The Big Bureaucracy in the Sky


Saturday, 30 April 2011

For centuries and millennia, the "big mean god outside yourself" has ruled over cultures and civilisations.  There is nothing like something more powerful than you whose actions you can't predetermine to keep you in line.  Children the world over with unstable parents understand how that drains their adrenals, making shaky the ground underneath their feet.  Just waiting till the big god turns up in thunder and quake to tell them how they have got it wrong this time.

Then I think of Jesus saying things like, "No, no, the kingdom of heaven is within you.  Go searching there for God.  What you see out in the world is what you are projecting out onto it.  Go inward to find new ways of understanding."  And yet Christianity  was co-opted by the power structures-that-be and turned into a weapon to use against the people.  The same old same old.  A remix of the angry distant god in the sky, just waiting to send people to heaven or to hell, a destination you could never be sure of until you got there and it was too late.

I jump now to the workplace situation here in Australia.  We don't project our power out onto a distant god in this workplace.  We project it out into a big faceless bureaucratic book depository, so that now it is not enough for one person hiring for a position - say, a childcare position - to be able to use their intellect and intuition and understanding of the life experience of another - say, a mother with two children - to determine whether that person will be able to do a good job.  Even though the mother obviously has the experience, she must complete various certificates, jump through various paperish hoops, so that the childcare centre can breathe a little bureaucratically easier because it can tick the right hoop boxes and cover its legal bottom.  It is only with the pieces of paper in place - the police checks, the various certificates doing stuff she already knows - only then can the childcare centre believe that the mother is to be trusted to do the job she is asked to do.

It's the same-old same-old.  The everyday people's own autonomy overridden in the name of getting the safety and peace we crave by instilling it in something or someone outside of ourselves.  Rather than being able to discover our own autonomy by going within for it.  The internal autonomy that breeds creative thinking, a personal power that in the right wind can breed kindness.

A workplace culture where the people themselves are allowed to develop and use their wisdom and commonsense in assessing other people's fitness for positions would be a far safer one.  It would not be an easier one, though.  The people who are making responsible decisions would have nowhere else to run to but than to their own responsible decisions.  And that's scary.  Because people are different, and that is surely giving too much, well, space and authority to one person, is it not?  Surely better to invest that authority in dusty law shelves containing Acts and Rules and Procedures drawn up to govern the people, which nobody reads unless they have to because those things are dead.

So to enforce those Acts and Rules and Procedures, strangely-wigged individuals who neither know nor probably really care about these particular incidents judge the people according to the squiggles and lines in the Acts and Rules and Procedures.

In the workplace, the people who are walking around alive doing the actual position must go and get their authority to do that position from groups of other people who do the training and set up the hoops for them to jump through for their pieces of paper.  Other people who do not know you and will maybe never see you again doing your job you are allowed to do after you get your little piece of paper.

This is the continual, ongoing and dreary method employed by bunches of people who are so scared to make decisions from an internal authority base.  We need to make everything as safe as possible, and in the very process of trying to get that in some Excel spreadsheet form everything is awfully unsafe because nobody is allowed to act freely.  We always have our eye on What Is Expected of Us By the Outside.

There is no more unsafe a position than outsourcing the inherent authority and wisdom and power and experience that can be contained in one single human being allowed to live freely, to learn and to make mistakes.  That may not be bureaucratically safe.  But we are not bureacrats.  We live and we breathe.

There would surely be nothing safer (though life can never be safe) than a culture where people are allowed to learn how to feel at home in their own valuable skins, and how deep we people go, not just in stupid directions but also in wisdom directions.  It's not until you are safe in your own skin that you are free to observe the higher universalities that make a community a common fraternity rather than a gaggly group of people, isolated from within and from without.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The way is not in the sky.  The way is in the heart ~ Buddha
Pic:  Womb by Snuffkin

Sometimes you can clog so full of fear, shame and guilt, you can forget (again) that they are like dust.   It is a beautiful disbelief, the yellow of transformation that lies right before your eyes, right in the middle of your soul.  This is the shit they should teach in school ~ How deep we go in all directions.

I Spied With My Little Eye ...


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

This morning is not one of the more pleasurable things I've seen over this long weekend.  But it's not so much what I'm seeing, as how it's feeling.  Granted, what I'm seeing ain't so pretty - there are giant boxes and bags of stuff all over my new abode, product of two households slowly comingling.  Keanu* the couch and Chair the chair are still upended in the dining area, along with my work table and art table, which stand in pieces and sideways respectively.  But that's all okay.  It will all get done.  Nothing is overwhelming me, the morning after a five-day weekend.

