Thursday, 28 October 2010

So, life's not really worth living without something to stretch you out a little, I tend to reckon.

That's when I'm not having a week curled up inside my house, fortressing myself, overcome by the conspiracy theories :)

I couldn't take on a whole lot of challenges for a while there.  Sickness, then recovering from the sickness.  That's a decent decade where it couldn't happen.  But things are starting to change ...

The latest challenge is a job I applied for earlier this week.  Depending on my fear levels and my mood, I either really want this job, or really don't want it.  It's with a not-for-profit organisation who provides low-cost housing to people.  From what I can gather these are mostly rooming houses.  My job would involve going out to the rooming houses when required, helping people where need be, acting as intermediary between them and the support services they need to keep their tenancy operational.

Of course, the occupants of rooming houses are people shooing up meth, people having psychotic episodes, people without connections, salt of the earth people who, the longer this weirdness we call modern culture goes on, seem the most sane among us all.  The ones who fall through the cracks, and the ones who I am drawn to.

One of the questions I was asked in the interview (you know how these things go, they give you the worst case scenario, trying to scare you off) was:  "What would you do if you came across a dead body in one of the rooms?"  Another question was, "What would you do if someone was coming at you with a weapon?"

Ho hum.  I didn't want another boring desk job :)

I am basically scared witless about this.  I console myself with the idea that I probably won't get the job, considering I did not even fit the selection criteria to begin with.  Part of me is terrified that I will.

So tell me, what's going on with you at the moment?  What's happening in your life to challenge your fears, rattle your inner demon cages, get you sitting up straight, eyes afire, terrified out of your wits?

Pray do tell ...

Growth Rhythms

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Wednesday, 27 October 2010

I had a phone conversation last night with someone who presses all of my buttons.  I was tired at the end of a challenging day.  They began talking about their agnosticism, that they are an agnostic rather than an atheist like our Prime Minister, and usually I like those sorts of conversations but this one was cramping me up, being alcohol-fuelled from their end.  I find I need to forgive this person constantly and regularly for so spectacularly failing in life, failing me, that all of their conversations must be conducted from the neck of a bottle.  And needing to forgive myself that their attempts at connection make me feel this way.

If those expectations hadn't got in the way, as they sometimes do, I think my end of the conversation would have gone something along the lines that for me, the greatest evidence for the existence of God is in the awesome mechanics of cell duplication, in the world of nature, in the golden thread that occurs between humans who are turned to face each other.  That the best evidence is on the inside where it can't be proven, within communion.

But I don't talk that way to this person, and how could I say those things to them -- though I do know and readily understand that they respect my intelligence and opinions -- when my body, if I am turned to face them, incites headaches and stomach churning?  That I despise them for producing only this counterfeit communication, that talking with someone under the influence of secondary items feels like dealing in laundered money, or pirated DVDs, or looking at paintings that are forgeries?

So I guess I need to forgive myself for my lack of response.  I guess, after all, it turns out that I am not a continuously gushing fount of love and compassion.

I still do, however, feel inside, whether rightly or as some believe delusionally, that there is a godde who is a continuously gushing fount, connected to all.  It feels so often to me on the inside that this godde, she fills out the spaces where my own nerve endings are frayed, the golden thread connecting disconnection.  And so I guess I feel a little sad that I couldn't rise to the occasion past the hump of my disappointed expectations to have a moment's shimmer in that shared space where everyone lives, from my perception.

But not this time.  Sometimes my rightly-held and justified feelings rise up and cut the golden thread off at the pass.

Which is just the isness of it all.  The world is full of passes for us to be cut off at, or that we cut ourselves off at, and there is no shame in that, despite the reality-denying culture and my own soul's critic saying otherwise.  That culture neither understands nor respects laying fields fallow, or turning off the lights, or lying down to sleep that knits the ravelled sleeve of care.  And so how would it understand the rhythm and pace of humans, the way we work and heal, the way all that works?  Geez, that teenage culture has as its religion a god that plonks down a hell at the end of life to aid conformity and recalibrate the expectations while disallowing the space for them to be fulfilled.  Everything to be fulfilled by the end of life, like the clocking-off in a factory and the end of one little life, puny and glorious even with the aid of beeping things and pacemakers and pretense, still ending in a last gasp and rattles.

