Live in the Present Moment

via Daily Prompt: Present

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One of my favourite lines from Winnie the Pooh, and, as with many Pooh sayings, profound. Today is the present moment, there is no other.

Living in the pesent moment has deep roots in many cultures. Living in the present moment is aided my a number of helpful practices, all mindful, all

I am told that among the Australian Aboriginal peoples there is Digerie, a contemplative practice. Notably, the word digerie is the root of digeridoo, the wooden wind instrument. Buddhism, Hinduism, Tao, and several other practices, all encourage meditation in some form. Even within the Christian tradition, meditation developed in the desert monastic communities of the third and fourth centuries. Now there are other non-aligned forms of meditation. Jon Cabat-Zinn at MIT has done substantial research in meditation, showing that it has multiple benefits. Meditation is a pure form of living in the present moment, putting aside all distraction and pressure and focussing on one’s breath and mantra is releasing. To put aside the current crisis, to let go of the tyranny of time, to engage with stillness and breathing is fabulous. Through meditation I can live in the present moment, and I find I’m better for it. I notice more about my responses, behaviour, and thinking. I am challenged to let go of the past and embrace the present. The stillness grounds me so that I am able to face doubt, and the endless permutations of my mind (the monkey mind, of which the Aussie version is a tree full of Galahs).

Jan Glidewell once said: “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.”

When our lives are completely filled up with the stuff of doing, there is little time for being. Be still for a moment, breathe, focus, let time slip away, and make space in your arms for the present.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Courage Under Fire

via Daily Prompt: Courage

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Photo: UK Department for International Development.

There are many stories of courage throughout history. Wartime in particular seems to courageous people to the fore. Those who fought in the resistance groups during WW2, and individuals like Maximilian Kolbe https://pvcann.com/2017/10/18/brave/ , Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Nancy Wake, John Rabe, Oscar Schindler, and many, many more.

But more recently I have been moved by the courage of the young woman in the photo, Malala Yousafzai.

Most of you will know the story. Malala, born in Mingora in the Swat Valley in Pakistan in 1997, she became an advocate and an activist for womens education rights. She was inspired by her father’s humanitarian work, and Benazir Bhutto, as role models. She came up against the Taliban who were active in the Swat Valley, and who were banning girls from schools. She began writing a blog for teh BBC under a pseudonym and spoke out about her life under the Taliban. She came to prominence in the international media nad was interviewed by New York Times journalist Adam Ellick. And then Desmond Tutu nominated Malala for teh International Children’s Peace Prize.

Her prominence earned the anger of the Taliban who attempted to murder her. And she was shot on October 9, 2012 (yes it was that long ago) and survived, and with hopsital support in both Pakistan then England she made a full recovery. While being shot is never good, it did gain her international fame, which she immediately channelled into her activism for girls education in Pakistan. She set up a web site, continued to write and speak publicly, toured the world, did a TED talk (which is well worth taking the time to view), and set up a foundation called the Malala Fund where most of her award money is then distributed to education casuses across the world. she has shown a generosity in time, compassion and funding.

She has won over fifty international awards for her work for children’s education rights. And in October 2014 Malala was a joint recipient (with Kailash Satyarthi) of the Nobel Peace Prize (sad note here is that Malala is only the sixteenth female recipient, there are ninety male recipients).

She was courageous the moment she determined she wanted to persist in being educated, claiming that the terrorists did not want women to be educated because that would give them power. The moment she started to advocate and became a public activist in her own province and then started a blog, she was courageous, and on a collision course with the Taliban. And her fate was sealed when she gained international fame, and the Taliban decied to be rid of her. But she survived, and Malala continues to be courageous in her activism for the education of children, especially girls. She is doubly courageous, facing down the Taliban, but also the culture of patriarchy across the world that is still resistant to the rights of women, not least of all in education, in many parts of the world today (strange how far we haven’t come).

We need more Malalas, more courageous people to stand and turn the tide of injustice, but as she shows, it is simply sticking to what you beleive and setting out and doing it come what may (even the Taliban). One of Malala’s inspirations is Benazir Bhutto, mine is Malala.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Rubes, Bumpkins and Hillbillies

via Daily Prompt: Rube

Rube, bumpkin, hillbilly. How easy it is to teter on the edge of comedy and slur. The Beverly Hillbilles was good for a laugh, and so was Petticoat Junction, and who remembers Ma and Pa Kettle? It’s okay to poke fun at abstract characters and behaviour, but I draw the line at belittling people by labeling them with a put-down or slur. I am probably one of the few who refuse to laugh at the memes depicting Walmart customers as bumkins and morons, my guess is there’s a lot more going on in people’s lives than we can ever know. It’s easy to laugh at others, but it’s worth checking why you’re laughing.

For a delightful challenge to stereotyping it’s worth watching the movie ‘Nell’ with Jodie Foster.

I love Plato’s oft quoted phrase: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Steam Punk Costume

via Daily Prompt: Costume

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(Photo: i.pinimg.com Maria Berseneva Photography)

Steam Punk is a sub-genre of science fantasy/science fiction, but is more commonly referred to as speculative fiction. It combines 19th century art and design forms, clothing in particular, with elements of steam powered machinery, and other mechanics of that era. It is, in short, a design aesthetic. Steam Punk proposes an alternative 19th century history, and is therefore anachronistic,  often set in Victorian England or the “Wild West”of America. Its philosophy is a combination of Victorian industrial progress and the hope of the 19th century art and literature. There’s a slogan that is used in Steam Punk circles – “This is what the past would have looked like if the future had happened sooner.”

