Category Archives: community

3 Day Quote Challenge

Day Two

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Taken at a junction on the River Walk above Flat Rock, Augusta.

"... Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference."

From: 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost

When I chose this one it dawned on me that I had another ‘road’  or direction quote. Well, so be it. Life is indeed a journey along a path – our path. And that is Frost’s point, we have choices, they are our choices as to which way to go. At the heart of these lines is the call to authenticity, will we go the road well travelled – the predictable, comfortable, everybody is doing it road; or the road less travelled – the one that is going to stretch us, deepen us, cause us to question (and question ourselves), enable us to grow, the one that includes pain or discomfort, love and love lost ….?

Frost, ever the subtle poet, guides us discretely to the thought that authenticity is about being true to self and honouring that which only we can bring to the world, to community. This not new, but Frost is original and profound, giving a new angle on life through his own experience. For Frost, the authentic person can only be truly themselves if they take their own path. It is an acknowledgement that no one can carry us or do it for us, no one else can be us. Frost doesn’t preach or moralise, he simply honours his own authenticity with – “And that has made all the difference.”  He rejoices in his choice to go his way, to therefore become himself, no matter what he meets along the way.

Today’s Nominations:

On A Mission

Soul Therapist

Moira

Paul,

pvcann.com

11 Comments

Filed under bush walking, community, Country, life, mindfulness, poetry, quote

You Haul

via Daily Prompt: Haul

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That day! Moving out of home for the second time, this time permanently. The solemn art of leaving one family to start another. 1983, and the year Lyn and I got married, left Perth, and went to live on the family farm. The trailer we are loading is not a U-Haul by brand but a Coates Hire Service – Move It. But a U-Haul by any other name. Looking back it was a fun day really, and we hauled a lot of gear in a couple of trailers and my panel van, and it was trouble free.

What we weren’t fully in tune with at that point was that we were hauling other stuff as well, what we loosely refer to as emotional baggage. And that took time, patience, awareness, deep listening and support to release. Empathy won out and the baggage has somewhat reduced.

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The stored painful realites and fictions of life can be a massive burden if not acknowledged, spoken and released. Carrying alone can be crushing. Charles Dickens once said: “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to everyone else.” We can’t carry another’s baggage, we can’t make someone drop theirs, but we can share in lightening that baggage through empathic support. There’s that old saying, that it takes a village to raise a child. I think it takes a patient village, a friendship or two,  to help us see the baggage and to begin to let go.

Paul,

pvcann.com

10 Comments

Filed under community, life, love, mindfulness, psychology, self-development

Betrayal Hurts

via Daily Prompt: Betrayed

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Photo: moviedb.org  – Richard Burton as Alec Leamas, the spy who takes on one more mission in East Germany, only to discover layer upon layer of deception, and his own betrayal (‘The Spy Who Came In From The Cold’ by John le Carre), a story often used, and most recently in Atomic Blonde (from the graphic novel ‘The Coldest City’).

We’ve all tasted betrayal.

Betrayal is an auspicious topic for Good Friday. Today recognises the crucifixion of Jesus. One particular detail in the story, is the cold and public betrayal by his disciple Judas. Judas is dazzled by money, he’d been stealing from the communal purse and now he was enamoured with the thirty pieces of silver he was offered to publicly identify Jesus to an arrest party. As the story goes, Judas leads a party of soldiers and police to where Jesus is, and identifies Jesus by greeting and kissing him. Essentially the kiss of death for a man he professed to follow.

There are many classic stories of betrayal. The Song of the Niebulungs which tells of the betrayal of the dragon slayer Siegfried. Odin was considered by the Norse to be the god of frenzy and betrayal. Euripides’ famous story of how Jason abandons his wife Medea for a younger woman is chilling, it ends badly.

Modern stories abound. Anything by Graham Greene, but especially ‘The End of the Affair’, and classic spy stories are essentially betrayal stories especially as written by John le Carre.

The stories of betrayal, whether true or fiction, actually bear out the popular saying: “The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies, it comes from your friends and loved ones.” That’s why it hurts so much. Siegfried’s wife takes revenge, Medea kills the children, Alec Leamas chooses death even when he is able to reach freedom. We’re not told what Jesus thinks about betrayal, but he is consistent with his teaching about forgiveness and love, he refuses to stoop to the level of those who whip and kill him.

But for us mere mortals there is a piece of very sound advice to heed: “If someone betrays you once, it’s their fault; if they betray you twice, it’s your fault.” (Eleanor Roosevelt) Clearly boundaries matter. But even then …

I find myself drawn to what Jesus lived and taught – that forgiveness (properly understood) is life giving.

