Where They Create

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Saturday, 30 January 2010

Came across this website, Where They Create.  Photographer Paul Barbera documents the creative environments of artists and creatives.  Fascinating!


www.wheretheycreate.com

The Difference Between Food and Restaurants

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Thursday, 28 January 2010

I saw K tonight.  She has been homeless for I don't know how many years, has lost track of how old she is until her assessment worker told her today (55).  K is hoping that Centrelink are going to start paying her some sort of an allowance.  She has fallen through the cracks there.  They keep putting her on Newstart allowance even though I'm not real sure how you can manage to get a job when you are sleeping in a a park and showering in a train station and you don't know when your next meal will appear (tonight, it was a ham and tomato sandwich from some bloke from a nearby cafe.  They do look after her).

"Hey, will these fit you?"  K asked me, as we both sat on the ground with her artwork surrounding us.  She took out of her bag a pair of Ripcurl white jeans, ladies size 14.  Probably a pair I could fit into if I keep doing yoga for another month.

I have no idea how these jeans came to be in K's bag.  Apparently someone in the park had them.  But I took them, because I take everything K offers me - well, everything except one of the ham and tomato sandwiches.  It wouldn't keep till the next morning - not with tomato sogging it up, but I couldn't eat it because it was ham, I explained.  But most of the time I eat her food - last week we ate a nectarine each.  I'd rather take a pair of stolen white jeans that won't fit me for another three months than to say no to them because I want our friendship to be as equal as it can be.

We were both in happy spirits today.  K has had the flu earlier in the week and is struggling now to make up for the days she missed, bombed out on cold and flu tablets.  I bought a card off her today, one of her cool little designs she's doing now, $7.50 for a card with her awesome geometric designs on the front, hand drawn.  I slipped her another red lobster because she was struggling to keep up and then I will go and ask my mother for some money when I run out from gving K money but that's the trickle down effect, right?  :)

So we were both happy to see each other tonight.  I'm so out of the loop I sort of forgot it was Thursday night and I rounded the corner and there was K in her customary spot.  I walked up and said,

"What the hell are you doing here?  It's .... it's ... it's Thursday."  And we grinned at each other.  And K told me I bring her luck because while I was sitting there someone else slipped her 5 bucks and suddenly she was 25 up on what she was five minutes before, which was kind of cool.

And I'd had a shitty sort of a day seeing the thoughts go through my head about depressing things and over and over again having to say to myself, "Well, no, that's not true.  You're not a loser because of XYZ."  It's a bit of a theme at the moment with me.  The tail end of my depression and isolation and the thought monkeys are chattering.

But the flipside of chattering thought monkeys is walking outside of your workplace, and suddenly you think a thought - or maybe it thinks you - "The joy of the Lord is your strength."  And you could read that in the Bible, or someone could tell it to you from theirs, and it would have about as much resonance as a brick.  Because nothing from God comes secondhand, nothing.  But tonight, it thinks you, and you feel it, it resonates like a universe, and you feel God bubbling up in your chest like a fountain.  All that living water, and suddenly you feel it and it's like you are cloaked in this godness, and it encourages goodness, and you love everybody in the street suddenly, as if you'd just taken a few tokes on a joint, but it's not, it's just the heart bubbling.  And you think,

"Goodness me, how I have missed you."

The past several months have reminded you how black things can be when the presence of God is not felt.  When you don't even really believe that God is there.  When the numb looms up and threatens to overwhelm you.  When you think that maybe you are lost after all.  And then suddenly, out of the blue, there he is again.  Unshackleable.  He will not bend down and do your bidding, he will not.  And you can feel him laughing at you for thinking that he would, but he knows that you do not suffer from that misconception.  But you still try anyway, out of pure rabid frustration and hurt.  You try and he will not bend.  And he says,

"You have no idea what I doing, not in him, not in all the things you think you have an idea.  You have no idea what I am up to."

