If You Like Losing Control, You’re Living In The Right Era

controlDo you want more or less control over your life? You may not have a choice.

Do things happen in threes for you? They do for me … well, maybe I believe they do so they do. I’m not sure if I’m the created, the creator or the creation. I have no control and I don’t need to know. I just know what works for me and what appears before my jaundiced, opinionated, judgemental eyes.

So, today’s three things:

EuthenasiaFirstly, Philip Nitschke is creating an open source design for a euthanasia machine. So, if you want to end your life you’ll just be able to download, for free, the plans, obtain a 3D printer and your job’s done – you can take charge of your demise without having a group of non-medical people (politicians) who don’t know you, deciding if you can end your life or not. Check the article at http://bit.ly/2CNWCUm.

 

books-magazines-building-school-landscapeSecondly, a Russian neuroscientist, Alexandra Elbakyan, has made 14,000 academic articles available, for free, via her website at http://sci-hub.io/. Previously, academic publishers had a stranglehold on academic publications and it seems they’ve been growing more and more greedy, charging more and more – so greedy that they’ve lost control of their lucrative industry. Check the article at http://bit.ly/2pg5J5v.

5616Thirdly, a report by Finnish education expert, Pasi Sahlberg, says that the Australian education system is failing because of too much control. In 2000 the OECD released its first Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which measured member countries on key education metrics such as literacy and numeracy. The strongest performer was not some global superpower but Finland, a country of about 5 million that doesn’t introduce its children to formal schooling until the age of seven, requires its highly autonomous teachers to have master’s degrees and almost entirely rejects standardised testing … less control creates better education. See the article at http://bit.ly/2m5Src9.

Of course there are moral arguments around euthanasia, copyright and education but I’ll leave the subjective for those with opinions, biases and prejudices.

From the objective point of view, these three are examples of control being taken from authorities and being passed on to the general public … and for free or, in education, for a huge drop in cost.

This is the age we’re living in – The Age of Decontrol. As explained in my book, The Lawless Way, the last 4,000 years have seen the authority over our lives and over our information shift from the ruler/sages (Wu, Moses, Solomon, Tutankhamen etc.), to priests to politicians to scientists and, now, to you and I. As priests, politicians and scientists cling ever more desperately to the crumbling cliff of their arrogance, the freedom of information and action is washing away at the sand beneath them.

File illustration picture showing the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi signThe taxi industry is being decontrolled by Uber. The hospitality industry is being decontrolled by Air BNB. The monetary system is being decontrolled by Bitcoin. The fuel and car industries are being decontrolled by Tesla. The publishing industry is being decontrolled by print-on-demand printing. Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and others are decontrolling the information held by authorities.

China has tried to control Bitcoin but failed. The Byron Bay council (Australia) has tried to control Air BNB but is failing. The American administration is trying to control Edward Snowdon and Julian Assange but has failed. Queensland police tried to control Uber but failed.

Gift-Card-2The trend of those taking control from authorities is set to accelerate and to expand into every aspect of our lives. All attempts at controlling those who are breaking free will fail – that is the age we’re living in. There is no reversing back into the stable of control – the horse is free and isn’t going back. Not for another 2,000 years. Apparently, we chose this time to arrive so we’d better just sit back, enjoy the loosening of control and enjoy our growing freedom.

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The End of Politics?

MarktwainimagesSome are worried about the political disruption and fragility today, a disruption and fragility that will continue till we no longer have a need of politicians. This is heartening, not worrisome, and, below, is a short excerpt from my book, The Lawless Way, which helps explain where we’re all headed …

From 2,000 B.C. to the birth Of Christ

This was the Age of Aries, represented by the ram, a domesticated, group (mob) conscious animal that looks to the earth all day long. Before this time, humans were mainly hunter/gatherers, constantly moving in small groups to where the food and shelter were most plentiful. When food ran out they moved on, simply taking and accepting what nature provided. Like the ram that’s limited by the fences of humans, these people were limited by that which others, or nature, provided.

