Archive for September, 2006

Old Cars

29 September, 2006

Each year a strange and beautiful procession comes to visit my town. It contains some fifteen hundred vintage cars that have struggled across forty kilometers of city plain and then up a further thirty kilometers of winding hills. They gather at the motor museum down the road and their ocupants sip Champagne, or the local equivalent, modestly of course, then disappear again to whatever dry shed they spend the rest of the year in.

The reason Adelaide has such a fine collection of old cars, many of them pre WWII, is the weather of course. It is so dry in these parts that it is not unusual for a car to sit under a tree for thirty years, then, with no more than a new battery and some oil, be started and driven away by its proud new owner.

For my own part i can not meet the purchase price of a vintage car but my own vehicle is getting there slowly, now twenty years old it has run for much of the year and a half since i bought it, without a major service or any expensive repairs. My best estimate is that it costs me less than a third the cost per kilometer that it would to finance and run a late model. Added to this it has about ten cubic meters of load space in the back and a radio which never forgets the preselects for your favorite channels. The radio is manual the gearbox is automatic and most of the time that i spend driving it is a joy. If you offered me a new one i would only take it for the resale value.

For my regulars, thankyou for your continued interest, please excuse the fall in frequency of my posts. My excuse is that my love has withdrawn my welcome at her home and at her computer, partly because i spent so much time in cyber space lately. Ho hum… life is not as amusing without her and her boys to argue with. There is a lot else happening though, which is a good thing right now because i will miss her. I should write a post on the changes she has made in my life during the past two years. Bless you my love, please look after your good self.

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Death

19 September, 2006

When the time finally comes you do not always get pre-warned. In the midst of the most mundane journey from room to room, ventured a thousand times, a simple loss of balance may be all that you remain to perceive.

There is, when joining an ambulance service, a sense of crossing over into a private world where the unspeakable, the unbearable and the unthinkable become your everyday business. The worst and most guarded fears of Joe average and Madam survivor are laid out in front of your legs and you are trusted to take the initial steps required.

At an early age it was apparent to me that death had nothing to threaten me with. I am not self important enough to think the world will be diminished by my departure and i am not religious enough to think that my soul will survive. The thought of serious injury still squeezes my adrenals but the thought of sudden death does not raise my pulse more than a few beats a minute.

Truth is i was raised to believe that death is what makes life for the individual possible. Without death there is no place for birth and renewal so death should be regarded as beautiful, in a sense desirable. If the earth were populated by billion year old trees… i digress, the point is that my mother wanted me to see beyond futile human fears. She wanted me to see my existence for what it actually is. I wish i could bring this same sense of the rightness of all outcomes to my patients and their families… maybe i should write a book… no no, a blog will do fine. Please excuse the sermon sweet readers.

But…

19 September, 2006

From: Spupeng7

To: Richard

Sent: Sunday, September 10, 2006

Subject: Re: the unbearable lightness of not being sure 

Richard,
I will consider it. Meantime, would it be rude of me
to ask, oh gee I feel silly asking this, if I could
include some of our correspondence into my blog?
 
Please say no if you have any reservations whatsoever.
Thanking you again and again
                   John..

===========================================

Spup,

I am reminded of an art installation, attended by John Lennon, 

an exhibition by a young female artist, where the viewer had to go

through a kind of obstacle course and climb to the top of a ladder

and reach precariously to for a card.  Preparing himself for the final

humiliation, John opened the card.  Inside he found a poem that

changed his life. 

The poem was:-                    “Yes”

He asked to be introduced to the artist.  And married her.

I can’t say they lived happily ever after. But always authentic, meaningful

and real.  When John partook of young, adoring, forbidden fruit he was

cast out of the garden for quite a painful time.  Yoko’s other poem

was                                  “No”.

Checked out the blog.  The context means our stuff will fit in well. 

In any discussion there is a bit of role playing – I’m writing to myself

as much as you.  I think it is collaborative art, and the personal is 

often universal. You have my trust and respect. Do your worst. 