And it's sure purdy outside.  Pure autumnal weather.  The windows fogged up, the temperature gauge outside still in single figures.  I can better feel the land breathing up in these hills.  In it goes, and the temperature slowly and steadily climbs, peaking mid-afternoon before out it breathes once more and the temperature wends back down to warming dinners, ugg boots and heaters.  The days lately have been pure sunlight doing its dappling thang, shooting off the leaves.

So no, there's nothing actually wrong with anything that is here this morning.  It just looks like Monday, that's all.

But even that's not so bad.  Because it's actually Wednesday.  But ooh, easing back into the working week does take some doing.  It took a depressing ride home from Richmond to Belgrave after my football team lost (again) to the team it beat to win the Grand Final three years ago and has not been able to beat since.  A football loss, and a trainload of people who all seemed as one to realise as the dark set in around our carriage that the holiday was over.

Oh, well.  A holiday must always end, but it usually takes several hours of internal tantrums for me to loosen my grip on it first.

The tree outside the front door is loosening its grip on its leaves, and they spill onto the path.  While away for the weekend in the High Country, I spied many beautiful maples revealing their true colours of red, orange, yellow.  The colours too of the lower chakras.  I forget and then remember each year how grounding autumn is to me, and it has been nice doing such grounding things as meditation, of not-much-on, of some walking in alpine air up Mount Stirling to feel the earth under my feet.

On the way home, we passed the areas that burned in the Black Saturday fires of two years ago.  The fire burning through the ground has stimulated so much new growth.  This land is made for burning.  The seeds of the eucalypt are thrown into action by the process.  Some areas of ground were rich with eucalypt saplings.  Many tall trees, their trunks still charred, were covered in a fine layer of fuzzy protective moss, or new green leaves.

Closer to home, the vines around Dixon Creek are beginning to turn yellow, in preparation for the stark and beautiful rows and rows of vineyards whose stalks stand out black and underground productive, in the fogs of winter.

How about you?  What have you seen over this Easter holiday?


* My partner doesn't like Keanu.  But that's okay.  I don't much like his couch either.  Looks like we're buying new couches at some point.  My partner thinks Keanu looks like he was manufactured in 1989.  And I suppose he has a point.  But I still love Keanu anyway, and now I get to lie on him all by myself :)

Stealing Like an Artist


Thursday, 21 April 2011

Whilst stealing time from work the other day, I came upon this adorable post:

How to Steal Like an Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me).

I like this: "I think the more that writing is made into a physical process, the better it is. You can feel the ink on paper. You can spread writing all over your desk and sort through it. You can lay it all out where you can look at it."

I wrote a few blog posts standing up last week, the way Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway and Lewis Carroll all used to write.  It was an interesting experience.  It was unintentional.  The only reason I didn't have my arse packed into the chair was because I was in the process of moving house and there was no chair.

Writing standing up felt like the ideas were able to flow better.  I think I shall try it out more often, while trying to remain mindless of how silly I feel because of how strange I must look.  Because ooh, geez, the more we go on in life, the less we are free to move in ways that may seem silly.  Kids have it right;  think of the ways they fling themselves around, make weird faces, do stuff with their hands and feet, jump up and down on the spot, just because.

I keep coming upon these things that I want to do involving movement, and I look so stupid when I do them.  Weird yoga asanas where I stick my tongue out and splay my fingers out.  Yoga pranayams (breathing exercises) where I'm breathing in and out really fast.  In the nocturnal hours a few days ago, I amused my partner by stomping my feet in my sleep in the middle of an anxious dream.

I am thinking a lot lately about the body in this strange, awful, beautiful age we live in where they are so superfluous to what we do so much of the time.  So many jobs now involve us sitting disembodied in front of computer screens.  As if we are just these giant heads of thought, removed from our bodies.  Too much computer work is a disembodying experience.

There is this idea that still gets about within certain spiritual disciplines.  It masquerades as an uber-spiritual conception that the body is just this thing to overcome on your way to enlightenment, a base beast.  But the body is what links us to the earth, and if we abuse one, we abuse the other.  The body is a "living vehicle" as Anodea Judith describes it.  I spent the first half of my life ignoring it and its limitations, stuffing away its memories.  In the second half of my life, I am slowly learning to treat it with the respect it and those memories deserve (but oh, dessert, how thou dost stumble me).