In the Arian Age people (like the ram) began to gather together in larger numbers and they started to settle in one place, learning to cultivate the land, grow crops and to create more than nature provided. A homeland, a particular place, became more important as land to settle on and to identify with. Even Moses’ people, who wandered for many years, were looking for “their” land. As people settled in larger groups, they created more laws and customs that ensured the efficient and harmonious workings of the tribe. As tribal law and customs developed, so did the strength of the tribe. In time the tribe almost became more important than the individuals in it. Creativity was not owned by individuals but belonged to the tribe. Each person got their identity from the place they held within the tribe, whether it was the medicine woman, the arrow-maker, the shaman or the head person. An old arrow-maker would pick one of the young boys to learn his craft and so each person’s destiny was in the hands of the tribe, as a collective unit. Young people would be observed and it would be decided what their place was to be. They accepted their given “vocation” and they would keep it for life. And, like a swarm of bees where individual bees will sacrifice themselves for the survival of the swarm, individual people would sacrifice themselves for the survival of the tribe.

From the birth of Christ to now

This was the Age of Pisces and was represented by two fish, swimming in opposite directions. The polarity and separation inherent in the fish image dominated this period and it meant that people began to identify themselves, not in relation to their position in the group, but in relation to other individuals around them. Just as the fish can swim anywhere and have no boundaries, so the Piscean person knows no boundaries or limitations, except those perceived by the self. Poor and disadvantaged people have become powerful and wealthy, while others in similar circumstances have remained poor and disadvantaged. The feelings if limitlessness (for some people) have enabled some outstanding achievements for individuals and they have also enabled some incredibly depraved and damaging events to take place as well.

During this era individual effort and creativity was recognised, artists began signing their works and people began to write their diaries. People judged themselves and others by what they could amass in physical assets – land, camels, cars, houses, wives, dynasties, businesses and other worldly chattels. People began to make their own career choices and the needs of the individual, not the group, became paramount. As we became separate from our tribe, we became separate from God, from our Greater Knowing, from Nature and from our neighbour. Rather than look within for our answers, we looked to other passing fish; we bowed and acquiesced to the “greater” knowing of experts – doctors, lawyers, priests, scientists, television, consultants, waradvertisers, teachers and leaders. We travelled across the world and killed each other – not for the survival of our tribe but because we wanted a bigger and more powerful tribe than all the other tribes … and then … there is no “and then”. We simply wanted a bigger and more powerful tribe because we have wanted a bigger and more powerful tribe. It was an end in itself, just as we wanted a bigger and more powerful company, sports team, political party or other tribe. Just as some people collected stamps or teaspoons, some people collected power and this mania for collecting things was an end in itself. As we become separate from our God and our personal truth, we tried to fill that hole (that separateness) in our soul with assets and conquests. We have seen Nature and other people as the enemy and have tried to conquer that which we are not. We felt lonely and apart and we formed unhealthy alliances – gangs, Ku Klux Klan, lobby groups, political parties, marriages and friendships – to feel a connectedness. By using this fear and separation, our leaders have got us to leap over whatever cliff they told us to.

From now to 4,000 A.D.

This is the Age of Aquarius and it is represented by a human providing service, or the human providing sustenance for others. In this new age we are being drawn to find our identity by discovering our purpose and our place in the universal plan, so that we can best serve humanity. In order to find that special place, we are drawn to go inside to find out who we really are and, from that, we can see who we really are in the universal plan – if we don’t go within, we go without.

