folders in filing cabinets are testament to the fact that it is not possible for me to finish anything.

That feeling feels so real. And so it is with a very tiny-voiced part of myself that I say here that that feeling is just not true. It's you, Blob, doing your thing. Watching at my gates. Trying to keep me safe. I've been very aware over the past several years of my propensity to talk about creative beginnings at the beginning, and thus kill off whatever was beginning there. It's been one of Blob's more interesting ways of stopping me from finishing anything. But I'm onto that one now. I'm much more willing these days to keep my stuff to myself, where it belongs, fermenting, than to spew it out and talk about it and kill it off. So I'm onto you, Blob. You know that, don'tcha. I'm sure it's scaring the shit out of you. It's scaring the shit out of me, too, but I'm onto you and I'm doing everything I can to start learning how to lasso or kill you for my benefit, not yours.

Oh, and while we're here - I'm going to the pottery course until the end, so try whatever you want to try to stop me from going, but you're not the boss of me.

Or so they tell me :)

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(Last point in a typically way too long post: some people say the watcher must be killed. Some say it can be harnessed to its rightful place in the 3rd draft, or whatever. I wonder if people are talking about two separate things here? The watcher as a personality trait as a bit more pathologically different than an overactive internal critic? Perhaps the more pathological a watcher is, the stronger the medicine needs to be. Dynamite, as adverse to lassoing. I welcome your thoughts on that one, if you know anything about watchers at the gate :)

Tasks Not Ministries Part 2

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Sunday, 26 July 2009

Continuing on from what I was talking and thinking about yesterday, while tasks may be a better way of looking at it than ministry, perhaps the best way of all of looking at it is just us. People connecting with people, with their lives, with their hearts, with their minds, with their passions, with their artistry, with their God.

That seems even better.

Tasks Not Ministries

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Saturday, 25 July 2009

Was just listening to someone* talk about how in the book of Acts, when Paul and Barnabas came back from an expedition, Paul reported that they had "completed the task" that God set them to do. And it smacked them in the face, even though they'd read it countless times before, that they don't hear Christians talking about tasks they've completed because Christians don't get to complete anything!

That's because our tasks don't have end-dates; our tasks we stretch out into shapes called ministries. Paul and Barnabas went to wherever it was God had sent them to, and then had no other trips for three years. We would begin to question our performance in the kingdom if God didn't do anything with our particular area of expertise for three years, wouldn't we? We don't have tasks that we get to complete, and feel satisfied about. We have the bland beigeness of our ministry within same old same old Christianism, day in, day out. No weft, no weave, no changing of seasons. Just the machine chugging itself along doing what it did last week and what it'll do next week.

We do so like to label and categorise ourselves, don't we? All those spiritual gifts inventories which are handy in their own way, I suppose (I've done more than my fair share of them :) But wouldn't it be nice if we believed that the things that the Father has prepared for us to do before the foundations of the earth are things that will naturally fit into our own lives? That they are things we come upon, things we are drawn to? Not necessarily things that will fit in our nice little egoic ministries? I can't stand seeing the websites of people that contain the word "ministry" in large font anymore. They smack of that person. Do we not understand how it would feel for someone to be helped by someone with "a ministry"? That it would make them feel like cogs in a wheel, like welfare dependents? How much harder to see God when the person helping you is looming so large?

Much more endearing a person who is living their life not needing to force it all to happen quite so much. Just a person, without a business card proclaiming their ministry. Just a person living their life, a life that gets to have this rich complexity so that it's not "my ministry" but just my life with God weaving himself through it, leading us on to things he's prepared for us to do. Or do we not trust that God is going to do such things unless we create the ministry box for him to put his stuff into? We underestimate his creativity and his power.

The Father may say, "I want you to go and be with this group of people for a certain amount of time," and it doesn't even matter where the group of people meets - it could be the First Baptist Church or a home church, or a single person. We may just have a certain inkling that we want to be around these people. We are free to do so and to know that it most likely will not be forever (although maybe it will be, who knows?) Where is it written that once we begin meeting with a certain group of people that we must continue doing so until we're dead? Gotta sign the church membership form to prove our commitment? We have more freedom than that, and we should not have to be tied down into human-made shackles.

I love the emphasis and the reminder that life is about hearing God, walking with God. Always loved that phrase in the Old Testament. So and so walked with God. All those people who walked with God. This is what I want, I want to walk with God and go where he asks me to go, whatever that may look like.

That smells like freedom. I don't want no ministry, don't want nothing I can put on a business card, thanks all the same. I want to follow what's on my heart. And sometimes that will not make much sense to anyone outside of my own heart. Sometimes it will look to people outside of me that I am going the wrong way, wasting my time with the wrong people, being way too gracious with ungracious people, whatever, you know? But I get to do what is on my heart. That's the freedom of following the Father.