It has been used in film, ‘Cowboys and Aliens’, ‘Wild, Wild West’, ‘Van Helsing’, ‘Hellboy.’ There are elements in the historical episodes of Dr. Who, and in the literature of Jules Verne

As with Cyber Punk and Cosplay, the costumes are a matter of personal taste and design.

I love the creativity of those engaged with the costumery, it fires the imagination, and I can see its appeal. I could look at this stuff for hours.

But my Steam Punk wouldn’t be Steam Punk, nor would it be a romanticised version of some era, though it would be a combination of eras and hopes, and therefore framed idealistically. My alternative history would be based around eschewing violence, all violence, from sexual, to gender, to poltical, playground (not sure if there’s a difference there), domestic, class, environmental, and well, violence. I want to see creative costumes of compassion, respect, care, inclusion and integrity. I want industrial strength love of all kinds. I want costumes that shout justice and mercy.

Johnny it's Rotten
punked, but not forgotten
the blossom weeps
©Paul

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Suspicious?

via Daily Prompt: Suspicious

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One of Orwell’s famous lines in ‘1984’ “Big Brother is watching you” is the classic ‘art imitating life’ become life itself in a macabre twist.

Fear rules, and in several of our recent federal advertising campaigns, citizens were urged to report anything suspicious to the authorities. All aimed at refugee and imigrant groups, well let’s be honest, Muslims, and their behaviour, because you never know when they might try to enact a terrorist attack. Which reminds me – out of the eight supposedly terrorist incidents reported here in the media, three were found to have substance, and two tragically lead to death (notably, mental ilness was the significant factor and not religion or politics, and certainly not “terrorism”).

Minimizing crime and destruction is a good thing, but there will always be places where you can’t get a clear CCTV picture, or where the dots in an investigation can’t be joined. We have beome focussed on eradicating threat, and in essence we are really trying to nulify death itself, we are pop-insurance junkies. Yes, prevention is a positive ideal, but it isn’t a guarantee or a cure all.

My concern is that we are losing our focus. Feeding suspicion is divisive and destructive in its own way. We need to check our suspicion, what is the driving fear, the motive? Who is driving it? Who stands to gain?

Instead we need to build trust not division. Besides, a trusting community will be stronger than a suspicious community; it will develop an oppenness, a trust, respect and strong bonds, compassion and cooperation, and it will develop resiliance, so that when tragedy does occur, there is a strength to face it together, and not in fear.

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Don’t Lecture Me!

via Daily Prompt: Lecture

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Well, not if they’re good friends, and not if they’re excellent professionals in their field (counselling, medical, teaching …). Education has taken it’s own path in modern history from chalk and talk to interactive learning. TED Talks have offerd a variety of creative learning and engaging experiences through resentations that are more like a conversation than a lecture. While counselling has moved from directive processes to a person centered listening engagement. And parenting has, ever since PET and other more recent forms of parenting, moved from punishment based models to active listening and problem solving models. Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa led the push for a restorative justice model known as the Truth and Reconcilaition Commission (as already used in Argentina, Nepal and El Salvador) rather than a lecture/punishment model so that people could be heard on both sides.

If I’ve messed up I really don’t need someone to state the obvious, I just need to be heard. If you can get to my feelings, to my core, if you can enable to express my feelings, I can move one, I can grow, I can change. If we deal with the affective we can effect change within.

If you want me to learn you need to do more than just expect me to transfer your learning to pages or folders as your notes stored by me. If you engage me in conversation, discussion and other ways of interractive learning, then I will retain and learn, because I can value you and your experience if I am in turn valued. I grow by observing and by engaging, discussing,  with others. And, learning helps rewire the brain! Lectures are static in the main, whereas discursive learning and engagement are dynamic and empowering, drawing from the well deep within ourselves. Engage me, don’t lecture me!

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Watch Me Pull A Real Me Out Of A Hat!

via Daily Prompt: Conjure

Rocky and Bulwinkle, it passed the time, and when I really should have been doing homework. Bulwinkle’s conjuring trick, which should be pure legerdemain, that polished slight of hand, becomes a comic twist, whereby the trick works, Bulwinkle conjures, he conjures all sorts of animals, in fact everything but a rabbit!

In another sense, how do we pull ourselves out of a hat? What of ourselves do we conjure? Do we pull out everything for the world to see, everything except the real me? The message of Bulwinkle is simply that he doesn’t do the trick properly, he’s half-hearted, sloppy. He doesn’t concentrate, he just rummages then pulls whatever he latches onto. He’s too busy trying to rush to impress. Life’s a bit that way too. If we want to achieve something but we’re not intentional in how we go about it then, it ends up misfiring, we don’t quite get to where we want to be. If we’re sloppy and half-hearted why should we expect our results to be any different? If Bulwinkle had wanted the rabbit he would have had to be more intentional about it. And that’s exactly what we need to do too, we need to be intentional about what it is we want for ourselves, otherwise we’ll conjure a whole lot stuff, but not the real thing. If we’re too busy trying to rush to impress, then we will always lack authenticity. Be Intentional about those aspects of yourself you wish to draw into the world for others to see.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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