And so you walk to the train station.  And you realise that you have shifted your perspective from the train station back to your workplace and yet now here you are walking back to the train station again, and you have shifted from first person to second person and you think, ah, what the hell.  A bit of variety is always spicy.

And so you get to the station and suddenly, even though nothing is different and you still have the headache that has been plaguing you all day, and the tiredness from not having had enough sleep last night because you were out having a delightful day with your most beloved cousin, and even though you still feel like your heart is gaping open and ugly and you do not know what God is doing or if God is doing ... nothing is different and yet everything is different and suddenly you're back in the feeling again of being enveloped, and you know that in this space you do not need very much at all.

And you and K talk and chat and you are both happy and cheered to see each other and as you share your cheer it multiplies so that when you leave each other behind with a hug and a blowing of a kiss across the grey concrete of Flagstaff Station you are both twice as happy as you were before you saw each other.

And you talk a little abut God and about how you are feeling him bubbling away in your chest.

And K pounds lightly on her own and says that yes, she has no doubt that God is in here.

And then you go off on a philosophical ramble about the past three thousand years of human civilisation and how long it takes us as people to learn anything and you say that hey, isn't it funny how all these centuries and millennia God has been seen as a bastard and imagine if he is wonderful.  Now, there's  a concept.

And you agree that organised religion is a distortion of everything, the same way that bureaucracy is a distortion of our ability to be able to be and do for each other what is there waiting if only all the red tape would bugger off out of the way.  And then K says,

"I think that the difference between organised religion and the experience of God is like the difference between eating good food and then just being in a restaurant.

Don't forget," she calls as we walk away from each other.  "He's in here," pounding gently on her chest.

Looking Forward

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Tuesday, 26 January 2010

I got my first online dating kiss yesterday ... from a woman :)

I must say, I did think, "Hmmm.  Maybe I should give it a whirl."  Haha :)  But just ... ahh ... no, the actual physical reality of the situation ... no.  I don't think so.

I like men :)

Actually to be honest, although I am on a couple of dating sites and the thought of dating is so much less scary than it was even a couple of months ago, I really don't think I'm ready for it right now.  Well, you know, unless some wonderful guy came along, but I am still feeling rather strangely dark soul nighted about that aspect of my life ... and then Mark told me on Saturday he has the divorce form.  And so sometime soon we are going to go down and sign another piece of paper regarding our marriage which is the flipside opposite of the one we signed in hope 11 years ago.

It makes me cry just writing about it.  I know it is going to be an awfully emotional experience for both of us.  I know that both of us are dreading it.  I am learning to not use this as an opportunity to tell myself for the 1837th time that "I am a loser" or "I am a pathetic piece of shit" or "There is something wrong with me that will never be fixed" and all the other stuff I've been telling myself for the past three years.

No, none of those things are true.  But oh, if I could show you how cold it feels here, you would understand the door those thoughts find to enter into my mind.

But it is a blessing and a grace to be able to confront those thoughts and tell them that they speak false.  I am continually amazed at the power of my own thoughts. 

How awful we are to ourselves.  How easily awful.  I think we all develop propensities from the woundings we receive in life to tell ourselves these little lies that feel true because someone hurt us and told us by their actions that those things are true.  But they still remain ... thoughts and beliefs.  Unrealities imposed on us by others in my case.

The reality is what draws me.  The reality of Love.  I feel 14 million miles away from it all right now.  But that's okay I guess - I know S/He is there.  I know s/he is up to things too.  This is always the way it happens.  Dark nights of the soul are not conducive to perspective.  But the spirit still speaks, reminding.  We can look back at times we were amazed at the new freedom that has sprungupon us.  We can look at those times backward and know that they shall come forward also.

God Chanting

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Friday, 22 January 2010

I have just been chanting the word Om :)  The Hindus believe it was the sound that set everything in motion, that everything is tied up in, that extends out beyond everything.  The sound of God.

