Sunday, February 28, 2010

Comments from everyone enabled!

Sorry to those who have contacted me about difficulties leaving comments.  I am very new to this blogger architecture and have only just discovered how to set it up so anyone can comment without having to have 'an identity'.  Which I have done.  So fire away.

Here is a picture. It illustrates what great results you can achieve with an "ambidextrous sleeping style" and nothing else, according to this capacious cranium's owner, Horatio T Birdbath.  As this man is a dentist, we can't show his face on the internet.*

No hair products were harmed in the making of this image.

* May not be true.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New links added

Everyone, you might notice there's a new section over on the left there, down a bit, with links to a couple of sites.  It's not going to be a big list as I'm pretty picky, but I love these two. 

There is The Herbalist,  a site of my friend Dipaunka who, you guessed it, is an exceptionally good herbalist and natural healer, among other talents and attributes.  There's lots of stuff there about herbs, food, health, and it's a good link point to stacks of other great sites too.

Also, I have linked the Blenderized Diet group - it's a Yahoo group.  This is a lot more specialised, being a supportive forum for those who are tube-fed (like me) or care for someone who is and who are into the benefits of ingesting Real Food rather than just canned medical formulas.  If this is you, you'll find it the best resource on the net.  Plus, everyone there seems to be a top person. 

If you know of a site that might interest me or other readers here, please just pop it in the 'comments' box and we'll have a look see.

The World Is What You Think It Is, the ongoing ballad of Peter Garrett

My apologies to readers outside of the sphere of media that covers Australian politics; for the background on the story you could start here or there's a reasonable news story you could try here


In short, Peter Garret has now been demoted but remains a Minister, just not one with the responsibility for the allegedly 'failed' and 'disatrous' insulation rebate scheme.  What has really happened, I wonder?

Apparently (and I say this from scanning multiple sources, not being a talkback listener myself) the talkback airwaves have been thick with terrified people wondering if their houses will suddenly catch fire from dodgy insulation installations done under the scheme.  The Opposition has been calling for a sacking "if the Minister will not resign."  The PM has "taken full responsibility" as head of the Government, refusing such a sacking as Mr Garret is "a first-class Minister." Or at least that was until Friday.

Everyone here is seeing a different thing.  And the various streams and arms of the media (an interesting mixed image there) as usual vary with their use of facts and opinion.

In fact, today is the first day I've actually seen any facts on this situation presented.  And that was in a smallish article in the Australian Financial Review.  

The facts, briefly, are these:

4 insulation installers have died on the job since the introduction of this scheme, 1 of heat exhaustion and the others from electrocution.

93 house fires have been linked to insulation installation in the same period.

Well over a million extra houses have been insulated under this scheme.

It is also thought. but not yet a fact, that a significant number of installations of foil insulation may have resulted in roof spaces being 'electrified'.

Some other relevant facts, which have been reported now, after the demotion of Minister Garrett.

There are no accurate records kept by workers compensation bodies for types of death and accident specifically for insulation installers.  However, it is noted that a category used which includes insulation installers and other similar workers is rated as twice as dangerous for injury and death as other construction trades on the whole.  It has always been a dangerous business.  Roofs are dangerous to humans, which is one reason we don't live there.  There is no evidence to suggest that injuries or deaths have increased as a proportion of installations since the scheme started.

According to collated data from fire services across Australia, the incidence of house fires per installation has in fact decreased dramatically. 

So, it's not about these facts then.

Of course, none of this actually matters once it's all been a political football for a few days.  Kevin Rudd (Australian Prime Minister) has made a tactical decision not to offer a scapegoat to the opposition, but to bow to increasing public concern about My Garrett's ability to handle things.  The main agenda for Kevin is soothing the public's panic, especially as the upcoming election will be played out in the media with much emphasis on the environment and such things.  And not losing a guy who he thinks captures (still, fingers crossed, thinks Kevin) a certain segment of the voting populace for his party.

So there's a Joelene Public talkback person seeing the world as a place where a rock-star incompetent has personally gambled with the safety of pensioners everywhere, and should be sacked.  For her in this moment the world is a place of fear and anger, where issues must be shouted at for a sense of personal empowerment.  I wonder if she's happy?

There's an opposition leader who is callously deciding to ignore any hard data (didn't his predecessor have a little trouble with factual inaccuracies too?) and just driving hard for some public-sentiment-stirring to gain a personal victory and claim a scalp for his team.  In this moment he is seeing the world as a battleground for his personal fortunes.  I wonder if he has contentment?

Over here is a bewildered installation installer now without a job, since the scheme's been suddenly axed.  She may be seeing the world as a cruel boom-or-bust place in which he has little influence.  I wonder if she feels secure?