I guess too the flipside of this sort of freedom is that I am also free to not do what he is asking me to do (but that brings up a whole slew of questions: is there punishment for not doing what I am asked to do? Will we pay for who we've been?). He doesn't ask me to do nice happy things that fit in my comfort zone. He asks me to do things and see people that stretch me out so far I think I will snap. It is not always easy to say yes to God, even though I think there is always life there when we do. But we are agoraphobic people :) Still, better to snap than to die on your feet of boredom within the beige :)

It takes so long to learn this and keep this in mind. I need to keep being reminded of it, need to keep listening to other people who are learning the same great whopping freedom that is life walking with God and hearing for ourselves.

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* This is Wayne Jacobsen's Transition series. The focus here is on moving from religious mindsets to a life lived loved in the Father. It brings me back to the simplicity of what I think it is about, this life in God where occasionally (blessedly) the focus is off of me and all of my wants and desires and stuff and mind babble, and I smell what it is to live unself-consciously. Nice.
I'm sure he really wanted to write a classic. And yet his motivations seem faintly suspicious to me. They have all the hallmarks of someone who is spilling their creative seed all over the ground because it's easier to talk about their art than to make it. Look at him, babe. He's an addict for your love, blustering and swaggering. You're probably the 11th person he's developed an addiction to since January. He seems obsessional because he's a blocked artist. He's a blocked artist because he insists on writing a classic instead of just writing a goddamn song.

I suspect he has as much creative discipline as a shoelace. You, babe, seem like a pretty switched on gal. God knows, you turned his head, being different from the rest. I wonder if his cheap talk is fooling you?

The whole attic thing is a giveaway. He's playing that game where he states his intention, and then inserts a few subclauses that guarantee he never will achieve it. Not for him the standard pedestrianism of "I would go and write a classic but I can't tear myself away from Bejeweled Blitz." No, he needs to invent an entire attic space. "Dammit, I can feel the classic whirling around inside of me. How unfortunate that I live in a single storey house. May as well go look at porn instead."

He should rethink his idea about sending his classic right away, if he manages to get anything finished. I think he should consider a second draft and a spot of proofreading for grammar. It's only polite. And maybe he should lower his sights, get a bit more playful - try just writing a song, instead of aiming for a classic, maybe? From one perfectionist to another :) If it's anything like this tripe he's already written, he really should aim lower ;)

The Glittering Net That Enfolds the Universe

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Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Modern science speaks to us of an extraordinary range of interrelations. Ecologists know that a tree burning in the Amazon rain forest alters in some way the air breathed by a citizen of Paris, and that the trembling of a butterfly's wing in Yucatan affects the life of a fern in the Hebrides. Biologists are beginning to uncover the fantastic and complex dance of genes that creates personality and identity, a dance that stretches far into the past and shows that each so-called "identity" is composed of a swirl of different influences. Physicists have introduced us to the world of the quantum particle, a world astonishingly like that described by Buddha in his image of the glittering net that unfolds across the universe. Just like the jewels in the net, all particles exist potentially as different combinations of other particles.

So when we really look at ourselves, then, and the things around us that we took to be so solid, so stable, and so lasting, we find that they have no more reality than a dream ...

Impermanence has already revealed to us many truths, but it has a final treasure still in its keeping, one that lies largely hidden from us, unsuspected and unrecognized, yet most intimately our own.

The Western poet Rainer Maria Rilke has said that our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasure. The fear that impermanence awakens in us, that nothing is real and nothing lasts, is, we come to discover, our greatest friend because it drives us to ask: If everything dies and changes, then what is really true? Is there something behind the appearances, something boundless and infinitely spacious, something in which the dance of change and impermanence takes place? Is there something in fact we can depend on, that does survive what we call death?

Allowing these questions to occupy us urgently, and reflecting on them, we slowly find ourselves making a profound shift in the way we view everything. With continued contemplation and practice in letting go, we come to uncover in ourselves "something" we cannot name or describe or conceptualize, "something" that we begin to realize lies behind all the changes and deaths of the world. The narrow desires and distractions to which our obsessive grasping onto permanence has condemned us begin to dissolve and fall away.
Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

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What maketh thee of this? I find it resonates so strongly within me. Perhaps the most disturbing concept to the Western mind is the statement about nothing being "real". We may tend to skip to the notion that he therefore means that nothing exists. I'm not so sure that Sogyal means that - although if he does (and I can understand the conclusion reached), this is where I perhaps begin to depart in my own thinking from Tibetan thought.

But then, in the very same breath, I do begin to wonder to myself whether he and I are not simply looking at the same thing from different sides of the mountain perhaps. I do think here, when he refers to things not being real he is speaking about the appearance of things. That things do not exist simply within their own little containers, separate to everything else. Indeed, the container we look at contains more space than it does anything else. This I can subscribe to. This is trippy. And truly, nothing stays the same, ever. Not even me. Thank God :)



Pic: Nirolo

Pottery Class

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Tuesday, 21 July 2009

So my second pottery class is coming up this Wednesday night. The dread is sort of overtaking the excitement. This situation is, for me, one that I know I will get a lot out of. But it patently scares the hell out of me.