The culture expects a return on its investment like a Baby Boomer in the property market while denying the required rhythms of growth, just like its version of a god expects a return on his white-bearded hydroponic investment, a paying up of a perfect life lived under fluorescent lights, out of the rain, the coming of night and the rising of the sun afterwards, followed by the descent of the light, the coming of the velvet dark, the rising again of the golden sun of the morning.

The reality, I suspect, is somewhere a little more comfy than divide and conquer strategies.  A place for us to breathe in time with the rhythm of the earth's breath.  Beautiful, and messy, just how we yearn.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Christians are not called to empty the mind or to see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate upon the Word of God – an external Word that comes to us by divine revelation – not to meditate by means of incomprehensible syllables
Mark Driscoll, Seattle megapastor

I wonder what sort of person results when you live your life feeling that it's potentially eternally destructive to have a calm, uncluttered mind, and to live centred inside your body, and that God can or will send you (but probably not you though, but definitely others) to hell at the end of your life?

I do not know how a frail human being can live under the weight of that terrain.  Surely it must erode our ability as lovers and respecters and nourishers, of others, ourselves, and the earth.  This sort of paranoid cultural religion blinds you to be able to less readily see God or beauty or cohesion anywhere, or in anything.  It creates a person unsafe inside their very own body and mind, not allowed to make mistakes.  A potential control freak or life raper.

One Day's Head-Breaking Internet History


Friday, 15 October 2010

When I think back over yesterday, it actually feels like a reasonably standard sort of a day.  I began it with a two-hour indulgence in some creativity.  I followed it up with some meditation, then some work, then some yoga, then some more work, and then came the evening where I was online for a reasonable amount of time, chatted to my beloved, did some reading.  A reasonably uneventful sort of a day, I guess, looking in from the outside.  The sort of day I like, where I have plenty of time to do the things that matter to me, all while being able to work from home (I work transcribing court cases for a company in Brisbane here in Oz).

But even though in reality I had oodles of time yesterday to go slowly through it, the way I like, it felt full and constricted.  And when I look at my internet search history for yesterday, it explains exactly why I feel that way.

A rough count of yesterday's internet browsing reveals that I looked at over 600 pages yesterday.  SIX - HUNDRED - PAGES!!

Now, to qualify a little here, to rationalise the unrationalisable.  I guess when I look at the data, yesterday was a little out of the ordinary.  There were a few rather involved and specialised searches going on that involved a lot of trawling through different pages.  Firstly, my partner and I are escaping the pre-Christmas insanity this year, going away a few days before Christmas and coming back when the whole sorry empty consumerism is over.

Searching for accommodation online is fantastic.  Just a few mouse clicks ... or maybe a few hundred.  Because it's sort of hard to stop, once you start.  There's always one more place to look at, even though you've enquired at 25 of them and at least a couple will surely be suitable for you.

Another large component of those ridiculous 600 pages were work-related.  In my transcription work we need to check the correct spelling of all proper names.  And so yesterday involved heaps of searches for names, and streets, and checking to see if what the witness is asking for is really a "Mareva injunction" (it was).

I was also doing a fair bit of hardcore searching for recipes, yesterday.  My manfriend purchased for us our first vegetable box from CERES this week (found and organised online, of course)  It contains a variety of fresh, organic, veggies sourced from local farmers wherever possible.   Much cheaper than buying in an organic shop, and I feel like we're part of something sustainable that is helping small-time farmers.

You don't know what you're getting in the vegetable box - it's a lucky dip of sorts (anyone want a bunch of asparagus?  I can't stand the stuff;  tastes like what the back of my throat did last time I had tonsillitis).  Makes it interesting, and I am happy to report that I have found a way of cooking the FOUR swedes in this week's box.  The weather has turned a little chillier here again - it's been raining constantly this morning, for as long as I've been conscious and good casseroley cooking weather is on the cards.  I love getting recipes online :)

So if it wasn't enough that I spent all that time online, still it goes.  In a day where in some ways it didn't feel like I did a whole lot, I absorbed way more than I can handle comfortably.  But by far the most inspiring was the hour I spent last night watching the rather brilliant documentary Requiem for Detroit? This show was produced for the BBC in England, about a city in America, and was shown on my television station here in Australia several weeks ago.  I accessed it last night when I was ready.

I am still coming to terms with how life looks to us now, with the net.  Have not yet learned how to stem the flow.