Just to the right there is a news service editor, keenly observing all the other reportage and the mood of the likes of Joelene Public.  Perhaps since a public hanging has been averted he sees the world as a place where he'll now have to hunt out a fresh story to sell copy.  I wonder if he is at ease?

We could go on.  Of course, there is the man at the centre of it all - until yesterday that is - Peter Garrett.  I cannot begin to guess how he might be feeling right now. Perhaps I hope just a little relieved now.

And all the while, the world has been turning, new lives have begun, others ended, there have been tears and laughter, and everything has carried on as usual.  Many have stopped for a moment here and there and just quietly questioned how it is they are seeing the world, and wondered if it might not feel a bit better seeing it slightly differently.

So some might choose to just have compassion for instance, for all concerned.  I am fairly certain that no-one in this whole saga really wants to find themselves there, deep down.  So, some might take a moment and choose to feel compassion for those whose lives have been ended and their loved ones of course, the politicos, the commentators, the afeared, the outraged, the judgemental, the confused, the sad, and the lonely.  And thus, they might see the world as a compassionate place.

I wonder if they might have peace, at lesst in that moment?

And thus, shine a little of that light for us all.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Memento Mori

Today I woke up in A Mood.  This hasn't happened too frequently lately, and fortunately I recognised it before getting out of bed, even.  You know, the sort of mood where you just chronically fault-find with everything; trees are the wrong colour, the weather is unfairly curtailing your enjoyment of life, and so on.  I call it Grumpy.

"Oh well," thinkest I, "this too shall pass."  And I did my best not to bite my wife's head off about nothing, or be curt with the animals, and only failed a bit.  OK.  Today is Friday, which means the Gathering of The Form Guide, so Meeta can engage in the dual pastime of work and pleasure that is 'studying the form' for tomorrow's horse races.  I often go out to get it, I enjoy that sort of thing often, and it's a kindness I can offer.  Besides, I thought the outing might help my mood and our 'second car' really needed some use.  It has no aircon, and the daytime temperature has not dropped much below 40C these last weeks so we've been obviously preferring the other vehicle.  It was early, and not too hot yet.

The term memento mori comes from the art world, and refers to a work of art (usually a painting or a sculpture) whose purpose in part is to remind the viewer that they will die.  It's where we get the English word memento.  It can also refer to the habit of some painters from the medieval European period onwards to include little skulls tucked away in corners of paintings, and things like that.  In fact, the memento mori was a very common meme in that time, with royals carrying around pocket watches carved in the shape of skulls, and church and public art everywhere celebrating the theme of death.

So, down in our tiny shopping mall today, having bought the Form Guide, I had a memento mori moment courtesy of Wendy's.  For those elsewhere, Wendy's is a franchised chain of cheap 'n cheerful icecream/shake/donut/hotdog places, almost always in those tiny island stand-alones on shopping mall concourses.  They are hot pink and vile in every way.

As a child, I was rather partial to a lime thickshake.  Sickly sweet, evil green, thick fatty paper buckets of the stuff.  I didn't have them very often, as they made me feel a bit sick afterwards, but somehow this never stopped me wanting another one.  I was hungry today as I left the newsagents, and habitually glanced about for any quick and tasty treats with which I might reward myself and up my mood before heading back home.  In the next instant, maybe half a second's worth, I had two entirely antipathetic thoughts.  Simultaneously.  It's like when you're at the beach near the rocks and those sideways waves smash into each other.

From the left came the thought as I espied Wendy's that "I'm really up for a lime thickshake right now just like I used to have as a kid, and that's sort of funny because it's really the same consistency as....."

And from the right came "What a shit that you can't even enjoy the silly and simple pleasure of a childhood treat anymore, and somehow it's even worse because you know it would just make you feel sick....and you wouldn't care...."

And together these add up to a memento mori moment.  Because of course, I cannot eat.  Or drink.  Everything that goes into my stomach does so by way of my PEG tube.  And my feeds, whether canned formula or those I blend up myself, are about the same consistency as a thickshake.  I guess the poignancy is that there's a part of me that wants to splash out and enjoy those little things 'one last time' as I head slowly into my end-time (at least in my internal reality) and yet precisely because of the symptoms of my increasing decrepitude I just cannot.

Desire for lime thickshake = death.  Ha - in so many ways, now that I think about it.

Because when you die, you lose everything that comprises life in the 3rd dimension.  And I have lost so much of it already, yet I am still here, living well, or well enough!  This may be the definition of bittersweet.

I probably am not imparting the poignancy of it very well, but after a moment of abject soul-poverty, I found myself having a little gentle chuckle at the cosmic humour of it all, turning around, heading for home and a feed, and being thankful that I had been spared the ordeal of a lime thickshake. 