The Aquarian God is no longer separate from us – “it” is us. We are realising we are Gods, that we are all a part of that which we call God and as we realise the wholistic nature of the universe, we realise the true interconnectedness of all that is. We are now able to conceive of our true Godliness and the power we have as co-creators in our universe – the universe that we are a part of and the universe that we are, within and without. In fact, we are able to conceive of a non-physical God, a God that is simply an energy or, even more invisible, a process rather than a being in any physical form. As we realise our part in our own dramas and crises, we realise that we not only created them but we The Lawless Way 3-D smallhave the solutions within. The millions of people who consciously meditate give credence to the immense power to that which we have within – wisdom, power and knowing. As we find the God/Goddess within, we begin to realise that we don’t need teachers, gurus, politicians or other “experts” to give us our solutions – we are the guru, the rule-maker, the creator, the cause and the result. And, as more people go within (in a multitude of ways) to find their Godliness, their wisdom and power, so more people will simply step away from the many rules created by others. There is no need to put anyone else down or to “fight” the rules – we simply realise that they aren’t a part of our truth and we walk towards our own rules smiling knowingly.

 

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Power of the Invisible

24131036_1591064594266364_1360641806408955734_nThis image was posted on Facebook and many fear the rise of another commercial bubble that’s about to burst. The emperor has no clothes, one said. This is not, however, a passing phenomenom, a transient fashion. The invisible is the new way, as described in my book, The Lawless Way. Below is an excerpt from that book, describing the era we’re now entering, from a Taoish point of view.

From 2,000 B.C. to the birth Of Christ

From an eastern or Taoist point of view, this period was called the Green Yang period, was dominated by the water element and was connected to the emotions. This watery period was best represented by the flood of Noah’s time and the 14-year flood during Emperor Wu’s reign in China. This was also the time of the ruler/sages – the Tao, or deeper knowledge – was held by these wise rulers (Wu, Moses, Solomon, Tutankhamen etc.) and their wisdom was passed on to their successors. The common people didn’t “receive” this wisdom in terms of their own personal enlightenment, empowerment or knowledge. They did benefit, however, by being ruled with wisdom, compassion and justice.

From the birth of Christ to now

lao tsuIn Taoist terms, this was known as the Red Yang Period which was the time of fire and it was marked by earthquakes, volcanoes and continual warfare on a personal, community and global level. During this period, the Tao (The Way or the Great Wisdom) was carried and passed on by sages who were not rulers, but ordinary people – Jesus, Mohammed, Lao Tse, Buddha and so on. The difference here was that these sages took the knowledge to the people – they walked among the common people and taught. However, though the common people were told of the Tao, they tended not to “receive” it or take it on – they would sit at the feet of a great master and from that master they would receive their spiritual sustenance. They could not, generally, become self-empowered or self-sustaining. Again, the Tao was passed from sage to disciple.

Because the Tao was not absorbed by the common people (they believed in it as an outside idea but they didn’t become it or “own” it inside themselves) it was easy for the power brokers to corrupt the simplicity and truths of the teachings for their own ends. We can see how the Catholic Church has corrupted the simplicity of Jesus’ teachings, by creating massive graven images and a very profitable fear-based industry. The same happened in Buddhism where the simplicity of Buddha’s truths have been adorned with elaborate and hugely expensive temples, toys and ceremonies. The bastardisation of the words of Mohammed and every other great sage is blatantly evident today. This was only possible because the common people did not “own” these truths – they simply saw them at a distance. Witness the wisdom of people like Jesus, Stephen Hawking, Helen Keller, Nelson Mandela and others who we admire but are unable to emulate.

From now to 4,000 A.D.

176244-InvisibleThe White Yang Period (Tao) is that which we are now entering and is represented by the invisible – the wind, internet, intuition, magic and the reconnection of science and religion.