Paul,

pvcann.com

5 Comments

Filed under community, history, life, love, Mythology, psychology, religion, self-development, Spirituality

The Efficient Inefficient

via Daily Prompt: Inefficient

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I think there are different types or contexts for inefficiency. I get worried about any inefficiency around protecting the environment. Protecting water, soil, air, all life forms are for me, absolutely vital. I get annoyed when I see leaking garden reticulation, those who flaunt the water restrictions, those who ignore recycling, the use of plastic, and so on.

I think too, that government agencies are amazingly inefficient, but that is not always unhelpful 😀

But in a sense, efficiency is a construct. If efficiency is about cutting waste that endangers life then I’m all for it. But, if efficiency is about productivity and profit, then no, I’m not too concerned. Capitalism drives economic efficiency, well, a type of economic efficiency, and one I’d prefer not to be too enmeshed with. If you go back to the works of Charles Dickens, you discover a world of cruel and base living in order to survive the machine that is economics, the drive to produce more and produce more efficiently. And, has anything changed since Dickens’ time? This form of economics has sucked the life out of our planet, it has weakened our politicians who have no resolve to confront the power of production, it has duped us into brand lust, and it has lied to us about the benefits. It is our addiction. So, the idea of efficiency for the sake of money – especially someone else’s money, which in fact becomes environmentally inefficient, is not attractive to me.

But in capitalism there is also a brutal twist, it becomes efficiency at the expense of life. Productivity becomes life threatening. Tar sands, the destruction of fracking, oil spills, pipelines burst, trees lost, water lost, homes lost … if you have a strong stomach then follow this link to watch the controversial commercial (banned from cinemas in the UK) from 2011 about Conflict Minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The commercial, which is aptly called “Unwatchable”, is rated 18+, it is violent, unpleasant, and disturbing, but that’s why they made it – to confront us with our culpability in the conflict and forced labour in the DRC. There is still a petition available to sign with it –  Unwatchable

When I think of inefficient, I connect very strongly with what writer Brenda Ueland says in the quote above. It says to me, very clearly, that efficiency/productivity is not advantageous, it stifles our thought, our creativity, our imagination. I’ve had a few superiors in my working life who have been wise, and have urged that it is better if I have times where I am less productive, but am more mindful, more imaginative. I know that if my life is too full, I am creatively stifled. Equally, if there is no balance in my life, I become unhealthy, body, mind and soul. I am less mindful, and just driven. Those around me can testify to the ugly nature of that. Then I become inefficient in health, in relationships, in work, in creativity.

For me life is not about perfection, efficiency, productivity. They are often based on external forces, expectations, learned behaviour, dependency, drivenness, greed … For me, life is about taking time, awareness, noticing, attending, loving, imagining, and sharing compassion – if I am to be efficient, I want to be efficient and productive in those positives for the good of all. Imagine if we were all efficient in that way, it could just change the world. In short, I want to be the efficient inefficient!

Paul,

pvcann.com

16 Comments

Filed under community, creativity, Economics, environment, history, life, mindfulness, nature, politics, self-development

Don’t Swallow Everything, Or, Gullibility Doesn’t Look Good On You

via Daily Prompt: Swallow

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Some people will swallow anything. But many may not know they are being manipulated. Two years ago I was listening to a radio interview with a Sydney academic who had just published findings in the role of the press, churches, State Government, and Police Dept. in 1930s Sydney. This was the era of the Razor Gang. I was driving and did’t think to stop and note the show and the author, but this is the gist of it (thereby proving my headline):

The research showed that although there were some razor gang attacks, the press exaggerated the occurence at a time when the police dept. were trying to get an increase in their budget and more officers on the street. The state government were clearly open to pressure on this issue. So, the theory goes, between the press, the police and the government, legislation was drawn up to deal with the issue. The public went along for the ride, for a while.

The back story: guns had earlier become a criminal issue, and legislation was effective in supporting the police in containing gang access to and use of guns. The gangs then resorted to other weapons and tactics.