Just as you cannot transcend your ego until you have one that is vaguely functional to begin with, neither can you easily transcend your body for spiritual benefit when it is sick or stiff, neglected or overlooked.

Another thing I like, too, from that post I linked to above, though it challenges me: "A day job gives you money, a connection to the world, and a routine. Parkinson’s law: work expands to fill the time allotted. I work a 9-5 and I get about as as much art done now as I did when I worked part-time."

This challenges me because right now, I have been working part-time yet on certain days it expands out like foam to something closer to full-time.  But because I get paid by the word for my main client, I'm doing the same amount of work for the same amount of pay, regardless of the time it takes.  But I stop during the day because I'm bored, and so I go and read blogs or read things that interest me.

My creative practice has dried up recently, as moving-house anxieties have gutsed their way into my energies.  Giving time and space to the things that I delight in doing is a bit of an ongoing struggle for me.  And so I take solace in the fact that Parkinson's law applies not only to work and to bureaucracies, but to anything, really.  It reminds me that time is bubbly.  The amount you spend on something does not always equate to what you get out of it.  This works both ways.  Small, grabbed moments can yield wonderful things.

Those moments are not the same as making space and time each day to devote to that which is very important but is not urgent.  But in the leaner times, the grabbed moment can yield up its beauty:  20 minutes snatched and you fall into a vast field.  A reminder that time may click its way round the clock in equal measure, but the way we walk through that it is not particularly linear at all.

Imagine No Possessions ...


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

For the less sprightly house mover, the TENS machine is advisedly one of the things you pack into your handbag, for easy access, after you've driven across town on a Sunday night, from the old B suburb to the new B suburb with a car packed to the scuppers full of all those last minute things - buckets and mops and the clothes airer and piles of shoes, and the disbelief that you have actually finished moving.

Moving house is one of those wormholes that you fall into and are against all logic scared that you will not fall out of again.  This is why at 4 o'clock I stood crying in the middle of the empty-but-for-the-giant-dust-bunnies-in-the-corner lounge room, with the end in sight but feeling like it would never come.

Susie is a tired girl.  Post-CFS terrors mean that each of the past two mornings I have opened an eye and gingerly moved my body and wondered if this is called post-exertional payback.  However, I think this is just called really-bloody-aching-muscles.

I did a tip run.  This is the first time I have been to the tip since I was a child.  I have an active distaste for throwing away stuff, not so much becuase I am a hoarder but because my Western consumerist guilt twists my gut into cords.  So it took me by surprise on Sunday's tip run to also feel immense pleasure and satisfaction alongside the guilt.  I think the guilt probably even added to the pleasure of backing up the car, opening up the hatch, and flinging stuff over the edge into the pit.  It is hard to fling an old CRT computer monitor, admittedly.  It makes a gratifying smash when it hits the ground below, however.  Easier to fling was the old, badly-framed mirrored picture that nobody took from Freecycle.  Guilt at my old Granny's wine rack lying down there in the pit.  She's long dead, I have no use for it, nobody wanted it on Freecycle, but it looked small and sad sitting there in the pit until the giant man in the giant scooper pushed it all away.  There is such a poignancy about discarded things.

"Imagine no possessions.  It isn't hard to do," has been drifting through my mind all weekend.  The thought of living with no possessions has been a wonderful one as I've packed up stuff into boxes that now sit in my new house in giant mounds, waiting to be redistributed.  I realise, at this end, that whilst I have been good at getting rid of stuff, that I could have got rid of a whole lot more.  And that I shall continue to do so.

I have been gripped by the Freecycle bug.

The joy of putting things on there - juice extractors and dining chairs and pine hutches and a mound of bras that don't fit anymore, an enormous box of books - and then people turn up at your front door to take them!  Coolness.

What I didn't give away on Freecycle, I punted on the nature strip.  It was the second-last port of call before the tip run.  It is truly amazing what people will take away from your nature strip.  Things I didn't think anyone would want, like the crappy old outside chairs with paint splatters all over them, and the awful uncomfortable bar stool that my brother got from someone else's nature strip a year or so ago.  But they went within a couple of hours putting them outside.  The rocking chair that once belonged to my now-gone aunt (insert guilt here), the dining room table, my old bed.  All moved on to somewhere new.