Don't quite know why. Sort of understand why. But getting out with other people and learning something new and creative, has fears attached to it that are just waaaaaaay out of proportion when you consider that I am just messing around with clay. It has been a really long time since I have been in a class learning environment with something creative. If I was in a university tutorial I would be breathing easy and doing it with half my brain switched on. This is different. It's like learning to use muscles that I decided years ago, centuries ago, that I would not use because it was too dangerous to do so.

That's why this is really important for me to do this. But wow, I feel, like, 10 times more raw and exposed than I thought I would.

Made a bust the other day. Didn't get it finished. Felt behind the rest of the people. Felt like an imbecile, as if everyone else was getting it except me (where does this crap come from???) Still, for all of those crazy irrationalities, I made the beginnings of a cute little bust with really cool eyes, with eyeballs and eyelids and everything. I realised in the process how, without studying the anatomy of the human face in any sort of formal way, I nevertheless know a great deal. Pretty fun.

So yeah. Weird how threatening this feels to me. Can't explain it. Don't want to, really. But I feel terribly small and fragile creatively, doing this. Getting out of my comfort zone is a good, good thing.

A good side benefit: feeling rather overwhelmed by this thing I am doing for another five weeks makes work much more bearable. How nice to get to a known, safe, boring, dull place and be able to park myself there for several hours each day :) Which of course has always been what I've thought when I started this job - having such a boring job will force me out of my comfort zone to cope with it. A good, and uncomfortable, thing.

Eek.
10 comments

Sunday, 19 July 2009

I began reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying yesterday. Written by a Tibetan Buddhist monk, his assertion is that the West and the people living in it are a culture totally denying of death and its 100 per cent assurance that it shall have us also. This book is about living with dying in our sights so that we can truly live. To live fearing and suppressing our own impending death is not living at all.

I wonder how differently things would have been if Christianity hadn't taken its weird twists and warps as the cultural religion, dangling everyone over a vat of eternal hell if we do not conform to the giant god's petulancies? Christianity as it stands is also a death denying religion. Christians are some of the most fearful people on the planet.

I don't think those two are a coincidence.

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Edit: I am not talking here of Christians living life in Christ. I am talking about the empire religion that, I am becoming more and more convinced, is a large beastlike thing that does not remotely resemble whatever it is that Christ may be building. That's what I mean when I talk about "Christianity" in this sense.

A Different Path

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Saturday, 18 July 2009

It’s not, “If I am moral, I will someday achieve union with God.” That’s backwards. We must put the horse before the cart, and not the cart before the horse. Union with God is objectively already given to everyone from the moment of their creation. Who else created them? All we can do is awaken to it. We cannot achieve it. Once we live the life of union and abundance—not hating ourselves and apologizing for ourselves every minute—then we start living in our inherent dignity, a dignity that no behavior has given to us and no one can take away.

Then the horse is first and the cart comes along. Not “If I am moral, I will be in union with God, but when I live in union with God, morality will come naturally and powerfully!” A completely different path.

Richard Rohr

Theorist or Practitioner

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Friday, 17 July 2009

My blog bud Kel has a ripper post going on. I encourage you to head over and read it for yourself, but here is a snippet:

Recently I started a new job in arts administration at a regional gallery. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to find such similarities between the art world and the church world.

The first thing everyone asks me on the job is, "What is your background in the arts?" or, "Are you an artist?" Because people like to pigeon-hole with definitions, I like to throw a spanner in their works. The conversation goes a little like this:

But you'll have to head over there to read the rest :)

9-5 Morning Train

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Thursday, 16 July 2009

The man gets on the train and sits down. The girls behind the man are talking about Facebook. I keep hearing people talking on trains about Facebook. I wonder why people don't talk to each other about things out here instead of talking to each other about Facebook. The man starts talking to himself. I keep seeing people talking on trains to themselves. Last week a man said very loudly to someone who came to sit down next to him, "Don't sit here!" He then proceeded to talk to the empty seat for the rest of the ride. I wonder if the man today talks to the woman next to him if she will talk back. My guess is a reasonably large no. She has her eyes closed to escape the social inappropriateness of a man who is talking to himself.

I can't hear the man over the babble of talk in the late morning carriage. I catch fragments, words above it all. "Secondhand ... fuckin' ..." He talks all the way from Footscray to Flagstaff. The man sits with his leg crossed and his leg moving backwards and forwards. "Fuck," he says. He is wearing a beige coloured suit jacket over a pair of jeans. His brown shoes are shiny. His shiny brown foot moves backwards and forwards.