The Aquarian God is no longer separate from us – “it” is us. We are realising we are Gods, that we are all a part of that which we call God and as we realise the wholistic nature of the universe, we realise the true interconnectedness of all that is. We are now able to conceive of our true Godliness and the power we have as co-creators in our universe – the universe that we are a part of and the universe that we are, within and without. In fact, we are able to conceive of a non-physical God, a God that is simply an energy or, even more invisible, a process rather than a being in any physical form. As we realise our part in our own dramas and crises, we realise that we not only created them but we have the solutions within. The millions of people who consciously meditate give credence to the immense power to that which we have within – wisdom, power and knowing. As we find the God/Goddess within, we begin to realise that we don’t need teachers, gurus or other “experts” to give us our solutions – we are the guru, the rule-maker, the creator, the cause and the result. And, as more people go within (in a multitude of ways) to find their Godliness, their wisdom and power, so more people will simply step away from the many rules created by others. There is no need to put anyone else down or to “fight” the rules – we simply realise that they aren’t a part of our truth and we walk towards our own rules smiling knowingly.

As we realise that we have the power and knowing within and that what we see is a product of our own individuality, we accept that differences are acceptable (even desirable) and we have less need to make others conform to our own particular “truth”. The Lawless Way 3-D smallWe can see that there has been a huge shift in accepting people of very different behaviours in the past fifty years – sexual preference, cultural beliefs and philosophical biases – and those who still hold to the “perfect” image of what people should be and do, they confuse these “acceptable” differences as rebelliousness and they see anarchy breaking out all over. For those who become aware of the Aquarian way, the lawless way, this anarchy (or rule-breaking) simply does not exist. Rather than rebelling and walking away from the laws and truths of others, we simply walk towards to truth that we are, quite oblivious to the protestations of those who would have everyone toeing the conservative line and being the same. The Aquarian does not compare himself to other passing “fish” as the Pisceans do and the only valid “comparison” is to the wholeness of the universe and part we play in that, in order to create a better universe.

You can buy The Lawless Way from Amazon as a paper book for $11.95 or from Smashwords as a digital book (12 different formats) for $2.99.

 

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Getting Paid For What You’d Do For Free

trampolinephoto1On Friday (27/10/17) Nadia told me about a guy who makes a living from making Youtube videos of himself, bouncing on trampolines. My mind suddenly exploded with the multitudinous ways we could earn a living.

Later that day, as coincidence would have it, Joel and I fell into conversation over the idea that, if we’re doing what we’d happily do for free then that’s the perfect job. My heart suddenly exploded with the desire to find a café and write about this, which I did.

Having written, I realised writing stories in cafés is what I have happily done for free for a very long time. So, how can I make a living from doing that? My mind is feverish with ideas … and this is what I wrote to myself:

One sagely person said that if we’re doing what we’d happily do for free, then we’re in the right job.

I wonder how many people are doing that: being paid for what they’d happily do for nothing. Not many, I imagine.

And that’s kinda’ weird, don’t you think? After all, there’s people being paid to do the most bizarre things … I mean, this morning I heard about someone who makes Youtube videos of him bouncing on a trampoline. He’s got so many followers that advertisers flock to his channel. Paid to bounce up and down in the comfort of his own beach house … how weird and creative is that?

People will happily pay us to do all sorts of crazy, ingenious and fun things and yet the majority of us limit our existence to the most mundane, brain-deadening things we wouldn’t do if we weren’t paid.

There’s several reasons and the first is fear. I mean, we won’t actually die if we try something that’s not obscenely profitable … or vaguely profitable. Rather than risk the ignominy of financial embarrassment, we plump for financial inadequacy, doing what we wouldn’t do in our spare time with people we wouldn’t commune with in our spare time … as if that’s better!

Yes, there’s all these obscenely successful actors and musicians, for example, who were financial failures … for a time. They didn’t die. They were poor and had no guarantee the poverty would dissipate. It might have been hard, depressing and demeaning but they didn’t die. Then, one fine day, the sun came out, they got a break and their finances rose above anything you or I could aspire to.

Woman-Waving-GoodbyeAnother reason for the dumbing down is that we’ve been dumbed down from birth. Witness the parents scuttling round their children at the playground, ready to protect them from harm and constantly calling out, “Be careful!” When we leave on a trip, most people wish us a safe journey. Why not an exciting journey, a peaceful journey, a satisfying journey, an uplifting journey … any kind of journey but a safe one.