The legislation drawn up to deal with the razor gangs was based on consorting and public gathering as offences. If two or three people met together on the street Police could detain them under the new law. The research was all about disproving what has come to light as a pure moral panic created by the press of the day, and which benefitted the reputation of the state govenment and enabled police to gain greater power and resource. We would call that collusion. Apparently, the arrest info showed that mostly prostitutes and petty thieves were rounded up, as well many inncoent people gathering for such innocuous reasons as street preaching, hawking goods, and meeting up to go to a cafe. So few actual razor gang members were ever arrested, and even fewer prosecuted. The research also showed that it was the churches of Sydney who turned the tide, they took a stance of setting the record straight, exposing the moral panic as a political and journalistic lie, and presured the government, successfully, into dropping the legislation and the moral panic. The tide turned.

The infamous Nazi, Joseph Goebbels once said: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” (often falsely attributed to Adolf Hitler) Goebbels was the master of lies as chief propagandist for the Reich, so he knew a thing or two about lying to people, it was his job. I think he’s right.

Haven’t we, at times, swallowed that race matters, colour defines? Does economic Austerity really work? Did you believe for a time that Saddam Hussein really had weapons of mass destruction? Add your own.

There’s a lot out there to swallow, if you’re not careful it will either leave a bad taste or choke you (metaphorically speaking). In this age of opinion and fake news it is hard to know what is and isn’t truth, but patience, reflection, and open conversation are gifts of discernment we can use to find our way, together.

Paul,

pvcann.com

16 Comments

Filed under community, history, life, mindfulness, politics

What Does It Mean To Be Foreign?

via Daily Prompt: Foreign

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Graphic comes from livingwaterlutheran.com via Bing

I wonder if the word foreign might eventually be redundant?

Where I grew up in England, my mother from Derbyshire, father from Nottinghamshire, we had dialects, and there were inflections and local flavours within regions and districts, you were foreign if yo came from 10 miles away. I was once asked by an Australian work colleague to translate what a tradie from Yorkshire was saying, he assumed, even though I had migrated as a mere child, I’d know! What astounded me was that it didn’t seem that difficult to understand what said tradie was saying. In Australia, there are subtle accents between east and west, and a variety of indigenous languages. Across this vast land there is also a sense of the local, which has become important across activities such as sport, politics, but especially federal funding.

I was once appointed to serve three towns. I was based in a main centre and would visit the other two on a rota. Once, while in the smaller of the three towns, on market day, I got chatting to some people who were passing through. One of the locals who knew me joined the conversation. At some point one of the visitors asked if I was a local. The local said I was not, and I said I did. There ensued one of those useless exchanges – no you’re not, yes I am. This went on for a split second or two with much positioning and my answer’s better than yours. The true local pointing out that I lived 45kms away in the big town. At some point the visitor asked what I meant. People really shouldn’t ask me questions, it gets tricky, I love to engage, I’m passionate about what I believe so they should be warned.

Little did the visitor know I had been waiting a lifetime for this question.

My answer: I’m local to Australia. Blank stares all round. Then the penny dropped. Derision followed. I never did convince them. Apparently you have to come from somewhere, belong somewhere, be part of something, or the nation, the world, cannot function.

I belong to a small circle of friends who firmly hold to the notion that we belong to each other, and not to any flag, state, or bounded ideal. We don’t much care for petty idealism, sabre rattling politics, flag waving jingoism, or some hyped pride based on place or space. Besides, those beliefs and behaviours have not got us very far.

As the graphic suggests, I’m more for reaching out and taking the hand of another, irrespective of any standard defining characteristics, be they colour, belief, birth country, sexual orientation, class, income, education, and etc. The word foreign is a divisive word, intentionally so, as it defines if you’re from round here or not. I accept that people take pride in where they’re from, and that they need to have conenction and identity, but I wonder if we can dial that back a bit, and focus on being present to hospitality, need, helping, journeying with the other? As is often said, we need to look for what we have in common rather than what divides us.

One of my main influences in life has been music. I have particularly admired Peter Gabriel, formerly of Genesis, who helped pioneer World Music in the late 70s as a fusion of styles and genres working together. Paul Simon has encouraged working with artists from other cultures, notably his album Graceland was founded on this ideal. Robert Plant has similarly worked with and encouraged artists from all over the world.

I was never a diehard Glen Campbell fan, but this song was influential in my thinking. It makes a great point: if we see our brother/sister standing by the road, carrying a heavy load, then it’s up to us to help share the load, to enable the other to get by, to get along. The refrain, “You’ve got to try a little kindness …” is perfect for our world. If we show a little kindness, then the definition foreign becomes redundant, and all people are from round here.

These days I’m local to the globe …

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Filed under community, life, Philosophy/Theology, politics

My Favorite Place

via Photo Challenge: Favorite Place

Augusta, the place where two oceans meet near a river mouth, and where heaven touches earth.