The Indian man opposite me has his arms crossed and questions coming out of his eyes. Occasionally he glares at the talking man for daring to be mentally ill. The old Asian man looks at me with this funny pushed-out fish lip look. He has questions coming out of his eyes too. Something in his expression reminds me of the way my dog looks at me when he has questions in his eyes about playing with the ball. Nobody knows what to do in the carriage. You can see it. What do we do here, we all ask silently to the carriage. I distance myself with a pen and my notepad. I try to will myself to make eye contact with the talking man but he does not look at me.

I get out at Flagstaff and the man gets out behind me. Waiting for the lift, the man in the navy Ecko United soccer shirt with the number 2 on his back looks behind himself, looks for the nutter. Turns back very quickly to face the front and wait for the lift.

In the lift the talking man is silent.

"Concourse. Doors opening," the lift voiceover man says as we arrive up at the top. "Concourse," the man says, walking out the lifts, out up to William Street.

I Feel Mean

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I feel mean writing the "Take Responsibility" post in response to that irritating, yukky police suspect I was transcribing the other day.

I mean, I imagine if he could change, he probably would. Or, really to take it a step further - obviously my irritation comes from the belief that this is a person who could change but who refuses to (based on nothing, I might add, but my own insistence on creating entire histories and motivations of people I don't even know :)

But for him, I'm sure he believes that he can't change, otherwise he probably would. As a man believes, so he is. That applies to all of us. And of course, paths of change only really open up when people feel accepted and honoured for where they are right now in their lives. And maybe he is taking steps towards taking responsibility for his crap (it was pretty bad; he was bashing his girlfriend and stuff and he was just an arsehole about it) and I can't see it.

Who am I to judge another person?

Pre-Play Jitters

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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

It's my pottery class tonight and I'm feeling like I don't want to do it. Which is really just a cover up for the fact that I'm feeling nervous and excited about it. I can't fool myself :)

I keep expecting bad things are gonna come out of the clay, deep, dark secrets that foretell doom and gloom. Nothing I have made from clay has done that. Last week at art therapy I began moulding clay with my intellect switched off. What came out was half a nut, cut in half. The middle of a nut is called a kernel. At the same time I kept seeing this shape as also being like a piece of furniture in some weird way. I kept imagining a figure reclining on it and something to do with seeds. Then it came to me later that night - a seedbed. This is a kernel and a seedbed and all these metaphors and alliterations and playful word puns come out effortlessly of the deeper, darker, excitinger, mysteriouser part of me, not the boring, stupid, pain in the arse that often controls my mind :)

She's doing it this morning. She's thinking that it's all her. I want to go on a word fast sometime soon where for 24 hours the only words allowed out of my mouth or my keyboard are poetry or metaphor or song :) I'm so tired of hearing myself think! But then the deeper, more mysteriouser part speaks and I am left gobsmacked again at how far I extend beyond consumer lines and familial lines and social networking lines and beyond my own conscious lines. And this is why making art is so important for me and look, here I go, swimming up into my own head, theorising about the importance of making art, and how boring it is and no wonder there are so many critics in the world 'cos it's always easier talking about it than doing it :)

And my inner eight year old starving artist girl is just waiting patiently for 6 o'clock. She switches off from all this intellectual theorising about everything. She's excited, thrilled, and can't wait to meet new people. Even while my inner cultural attache is nervous about meeting new people because people are sometimes yukky and because she's more concerned about getting around with a collapsed decolletage and horrid lines snaking across her delicate under eye area because it's not good for the brand. The inner artist sighs. It's tiring living with all these annoying people but it's just how it is, you know? And it's not all bad. There's some pretty interesting sorts living in here too. Quite partial to the Man with the child in his eyes. He gets about and talks to everyone. Keeps us all in line :)

The inner artist is sitting quiet. She's just waiting for 6 o'clock.

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PS: You may be pondering "mental illness" reading this post. Multiple personality disorder, maybe. Well, who's to say I don't veer over into mental illness from time to time? More's the point - who's to say that we all don't? Funnily enough, I have never felt more "together" than I do now even while I often feel like I could bust apart. It's all about becoming real, I think. And so while I may have some definite elements of mental disorder, multiple personalities aren't one of them. Those are simply creative devices :) Just sayin', just in case you're wonderin' :)

Take Responsibility FFS!!!

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Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Back at work. Listening to a particularly adept professional victim blame everyone else for his pathetic life and his horrible relationship and his shithouse attitude. It's so amazing how NO ONE is responsible for their actions. It's ALWAYS someone else's fault. She made me do it. He made me do it. It's her fault, it's his fault.

Take responsibility for being a tossbag like everyone else is a tossbag! What makes you any different from anyone else?

