Friday, 28 May 2010

I was watching Grand Designs Revisited last night (oh, how I love thee, Grand Designs :)  There was a man who lived and worked in the forest.  He cared for the trees, resold branches and charcoal.  For the past 10 years he had lived rough, under a tarp, or in a leaky caravan.  And now he was building himself a house in the forest.

This man enlisted the help of many volunteers to craft something simple.  Everything to build it was taken from the forest surrounding.  The A-frame was joisted up by hand and rope, with not one large piece of earthmoving equipment in sight.  It was all very hands-on and quite inspiring to me, in many ways.  (Although that's not to say that he was an architectural technophobe:  the clay to smooth on the inside of his walls was taken from the creek at the bottom of his land by a big Tonka vehicle;  the wood for the frame, the walls, the roof and floors was chainsawed down and the floors, though hammered in by hand, were planed and had the nail holes put into them by a drill so as to prevent splitting).

What emerged after seven or so months was something that closely resembled my dream house.  Totally simple, and very beautiful, the antithesis to a McMansion.

The insulation between the outside walls and the inside plasterwork was barley straw bales and pulped up newspaper and phone books.  Something has been resonating in me ever since about those bales.   It's got me wondering (and maybe even contemplating a visit to the paintbox to see what, if anything, my cave spaces think of this) - what is the best process for a sensitive human soul to fortify their walls?

I want the answers to that to all come at once, and to come for good.  A pill to take once, and everything is fixed.  A McMansion solution.  Move your stuff in after the builders have left the site.  The alternative is frustrating, and yet much more inspiring.  The alternative is walking into the answers as they are required. The second way takes a lifetime, the crafting by hand of walls, of roof, of floorboards, of your own habitation.

The fortifying answers come, over months and years, as I make space, make myself quiet, carve it out.  The next step to take.  Or no step to take at all.  The wisdom of my inner self astounds me.  It goes so deep.  I have discarded so much of Christianity (it seems) that sometimes all is left are some choice life-reverberation words of Jesus (sometimes I think the Bible could simply contain a couple of verses - the kingdom of God is within you, love your enemies - and we have our work cut out for us our entire lives without the need for all the other sideline stuff, all those stupid verses of Paul forbidding women to teach, etc etc.

And yet something tells me that doctrine is like a McMansion.  We want prefab.  But Christianity as doctrine has about as much soul as the two-storey monstrosity I walked past on Duke Street last night.  All straight, cold lines, and little warmth.

I seem to have come upon an inability and antipathy to read anything these days which talks about a male God written by a white male.  It's just where I'm at right now, dealing with the next layer of rage.  But there is little space for me there.  There never has been.  And yet what remains underneath all of that is still the very small voice within. It runs so next to and entwined within my Self that I can barely tell the two apart.  Maybe I'm deluding myself and there is no God speaking there.  But whatever it is, it is my experience, and it is part of the fortification I continue to plug my walls with.

Love Yourself - Not an Optional Extra


Friday, 14 May 2010

Selfishness and self-love, far from being identical, are actually opposites.  The selfish person does not love himself too much but too little;  in fact he hates himself.  This lack of fondness and care for himself, which is only one expression of his lack of productiveness, leaves him empty and frustrated.  He is necessarily unhappy and anxiously concerned to snatch from life the satisfactions which he blocks himself from attaining.  He seems to care too much for himself, but actually he only makes an unsuccessful attempt to cover up and compensate for his failure to care for his real self.  Freud holds that the selfish person is narcissistic, as if he had withdrwn his love from others and turned it towards his own person.  It is true that selfish persons are incapable of loving others, but they are not capable of loving themselves either.
Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving
The black:  on Tuesday I got an email from the people who I do transcription work for, telling me that my work has been so below par the previous few weeks that if I didn't lift my game, they would not be requiring my services anymore.  It was pretty nice to have my boyfriend there to blubber all over when I got that one.

The white:  the very next day I got an email from the editor at MX newspaper (the local freebie that is distributed at train stations) telling me he was printing one of my train stories!  Not for any payment, mind, but hey, money ain't everything, even when you're not sure how the hell you're going to pay your rent (again).  But wow, a whole stack of people read my words on Tuesday evening on the train.  That's some sort of (scary) buzz :)

Life, it just doesn't come out all neatly packaged in sitcom-sized portions, does it?  But there's always so much good going on that to be focussed on the negative dilutes the positive.  And the timing couldn't have been better for that second email; it sweetened the bitterness of the first.

And the first gave me an opportunity to understand a few things about myself, to redouble my work efforts (it is all hunky dorey on that front once again).  But even better, an opportunity to incrementally toughen up and suck it up when I'm criticised instead of taking it quite so personally;  that's a sore spot for me, unfortunately, but that is improving as I am getting older. I am so grateful for the people in my life who help me along to seeing things clearer when I'm wallowing in my weak spots;  there is just no possible price that can be placed on them.  They are, quite simply, priceless.

Is that a Souvlaki in your Pocket ...


Wednesday, 12 May 2010

... or are you just pleased to violate me?

I think I'll take the job at Mickey D's instead, if you don't mind.

They may not have a printer that proofreads well.  Nevertheless, Souvlaki Hut sure makes a damn good souvlaki :)

Update:  On my most recent trip to Souvlaki Hut a few days ago, there was a blank space where this poster was.  Coincidence?  I wonder :)

An Anti-Advertisement Advertisement


Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Dear consumer,

You are so much more than that.  Yes, you have needs and wants and desires.  You feel insecure about things, you fear this strange little life that, though extremely safe from our perspective, still offers up death as an absolute 100% bona fide experience you're gonna take whether you're denying it or not.

And yeah, I know.  Out the other end, it is extremely safe, but that can quickly head into boredom because extremely safe also means extremely sanitised.

This is where the precariousness of life can hold some sort of exhilaration.  Nothing lasts forever.  Even good things that wend their way through an entire lifetime morph and grow and die and rebirth as they go.

This, this is a beautiful thing.

But even if we're uninspired by our lives - and geez, for how many people is it not, these days?  Have we ever been a more humourless, anxious lot? - that purchase you buy, the one you're dreaming out, it's not gonna fill the hole.  Just like the last one didn't fill the hole.  Do you remember what the last thing you bought was?  See how it's lost its lustre underneath all the other stuff that's also lost its lustre now it's sitting on your bench or in your cupboard?

But hey, this is a good thing.  Because it shows to you the limits of consumerism.  It shows  you what every wisdom tradition in the world has taught, that we are way beyond our riches.  Perhaps we are even made of stars.

"Consumer" just doesn't cut it.  You are way more than that.  But, you know that already.

You have enough.  You really do.  In fact, part of the problem is that you have too much.  Buying something else will not ease the pain.  It never does.

You have enough.    There is a beautiful, amazing expanse contained within this one simple phrase.  More satisfaction to be gained traversing through this plain than the next thing you're gonna buy could ever deliver.

[Pan out into long shot of something beautiful and delightful and exciting and nature-ish to ease you out of the 30 second slot into the next ad that will try to sell you something you don't need.  And which may very likely use long shots of beautiful and delightful and exciting and nature-ish things to sell it to you]