One last word on this.  I would really like to know who was responsible for the name of the canned formula that I use.  It's called Jevity.  I think it's a fabulous play on words, from longevity.  It's like saying "well, since you're using this formula chances are you won't be living all that long, but hey, you still have the Jevity part!  At least you're still alive!" 

\My mood is now restored, normal transmission has been resumed.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quote of the moment department

"If we, the citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams."

 - Yann Martel, author.

Strange Love Part II - now with added Strange

Just a thing that popped in to my head following the last post.

I once saw a film, cannot for the life of me remember the name of it, but it was some American rom-com thing and (if my memory is any guide at all) mainly forgettable.  Something about a soon-to-be-wed young couple learning some of life's lessons in small-town middle America.  BUT, one moment has stuck firmly in my mind.

John Goodman was playing a kindly redneck type, and in this scene he and a friend or two were drunkenly holding forth to the young male lead, opining on the subject of relationships.  He makes sure he has his listener's full attention, and slurringly but intensely begins,

"You always gotta remember...... the thing is...."
"The only thing you always gotta remember, the secret to a successful marriage...."
"You always gotta remember.......there's another person there."

Maybe it should be like the 11th Commandment or something.  Or the 1st Commandment of Harmonious Relating.  Or the 1st Law of Healthy Resolution to Differences of Opinion (Conflict).

Wisdom can come from the most unlikely sources, yes?  Anyone know the movie?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Strange Love; or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Conflict

I've been such a conflict avoider in my life.  Of course, this was for a bunch of very good reasons to do with emotionally surviving my childhood - the way most of our deep wounds are garnered.  So I learned to turn this skill increasingly to my advantage as time went on, seeing as how I couldn't seem to shake the habit.  For example, I developed a reputation for being a greast 'coper', a safe haven type in the eye of a crisis storm, that sort of thing.  Because I found ways not to buy into conflicts.

There's this old thing about 'faking it till you make it,' and it's not all bunkum.  It's in lots of ways the core of how we learn stuff.  In a spiritual sense things like shamanic practice are very kindred with this way of seeing.  So my silver lining is that eventually, despite it initially being nothing more than a defence mechanism, I began to learn some genuine detachment.  Sweet.  But wait, there's more.  Because here we have a positive feedback loop, yes?  Now I'm getting even more value from conflict avoidance, reinforcing it as a good way to live.

Well, it is and it isn't.

Surely you've noticed the tendency life has to bash you about the head with stuff you need to address for your own growth whenever you aren't working in the groove of that already.  So, natch, I have found myself constantly challenged by those who seem to view conflict entirely differently.  Taking the long view, this may explain why I manifested the childhood that I did.  Another story there though.

I am aided in my quest to experience unwanted conflict by my (un?)natural lack of tact.  Tactfulness is something I have had to work quite hard at and amusingly (for me anyway) still frequently fail at.  Sorry if what I just said in any way offended anyone then - I wouldn't know :-).  And again, natch, I can spot someone with a similar path or stream going on and tactlessly fall straight in to spreading The Good Word on it all, in order that we both shall learn, perhaps.  They do say "you teach what you most need to learn."  Then again they also say "those who can, do - those who can't, teach."

Hypocrisy is OK, you know.  As we used to say in the schoolyard, "It takes one to know one."  Then again we also used to say "the one who smelt it dealt it."  Jesus was not without sin, and Christians seem to have no problem getting past that.  You can be impefect and a wonderful, valuable being at the same time, yes?


This is the core of what I'm getting at here.  Conflict can be a perfectly useful thing, when done with respect.  It's just that my early experiences were so soul-thumpingly disrespectful that it's taken me some many miles to really see and own this.

Conflict happens when two or more people see the same thing differently and at least one of them feels sufficiently motivated to try and help another party see/hear/feel/understand this thing the same way they do.  And the other resists.  For without resistance, there is no conflict.

Worth noting here that my opinion (as all of this is, please don't forget that) is that conflict has no place in matters of the spirit or the heart.  We of course are moved by our hearts to enter into conflict, and to wish to prevail, but the 'battleground' of the useful conflict will always be that of definitions, of intellect, of matter, of that which can be demonstrated, proved and potentially agreed upon.  Anything else is either a simple power struggle, thus not a conflict which can be negotiated to a true and respectful peace or good conclusion, or the result of one party simply refusing to hear or acknowledge the rights of another - to be heard, to matter, whatever.

So let's say we want to build a treeehouse, you and I, and we each care about the design and construction.  A very cool part of the process is that of conflicting ideas, aesthetics and understandings.  It's just for me that once I would have done my best to structure (read: control) the situation to avoid or negate as much of that potential 'conflict' conflict as possible. 