It was an interesting sort of an exercise, doing this chanting.  The observing part of me sat and laughed at the thought of what the me of 15 years ago would have thought about the me now.  Chanting om.  Doing yoga.  Reading Buddhist books.  Oh, dear, she's heading over into the great One World Religion that is coming upon the scene to deceive even the elect, if it was possible.

The sound you chant is actually in four parts.  The "A" sound vibrates in the belly;  the "O" sound vibrates in the chest;  the "U" sound vibrates in the throat (especially good for me, I'm weak in that area) and finally the "M" sound vibrates in the nasal passages and in the head.  A prayer that resonates after you have finished saying it.

I feel very centred afterwards.  The most beautiful feeling, the feeling that all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.  Whenever I enter into this space, I just know that everything ultimately will be fine.  It is a radically beautiful and peaceful space. Here, all good flows.  There does not feel like there is any lack here, no need to hang onto things, to people, to places.  Conversely, they do not have less value in my eyes for my lack of hanging onto them but take on even more beauty when I do not need to grasp them.

That centred feeling is the basis of creativity for me.  I must say, I do struggle with the creative process when it is lying fallow.  Even though I appreciate and understand the depths of everything, and that lying fallow is a chance to regroup and rest, I am not really happy and at peace until the waters start bubbling up again.  Which they are at the moment.  (Indeed, I have finished a 5000 word short story which is in draft form on my other blog, Discombobula.  I have a story idea that has bubbled itself up to the surface over the past few days, and bits and pieces begin adding themselves to it, like it's a giant magnet and I'm holding it up to see what sticks.  It is a delightful sort of a feeling.  This morning, also, I woke and had another idea in my head.  I am just about to go off - if I can rouse myself - to begin work on another sculpture piece.

It feels so good to be here at this space.  I can't begin to tell you how many times in the past three years I have seriously felt like I was maybe going to go mad, or just fall off the edge of the world.  The most dysfunctional and awful parts of me have been laid bare, like Israel with her skirts up over her head.  I have never been more terrified in my life, nor felt so dissassembled, like a giant Kinder Surprise toy.  I once thought that this was all working towards some sort of a purpose in dismantling the deepest things of me.  These days, I really don't know any more if that's the case.  If it is true, and God is working here in all the murk and muck, I cannot see it, and I cannot feel it.

But oftentimes, the best things hit you only in hindsight.  What a beautiful view it is, even though, as someone who I am trying to forget once quoted Saint Augustine as saying, it is "a sad privilege".

Wouldn't it be cool if ...

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Thursday, 21 January 2010

... we came to the end of the world and God was there ready to take us backwards and fix everything up?  Like, in some crazy cosmic space-time continuum end of the world unbelievable finale, where we get to enter literally into the redemption of the world by going back and amending what we've helped to break?

I mean, whatever way stuff happens, you know, but this would be kinda cool :D

Sleep Talkin Man

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Wednesday, 20 January 2010

I was put onto this blog by a workmate today.  It's written by a woman who has started documenting the nocturnal chatterings of her husband.  He regularly comes out with such doozies as:

"I want to be a cowboy. I don't want to be a panda. Pandas are boring, stupid and boring. Bad panda!"

"Can you hold... can you hold my starfish? It doesn't like it when I'm getting excited. Oh look, it likes you! Its legs are all cree-py cree-py."

"Hey, don't... don't say anything. Why don't you put it in an email, then I can ignore it at my pleasure."

"I feel all rolley polley rolley polley. rolley pony PONY.... Splat!"

"If I wanted to see a long nose and a big ass, I'd look at a horse."

"Butt cheeks ahoy! There she blows!"

"You can't be a pirate if you don't have a beard. I said so. MY boat, MY rules."

"We haven't got a plank. Just fucking jump."

"Yes I'm sad, but if you stood further away, I'd be happier. No, further away. Well, let's face it, just fucking C*^% OFF! Thank you, I appreciate it."

And that's just from the past couple of days.  Lovely and mild-mannered during the day, a foul-talkin' pirate at nighttime.  You gotta love that.