Thanks for the provocation.

Richard

Beach Weather

15 September, 2006

On the up side of global warming and El Nino it is beach weather already. Here in South Aus. with temperatures likely to rise to the ridiculous, there is some shade of doubt about the comfort of a dry spring and early summer.

Sometimes we get good rains between now and christmas but if we don’t then the evil winds of southern California will have nothing on the ion laden air mass that will roll across us from the deserts to the north. This is a wind which burns. Flies love it, possibly because there are so many dead animals lying around empty water holes.

Part of the magnificent beauty of this country is its power over the individual. If you have an all terrain vehicle, plenty of gas and water then you are safe to explore the edge of the desert but get caught without the equipment or skills needed and your life is forfeit.

Conversation continued…

14 September, 2006

From: spupeng7

To: Richard

Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2006

Subject: the unbearable lightness of not being sure 

Richard, thankyou.
Who is this Pablo Casals guy anyhow?
Your sentiments are appreciated and I do agree with
them all. Somewhere, however, I must draw a circle, an
enclosure about my mind which allows me to live in a
world of people. Drive a car and wash my clothes without

resorting to denial.Somewhere deep inside I am not convinced

that we do live in the unfolding of an environmental disaster.

There is an aspect to human psychology which drives us
to abandon habit in the desire for improvement but our
inability to agree upon what is improvement does not
necessitate conflict.
My passion is directed toward assisting the damaged.
That the earth itself is damaged is no more
significant to me than the possibility that I may be
damaged in my own calling. This may be a weakness but
it is the best I can do and I hope you can forgive me
for it.
As for religion, I have very little respect for it. If
god meant us to believe in it he would have given us
shades with mirrors on the inside.

Having said all that I will confess to being a sleeper
zealot and should I survive long enough and be in a
position convenient to it, I feel sure that I will be
as political as the next one. Joining the Greens to
find folks like your good self was just the first
step. Thanks for the encouragement,

John..  

=========================================

Hi Spup, 

Pablo Casals?  Very good question. On the ‘net

I found a speech by Phillip Adams. Here is an extract.

“Many years ago Pablo Casals, the great

Spanish cellist, was having his eightysomethingth 

birthday in Madrid, and they held a press

conference for him and he dear old soul came

out and was droning on the way elderly people like

him and now I do about what a mess the world was.

And at some point he obviously heard himself; he

stopped, and then said two sentences, which I love,

because though they don’t at first sight seem to fit

together.  I think you’ll eventually agree that they do.

The first sentence reeks of fatalism, and the second has just

a hint of audacity and courage. And they’re universally

applicable to whatever tasks we might face, and most of us

are in tasks beyond belief and almost certainly beyond human

ability to fix, and he said    ”The situation is hopeless.

We must take the next step.’

When I first found “Cellist”, I thought, “No – the other one – the

philosopher, the revolutionary!”  But it is the same Pablo.  Of

course he is a musician – the perfect medium for the soul of a

romantic philosopher.  He has heaps of quotes attributed to him. 

Here’s a quick bundle.

_________________________________________________ 

Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he

listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is

the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage.

It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and

act on it.I am perhaps the oldest musician in the world. I am an old man

but in many senses a very young man. And this is what I want

you to be, young, young all your life, and to say things to the

world that are true.I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives

life its deepest significance.Music is the divine way to tell beautiful,

poetic things to the heart. The cello is like a beautiful woman who has

not grown older, but younger with time, more slender, more supple,

more graceful.

The first thing to do in life is to do with purpose what one

purposes to do.

The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love

stop at the border?

We ought to think that we are one of the leaves of a tree, and the

tree is all humanity. We cannot live without the others, without the tree.
_________________________________________________

I expect his cello moved many to tears with the wordless eloquence

of one possessed with the heartbeat of life.  

On the other hand, Hollywood has robbed our souls of love and passion,

by turning the very stuff of meaning into cheesy sentimentality.  I recall

there was a recurring theme in the original Star Trek about educating

the logical Spock on the virtues of human emotion.  I don’t think they

did a very good job really.  They sort of condemned human kind with

faint praise. 