Thank you God I'm not like that tax collector/sinner/woman/Muslim/loser/drug addict. We all say it. We want to outsource everything. We want counsellors to counsel everyone else 'cos we don't want to get involved and we're not "professionals". We want police forces to maintain law and order because we're shit at relating with each other. We want schools to teach our kids to live out in the world but how can you do that when the world is not theory, not a goddamned book? We want other people to take the blame for the shit we do because other people have done shit to us. Where does it end?

My friend got annoyed at me the other night because I got annoyed at him because he was making a face in response to what I was saying. Okay, so I was talking about wanting to live in an intentional community in Eltham. He was screwing up his face like all people do at hippies. I couldn't help but respond to such an aggressive sort of response to what I was saying, and then HE got mad at ME for getting annoyed in the first place! But I couldn't see how I was responding to HIM, so I was probably just as aggressive as he was. And so when he retaliated to me retaliating to him, we both felt justified in doing it, and we both had a case. Every single police statement is different, every suspect sees things through their own filters. Everyone rewrites their memories and recasts themselves in candlelight when maybe they were standing in energy saving light instead. How does anybody get along ever, at all? How does anyone ever get along with each other when we are such stupid, stupid beings? :) When we all feel vulnerable and exposed, and we all behave badly? And yet we do.

This incessant ongoing blaming is so what the cross speaks to me about these days. There is a way that has been made for us to be able to be honest with God and ourselves and each other. Open hearted honesty from other flawed beings is so healing to watch.

Why is it so hard to admit our faults? Especially Christians. If a life lived in God is so good and wonderful, how come so many of us are unable to hold our shit, to hold the good with the bad, to admit our faults and our flaws? Because the stupid thing is, other people can see our stuff. We're not hiding from anyone.

Fig leaved people, just now we're wearing clothes, that's all.

Where is the freedom? It begins surely in understanding that even if bad people hadn't done bad stuff to us, we would most likely still be tossbags. And just because the bad people have done bad things, this does not mean that we get to abdicate responsibility for our own behaviour. Because unfortunately it seems to be so that being a tossbag comes with the territory. Why can't we just live in the reality of what is instead of trying to force it to be what it isn't?

That same friend and I had an interesting conversation driving over the Westgate Bridge later that same night. There's some sort of railings being constructed along the sides. We wondered if it was in reaction to that man who lost the plot and threw his child over the bridge to her death. Which was awful of course. And he said that he finally realised what the line in American Idiot by Green Day means when it says, "Where everything isn't meant to be okay."

We can't change the world to be different so that people don't throw their kids off bridges. This is what we are, folks, in all our mess and glory. You can't legislate human nature into something prettier than it is. That same legislation, trying to keep us from ourselves, is also what keeps us from the good parts of ourselves as well. Since when did the nanny culture get to prevent us from learning from our own mistakes? We're already good enough at blaming the woman, the man, the serpent. Seems the culture is trying to get us to take the searchlight off of ourselves too.

Anyway, that's enough ranting. I've given myself a headache typing this :) But I've also made myself laugh so yeah :) 'Cos of course the answer to all of this is love. Loving each other even though we're tossbags. Loving each other because we're tossbags and we all need it. Loving eaach other because we are way bigger than all the tossbaggery and we are even sometimes - often - beautiful.

And now, as punishment for writing that, Radio Susie has just begun singing Burt Bacharach numbers. "What the world needs now, is love, sweet love" Blergh :0)

This post was in part inspired by the God Journey podcast I listened to last night where they were talking about this new book that sounds like a good read: Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me). I would link to it if I could, but I can't, because WebMarshall at work will not let me access it, being a time-wasting website I am not meant to be accessing during working hours.

But luckily, it's not like I need to read anything like that anyway. You, however, with your beams and motes, could probably give it a whirl :P

Morning Star Poles

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Monday, 13 July 2009

According to the creation story of the Yolgnu clans of Arnhem Land, when people die, their spirits return back to where it all began, to Burralku. It was from here that the Djang'kawu Sisters began their ancestral journey, near the morning star, or Venus. The Djang'kawu sang about the morning star on their way to Yalangbara (eastern Arnhem Land), where they birthed the first clans. When Venus rises in the east in the dawn, the stories say that a rope hangs below her, connecting her to Burralku.

The year after a Yolgnu relative dies, the Banumbirr (morning star) ceremony is performed. It ensures the relative finds their way through the countries of their clans back to Barralku. Gali Yalkarriwuy Gurruwiwi is a senior man of his clan on Elcho Island in Arnhem Land. He is the custodian of the morning star pole that is used in the Banumbirr ceremony. The knowledge of them was passed down from his father's father to his father, and from his father to him. He is passionate about keeping the knowledge alive.

The poles are rich with symbolism. The feather at the top represents the morning star itself. The string attached to the pole is used by the spirit to climb upwards to Burralku from the earth. The feathers which hang from the pole represent rays of light and also represent the changing of the seasons. Some of them also represent different clans. The seed pods are food for the spirits. The paintings on the pole represent the land, while also indicating the pole owner's place within that land. Often the plants or animals of the area are painted.