Sleep Talkin' Man

Freecycle

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Anyone here use Freecycle?  It's a Yahoogroup where people list their unwanted items to give away or items that they want.  No money is allowed to change hands in the transaction.  It's a pretty cool thing.  There are all sorts of different things that change hands:  unwanted mobile phone chargers, furniture, computer parts, kitchen items.  I've got quite a few things off Freecycle and given a few away as well.

My inner musical Nazi laughed judgmentally when I saw someone's wanted listing yesterday:  a copy of Kenny Rogers' You Decorated My Life.

Now, it's just me, but that song sort of makes me feel funny, a little bit Sunday afternoonish, a little bit sort of headachey and queasy.

But hey, to each their own, right?  Variety, spice of life, all that :)

++++

In other non-related news, my little bout of feeling like God is maybe not there has just ... well, gone, and I am back to where I was before.  How strange is that?  Still, I would much rather follow these paths down even into dark spaces than to stay in the safety of not testing what I believe.  Because now I feel safer than I did before ...

The Undercutter

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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Jesus undercut the basis for all violent, exclusionary and punitive behavior.  He became the forgiving victim, so we would stop creating victims ourselves.  He became the falsely accused one, so we would be careful whom we accuse.  

Any worldly system actually prefers violent partners to nonviolent ones; it gives them a clear target and a credible enemy. Empires are actually relieved to have terrorists to shoot at and Barabbas figures loose on the streets.  Types like Jesus, Martin Luther King and Gandhi make difficult enemies for empires.  They cannot be used or co-opted.  

The powers that be know that nonviolent prophets are a much deeper problem because they refuse to buy into the very illusions that the whole empire is built on, especially the myth of redemptive violence.  Like Jesus, they live instead a life of redemptive suffering.

Richard Rohr

How Did I Live Without YouTube???

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Monday, 18 January 2010

Today at the tennis with my mum, we sat in front of these two German guys who just would not shut up for anything longer than five seconds at a time.  Three hours of incessant talking when everyone else around them was respectfully whispering and I was starting to get a little pissed off, I must say, and turning around and glaring etc etc.

It got me a musical craving though.  Berlin.  Dancing in Berlin.  How did I ever itch these scratches before except by coming home and fast-forwarding through all my music videos to find the film clip ... which I never had? But now - so easy!!  Easy peasy Japanesey.  Come home, click on YouTube, type in the request, and voila.

This was a cool song.  They were a good band.  Except for that naughty song.

Mullet alert.  Moustache alert.  Dual coloured hair alert (how cool was her hair???)  Creepy Thompson Twins-style haircut alert.  Bad eighties fashion alert (white jumpsuits.  Goodness me)  Terri Nunn flashing her undies alert (like, as if that never happened).

I think that's the alerts covered :)

Boundaries

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A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone
~ Henry David Thoreau

Anyone read Walden here?  It's sort of been on my to-read list for ever but I haven't got there yet.  The snippets I come across from this man though, such as this one, make me think I should be bumping it up the list.

What wisdom there is in this.  It's not on a materialistic level where this hits home for me most most profoundly but on a spiritual interpersonal level.  See, I have this desire and liking to help people. Up on my list of the 10 things that make me feel the best, knowing I have helped someone rates up there.  It's all tha gooey "I'm not just a waste of gimpy space" thing that gets all tied in with feeling the golden threaded interconnection of us all and of God and us all that just curls my toes with pleasure, you know?  Along with that, I've been blessed with a few not-inconsiderable talents that mean that I can be a real help and a healing to people in need sometimes.  I like to pray for people when the occasion springs itself at me and as I go on further and further into spiritual abject heresy I find my repertoire of how that plays out expanding.  I can feel in my body what other people are feeling if I tune myself in.  Sometimes the best sort of prayer is sharing in that sort of suffering.  It feels like this amazing privilege of God flowing through me, embodying him/herself in you.  A privilege.  A real privilege.