We have safety instilled in us at every turn so no wonder we retreat to “safety” when it’s our turn. We cannot not do safety and our default setting is to take the road most travelled, choking in the dust of those dragging their feet before us. We know what’s ahead. We know it’s not glorious. We know it’s not uplifting. We know the certain end. But, at least, it’s safe – we value that above all other.

The third reason could be that we can’t think of that which is inspiring, challenging and uplifting.

You may remember your school’s careers advisor working on your future, on your behalf. They probably had a list of available jobs and then tried to fit your tested talents into one of these boxes.

The problem here is twofold:

Firstly, over 80% of the jobs in the next ten years have not yet been invented, we’re told – they’re not in the career advisor’s list.

Secondly, our greatest, most creative and most fascinating talents have not been tested or brought out by your school’s limited system. Mother Theresa wasn’t tested for compassion at school. Nelson Mandela wasn’t tested for patience or persistence at school. Gandhi wasn’t tested for courage at school.

It’s as if 90% of our aptitudes, the ones our school didn’t test us for, have no relevance.

The ability to spell correctly did not serve Bruce Springsteen. The ability to do algebra did not serve Colonel Gaddafi. The ability to sit obediently and quietly did not serve Margo Fonteyn. The ability to memorise whole tracts of words did not serve Albert Einstein.

However, this inefficient tester of the minority of our abilities and tendencies is what bulldozes us into a job … a job that may not exist in ten years’ time and a job we’re likely unsuited to, given the huge percentage of people in jobs they’re bored or angry with.

So, how do we find that job we’d love to do even if we weren’t paid for it?

letting-goThe first step in any letting go process is to recognise the problem and how it came about. Hold it in your hands and look it in the eye – note its weight, its texture, its colour and the feelings it arouses in you. Is there anger? Despair? Boredom? Depression? Lack of direction? Humiliation? Whatever the feeling, feel it. Take it right into your heart, your gut and experience it. Hold that negative feeling and let it fill every cell of your body … or whatever cells it wants to fill … until it disappears of its own accord. And it will disappear of its own accord.

Denial will only keep the feeling – and the job – in your life. Accept them and they will dissipate. You may need to do this several times and you’ll notice that, each time, the negative feelings will be smaller, quieter and less intense.

We attract what we feel and, as we let them go, the hold your job has over us will go, leaving a space for something more you, more suitable, to come along.

This is step one and we’ll look at step two next week.

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Finding God

st-johns-anglican-cathedral-1-815x458I needed silence, stillness and the Clarity of God so I took myself off to the Anglican church round the corner. Despite the flashing lights on the scaffolding that the men were working from, noisily … despite the wedding couple and their photographer constantly moving lights and camera and chatting incessantly … despite the couple with their baby, talking with the priest about their upcoming baptism while the baby was babbled and splashed water on everyone close by … despite the constant flow of tourists babbling in admiration at the quietness of the grand space … no, despite nothing at all! I could not find God in that church today. Neither silence, nor stillness nor clarity.

I went to the Catholic church, a few blocks away, and saw some of the same tourists; quiet, this time. The whole place was quiet. However, though I saw the tragic figure of Jesus, up close and pained, I could not find God in that church today.

God is not in any of these places, of course. He is in my mind. He is my mind. He is my wide, deep mind that needs my feverish, judging mind to step aside and allow that still, silent voice to whisper forth. I know this but I need, from time to time, to blame something outside God (my mind) in order to appease the guilt I feel for losing the connection with God. He doesn’t mind, though I do.

636029998476160120519033354_self-solitude-II-900x1800-1024x512And so falls peace upon my mind as the writing of these words has brought a remembering of where my true self is – not in the busyness of the scrambling, chattering world but in that unmovable stillness that resides within.

I breathe and feel a certainty, a peace, arise. I feel no clarity but, neither, do I feel a need for it. Needlessly, I am content with the peace, and I sigh and smile.

