Change I +II

CHANGE I

Change  is hard. We like what we’re used to, whether that’s food, music or ideas. We can get used to things that are obviously harmful – smoking cigarettes, abusive relationships, junk food – and because we’re used to them, it’s really hard to change that. We’ve wired that familiar thing into our brain, and it takes some time and effort to re-wire a brain. Fortunately for us, it can be done. Don’t believe anyone who says your brain is hard wired for anything.

CHANGE II

“Change is the only constant in the Universe”. So we should all get used to it! Nothing lasts forever, although we ourselves last such a short time that suns and galaxies seem eternal. Even the mountains that are constantly squeezing higher and wearing away, seem eternal from our view point. (Except volcanoes, when they suddenly and irrevocably change in a matter of months or days). Everything changes.

(The same every day).

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Travel tales

  I saw this guy on the train from Melbourne to Ballarat, he intrigued me, and I had a note book and pen handy…

He’s wearing black leather lace-ups, reminiscent of those Dad wore in the sixties. His suit is forest green, with cuffs on the trousers and four buttons on the jacket sleeves to discourage nose wiping*. The jacket is folded on his lap, along with a parcel, his hands folded on top. His nails are short and clean, as is his hair. He’s wearing a tie that is nicely neutral  infinitely bland, a vanilla essence of a tie. His shirt is white and plain, long sleeves buttoned at the wrist, a large, neat collar. In the pocket is an envelope. a map, a pen and a big black label inscribed with the words –

ELDER JONES#

church of

JESUS CHRIST

of the latter day saints.

The ‘elder’ is not a day over twenty. If that. Later he rolls up his sleeves and takes out a notebook. Writing in the book, he plants his old-time leather shoes on the seat opposite, right under the sign that says- No Feet On The Seats.

*Historically, not especially for the youthful Elder.

# I changed his name, for the usual reasons.

         Perth Nov 28 2010

Driving home after breakfast

The last of spring, feels like summer

Hard flat blue sky

Houses in rows, shoulder to shoulder

Jacaranda in bloom and bougainvillea

at an intersection a cicada is singing

driving home after breakfast

At the end of spring, feeling like summer.

It’s become a tradition, when visiting Perth, to go out for breakfast one morning at a little hipster cafe. I’d tell you the name, but I’ve forgotten it for now. They serve vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals, fair trade, free range, delicious. Bryan and I found it for ourselves on our first visit to ‘the West’, after a long walk in search of The Thread Studio, a textile artist’s heaven on earth. We needed coffee to keep us going! We soon found out it was a favourite haunt of Zoe and Matt, and went with them for breakfast. Some of these breakfasts have been lingered over long enough to order more coffee, and calling it ‘morning tea time’, fabulous cake. Something Persian, full of nuts, and probably syrup. If you are in Perth, and it’s still there, do go. No doubt the name, which I have forgotten, will appear in the comments at the bottom of this post!

On the day I wrote this poem, it was shaping up to be another hot day. Perth had had a mere fraction of its normal winter rain- climate change biting hard. Lawns were brown and the streets dusty. All the car windows were down, like in the summers of my childhood, when we arrived wind-blown and slightly grubby from any long car trip. 

Speaking of heat, anther great place to eat in Perth is Chutney Mary’s, in Subiaco . You don’t have to order the Vindaloo, which is seriously hot! It’s popular and therefore busy, but if you love Indian food, it’s the place to go.

Trip Poems

 

On a bus that

smells of coconut

Coming in to Melbourne

A Jeffrey Smart

landscape

Under a Turneresque

sky

Passengers on the bus

Twenty conversations

Interweave and blend

And did I mention

The bus smells of

coconut.

A young man I don’t know

is asleep in front of me.

His mouth is slightly open.

He looks very peaceful.

A girl

who is travelling with him

is sitting beside me.

She isn’t asleep.

She looks very bored.

Little Collins, Thursday, 14.55pm

Woman in a red suit

Smoking

In a cobbled lane.

Travelling

Face to face

Knees touching

Feet overlapping

Always talking

Eyes touching

Voices overlapping.

Crossing (Hoddle Street)

Please Mr Fisherman

May we cross the river?

The mighty, rushing

traffic river?

Red light comes

creates a dam,

And we cross safely

on dry land.

All of these were scribbled in notebooks whilst on a train or bus, except the last one, which made it onto paper in a motel room in Abbotsford.

Freedom and Joy

 

 

“Punk rock should mean freedom, like in accepting everything that you like, playing whatever you want, as sloppy as you want, as long as it’s good, and has passion.” Kurt Cobain said it, but Mike Patton lives it.  I had the enormous pleasure of seeing Mondo Cane at  Harvest on Sunday, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone perform with quite so much verve, zest, enthusiasm and sheer joy as Mike Patton. I can’t say I’m familiar with Italian pop of any vintage, I don’t speak many words of the language, but I understand freedom and joy when I see them. The sight of twelve violinists holding their instruments up to their faces to sing into the pickups will, I hope, stay with me forever! 