I guess sometimes though I don't always know easily where it ends.  Along with this gift I have this quite ridiculous overdeveloped sense of responsibility when it comes to the wellbeing of others sometimes.  It is difficult to do only what I sense I are being asked to do and to then leave the rest alone.  It's difficult to switch off from people who are in need.  But then it's difficult not to without burning myself out in 10 seconds flat.  That's partially why this introverted extrovert needs a lot of down time away from other people.  I still haven't quite mastered the arts of tuning others out when I need to.  I do it for a while and then I forget how important it is to do it.  Suddenly I realise I am frazzled around other people, I am feeling things that I wonder where they came from and sometimes I don't realise until later that what I really needed to do was shut everyone else out because I needed to only feel myself feeling for a while instead of picking up on other people's stuff.

So, you think I'm a loony yet?  :)

Sometimes you can just help too much.  Sometimes you can be doing yourself and others damage by helping too much.  This is where wisdom is called for.  Come in off the street for a while, will ya, wisdom, and sit down a while (milk with your tea?)  I need to hear you on all of this.

How about you?  Anything you're whistling down wisdom about at the moment?

The Breath

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Saturday, 16 January 2010

I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for two decades.  That's two decades of shoving evil tasting and smelling sticks into my mouth and lighting them and breathing in.  Not the most rational of acts.  They say that now, after five years of abstinence, my risk of stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker.  Even after doing that to myself for 20 years.  Amazing.  Quite forgiving, really.

I started smoking when I was 13 years old.  First off it was just a few here and there, a puff with the buddies at school, a stealing of my friend Karen's father's cigarettes when he wasn't looking.  Going with Karen down to the little park a few doors down to sit on the swings and moan about boys and smoke.  On weekends we would go and buy a pack of Alpine menthols for $1.78.  But by the time I was a veteran of 15 or 16 I was smoking at home (oh, my poor mother) and smoking at work, too - how strange to think of myself, working as a typesetter, with a burning cigarette almost always on the go beside me.  Goodness me, smoking in the office is as antiquated a concept as the giant 20cm (8 inch) floppy disks onto which we were saving our work.

From the time I was 16 until I was 34 I smoked a pack a day.  Yukky.  How irritating to break up each and every day into 30 minute increments to sit and puff on a fag.  In one way it was irritating;  in another it was one of the things that concerned me most about quitting - how would I legitimately get that time-out throughout the day if I was a non-smoker?  No smoke breaks at work.  Where would the buffer zone be?  I quickly worked out that I was going to have to rejig the way I thought about stuff and factor in some legitimate down times when I needed to throughout the day.

These thoughts came after I'd had CFS for years and years and smoked my way through it, dragging myself up to go outside.  Man, I even smoked my way through such a bad bout of tonsillitis I thought I'd swallowed a cutlery shop full of knives.  I was so ill, and yet I'd get up, and go outside, and have a cigarette, dragging the harsh and even worse than usual acridity in past my poor raw throat that killed me when I swallowed.  Hmm.

You know the thing about smoking relaxing you?  It's just not true.  Oh, it feels true, sure, but the strangest thing of all, the ultimate irony of smoking, must be that the relaxation more than anything comes from the fact that you're doing deep breathing for five minutes at a time.  That you're inhaling noxious fumes in the process is really just a sideline.

I often think about smoking when I'm trying to break habits.  You know what they say about habits taking 21 days to form or break?  I suppose that's probably about right for the thoughts to stop assailing you every third second until you think your head's gonna flip off.  That was a hurdle that bumped me once or twice in my quitting attempts.  The next couple of times were stranger and more humiliating - quitting for five or six months at a time until one day the urge, the shiny whisper - just one.  You're strong enough now that you can handle just one.  Just a puff at a party, or whatever.  Then, just one cigarette, botted off a friend.  Then just a pack 'cause you're going out.  Just one and then a month later you're back on for good until you can muster yourself again to give it another go, another year or two down the line.  