I saw Gali on Sunday Arts back in February. He says he feels connected to his father, his ancestors, and his land when he paints these poles. There was something about them which spoke to me so strongly. He remembered, speaking via an interpreter, when the whitefella preacher came to town and talked about Jesus. How moved Gali was when he heard this Jesus referred to as the morning star. He went forward to receive him. "It was a change in my life," he said.

"I need to show the world to get together, to sit on one foundation, to share things, black and white. We have to go, like, colourblind, because we are one."

++++

You can read the episode outline here (scroll down to number 2) or download the Sunday Arts episode featuring Gali Yalkarriwuy Gurruwiwi here (from memory I think it's the third or fourth story - scroll through)

River Rest

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Saturday, 11 July 2009

I was going on about resting in God the other day at Communitas. I'm thinking about it again this morning. I come from a family of high strung people. I am a creative on top and thirdly I have built up my intellect as some sort of a safe tower in some respects. Because of that I find it really difficult to switch my brain off and just be.

I did two lots of meditation this morning. Two twenty minute cycles of just sitting. Sitting while the thoughts flit in and out. Sitting even though I feel like I've got 40 squillion things to do. Sitting with the million racing thoughts that I think really are probably the main reason why I spent my twenties with my mouth stuck in a bong instead of my hands smoothing clay. But you know, people are stupid and I'm stupid along with them and it takes years to learn the simplest things that children can see until they are silenced in one way or another.

And so I sat in the midst of the being still and trying to see God. Not that I ever see God, duh. I've had some periods where I have sensed his presence close. When Mark and I first broke up, that first year I think was pretty amazing in some ways because I could feel him close. These days, not so much. I do not know why these things happen. I do not think for very long anymore that it is because he is displeased with me. I think it is far more mysterious than that, something along the lines of what Browning talks of when he says:
... God, whose pleasure brought
Man into being, stands away
As it were a handbreadth off, to give
Room for the newly-made to live,
And look at him from a place apart,
And use his gifts of brain and heart,
Given, indeed, but to keep for ever.

I cannot think in the flat-packed face-slapping way of church billboards that say, "If God seems far away, who has moved?" It is too close to my own experience of God often feeling far away to even be able to stand in that self-righteous, self-indulgent pose and say, "Well, here is a fine opportunity for me to vaunt myself above you. Because everybody who attends this building here has a 24/7 hotline to God. Don't you wish your spirituality was hot like ours?"

Life seems such a strange sort of thing to me that, on the days when I feel pressed in by the things I have to do, that these are the days when I need even more and even longer to sit and be still and know that he is God, and watch them fall away afterwards, like tender cooked meat off a bone. Until all that is left is now, and the river running under it, and the doing of what I see to put my hand to, and the still(er) mind, and the golden thread that leads into the playroom :) And me, the real me, has the room to move in which I was created for, where I live and move and have my being.

Secretly we spoke,
that wise one and me.
I said, Tell me the secrets of the world.
He said, Sh... Let silence
Tell you the secrets of the world.

~ Rumi
I'm feeling pretty hamstrung by my job, I gotta say. Some weeks I'm fine and it's all in perspective. It remains the dull, dreary job it was last week but it just stays flat in my mind, you know? I keep it interesting by chatting for reasonable stretches of the day to my workmates and by doing arty-type things and peopleish-type things when I'm not there. Then it all stays in perspective.

But there are other weeks where it just feels like the hamstrings ping every time I use my legs and the claustrophobia sits on my chest like asthma. Some weeks I want to pack a bag and run off screaming down the road like my hair is on fire, never to return. Some weeks it is obvious in every part of my square peggedness how bad a fit this job is for an extroverted, people-lovin', life-lover. And then I dwell on it and it depresses me, and starts pulsating, like the walls when Neo began to understand his onenness and stopped all those bullets from Agent Smith's gun. (That movie revisit was so enjoyable this evening, it didn't even feel ruined that I couldn't watch the part where Neo visits the Oracle because the CD was scratched and wouldn't budge through it. Still my favourite line: "I know kung fu." Heh :) And all that black leather's not such a bad deal either. And hey, yeah, alright, so Keanu could play Pinocchio and he would NEVER turn into a real live boy but stay wooden for the whole ride but he has a certain charm notwithstanding all of that, and it's not simply physically related either 'cos when I want that I watch Point Break ;)

Anyway, where was I?

I think part of the problem with having something you're forced to do regularly that you dislike is not the thing itself so much as the way it looms and rears itself up at you like an ogre. Sits itself in the corners of your mind (alongside the misty water-coloured memories of the way we were). Even with a four-day week, I find myself struggling in the middle part; then I come home and feel depressed and don't do the things that would help me maintain perspective.