“Romantic” philosophies, like those of native peoples from all over

world and Jesus Christ, who hinted about the knowledge of the heart,

empathy and the connectedness of all living things, moved into the

head and became corny, naive, unsophisticated and sentimental. 

Caring became unfashionable and we lost our lifeline to reality.   

If the dominant culture values individual power over the ecological

realities of Life, then this 4.5 billion year experiment will all but be

destroyed by it’s most promising child. For the universe to unfold

as it should:- there will be a mighty movement of ordinary souls

who say “No!” to the madness of their rulers, who refuse to

surrender to the failure of their species and determine to save

the only known island of life in the universe.  Will it be too late? 

I really don’t want to jump on this same soap box every time. 

I seem to be rehearsing this theme for other people. You were

just unfortunate enough to hint at the topic of motivation.  Then 

Pablo took me there again.  

I just read an excellent speech by George Monbiot from May

2005.  I think it should have been broadcast in prime time from

every station around the world – but it was repressed and

deliberately ignored.  Much of it is exactly what I’ve been trying

to say, especially to fellow green travellers.  The speech came

from here:   http://coinet.org.uk/perspectives/monbiot  via a friend,

but I’ve sent you the MS-Word document anyway.  (The web site

has an Acrobat (pdf) version, that is more than 3 times bigger.) 

Please find attachment:- “Climate Change – Monbiot.doc”   It’s

a dense 6 pages that gets to the heart of several aspects relevant

to our topic of conversation.  It cheers me up.  It may contain a lot

of bad news, but it’s music to my ears.  People need to understand

this stuff. 

I have this imaginary cartoon image.  The caption reads: “Will all

those in favour of planetary suicide please step this way.”Presumably,

the rest want to be part of the solution. Just as you do. 

Please, no smart arse comments about the schardenfreude of the

doomsayer. 

We both know which side you’re on. Your connection, your spirit,

your heart will move you. There is no expectation – no blame. The

superior man conserves his strength for meaningful engagement. 

Maybe I’ll have a go at pushing your buttons a little, but it’s only

what I would like, a connection, a welcome, some attention, a

crazy guy who wants me to feel alive.  I represent the abysmal water. 

As for religion. Who mentioned religion?  I’m about to quote myself,

out of context, quoting God, and I hope the concept still works.   

“I offer you this, my creation. I am of you and of all conscious beings.

I am of the everyday miracles, everywhere. Enjoy, for my sake. For

this gift, I ask but one thing.  Do me a favour, and leave me out of it! 

You just wouldn’t understand, and would make such a mess of things

if you ever thought you did.”

Yet my faith falls short of atheism. 

Regards,

Richard

No post on 9/11

13 September, 2006

11/9/01, as we called it here, was not a good day for me either. As a recently qualified aeronautics design technician i could feel the joy and potential of the industry i was trying to become a part of, fall away.

The spectre of hatred and envy depleting our freedom to travel was especially degrading to me because during my two years studying engineering in North Wales i had put a lot of time into getting to know the Muslim components of the newi student body.

These were a mixture of second generation English, African and Malay folk who were all studying engineering at various levels and were capable of being the most welcoming and hospitable communities on campus. My time with them was over mid 1998 and i miss them and their cooking to this day.

The other reason that i was disappointed by the grotesque events of that day comes from family history. I am sure i have mentioned it before in this blogstreem, my big sister who lives in London was hit by flying glass when a terror device, a truck bomb i think, exploded outside the building she was working in. That was in the early nineties as far as i know.

Her memory of it is vague, she did not even inform us relatives in Australia at the time. That it had played a powerful role in her gradual decline over the next decade is without doubt. What can a family do, several times i went to London to try to help but it was not accepted and i did not have the skills required to survive in a metropolis back then, i doubt that i would have even now.