The ultimate quitting thing for me was a book.  Written by Allan Carr and called The Only Way to Quit Smoking Permanently, it dispelled all the illusions for me until I had nowhere to hide, no smokescreens left.  After that, I saw a way clear.  I recommend that book even though my inner proofreader and typesetter was aghast at the awful grammar and horrible layout.  Atrocious.  Every second paragraph bolded and underlined until you thought your eyes would explode.  But anyway ...

I was thinking about smoking earlier when I was standing at the sink doing dishes.  I have got in the habit lately of occasionally checking in on my breath.  So often I notice that I am either holding my breath or breathing into my chest, shallowly.  Yoga practice and meditation practice are both clueing me into a more conscious awareness of my breath, of how it directly and totally influences my mind and emotions when i breathe into my stomach, flooding my body with oxygen (just not too much.  The Sweet were right:  you get too much you get too high :)

I think a great deal about my breath lately because ... well, because there is something so wonderfully spiritual about the practice of breathing.  The ruach.  I like to think that the Holy Spirit is as close as my breath, maybe so close as to be undifferentiated from my breath.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.

In meditation practice there is a method for stilling your mind whereby you block one nostril while you breathe in, and then block the other one as you breathe out.  After several cycles in this fashion you reverse the order so that each nostril gets its turn of in breath and then out breath.  I practised it the other night.  It is said to help balance and calm the mind and that was certainly the case.  My friend Jane practises this when she cannot sleep, when she has the CFS jitters, the jingly jangly anxiety that races throughout every nerve in your body and which was by far the worst symptom of all, as far as I am concerned, in the crap bag of CFS symptoms.

But the breath.  Always coming back to the breath.  The coolness of the in-breath, the warmth as you breathe out.  The simplicity of it.  It is this sort of simplicity, the very small things, that bring me back to God after weeks-long temper tantrums.  He's just there, underneath it all, when I get small and silent enough, when I tune into my mind as an ocean, my breath as gift.

Strutter

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Yesterday, as the train pulled out of Footscray Station taking me home, I watched a pigeon, businesslike, walk in its bizarre Egyptian way down the middle of the platform.  Heading towards what I don't know, but it sure had a strutting but relaxed purpose about it.

Sometimes the smallest of things ground me into the earth. The way a pigeon can walk in that awfully jarring way and be relaxed at the same time 'cause that's just how it is in pigeonland.  The criss-crosses on the side of their necks.  That sort of thing.

Laser Eye Surgery

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Friday, 15 January 2010

Anyone had laser eye surgery here?  Or know anyone who has?

My eyes are getting worse and I really need to look into either getting myself some glasses to wear semi full-time or else the laser thing.  Because sheesh, I just know it's gonna be one of those things that after I do it I will be breathing relief sighs and wondering why I didn't do it earlier. 

I like the thought of laser on a philosophical level - light healing my eyes :)  But on a physical level, it creeps me out.  And it's a relatively new technology, and I've heard that it doesn't always last.  So I'm a bit hesitant on a couple of fronts.

So, any experiences you care to recount?

Flaky Clay

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Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Yesterday morning I woke with the last vestiges of a dream in my head.  A hand, mine or someone else's, very finely sculpting an almost-finished figure.  Just like I had been doing for several hours the night before.  The slightest of pressure on the cheek area, and tiny flakes of nearly-dry clay were falling to the ground.  And I thought, "This is how I am.  Not so much a pile of mushy clay, but these, like these flakes.  A sort of a gentle falling to the ground and dying.  These flakes are dying and so shall I."

It was a rather melancholy sort of a dream.  There were tears.  I arrived first day back at work later that morning to the news that one of my workmates, Toni, has inoperable pancreatic and liver cancer.  I do not know how much time she has.  Her youngest child is two or three years old.  The photos that adorned her cubicle space are already gone, her name tag taken down, all signs of her workaday monotone plod gone.