As for musical freedom, well Mr Patton is also part of  Mr Bungle, Faith No More, Tomahawk, Fantomas and Peeping Tom, none of which play Spaghetti Western music, as far as I know. He likes all sorts, and he plays what he wants, and it’s good, and has passion. That, to me, is freedom and joy, and it’s not limited to playing music. It’s a “rule to live by” that, if only Kurt himself had managed to follow more closely, maybe he wouldn’t be an”Icon” right now, just a guy who used to be in Nirvana, and now does what he likes. It’s no good dwelling on ifs, buts and maybes, of course, it’s a well-worn path to misery, not joy.

One can, however seek to live freely, creatively and with passion oneself, and that is what I aim for, even though life sometimes gets in the way, and I don’t spend as much time as I’d like on the creative life. My blog helps, though!I suspect it’s more a matter of making, or taking, time than of finding it. And it’s great to be ‘sloppy’ sometimes, but a certain amount of order helps with getting things done – I sometimes spend far to much time searching for some object that I know is here somewhere, under or among the teetering archaeological layers of ongoing projects!

Here’s a poem I wrote much earlier, and although it refers indirectly to “Peace, Love, Empathy”, I think it could equally call for a continuation of “Freedom and Joy” in the world.

OWED TO KURT

I cannot make reparation for you.

What you did is done and can’t be undone.

But the insight that you gained as you gave up

Must not be forgotten

Or wasted with your life.

I want to keep kicking for you

Pick up what you left off

And make more difference.

Death be not proud.

thinking about creative thinkers

 

Creative thinkers tend to be malcontents who see beyond the myths of popular beliefs and common practice. This is in part why idleness – a precondition for reflective or critical thinking, and for deep contemplation – is not encouraged: idleness creates the conditions in which social norms can be challenged.

As a result, the status quo has imposed the unspoken dictum, ‘To work, and therefore not to think too much!’

In a system in which we live to work rather than work to live, there is little time to become an informed global citizen – an active participant who develops new views that liberate the community into expanding it’s outlook and seeing beyond set assumptions and limiting boundaries. In a community that is challenged by freely expressed creativity, creativity is pushed to the margins, corralled outside the safety and security of established norms. But creativity at the extremes of any whole – whether the margins of society, the tips of a tree branch in springtime, the edges of ignorance or at the far reaches of everything in the universe – creates new possibilities that transform reality.

Creativity is a force for change that transforms by forging new relationships, connecting the parts at their extremities, and originating a new and healthy whole.  

As Albert Einstein said “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

And because it was Guy Fawkes Night yesterday –

Bonfire Haiku

The moon had risen;

So had the wind.

I put out the fire.

I am aware that I have not adhered to the haiku rules here, but that’s O.K. Poetry can always use a little anarchy.

EMPATHY

Empathy, Empathy! Empathy is what makes us human – humans being –  being in relationship to others, and if we are not in relationship to others, what are we? Empathy allows us inside each others heads and hearts. Babies die without empathy, and with not enough, they grow up to be psychopaths – incapable of feeling, of feeling how anyone else is feeling.

Many of the people in charge these days are psychopaths, which is a cause for worry. If everybody knew this, would they care? The empathic ride against the men of action, oh, see the men of action falling back! I wish. ( Apologies to Leonard Cohen).

Depression, a suicide note, Empathy, it’s all linked. Depression, no empathy, suicide- that’s where you end up. Caring, responsive – not controlling. That’s suicide prevention, but it needs to start at birth; by 27, it’s too late. Maybe at 15 a rescue might be staged, but “Cheer up”s and Smiley faces will never work. Think of the money society would save if parents were taught to love and respect their children ( instead of trying to teach children to love and respect their parents). What if the Commandment was not made by a patriarch, and instead of Honour Thy Father and Thy Mother, it was honour thy children, love them and respect and attend to their needs as much as possible, and then a little more. If you do, they will not only honour, love and respect you, but themselves and everyone else they meet as well! If you don’t, there will be no punishment, but of course, there will be consequences, because your children will not turn out so well. If you ignore their needs, manipulate them or try to control them, they may suffer various mental illnesses and personality disorders, and will prove to be unrewarding and unhelpful as they grow older. Or they may become victims of totalitarian regimes, cults or other organisations which require the mindless obedience and blind faith which you have instilled in them. If they are lucky, however, they will realise what you have done to them, wake up and shake off your toxic conditioning, and if you are lucky, they may even forgive you. But they should not forget, because, if they did, they might poison their own children in the same way.

This is a little verbose, perhaps, but I think it’s a fair summary of what I’ve read of Alice Miller (‘Thou Shalt Not Be Aware’; ‘The Truth Will Set You Free’ et al), Oliver James ( ‘They F*** You Up’), Robin Grille (‘ Parenting For A Peaceful World’). There is a pattern that emerges from all my reading, and this is some of it; like the Mandelbrot set, however big it is, whichever bit you look at, still the same pattern is there. I wish I could’ve read these books before I had my children, instead of learning as I went along. Growing up in a family that believed in Original Sin ( babies are born bad, and have to learn to be ‘good’, which is a load of tosh), I had quite a lot to unlearn, and I’m still working on it.

Let Love be my Reason

My framework

My result

Not little love

That seeks to own another

But love that sheds itself

Freely and indiscriminately

Like petals of blossom

From a spring flowered tree

That shower themselves

Into the wind

And onto the grass

Drifting far away

Not caring where, or why

Let me love

As carelessly and hopeless as that.