Virtual Gardening Experience


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Of all the virtual gardens in the world I love to travel to, none fills me with quite the sense of calm and serenity that Kent's does.  This garden is in Missouri, in the United States.  Kent has such a talent in making beautiful spaces.  How gorgeous is this lantern he made.

I Don't Understand


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The kind people from the Microsoft Help Center in India called us up again before.  Their customer service is truly superb.  That's, like, the third time they've called in the space of a week.  They are very concerned, they told my partner, about the malware and viruses that are multiplying on his computer as we speak.

He told her that it must be because of all the porn on there, and did she look at porn?*

And she hung up!!  Now, that's not very good customer service.  I've got a mind to call Microsoft back and report her for being biased and unprofessional.

*This is not, of course, implying that my partner has porn on his computer :)

Evolutionary Unfoldments


Monday, 11 April 2011

I was listening to someone on the radio before talk about the evolutionary history of octopusses.  As he was speaking he kept referring to the evolutionary process as if it was something outside of the octopus, something imposed on it.  He'd say things like, "Evolution has done X, Y and Z".

I don't like that.  I prefer to think that the evolutionary dance of a million possible variations came out of the octopus.  Not as some boring, mechanical sort of a thing, as if it only had one way of becoming itself, but as Life dancing itself outwards.

Of course, the octopus is a product of its environment, so of course where it has grown up over millions of years has shaped the way it has turned out.  Of course.  No octopus is an island, after all, any more than any human is.

But still, despite all of that, I like to remind myself that the octopus had an infinite variety of evolutionary unfoldments it could have taken from within that frame.  A myriad of possibilities.   A dance that it danced in the way it danced it and now look how it has unfolded.  Looking so itself that we might forget it could have turned out any other way.

Gloomy Octopus by Richard Ling

All Together Now ...


Friday, 8 April 2011

... which seat are you gonna taay-ayke?

Speaking of God ...


Sunday, 3 April 2011

Sorting through papers in preparation to move is the biggest time-consuming part of my move (blogging while procrastinating about packing and cleaning is the second).  Going through papers brings up so many old memories.  I must say, the culling mood I'm in at the moment, part of me feels like just throwing it all away.  Leaving the past to itself.

So much Christian stuff I had printed off the net over the past 12 or 14 or so years, and now I look at it in horror. Horror that I ever fell into thinking that the disgusting, modern-day, American version of Christianity had anything in it for me.  A sort of shame that it seems I fell into the trap even while at the time I didn't think I was.  Reading all this evangelical stuff makes me realise how far I am away from that version of things and how utterly creepy it all reads.

Makes me feel dirty.

What also makes me feel dirty is reading my own stuff I've written about God.  I have had this urge to journal ever since I was a teenager.  And it doesn't matter what year it's written, or if it's written last week, but so much of the stuff I read back that I have written just makes my toes curl.  There's this Pollyanna tone that comes through that makes me want to gag.  So much that I read, I think, "Yes, I know that this is the real Sue who is writing this.  But in comparison to the real Sue who was walking round at that time, how close is this writing to that?"

I feel sort of like so much I have written over the years has been a product of trying to find my own voice, my own authentic voice.  And part of what I have written has been overcompensation for what I felt I couldn't express out in the world.  I came across an assignment I wrote for uni in 2000, a non-fiction opinion piece (about time - some things never change.  A fascination for me even now).  And yet again, there was that toe-curling inner screech as I read this little piece of didactic fluff that felt so ... so me, but so not me.  How long it has taken to find my own voice (and today, I'm not even sure that I've done it yet).

As for God, I am pretty cool with where I am at with God these days.  I feel like God is woven so close into the weft and woof of the universe, of us, that we often can't tell the difference.  I also believe in the concept of a Higher Self (all those references to "being seated in the heavenlies with Christ" in Christian circles but then you talk of a Higher Self (especially if it's non-Christians you're referring to of having a part in that) and all of a sudden you've got 10 different shades of blasphemy going on.  Bah. Christians know less than they/we think.