No more work for Toni in 2010.  Apparently she had found out just before Christmas.  Had gone to the doctor's complaining of feeling bad and whammo. Mary was the one who told me, before I started my work for the day.   I squatted next to her death and we talked of death bringing everything home, about the frailty and fragility of life, its mystery (what the hell is this about), about the fact that one of our workmates dying brings into even starker relief the dreariness of our everyday work lives.  I resolved to move on as soon as possible.  To get out of that place.  To believe that there is something else out there for me to do before it's my turn to drop off the perch. 

Life is, after all, too short.  The longer it goes on the more mysterious it gets.

I cried at God earlier, asking him why, in this current state of melancholy I am in (oh, do they ever end, dear reader?) it feels as though he is not even there, that he just patently does not give a shit.

No answer.

Okay, then.  Have it your way.

So we move on, we put one foot in front of the other so often living in this strange world of plenty and total lack, we yearn towards life.  We do not know what we yearn for, but for life and for love.  For connection.  For meaning.  For the deeply held cry within all of our hearts that these lives we live have value, that every one of us has value, that God is always working even when lately it seems like he is not even there at all.

But still I meditate.  I breathe in, "mother God/father God" and I breathe out.  I pray.  I pray to a God who does not seem to be talking to me at the moment but perhaps for all I know he is saying all sorts of things and I cannot quite hear them yet.  Whatever.  I am angry and that's all there is to it.  Perhaps that is why I cannot hear.  What the bloody hell do I know?

But I know and have learnt one thing, and it's that these flakes of clay get to be angry, are safe to be angry at God when that is what I feel.  God, who is more baffling than ever to me right now, and who I feel has forsaken me, but in the end you have to just bow and say, What the bloody hell do I know?

The way we bow down to death, the way a reed bows down to the wind.  And welcoming it too.  Defining our lives.  The approach of death, pushing us towards life.

Back to Work

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Monday, 11 January 2010

Well, it's back to work for me tomorrow.  Ack, it's not so bad, I guess.  A few ideas on the horizon so that the same old same old doesn't necessarily stretch ahead of me all year.  So many more opportunities and options this year than the last, simply because my mindset is better, my emotions more grounded.  Here's to a good 2010 with bits of adventure in it *clink*.

I had a good, decent sort of a break.  Two and a half weeks is long enough to feel rested, but because I didn't have a whole lot of cash this year, it's not been the most exciting of holidays.  Indeed, the sort of holiday I would have liked was probably the opposite of what it was, but for all that I do feel rather rejuvenated.  I hope next year I am off abseiling or snorkelling with a naked man some good company.  Something that feels stretching, but only because I haven't done lots of exciting things for a while.  I have a good feeling about this year.

I've missed writing here in depth but I haven't had much to say lately.  The creative blog juices are still there, however, and I am looking forward to stirring some of the backburner pots and crapping on at you soon, dear reader.  I've actually recently finished a short story that I shall put on my other blog when I've redrafted the latest version (is looking to be about 5000 words in the end, which is pretty cool and feels wonderful considering I couldn't finish anything for so long).  I'm also in the middle of a rather long-taking sculpture which is pretty fun, and there's several more ideas in the pipeline.

I chatted on the phone to Kel today for the first time!  It was lovely to put a face to the name.  She is as nice and lovely as I thought she would be (and especially considering she'd just been attacked at the dentist's.)  I hope next time we chat we can actually get together instead of me piking because I'm exhausted and it's too hot (wuss).

However, it was 43 degrees here today (109F).  Bit of cabin fever 'cos really, what the hell can you do in that sort of heat except stay inside?  All I've done all day is lie on the couch, watch movies, watch TV, sleep and read.  And of course, as is usual for a night owl, it hits 7.30 pm and I manage to fit three hours sculpting in :)

How 'bout you?  How you goin'?