Part of my learning to love this conflict thing is that I love people to whom it is a dear and important part of their lives.  Part of it also is that in a physical sense I am the very epitome of a conflict battleground - an autoimmune disease is little more in some ways than a part of your body going in a different direction from the rest of you and trying to convince that remainder to do as it is doing.  And to love myself I must love this also.

Mainly though, I have come to understand that conflict is not fighting.  It does not have to have a destructive or uneven or disrespectful agenda.  It can just be a healthy clash of differences, as we so often observe in non-human (and sometimes human) nature.  Respect is the key.  We may absolutely deeply truly incontrovertibly freakin' KNOW we are right but without respecting another's right to disagree there is no avoiding useless, destructive and distracting unpleasantness.  Besides, you could be wrong.  I have been.

I still have all the old skills and habits of conflict avoidance, and occasionally they pop up on auto-pilot in inapproriate situations, but that's OK.  It's good for me to know I am mostly past that, and that I still have a kick-ass armoury of anti-conflct, peacenik type weapony tools at my disposal when I need them.

It is a strange love, this love of difference, but without it, wouldn't life be just that little bit too juiceless?

Feel free to take issue with any of this, of course :-)

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Urge Towards Profundity

Earlier today I was just sitting, pondering nothing in particular, and my thoughts kept drifting back to this blog.  As some may know, my powers of speech are slowly but inexorably disappearing so of course this blog is in some ways an attempt to compensate.  The thing is though, that as my ability to speak disappears so commensurately goes my urge to do so.  Partly I guess that's because it's a physical strain, but also maybe I'm learning some lessons about silence, listening, and the deeper meaning of things when word and defining thought are less attached to them.  Anyway, in a nutshell, I found myself having an attack of the 'shoulds'.  I thought "I really should update the blog now, but I haven't really got anything meaningful to say coming up."

Ah-ha!  I hear someone exclaim, check out the ego on the blogger guy!  What a freakin' control freak! (And I was thinking this at the time too, fyi, once I woke up to myself).  Only wants to be seen in the light of what profundity he feels he can offer - maybe all that down-to-earth honesty stuff is just a self-deluding sham??? And what's with this 'should update' stuff, are we caring about audience response or even - shudder - ratings now?  Don't want to let anyone down here?  Pfft.  So human.

OK, there's something raw and painful to admit there, it's true.  Not perfect, am I.  So there and then I decided to allow myself to just write up here whatever I feel like writing, regardless of subject matter.  After all, I still have all those pesky opinions popping up for cleaning every day.  Maybe I'll learn something just by writing.

So this is Peter Garrett.

Currently he is (well, I haven't seen the news today but at least yesterday he was) Federal Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts in Australia, since being appointed by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd after his election in 2007.  He formerly had a career as the lead vocalist (you couldn't really call it singing, technically, I don't think) with Midnight Oil, and has also been very active in the environmental movement, such as it used to be known, notably as a long-term president of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

He's at the centre of a shitstorm as we speak.  His Ministerial department has overseen this massive govenment-subsidised scheme to insulate houses in Australia, which was started by K Rudd as part of his response to the alleged Global Financial Crisis we 'had' just recently.  Basically a good idea I thought, helping reduce energy use on heating and cooling, and providing jobs too.  Good long-term investment at the grassroots level stuff.  Of course when there's a free feed on, the sharks come too, and lots of dodgy overnighters suddenly got accredited as insulation installers so as to take their place at the trough, and bad things happened.  People have died installing insulation, in a much higher death-per-installation ratio than prior to the scheme.  Houses have caught fire because of dodgy installation practices.  There is talk that a fair percentage of the installations under the scheme may be of minimal actual effectiveness due to lax standards.  And now, of course, in the great modern tradition of media/political democracy symbiosis, there is a baying for a hangin'.

I don't know whose fault it all is, and I don't actually find the question relevant.  Maybe Peter Garrett isn't such a competent Minister, but if not, how has this been let go for so long?  Is that all his doing?  Is it his fault if he finds himself unable to perform his job?

My beef is with this whole "he's got to go" punitive sacking thing.

Let's pretend the government were a business, and some department has failed to manage well enough a situation that was not entirely in their control, but which affected the whole business.  Leaving aside questions of how much control they *should* have attempted to assert in the first instance (let's just pause for a moment and re-remember the fondness Western governments have for unregulated free-market economic mechanisms) do you just sack the manager of the department?  What if they are actually really good at 90% of their job, and have a whole bunch of irreplaceable 'local knowledge' which would be really hard to replace at short notice?  It's such a dick thing, this "buck stops here" mentality.