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The Tin Leg and Shaky Cyprus

The topic from Ipswich Writers, Queensland, was a story about thunder, a magnet and smiles. Here’s my contribution …

The_British_Army_in_North_Africa_1942_E17797Got me bung leg in the war, see. Well, actually, got me leg a bit earlier, back when I’s born. Got them both way back then, along with all th’other bits I got now. Some’s got bigger and some’s got less – chopped me finger off’n the saw mill, lost a bit of ear in a pub fight.Tthings like that.

So, yeah, back in the war. Fightin’ the Krauts, in the desert and, y’know, got me real confused. Cos, wassa’n Aussie roustabout doin’ defendin’ Africa from German sauerkraut growers, or whatever they were? I mean, none of us belonged there, none of it was our sand. And we was bangin’ away at each other like it was our Motherland, defendin’ it with our lives, losin’ our best mates over it, spending millions on the stupid drama. Got me beat how life works itself out for ya. Stopped tryin’ to work it out now but, back then, young fella’, trying to make sense of everything; it just gave me a headache tryin’ to figure it out.

See, I’s curious back then. Knew darned near everything, so I thought, and what I didn’t, burned my brain tryin’ to git answers. Did me brain no good, served me ego up nothing but an empty plate of nuttin’ and the world’s still a puzzle.

Don’t get why we have to rush around shootin’ and making a mess of everything. Got enough to contend with in our own back yard, all of us, haven’t we?

We can’t feed our homeless but we can send idiots to Afastan, or whatever they call it, to kill a mob of other folk minding their own business in their own sand dunes. Seems like you’re employed by the government to do it and they call you a soldier and a hero. But if you’re employed by someone else or work for yourself, they call you a murderer and a criminal. Not wastin’ me time burnin’ up me brain on that one, though I did when I’s a young soldier and hero back then.

Yeah, stood on a knob, looking for desert rats when one shot me leg. Jeez, talk about schnell! Schnell, schnell, schnell, I was runnin’ like the clappers down that bloody hill, scared witless and crashed into the trench and couldn’t stop pantin’ and sweatin’ for days, it seemed like. Shakin’ like a blowfly in a hurricane, a dingo in a ditch, and they called me a bleedin’ hero! Get the shakes when I think about it even now. One minute I’m bullet-proof and cocky. The next I’m bullet-kissed and turned to porridge. No bloody heroes here, mate. Just frightened kids cryin’ to mummy and daddy. They gave me a medal but it didn’t get my leg back so lotta’ good that was. Medals healed nothing and,

if anything, kept the wounds of bitter old men open so they can pretend they’re tougher than they are; remembering memories that never happened.

So, anyway, the saw doctor did his best with me leg, out there in somebody elses’s desert while we choked on dust and fear. Got most of the bullet out but none of the pain and I was shipped off to a tent hospital in Cyprus. Na, don’t ask me how I ended up there – another brain fryer, that one. So, there’s this Greek doctor – suppose he was Greek cos I couldn’t understand a word he mumbled. Coulda’ been Eskimo for all I knew. Anyway, they’s in the war like the rest of Europe and he had to cobble up parts as best he could. Bits of metal from here and there.

Had to cut it off below the knee, make up a tin leg and foot – great panel beater he was – and I spent the rest of the war hoppin’ round like a drunk wallaby. Pain every time I moved and I suppose it got better or maybe I just got used to the pain. Keep punchin’ a wall for long enough and your fist goes numb, I guess.

Well, I soon found out I had new magic powers. Not like you’d wear a cape or undies on the outside for. Just a little magic power, like a party trick. Bits of me leg, see, was magnetic. Things stuck to it – teaspoons, keys, other stuff. Caused a bit of interest with the locals, walkin’ round jangling and bits stuck to me. It’s how I met Astraia, actually. Her name sounded like my country, like, and it was a good excuse to check her out.