The Tragic Gap

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Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Jesus is both a dual thinker and a non-dual thinker. You’ve first got to know how to clarify thought and then also how to move beyond it. Jesus spoke very much as a Jewish prophet. What the prophet is invariably doing is clarifying our choices for us, putting them before us in often clear dualistic choices (sheep or goats, life or death, heaven or hell, as it were). The journey of the soul has an urgency and ultimacy about it, which many people still miss, as we see every day.

But Jesus doesn’t stop with dualistic choices. After he has put you on the horns of the dilemma, he opens the horizon further. You have to hold the moment and suffer the moment, which is usually neither fight nor flight, but a mysterious and wonderful third way! You have to feel the tension to choose beyond the tension. And then, as Parker Palmer says, you learn to fill “the tragic gap” with simple presence (not answers!).

The prophet first of all shows you the tragic gap and then Jesus teaches you how to stand in the middle and pay the price yourself for its resolution. This is so hard to teach that he finally had to visibly do it on the cross before we could get the point: the horizontal arms of the cross are the two sides of every dilemma, the vertical line is the third way, and the way through.

Richard Rohr, adapted from Exploring the Naked Now webcast

Online dating

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Monday, 4 January 2010

How come so far the profiles that I have read and thought, "Ooh, okay then, this sounds promising," all fall apart when I get to "religion:  atheist"??

That is so not fair!  :)

Impermanence

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Sunday, 3 January 2010

I am joining with Tess, Lucy, Kel, Barbara and Christine, who have all chosen, or had chosen for them, a word for the coming year.  Something to immerse yourself in and learn from, to explore the intricacies of.

When I read these posts this morning I did not have a word for myself.  But now, it comes to me late this afternoon: impermanence.

So much of our suffering comes from a certain sort of rigidity.  Expectations.  A belief, perhaps even subconscious, that things should or do somehow always stay the same.  That leopards do not change their spots.  That we are always going to be the same.

I do not generally hold to that view.  And yet ... and yet ... deep within, there are cords that pull me this way and that, into this thought and that feeling, that it should be like this because this serves me.  I have defined and confined and categorised and labelled this, and when it changes, it unsettles me.

I have had some amazing experiences over the past several years of seeing people I know, intimately and acquaintedly, change in ways I would not have quite believed in a part of me even while the other higher part of me has believed in the process or applauded the outcome.  So much of my own suffering over the past decade of difficulty - depression, grief, anger, fear - has come from things being other than I expected.

I have been looking at myself, too, meditating upon certain thoughts and beliefs I hold that, once held and examined from different spaces, simply fall into dust.  The Western conception is often quite rigid, it seems to me.  Things are as we see them now, personalities are fixed, that person will always be nice and that person will always be irritating.

But yet, quantum mechanics tells us that the table we are looking at is more empty space than it is table particles.

This can possibly seem to be a rather cold way of looking at things, or at least a rather uncomfortable one.  Our egoes desire security, for the things in front of us and inside us to be concrete, unchanging.  We have defined ourselves and we do not wish to redefine ourselves or others.  We box ourselves in without realising it.  We believe we see the world as it really is, but how much do our thoughts and ideas about a person or a situation change from one day to the next?

Everything is in flux.  And once you cotton onto that idea, life is an exciting, wonderful, amazing thing.

So, that's my word for the year, impermanence.  As counterintuitive as it may seem, there is certainly a place of serenity to sit in an ever-in-flux world.  I look forward to examining the nature and strange beauty of impermanence through the coming year.

I loved reading about others words for the year.  Tess's is hospitality.  Lucy's is water.  Kel's is sanctuary.  Barbara's is joy.  Christine's is sovereignty.
... the millions of people on dating sites who claim to love walks along them???

Haha :)  Yes, I have joined a couple of dating sites.  It makes me laugh, the things people write.  If every single person on every dating site was on the beach at once, the whole thing would cave in.  And every single person is honest on there too ~ the law of averages says someone's got to be telling some porkies* there :)

(Porky pie = lie)