We all seem to crave the alpha-male protection of having a strong leader who will uphold honour personally, who will fight the good fight, showing no cowardice, failing or foible.  And if they fail, we expect them to fall on their sword.  Not only is this so Howard-era, it is terribly, terribly Fall Of The Roman Empire, don't you think?

What's happened is that all the news headlines and commentary have been wildly gyring about the pole of Peter Garrett's career future, rather than looking really seriously at a) *exactly* what the situation is and b) how best to sort it out and make it all work nicely.  The emotions generated about lives lost and shoddy work performed and unscrupulous businessfolk trying to squeeze a buck without good social consciences are an entirely separate issue.

So if someone is wanting a head or heads to roll, what is their motivation?  Are there still some of us satisfied by the notion of punishment?  Surely we can outgrow this, people.  As if the poor erstwhile muso is not suffering and struggling enough. 

My point is that Peter Garrett is not.  Not the point, that is.

Gee whiz,  all this opinion going on. 

I shall now just spend a minute and clean a bit on the whole show, and care a little for *everyone* caught up in it.  Please join in, if you like.  It can't hurt, this forgiveness and healing lark, can it?

Here endeth the rant. Thank you for bearing witness.

Back home now

Short post right now just to say hi, I've landed.  Respite was in many ways just that.  I've been in many hospitals in my time, and seen lots of other 'care' facilities, and frankly, we lucked out moving here bigtime.  This is truly the best such place I have ever known.  Top staff, great room, and your own little private-ish verandah with views through and over the bush surrounds.  Sorry for the pic quality, I only had my phone, not my camera.  Anyway, new post soon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

See you in a few days then

I'm off now for a break in respite care for about 5 days, so no updates for at least that long.  I'll be in the hospice ward of the local hospital, and I admit to a certain ambivalence about it. 

You see, right now, I'm doing physically very well having shrugged off the pneumonia, and my new herbal mix seems to be doing great things for my energy levels etc, and I may even have put on just a wee modicum of weight if my watchband is the reliable indicator that I suspect it is.  I'll know about that tomorrow anyway.  So spending time with the folk who are much closer (to the extent that one can ever predict) to dying than I am will be interesting.

I have no squeamishness about the whole death/hospital thing.  I have worked in a hospital and as part of that was as often as not assigned to morgue duties.  So that's not it.  I have had a good close look and can see also that I don't have a superstitious fear of 'catching death' while I'm there.  And I acknowledge that in many ways I do fit there, as someone with a 'life-limiting illness' as they say these days.  It's wonderful that in our health system we increasingly acknowledge that early assistance with this whole issue is of great help.  Which is why I can have this respite care.

Nor am I afraid of missing home, wife, dogs etc.  Because I know I'll miss them and that's OK.

What's really going on is that I just have absolutely no idea what to expect of the experience - this is our first time - so I guess I'm just floating in that faux-serenity vibe you get when any tiny anxieties dissolve back to miniature vortices of wind and dust inside; you can see them if you look, and they tickle just a little, but they're not messing with your mood.

You know what the biggest of those is though?  It's that in the silence and uninterrupted me-timeness of it, I'll find that bit more acceptance I've been looking for, and that this just might make the whole considering imminent mortality thing so much more easy and OK.  Because if I lose that set of fears, it's even less stuff I carry by which I 'know' who I am.  Does that make sense?

Anyway, have a great week all.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Here is a picture of a cat.

This is Buckley.  He clearly knows how handsome he is.  Because he is a cat.

This picture is from a couple of years ago, at my old house.  We are blessed to have been chosen by His Supreme Highness Buckley for the honour of domestically hosting his material presence on Earth.  But really, he is one great cat.

Near enough to 6 years ago now (if memory serves me correctly) we had just moved to a new town, and happened to discover that a very dear friend, with whom I'd had no contact for some years as I moved around a lot, had also moved there.  I shall call him Horatio, as that is his name.  Not long after moving there, I ran into his housemate Greg who virtually accosted me with the challenge "Hey Aadhaar, do you want a cat?"

As it happens, Meeta and I had been talking about having an animal family again.  We'd been back and forth across the country in the last couple of years, living in a way that meant we couldn't have animals to share our life with.  We were planning on settling now, though.  So I basically said yes.

What had happened was this.  Buckley (as he is now known) had, as a very tiny kitten, simply marched up to the door of Horatio and Greg's house, meowing and demanding to be let in.  This was a tiny house of two and a half bedrooms, already containing 3 humans, 2 large dogs, and 3 - or maybe even 4 - cats.  Upon opening the door, this fearless young puss just marched down the hallway and proceeded upon the process of taking up residence.  Clearly, they already were at or beyond critical mammalian mass, and couldn't just take on another cat, however tiny, cute, and insistent.  Initially he was name "3:47" as this was Horatio's quip at that precise moment in the afternoon when he espied the precocious wee fella strutting down the hallway that very first time.