I’d noticed her around; at the hospital, the beach, in town. And asked about her. Couldn’t stop thinkin’ ‘bout her. Not sure why, really. I mean, who’s to say why your eyes hook into one beautiful woman and not another? And, I tell you, there’s lots of beautiful women back then, in Paphos, in Cyprus. So, my eyes liked her and her name tickled my fancy but I assumed she had no interest in a tin-leg from the other side of the world who couldn’t speak her lingo.

868Then, one day, it all went quiet. That constant sea breeze stopped suddenly. The birds stopped chattering. I looked around and they weren’t there. Just gone. The cats and dogs all scampering round, lying in the sun or peein’ on lamp posts had all gone. One minute there. Next they’s gone. The swirlin’ dust in the streets settled down for a sleep. An’, the few people out and about … well, we just looked at each other like we knew something was wrong but we didn’t know what it was.

Sometimes, when you’re scared, you run. And sometimes you’re stuck to the dirt – paralysed. So, there we were, looking at each other and wondering why no one was moving and not knowing what way to go, anyway, as we didn’t know where the trouble was coming from or what it was.

Silence. Complete silence. Like the earth breathed in a big breath and was holdin’ it, ready for a big exhale that didn’t come. Even the clouds skittered off.

Then it started. My foot started rattlin’. Then my whole leg. Tin banging against tin. I tried to stop it but it got worse – my whole body shakin’ and I’s wondering why. Then realised the ground was quivering and the only sound was my clanging leg; cluncky, cluncky, cluncky.

I heard giggling and looked back and there was Astraia chuckling at me. She was pointing at my leg, kinda’ laughing and kinda’ nervous. I thought she needed reassurance, a hug or something. So hobbled over to her and, as I did, the quivering stopped. So did my clattering leg. All back to normal. The first and last earthquake I ever experienced and don’t want another.

So, got to her and she’s still pointin’ at my leg, eyes as big as baboon bums. Then the cannon boomed in my ears and I dived for the dirt. Took her down with me. Soldier’s reflex, I guess. It boomed again and the rain started, pitter patter at first. I realised it wasn’t a cannon but thunder up the mountain. Mount Olympus.

I scooped her up and she didn’t protest. Whimpered a bit and hung on round me neck while I raced to the nearest door. Knocked and an old lady let us in as the downpour started. The thunder kept crashin’ round the hills but the sound of the rain out-crashed it – solid buckets of it kicking up dust and mud, blasting down on terracotta rooves, bouncin’ off cars, stinging donkeys. Hell, what a racket!

Astraia and I and the old lady just looked out the window, wordless and dumbstruck. Then I realised a boy was with us – maybe fifteen or so – talking in Greek and English. Twenty minutes later the rain just stopped, like it had never happened. Sun came up, smiled the wet away and there’s this uneasy, weird feeling that something had happened but there’s no evidence of it.

But more happened.

Astraia seemed to remember my leg and started talking and pointing. I looked back and the boy started laughing his head off. Then he translated.

Astraia had been fascinated by my magic leg that could pick stuff up. Then it jangled and made the earth move. Then it started the rain. I tried to explain it all to the boy in English and God knows what he told her but she chuckled and leaned into me, looking relieved. That was fine with me. Very fine.

jolie-sculpture-a-coteWell, that’s when my Greek lessons started in earnest and, after a few weeks of brain-ripping learnin’, I found she wanted to leave her little island for a bigger, more progressive country.

Well, few years later, was demobbed and could afford a proper, non-squeaking leg and a foot that hinged at the ankle. Then off to Cyprus to pick up the woman who stole my heart.

In a way, I miss the old tin leg and the tricks it played but, since then, the earth’s moved plenty of times – lots of quivering and quaking – and I gotta’ be grateful to that bloody German sniper for his bullet. I wouldn’t be smilin’ like I am, without him.