And so I've been feeling pretty cool with what I think God is, and how universal God is, and have reconciled for myself how childish the concepts of heaven and hell are, how pagan they are (I have no problems with paganism.  My reference here is an ironic one - so many evangelical Christians who are so convinced that they are on so much of a higher spiritual plane, balk at anything that vaguely whiffs pagan.  And yet so many of the religions that they would claim to be pagan had a god that would send its people to eternal hell as a concept.  I can't think of anything more childish than that sort of a version of a god who would be so spineless and masochistic and unable to act, so bound by his own narcissism that he would be unable to do anything but to send paltry humans to hell forever.  What a pathetic concept it is!

Those earlier ways of life were in touch with things in ways that I'm sure they would find us unbelievably naive on so many levels.  It's like we've sucked all of our shit up into our heads into tedious lifeless religiosity and conformance and wanting everything to be as easy as possible that we wouldn't know how how to live colourishly if it came up and bit us on the arse.  But I digress, again.

So as I was saying, I feel like I'm pretty cool with what I am perceiving and what I have learnt and the tiny bit of wisdom I've gained through the whole vortex of Christianity.  I feel like the small portion I am taking on with me is beautiful and precious and wonderful.  I've felt like that for several years.  But still, when I read back on journal entries talking about God or to God, or even blog posts written here, even over the past couple of years, I still feel so creepy when I read those words written about God.  It's like I know what the experience felt like, but in the process of putting it into words it lost all of its lustre, and what was left is almost the opposite of how it felt.  This is how it feels when I read back on it.

And so I have come to the end of the words when talking about God.  That is so unbelievably frustrating to me.  And completely delightful at the same time :)

It's Always the Little Things


Saturday, 2 April 2011

UPDATE:  Microwave oven in the green waste bin.  Grrrrrrr.   Why don't I say something, you ask?  Yeah, well, herein lies the deficit in assertiveness :P


It is possibly saying more about me than anyone else, and I may be really anal, but I judge people on the way they bin stuff.

Here in Oz we have a three-bin rubbish system.  One bin for tip rubbish, one bin for green garden waste, one bin for recycling.

I have this anal idea that we should put the right things in the right bins because then the world runs better.  Because the world doesn't end outside my front door and all, you know?

So yeah, I do, I judge people when they don't bin stuff in the right way because it says something to me about how they don't give a shit.  Like, when people don't wash their recycling stuff, I get annoyed about that, too.  Because there is some poor dude at the other end of the line who is sorting our recycling stuff into piles.  And I like to think about him or her and wash the coconut cream out of the tin so it doesn't stink right up their nose and right into their crappy, boring job.

But some people just don't think about those sorts of things.  My neighbours, for example. Our properties are on the one block and we share rubbish bins.  We also share utilities - water, gas and electricity - because our properties aren't separately metered.  This wasn't a problem when my landlord lived in the house.  It wasn't a problem when the last lot of people lived here.  It's a problem with the current people living here.

Our relationship has deteriorated like last week's dinner seeping out through the bottom of the garbage bag.

They put green waste in the recycle bin.  They put clothes in the recycle bin.  They put rubbish in the green waste bin.

But then, they're the types of people who tell me that no, they're not going to accept my word that I've only been here for X amount of days in a given billing period when a bill comes in.  They expect me to pay half and half all the way down the line.  Because, as they say - and I quote - "how do we know you're not coming back here during the day and doing your washing?"

Because I wouldn't be that fucking tight, you turd.

These are the people that in the process of getting me to pay my half for the bill, have actually got me to pay MORE than half.  I know this because I just saw the bill come in the letterbox.  The final notice bill that they still haven't bothered paying yet.

I feel my anger rise.  And it is good.  Do you know I'm just too accommodating for my own good sometimes?  I was actually going to offer them when I get rid of the old fridge and washing machine to the steel recycler firm, I was going to ask them if they wanted their old fridge and washing machine picked up that they've had sitting in the garage.  The same fridge and washing machine that have now gone, leaving behind my stuff.  Of course.

See, I dunno, but I hate conflict, and I love people being in agreement with each other, even if they see things differently.  But these people just behave like shitheads.  And yeah, I know - I'm not in the least bit deluded that they probably have stories of their own to describe why they are now behaving like turds with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  For all I know, I look really shithouse in their eyes too. 

Still, sometimes you just gotta grit your teeth and feel the anger.  The anger is an energy that is warning you that your boundaries are being violated by people who, while accusing you of fleecing them on the bills, try to fleece you in the process.

And this is my blog and they're not here and so I can say, fuck you, you brats.  I can't wait to see the last of you.

Do I feel better?  Yes, yes, in fact I do!  :D