So the next day Meeta and I went over there, and sure enough, this tiny little black-and-white feline just came right on up, and announced that he was pleased that we were here to take him to his new home.  Presumptuous, eh?  We naturally did his bidding, and Meeta recalls him actually purring in her hands as we drove the few kilometres back home.  Unlike many or most cats, he immediately checked out the amenities, food, water, litter tray; potential sleeping, scratching and perching arrangements etc and promptly made himself at home.

The funny thing is, this really forward and highly human-social aspect of his personality did not survive his childhood.  It's almost as if he channelled it to meet his needs - of being lost, or abandoned, or whatever - and then discarded it and went back to his own true nature not long after.  In fact, he's such an aloof and discerning cat that very few people have even laid eyes on him.  A bit like Mr Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street prior to November 1985.  I was just about finished high school by then and even for us older kids Snuffy's outing was memorable news.  Did you know that Snuffy's first name was Aloysius?


Now that Buckley's picture is posted on the internet, where everything is real and always true, he must exist, right?  Anyway, he's an awesome cat companion and loves his dogs too.  Plus, his litter tray's so much easier to clean out than Snuffy's......

Saturday, February 13, 2010

If only someone would tell me...

Visited the rheumatologist today, who I haven't seen for a couple of years. My illness, as he confirmed again today, really has no 'home specialist' as it's such a rare and multi-disciplinary thing. But he's a really great guy, smart, caring, and a straight talker. So I said to him that the thing that feels the most 'missing' in my life is a prognosis. He just looked at me sort of funny. Paused. Said, "I don't think anyone can really give you one...." Which was pretty much exactly what I expected.

You see, I knew that already, that there aren't even stats from case studies to get a feel from, because I'm in a rare predicament. Here are the two things about this that are just sort of insane:

Firstly, there's a part of me that would rather be in an inoperable-lung-cancer-type situation and have someone confidently assert that there is only a very tiny and remote possibility of me surviving another 6 or 12 months.

Secondly, that I still want someone else to take responsibility for trying to control the timing and knowledge of my death. I think it must be a vestigial childlike "Muuuuumm! It hurts!! Make it better!" sort of thing. Or maybe, I just want something apart from uncertainty that I can surrender to. Like the power of a name, a box to fit into (visual pun!), a data set to be a part of.

All of which would be illusory anyway, I know.

One of the really odd things about being on a journey like mine right now, where I'm spending a lot of time and consciousness on matters of spirit and growth, whilst doing the facing death thing, is that you end up resisting letting go of painful stuff like this need for someone else to take some of the heat responsibility-wise. Yes, it is painful, because no-one can actually do it anyway, so it's just unrequitable desire. And yet, it's so very normal to cry out and ask that someone help you with this burden. So I'm resisting a loss of the normal state of carrying this wound. In our society, the wish to avoid certain responsibilities is so normal that it acts as some of our most potent social glue.

It's like an original sin thing, an old or even ancient abandonment number, where we suddenly looked back at our separation from our parent/Divinity or whatever for the first time and realised our terrible aloneness. A breast too far. Help!

And then we come up against the opposite munber on the way. Ok, I think, let's get into taking responsibility for myself, I can do this......and you go too far, and lose some of the stuff that makes you know how delightfully human life is here on Earth - the need for others.

Somewhere, sometimes, the balance is found. Still, I can't help thinking it would be great if someone could just tell me exactly where that is.

On another note entirely, things are looking a bit flat around here, so let's liven it up a bit. I have yet to load up all my pics on to this computer, but here's one I took recently. It is something I see every single morning of my life.

This is Cisco.  He is allegedly a long-haired chihuahua.  He does so love his humans.  So is this devotion?  Or just neurotic neediness?  Does it matter?  Cute, ain't he.

Until next time.

Oh, just in case - I may not get to post again for a bit, as I'm off for a spell in respite care from Tuesday for about 5 days, so will most likely be offline - I don't think they have net connectivity there and I don't have either a so-called smart phone or that wireless broadband that runs on stuff called Expensive.  Looking forward to a good break for Meeta and me. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

I have opinions; no getting around that.

I guess when all's said and done everything we think is an opinion. Whether it's arrived at from our own processes, or adopted, or just 'there' from our upbringing or whatever, it's all opinion. Because time and again in this 3-D world we are part of, we prove that we just can't ever know stuff with certainty. So if you tell me what seems like to you a fact, for me it just won't be, unless it matches my opinion. I will admit that my opinions seem less certain over time, which probably makes me less of an interesting conversationalist as time goes on. But still, they're there, and I find thinking about things, how they came to be, how they might be better, and so on etc all really seductive and fascinating stuff.