What is the deal with that? It patently pisses me off, dear blogger, that all it takes for me to keep my job in its proper perspective is art-making and meditation, and that very often I avoid doing the very things that will make it all feel bearable. Oh, who shall rescue me from this body of death?

Well, for the next six weeks at least it's Northcote Pottery who, for a reasonable sort of a fee, shall give me lessons while I immerse myself into clay in the presence of other living, breathing human beings and maintain my equilibrium at the very same time. I shall be making a human head and a standing figure and some sort of a bottle or vase or container, and learn some glazing and surface treatement techniques, and finish with a sculptural piece of my own choosing. And just typing this I can feel the bubbles flipping in mah belleh.

It's enough to make me dribble out the sides of my mouth. Hopefully I shall resist doing it onto my lovely new blue flanelette sheets I am about to go lie on. Gee, I hate shopping, but now I have shopped I have nice new sheets. The formaldehye fumes time have had time to clear (evil stuff, hence the "wash before use" directive that I have obviously ignored) so now I'm off to read in cosiness. See you on the flipside.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

1 comment

Friday, 10 July 2009

by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.


And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.


When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.


Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.


Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.


Listen to carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.


Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?


Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.


As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go.


Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

+++
Seen at White Flint Farm

Wowtcha Reading?

15 comments

Monday, 6 July 2009

I've just got home from a great art therapy session at the end of a great weekend. It's going to get down to a chilly 4 degrees tonight (39F) and I'm tired and happy, so what better to do but snuggle down into Keanu and do some reading? On my bookcase is an area set apart for books that I have started or am about to start to read. Looking from here with my poor old astigmatised eyes I estimate there are about 30 books sitting there. It's patently untenable and patently ridiculous.

I received two new-old books in the mail today. They should go on the bookcase unread until I've finished all my other books like a good little girl. But that feels too much like having to eat your peas before dessert so fuck it - what's another two books gonna do when it's already untenable? Therefore I'm going off to read Dreams and Inward Journeys: A Reader for Writers by Marjorie Ford and Jon Ford and The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo (and yes, Tess, both of those books I got because of online recommendations or readings). On the go from the library I also have the monumental tome Oscar & Lucinda by Peter Carey.

Mmm, yummy - reading. Might crack open the Milo tin & eat out of it with a spoon while I'm there with a noice cuppa tea, aye what.

How about you, my most beloved, adored and revered-by-thineself reader? What are you reading at the moment?
Do you talk to yourself? I don't mean the tapes-in-your-head so-low-you-don't-even-realise it incessant droning of your inner bastards telling you stupid things.

And I don't mean the type of talking to yourself that my Mum does in the kitchen and which I have taken to doing too. "Now, where was I? Oh, okay, here we are. How much butter? Three tablespoons," etc etc.

I'm talking about the sort of stuff you do in psychologists' offices where you sit an empty chair across from you and talk to whichever mad Gedarene of your soul (see previous poem) you are trying to understand. It's something I have begun doing quite regularly (although I skip the empty chair bit, trying as I am to keep myself out being admitted to the psych ward if possible). It goes sort of like this:

"Hmm, okay. I see you've slipped back into this feeling that there is something inherently wrong with you. You know, I can understand why you feel like that. Honestly, when I see what you built when you were young to keep yourself functioning, it's all quite impressive really. But you know it never really was going to survive forever. You know that. But it's okay, really. It's scary not knowing what will be built in its place. You don't even trust half the time that anything CAN be built in its place. Something out of nothing. You will just have to wait and see and hope. And hey, you know what? That feeling you have that there is something inherently wrong with you? It's a lie. It really is. It's a lie. Watch and see what God does."

And blah blah blah. This ongoing, spelling out obviousnesses to myself, has become quite a lovely thing for me to do. Do you do this with yourself? The comfort I feel, it makes me feel safe, you know? As if I'm on my own side. The things I see when I do it, it's like how I feel when I sit down and write and realise that I know and think and remember much more than I thought I did about a particular subject. This is the same sort of thing. It's like conversing with my dreamscape. It's as if the kingdom of heaven is within me.

Always We Begin Again

2 comments

Friday, 3 July 2009

I'd slept after I woke
amongst the rocks, but always
I begin again; I picked across to
where I bade me look, into the well
and in I fell.

I dragged myself round
amongst the Gedarene tombs.
There she was; she'd tried wrapping
herself in cheap veils made from
Beijing smog.

I enfold the madwoman's hand.
While we're gone may He make her
a dress and make us a cairn,
a mark to note the summit of the
beautiful mountain.

No Logo

2 comments

It's a strange phenomenon but as soon as I see something has a logo, I do not want to be a member of it any more.