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Above; Early Morning from the deck, looking east across the Blackwood River, and the Southern Ocean beyond.

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Above: The Southern Ocean, and part of our routine has been to walk this beach as part of a loop.

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Above: The Blackwood River, not far from the river-mouth, and this is part of our regular walking route.

Augusta is my favourite place. Although it would be true to say, I have many fave places, but Augusta would be top of the list. It’s not where I work, and I’m not yet living there full time, but we have renovated an older more compact house to be our next step, and later, into retirement. We fell in love with Augusta 35 years ago when we spent some time here on our honeymoon. And we returned regularly over the years for family holidays, eventually being able to afford to buy a house and renovate it. We work about 1.5 hours away and so we come down for our days off and holidays etc. It is my fave place because it has bush walks, river walks biking and kayaking, ocean and beach, forest. The flora and fauna are magnificent, the views are great – restful and restorative. It is a small community and relatively. For us it is a place of happiness, and where we can be creative too.

Paul,

pvcann.com

17 Comments

Filed under beach, boats, bush walking, community, Country, life, nature

Invisible People

via Daily Prompt: Invisible

Back in 2014 the UNHCR worked with addsoftheworld.com to produce an add campaign to bring awareness to the world of the plight of refugees. This particular add was in South Korea.

When I think of refugees I think of the pain of deprivation, hunger, illness, the loss of family, jobs, homes, savings, experiencing poverty, vulnerability, insecurity and the indiffernce of those around them. The grief must be almost crushing, the devastation of loss and change too difficult to contemplate. They are at the mercy of others.

I don’t think of political positioning – is this a leftist issue, or is it liberalism, or whatever? I find politics merely clouds the issue and becomes a smokescreen for ignorance, fear and prejudice. Politics automatically takes a view, a position, and is usually founded on suspicion, even racism. Politics grounds its power in fear and looks for control. Instead I think of the person. If we don’t consider the person, we only ever view them as objects through the political prism, and they become invisble to us as people, and become sub-human, pawns in a political game.

If we burned every flag, removed every national anthem, removed borders and the notion of sovereignty – would it change anything? (which is my preferred fantasy) Probably not as we are creatures that need to create niches, spaces, corners, and familiar places. We will always seek a corporate identity, a local sense of belonging. But just imagine, if we did achieve that level of complete freedom from fear, control and ownership, it might just change our thoughts about the stranger, the alien in the land. If there’s no sovereignty there’s nothing to protect, no line to defend, no one to exclude. Sadly, as documentaries such as ‘The Wave’, ‘Blue eyes, Brown Eyes’ and the ‘Stanford Experiment’ show, if we have power over someone we tend to become indifferent to their humanity.

However, I’m a little more hopeful than the documentary makers, because in the every day I meet wonderfully liberated people who surrender ego and power and see only people irrespective of race, tribe, religion, politics. There are wonderful people who desire to reach out and enable others to thrive. There are many who have given up on politics as an answer, but inhabit the political space in order to bring positive change, to help us be able to see that we are all part of the issue. There are the compassionate and those who seek the common good for all.

In an imperfect world, we can be the difference rather than the indifferent. The add campaign was a media success, though I have not yet discoverd if it was a success in reaching the people, but at least at one level it worked to address the issue of those who are invisible. The enduring question for me is, who am indifferent to and who can’t I see?

Paul,

pvcann.com

12 Comments

Filed under community, education, life, mindfulness, politics

Thought Provoking

via Daily Prompt: Provoke

If you haven’t seen the 2001 movie ‘Samsara’ it is a definite must, for me it has been a thought provoking movie. Don’t confuse it with the doco Samsara of 2012 from the makers of Baraka (a feast for the eyes), or a TV series of that name. This is a simple trailer, but you can find the full movie on Youtube (with subtitles).

The movie title ‘Samsara’ has a particular meaning in Buddhism. It refers to the endless cylcle of birth, death and rebirth, or put plainly – the life of suffering and dissatisfaction (dukka). The movie takes up this theme of suffering and dissatisfaction through the eyes and life of a Buddhist monk called Tashi. Tashi is awakened from a three year solitary meditation period in the mountains, he is now considered an enlightened being. When he returns to the monastery he finds his sexual urges awakening too, and he eventually leaves and marries Pema and runs a farm. But following an infidelity, and news of the death of his monastic mentor, Tashi is wracked by guilt, and eventually decides to leave Pema and his son Karma and return to the monastry. The movie is powerfully emotive, and is both a love story and a spiritual story. If you want to you can stay on the surface with Samsara, but you can also go deeper. Samsara delves into some key issues of life, love. sex, relationship, spirituality, fidelity, and integrity. It is in fact both a sad movie, and one that moves you and offers hope. It carries the message of the need to be careful in discerning one’s path in life, and that self is not always the best reference point in discerning our path.