So what's the problem then?

Well, I have an opinion on that. Over the years I have looked into all sorts of cupboards and corners seeking insight, wisdom and growth in what you'd call a spiritual sense. One of my main lines of enquiry was about seeing sameness in things, like the way different religions so often share variations on the same themes. But sameness would seem to extend to more than dogma and teaching. I have concluded (this is all opinion, remember) that everything is the same. I am you and all that. That I and the world are indivisible in some very fundamental sense. This works for me, so for now I'm going with it. As part of that, I have had to accept that everything that is me must affect everything else that I would traditionally think of as 'not me'. And vice-versa. Bear with me, I haven't forgotten where we're headed with this one.

What about time then? We all seem to have a memory, and if I think back looking for a moment when I did or said something that I might do differently given another chance, I never have far to look. So when I do that, the memory is here *now* and I'm feeling not-so-great because of it now, and thus it's affecting my whole world. All because I have a little ol' memory of me being a dipshit. I am of the opinion that at a deep (some people call it subconscious or unconscious) level, we never miss a thing, we take it all in, and we never forget. This is all opinion, remember. So time is irrelevant for my opinion piece here.

I mentioned how opinions could be arrived at from one's own processes, and from other sources. As a result of looking in some of those spiritual cupboards and corners, I had some of my own experiences, which have left me with some opinions so stong that I think of them as being as useful as fact. If such a thing as irrefutable fact could exist. The main fact I speak of here is that we exist in concert with a force/energy/being/googly thing that I often refer to as Divinity, and that we are at once at one with it, and separate from it. The purpose of life in this way of looking at stuff is to be as much at one with Divinity as one can be. And every time we think we 'know' better than Divinity, ie *have an opinion* we get a bit further away, and life is just that little bit less rich and fulsome as a result. And we have a 'memory' of this separation which we carry forward.

So, I'm thinking that opinions get in the way of our quest for growth. Mostly.

OMG, that means I'm doomed forever!!!

Or not, because this is where that cleaning stuff I mentioned the other day comes in. All those bazillions of memories (imo, remember) are constantly popping up, seen or unseen, and reinforcing our separation. Getting in the road of us having any Divine inspiration, or 'being in the flow' or whatever you wish to call it. However, the moment we notice any such thing occuring there are really really easy things we can do which instantly and forever 'clean up' a 'memory' in question, and get us back (for at least an instant) into our Divine connection.

Bruce Lee was a seeker, looking for the ultimate bare-hand fighting art. He studied lots of different things, and looked for the 'heart' of a way, or teaching. He decided to take the approach of absorbing what was useful to him, and reject what was useless. I like this approach, and as a result have picked up a few little disciplines (opinions from other sources) that work for me. I have seen them work for everyone who's tried them so far too, but that of course could just be a warped perceptive 'opinion' of my own. You decide, as always. The disciplines I speak of here are using simple 'cleaning tools' whenever I a) remember and b) feel it to be required - which is virtually always.

I'm sure I'll revisit this a lot later, and feel free to ask any questions you want - questions always give me a chance to practice cleaning with my opinions and maybe occasionally channel a bit of Divinity somewhere in an answer. Anyway, my very favourite cleaning tool of all is


Yep, just lemon. There's no special breathing, or intention, or visualisation - you can just do it however you want. You can drink some lemon juice, pick up a lemon, smell lemon, or just say to yourself 'lemon' which is mostly what I do.

There are no rules or special initiations here. You can just try. Every time you have a thought where you mae a judgement, have an opinion, or an emotional reaction you don't like, just do lemon. You can do it two thousand times a day easy if you want. when I first started, I giggled a lot. Because you reach these moments of sort of critical mass, which has been described as 'resetting your mind to zero.' It's awesome.

But that's just an opinion, really.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Ah, posterity...

I've mused on why I'm writing this blog, and I'm moved to mention one of the glaring obviousnesses that is probably a factor. Posterity. In my last post I spoke about fear and control in relation to death and dying, and of course part of coping with imminent death can be doing stuff 'for posterity.' Just today I saw in a book about death - you know, one of those little square-format books with emotive pictures, quotes, facts and suggestions on the subject - a suggestion to make a website as part of your dying process, and to leave behind some stuff for those who remain when you're gone. I was actually surprised to see myself surprised, as I really hadn't consciously had that as a motivation.

Certainly made me question myself again though.

I should mention at this point that the issue of death and dying is very much in my face right now because I have a degenerative and progressive illness that more likely than not means I will die sometime in the next few years, or tomorrow, or whenever. Disingenuous of me not to say that I suppose. I do find it rather 'concentrates the mind' as someone once said of an imminent death by hanging.