Last night I also watched a 20-minute talk given by Elisabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love.  It was given in February 2009, posted on  I came across it via a link from Robyn Jackson Pearson, who I have chatted to online over the past several years but have never met and probably never will.  She had linked to another clip on TED via Facebook, which I started watching for a minute or two till my ADHD sent me searching elsewhere on the site.

The world wide web, indeed.

Yesterday, in little bits mixed among all the other little bits, I researched jobs on the net, I updated my Quickflix queue, I looked at a few inspiring websites by people who are wanting to change things, I checked my bank balance, looked on eBay for a secondhand ergonomic chair, cos the one I got (off eBay) isn't holding me up straight enough to look at 600+ websites a day.  I looked at the Business Victoria website's case studies of people who have started up businesses.  I chatted to my manfriend at his house 50 ks away, read a few blogs, responded to a few comments,  read some emails.

Earlier in the day I did some yoga - a necessary requirement to stretch out my back after working the day before.  There are some cool yoga sites out there - how awesome it is to flit around and so quickly find out why I am loving fish pose so much.

So there you go.  Do you feel exhausted?  I feel exhausted reading and writing this (and a little embarrassed, too).  I felt exhausted indulging myself in it.

I am determined to curb my internet use, because I have to.  To make space for nothingness.  So that I don't have 40 million things running all round my brain like cocaine.

At the moment I am challenged by the practice of writing fiction from out of my unconscious rather than from my analytical mindspace.  It is very challenging at the best of times.

But when there's such a ginormous influx of information rolling around in my head from the 600 webpages I've inducted into my head in one day, it makes it even more difficult to go into that space.  It's why I write first thing in the morning, coming straight out of sleep, from the dreamspace, from that place that amazes me when I am able to decipher the stories I am telling myself.  My God, I go so deep and so wide.

It's such a beautiful release to fall into that space.

So much space.

How the Words are Strung


Thursday, 7 October 2010

Oh, fuck it all, you just don't have time to work.

You want to work all your life till you fall off the edge of it.

It all just depends on what you call work, and on the way the words are strung.

When they're strung into your ears through the headphones, and you parse them down onto the screen, and you trawl and you trawl and you trawl, your Honour, they sit like gastro in the pit of your stomach.

And you earn good money doing this, the best money you could earn. And you moan.

When the words are strung into your mind in images, they glint out your fingers from the eye inside and you dob them down onto the screen, and you edit slow, and you don't have any of the other sort of work, the paid stuff, you've made exactly zero dollars today and those bills are piling up but fuck it all, you feel rich.

And for a person who had CFS for so long, you're so mindful of the way your energy can fluctuate from day to day, and it's not about health this time, but it still amazes you, the difference. And you haven't had enough sleep, and you haven't had any coffee, but the buzz is on and you rework a few old blog posts, and you hit "send" on your email program and they whizz off to the editor, and you're not going to be paid for those either but then you feel even richer. And some stupid dull worries fall away and light things rise up instead, small simple things that you wish to do today and which now fill you with pleasure, little things like going to get some organic veggies to sup on this evening and doing the dishes.

And you whizz away into the bathroom to clean the sink you haven't been able to rouse yourself to clean for weeks, the one with the soap encrusted into its surface all olive green, and the goo collecting round the rim of the sink, and the toilet that smells like wee.

Some workdays are so different than others. It just depends on how the words are strung.

Container Gardening


Monday, 4 October 2010

An avid and experienced gardener once told you about the procrastination inherent in the seed-planting process. You didn’t quite believe her, though you felt the downward tug.

Planting seeds is much funner when there is two of you doing it. Nevertheless, it takes two weeks of procrastination before you stand in the garage, at the beginning of the manfriend’s holidays, putting tiny little dots into rows of dark seed raising mix.

Such tiny dots, pushed such a little way down into the soil. Six millimetres down, then covered over with a little dirt, watered with some Seasol, then left behind with a faithless disbelief that anything at all is going to happen. The same fear you have to turn away from when you sit down to write, or to love, or to life.

Ten days later there are these little things poking themselves up out of the soil, the beginnings of the broccoli you will be shovelling into your mouth in several months’ time, if you haven’t planted them too late and the temperature proves too warm for them.

You have very little idea at all of what you are doing. And yet it seems to you, every time you find yourself immersed in something that has the whiff of oxygen about it that one of the keys to making a good life is just simply providing the containers for it to pour itself into and remembering to water.