One of the most thought provoking moments (among many) is the ending, where Tashi encounters a quote on a stone: “How can one prevent a drop of water from ever drying up?” to which the answer is given as: “By throwing it into the sea.” This is taken as a sign that he is drying up and needs to be back in the sea of the monastery. The overall theme is that life in the monstery life is not perfect, but there is more suffering in engaging the life beyond the monastery than inside it. It also speaks very clearly to me that one’s vocational path can become weary, but the grass is not always greener in other places or roles. In one sense, if you’re looking for a happy ending the movie doesn’t resolve well, and yet, if you look deeply into it, it does resolve well because everyone returns to what they believe they are called to be doing. However, the movie dies not condemn nor judge Tashi, but simply observes his choices.

For me the movie speaks strongly of choices yet of discerning the right pathway and being authentic to that pathway (dhamma). Other traditions would talk about sowing and reaping, or – what goes around comes around, or further still – be careful what you wish/pray for. It moved me deeply, I found it hard to rejoin the world for a time after the movie had finished, such was its impact on me. For me it invites the question of – what sea should I be thrown into in order that I not dry up?

Paul,

pvcann.com

12 Comments

Filed under community, environment, history, life, love, meditation, mindfulness, Philosophy/Theology, Spirituality

A Captivating Dream

via Daily Prompt: Captivating

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It is not slender, it is not pretty (to some), it is not straight or elegant or young. It is in fact old, gnarled and mishapen. It has obviously survived fires, storms, wind damage, dry spells and more. Yet it is captivating for the real life it offers. As with any tree it offers me the Co2 – O2 exchange that is vital to my very breath. It provides shade for the understory and any creature that passes by. Many living things exist in its bark, or depend on its leaves, transpiration, or shed detritus that helps form the humous at its base. Its blossom is a source of nectar for indigenous bees as well as European honey bees, and for a variety of insects. Its seed provides new life and is a food source too. Probably the fact that it is so gnarly has saved it from the tree fellers over the past four decades, so it is a survivor. Which just goes to show that looks aren’t everything. I was captivated by it. It is striking by comparison, and stands out in the forest of straight and elegant comapnions.

Back in 1980, the story of Joseph Merrick resurfaced through a movie made by David Lynch, called the “Elephant Man.” It had little chance of being uplifting, it was in fact, deeply saddening. Merrick died at 27 due to compications of his body weight to head weight ratio. I left the movie feeling quite heavy, mostly because of the lack of knowledge then to help him adapt to a better to life, and also because of how some in society treated him. Merrick was a real person, but not everyone treated him as such.

Scroll forward to another movie in 2001, “Shallow Hal” by the Farrelly Brothers. It was a comedy, but a very real look into the real potential for humanity to be superficial and shallow in regard to relationships. It had a manufactured ending, it was after all a work of fiction, so it ended well. But it resonated for me in my experiences of people who only see the surface of anything or anyone. But in reality, as we develop in life, we are all faced with the moment of choice – are relationships merely about taking, or are they mutual? The latter, of course, relies on our wholeness and our ability to see beyond self.

I am captivated by the life force and life giving capacity of the gnarled old tree. I was captivated by the story of Joseph Merrick and his struggle in the sea of human indifference, a short life that, perhaps, only pointed to the need for a better way, but that was something. And I was captivated by the desire of the makers of Shallow Hal to make the movie resolve in favour of true love, honesty, and integrity (but then, it is a hollywood production) in a world where, sometimes, the complete opposite is true in relationships.

My hope, dream, is that we will all be captivated by the real self in relation to other real selves, that we are not blindly becoming consumers of other people, that we’re not just in some symbiotic dependency, but rather in mutual and interdependent relationships that share values and dreams, love, compassion, and hope ….

In a time when our fellow life forms need advocacy, when sexual identity has become a battle ground, when class remains and economic injustice, and where wealth remains an obscenity, and where leadership has become a vacuous celebrity circus, we need the real.

I’m captivated by the potential of all forms of life, in particular, by the potential of humanity to excell and rise above shallow and look deeply inside to see the true beauty of all living things. Imagine.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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