So am I doing it for some sense of posterity? I do not know. Would you? By most conventional material western democratic capitalist standards I have in essence achieved nothing at all in my 40 years to date. I have been bankrupt, I have no children, and I only own my own home by the happy and ironic accident of an insurance payout from having to cease work permanently due to my illness. So I can see how a pull to leave some sort of legacy would be strong.

I'll get back to you on this one, because I'm really not sure. And one of the very few rules I have for life these days is honesty with myself, and by extension, with you, dear reader.

Tomorrow I plan to write again on the subject of opinions, and cleaning. Because you're possibly wondering what the hell I mean up above about 'some light cleaning' etc. Until then, then.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

What's in a name?

The issue of names has long been interesting to me. My birth name, Eric, was bestowed before I was even conceived, possibly before my mother even menstruated. It was the name of her mother's brother, who did not return from WW2. He was it seems my mother's best friend/big brother/stand-in father (her dad was always working and such) and my mother was also an only child. My grandmother never really got over it either, and it would be a short-price bet that she would have insisted. Naming can be part of warding off the ills of uncertainty I think.

Someone once said that at some point in our lives most of us realise that we cannot control the fact that we will die and from that moment on begin transferring our need for a sense of some control onto influencing the circumstances of our death instead. You know, like dieting, trying to get wealthy, and at the other end of the spectrum excessive risk-taking; often perhaps a subconscious attempt to 'go out on your terms.' You see, my great-uncle Eric was not actually pronounced KIA, but "Missing Presumed Dead," surely a cruel prognosis for the loved ones. He was in the Australian army, and was on the island of Rabaul when the Japanese army overran it. Really, pretty much no-one survived. Years down the track, stories emerged from the few survivors, but I don't think my grandmother ever completely gave up hope. Had I been born a girl, I would have been Erica - it was that strong. Defiance in the face of a cruel God? Or just some small voodoo way of raising the spirit of the dead, or a help in finally trying to put to rest the terrible uncertainty of his fate. Let the new displace the old. I don't know.

It's one of the reasons I said yes to a new name when the opportunity arose, but that's another story really. These days I use both. Here, I am happy with Aadhaar, but if you wish you can call me Eric, I don't mind. I'll know who you mean.

'Entropy and Light
', what sort of name is that?

Well, I wanted a name that wasn't taken for starters, and as I'm ambiguous about the whole way this blog thing is going to take shape I wanted a sort of non-subject-matter-oriented title. And I'd been thinking about these two subjects and how they relate to my life.

Entropy technically is about the second law of thermodynamics, and basically says 'stuff always gets lost along the way.' Or 'things tend to decay toward sameness.' They use the term in information theory too. In common usage though (to the extent that it's common anyway) it tends to just stand for the tendency of stuff to decay, fall apart, devolve from order to chaos and so on. My thinking is that it's just a fact of being in a 3rd dimensional existence, and affects absoultely everything comprised even in part of matter. And maybe energy too. I'm not sure there.

Which is where Light comes in. Light in the physical sense is not entirely perfectly understood. What, exactly it is, no-one can properly say. It has no mass yet can push on a solar sail. It can heat a transparent solid yet pass through with no loss of brightness or speed. Where does that energy come from then? I am no physicist, but I know enough to know that those who say they know don't, really. Or they wouldn't constantly be looking for ways to make Newton's and Einstein's theories (to name but a couple) fit what little we can apparently observe and demonstrate about out universe.

So I really like light, it's mysterious and does great stuff. Life depends on it. Life also needs entropy and decay. Does entropy apply to light? Seems maybe not.

All of this stuff is just wordy wordy head exercises really. What I'm saying is that to me, my life feels very close to the raw qualities of entropy, and light, in all their physical, mystical, and poetic senses. Maybe yours does too sometimes. And I had to call the blog something. I thought about 'Neville' but I'm not that much of a nerd.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The First Post

Hello reader, and welcome.

As of writing I have just enabled this, my first and thus far only blog or published material of any kind. Unusually for me, I haven't really got much of a handle on what this is, where it's heading, or why it is here - only that it is. My vague sense of it is that it will be essayish in large part, rather than some sort of daily diatribe. I have no particularly defined driving passion (but if you do, great!) so this won't be a blog returning over and over to a theme like Extreme Basket Weaving or Controversial Concrete Pouring Methods or Join My Rage Against God for Creating Turnips or something like that. I will aim to update fairly regularly though, as despite my near-complete lack of a clue as to exactly what this is, I have thought long on it, and have decided it is Worth Doing For Some Reason. I shall attempt to do it well.

So for now, welcome.