(Of course I make an exception for Communitas, hehe :)

It feels sort of like the same as Groucho Marx saying he doesn't want to be a member of any group that will have him as a member, hehe :) Maybe I'm just being some privileged middle-class tryin' to be cool emergent sort of person, I dunno. But it feels to me like the less organised, the better. The less red tape, the less you can feel yourselves all being sucked into the inevitable system of conformity.

Yawn.

Anyone starting a revolution anytime soon? I need a bit of excitement :)

Hey, happy Friday everyone. Wheeeeeee!!! I am looking forward to the weekend, doing some sculpting, doing an artist date, doing movie going, doing footy going (my football team's Premiership hangover continues. We are, I fear, already in preseason training for 2010), doing vacuuming, doing impro watching, doing art therapy, doing banana bread making, doing enjoying myself and having some fun, yah!


I'll go a revolution, though, if there's one going on Sunday afternoon between my artist date and Sunday Arts on the teev ;)

Law in Grace Clothing??

7 comments

Thursday, 2 July 2009

I was just debating in the shower why it is that that phrase that Christians trot out, Love God, Love Others, as what we are to do, why it is that it sounds like a two-legged tripod.

Of course, really, that's the law, isn't it. It's another sort of spreadsheet-type thing that we can put on our to-do lists. Have I loved God today? Tick. Have I been nice to the little old lady down the street? Tick.

Sometimes I think Love God, Love Others is some sort of thing we do to keep God over there. It's a sort of a continuum on which are all sorts of things, like, for example, a man buying his wife flowers because he's been sleeping with the woman in Accounts.

Does this sound harsh and indictable? It is not an indictable offence. It is just how we operate. We are wily, we will keep God away from us. He is terrifying in his Love.

Be Loved By God.

Now, that's a far different saucepan of salmon, isn't it :)

'Cos sometimes when you do that, you'll be unable to be nice to the little old lady down the street because you'll be too immersed in your own shit for a season. Being loved by God is a million spanners in your nicely constructed works, and being loved by God is the only way that you have anything authentic to pass onto the little old lady down the street. Otherwise, she'll still smell within your kindness the faint whiff of agenda.

And the world is heartily battled fatigued by the agendas of Christians.

The Red and the Blue

1 comment

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

I forgot all about this show until Andrea posted it on Facebook yesterday. Wheee!!! Memories! I loved this so; used to be mesmerised in front of it like a kid in front of cartoons. Did you guys in the Northern Hemisphere ever see this show?

But I love the red. He has crazy mood swings and anger management problems.

I have been soaking some bedding in the laundry trough. The plug is the right size for the sink, but still the water slowly leaches out the plughole, leaving only enough water to kick up a stink if I do not attend to it within the required couple of days. Which I do not. Instead I go to Horsham for a few days and when I return, the smell has stunk out my bathroom, that funny mouldy musty smell that takes me right back to 1987.

I was 16 impossibly young years old. Me and Jacqui had moved into a flat together. I cannot remember if there was a particular incident of mouldy wet washing that impaled the take-back into my brain. Maybe we had a continuous round of wet towels going on in our flat's bathroom. That flat is probably called an apartment now and asking 300 bucks a week rent, but back then it was just a run of the mill flat whose owner saw fit to rent it out to a couple of kids.

Obviously our parents must have co-signed. A photo of the time has my mother standing in the doorway on her first visit. She is wearing a green sleeveless cotton summer dress and looking pretty. She was the same age then as I am now, 38. She is thin-lipped, unsmiling. She must have lay awake worrying about her wayward, impetuous, wilful 16 year old daughter.

I was only a year older than my friend's daughter. Mein Gott, the horror doesn't really hit you until afterwards, how young you were. Of course, I was as independent then as I am now. More fearless. Reckless even. I look from my position of more calculated risk-taking and shudder. I shudder but I am envious too of the freshness, the fearlessness. Although necessarily accompanied by the rampant stupidity of a know-it-all who would not be told (hence my mother's thin-lippedness) there is a certain sort of a fondness for the me that was then. She was in a lot of pain, that girl. Dealing with some big stuff. Just a big kid, really, wanting to be loved, the way all sullen wounded teenagers want to be loved but do not have the words to ask, their pride standing between them and wiser adults like a giant rock. But geez, for all of that pain and youth, I can see even then the desire to know, to understand, myself and the world.

When our boyfriends came to stay (which was often) they would sit with us on the round plastic tub chairs that had been gifted to me by Auntie Dawn and Uncle Alec. Born to be my Baby by Bon Jovi is playing in my head as I write this. We must have been playing Slippery When Wet on high rotation on the stereo that crackled so badly when you turned up the volume. Bon Jovi and mouldy smells all mixed together today as I think about the time I lived with Jacqui, not even lasting the six month lease before I returned home once again. Such little fragments remembered of the whole time, but still, the feel of the whole time all coming back to me in a rush with that yukky bathroom smell.