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Scars Don’t Sweat

A book is inspired while digging my driveway

maxresdefaultSitting in the cool comfort of an air-conditioned café in Brisbane, I recalled a different situation two days ago – a much more strenuous situation.

I was digging a trench along my driveway, the Queensland sun lashing me hotly as I swung the pick at the resistant, drought-stricken dirt. I chanced to look down at my legs, plastered with dust that stuck to the sweat. Then I noticed pristine, dust-free patches that showed up scars from long ago – some from over sixty years ago.

The phrase, Scars Don’t Sweat, arose in my empty brain as I took a breath before pounding the rock-hard dirt again. The phrase wouldn’t go away. Scars Don’t Sweat.

That afternoon we went to a nephew’s wedding and, despite the jollity of the occasion, the phrase remained stuck to my mind, as dust had stuck to my sweaty legs. Scars Don’t Sweat.

Along with the phrase came the thought that it would be a great book title and I wondered what it could be about – maybe a novel, maybe a personal development book … I queried my muses but all they’d tell me was that it’d be a good book.

No book ideas have come to mind so, knowing the universe abhors a vacuum, abhors inactivity and celebrates movement, I just started swinging my pen at the drought-stricken page, knowing the idea would come.

“Turn up at the page,” I tell my writing students and so I took my own advice.

So, Universal Mind, Oh Great Story Releaser, tell me what I have to liberate onto this tabla rusa, this blank and voracious story-taker. Narrate me a narration, tell me a tale, plant me a germ of an idea and I’ll give it breath, give it life, help it run.

Scars Don’t Sweat. And a tale did turn up, a true and vicarious one.

 Scars Don’t Sweat

They snatch these things from us and then expect us to give them back … to keep giving them back.

resxpectRespect.

Self-confidence.

Compassion.

Honesty.

Empathy.

When they go, they’re gone, from thief and victim. We rob the world when we steal from others and that’s how we steal from ourselves.

These scars, these ripped and calloused wounds, close up on a dry and juiceless limb. Their edges cower in and harden together, concealing nothing but the emptiness of a burgled house.

By extraction do we shrink the world and by theft do we rob ourselves, becoming the bitterness we leave with others.

Yes, you will say we make our own choices; that we can find our own respect, compassion and trust. You’re right. Stephen did find these better things. I have. But – yes, there’s always a but – Stephen didn’t find these better things so easily; these things once stolen in his childhood. Stolen from his childhood. Bereft of examples to emulate, he could only parrot the behaviour of the man who was nearest to him, the man who could direct and misdirect his life. Then, when that man was despatched, Stephen was left with a soul full of that man’s agony, anger and avarice. His body could act the gentleman, the friend, the carer, but his heart remained black and blue, bruised and torn.

We knew Stephen the gentleman, the friend, the carer, but, sooner or later, we’d see flashes of the tortured and lonely boy hiding inside. We can hide for only so long. Eventually, we must emerge and it’s only those closest who know the scornful looks, the jagged words, the turned back. Intimacy breeds not contempt but awareness. With awareness of the demons thrashing inside the circus tent, we can choose derision or compassion. People, then, came to love or hate Stephen, a choice that none bore with ease.

A man of success, justice and secret generosity, his history can be told a thousand ways, depending on which of the thousand who knew him you were.

My story of Stephen is my story of me … or, should I say, the way I choose to perceive the world we both inhabited. I went from admiration to shock to disgust to compassion to anger to bitterness to friendship, as I did with my own sweet self. My journey with others is my journey with myself and I have long resisted telling this tale lest it reveal too much of myself.

CA-give-a-damn-button_busy_beaver_button_museumHowever, having become a friend to me, I’ve now lost the need to conceal. I recently realised I can no longer be an actor for I can no longer pretend that I give a damn.

All I can give is the truth and any damn I might give is long gone.

Here, then, is the story of Stephen Daniels, an ordinary man in an ordinary world, caught up in extraordinary stupidity – the stupidity of those who choose not to befriend themselves.

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