No person has the right to use random bloodshed to force political solutions. The desire to do so is an ignorance of how much power the individual has to change everything without resorting to force. The superpowers who have protected me all my life are as guilty of this as anyone.

Humanity has the opportunity to halt our dependence upon force. What is required is communication deep and universal enough to gradually reduce the prevalence of forceful political solutions. This is happening in our local lives at an ever increasing rate so with any luck it will expand out to resolve yet more.

In a fascinating conversation with an ex-policeman last Saturday, he, Dave, explained to me that police work was not just chasing crooks, police work at the uniform end was mostly attending to people in crisis. Will the UN end up being an effective and constructive world police service in this way. Well my fingers are firmly crossed and my heart pumps for the day.

Peace is everything because within it our dramas can flourish. Thankyou for reading. Love your fat arse.

The start of an e-conversation.

13 September, 2006
From: spupeng7  To: Richard 
Sent: Sunday, September 03, 2006
Subject: may the discussions continue
 
 
Richard,
   thanks for the discussion papers, they are
of great interest of course but my problem
remains the same, the one you identified at
the beginning of my involvement with the greens,
that there is no obvious and effective solution.
 
   Overpopulation was identified as a global
problem when I was still a small child. As a
consequence of no one joining the Chinese effort
to find resolution, the problem is already out of
hand, even to the extent that WMD may be the only
realistic solution.
 
   Meantime I continue to contribute to the scandal
by driving a car and using my reverse cycle air con.
As addicted as I used to be to nicotine, despite the
 consequences. Maybe I can achieve separation from
these dependencies but I am still a long way from
relinquishing my other responsibilities in order to
devote my life to constructive politics.
 
   The reason for this is philosophical, well almost
religious, I believe my Daoist teachers when they say
that the future really is unfolding as it should. That
we have the freedom to change its direction does not
mean that we must do so because the rest of the universe
has the right to make whatever level of ass of itself
as it can manage.
 
   Hopefully this does not mean that my presence at
Green Party meetings is unwelcome because I do enjoy
them immensely. Please keep up the good work though,
I love it that someone does it,
                    yours Spup
 
=========================================================
 
Spup,
Thanks for the beautiful letter. Of course you are
most welcome. Does the rest of universe grant us
the right to facilitate a well functioning planet
in the service of life?  How can anybody say "as it
should".  Should?  Such sentiments do help with
acceptance and the Letting go of personal "attachment"
to particular outcomes. But there is a silent value
judgement or choice missing from the know-it-all
guru who says "as it should".  I guess it is a faith
that says "whatever happens, that's OK. Everything's
gunna be all right." When Love becomes so painful
that a soul becomes debilitated, there is a case for
getting same distance from the pain. But for me, the
question has not been answered - the experiment about
the value of consciousness has not concluded.  Do
consciousness and it's consequent moral and spiritual
values have any evolutionary value? Can "caring"
motivate people to organise into a "collective will"
or are they just going to find ways to distract
themselves from what matters most in their own hearts?
 
I don't have a lot of problems with my personal
"hypocrisy", because I perceive the problems to be
systemic. My shared guilt also gives me solidarity
with the majority who feel their choices have been
limited by external forces.  I just want people to
stop denying that they care – that they are
spiritually and emotionally attached to the
entire history of life on this planet and it's
future. Evolution has made me to love my daughter.
Evolution has made me want to care for my species
and the Earth.  Why should I want to turn this off?
"I don't matter so much - but what I care about,
does."  So I exhort you be passionate!  To fill
your soul with life's blood. All the stuff you are
learning from the Daoists will help you stay in
control, to stay aware, and keep out of trouble,
but please, feel the motivation, and suffer the joy
and the pain.  Join your friends who wish us humans
were not so fucking stupid.
 
"The situation is hopeless - we must take the next
step." Pablo Casals
 
Having got that off my chest. We can go back to
being normal.  The rant is not directed towards
your good self.  It's an argument I have with a
few eastern philosophies.  Maybe I misunderstand.
Perhaps my innate romanticism is excessive. Please
accept it as an indication of my high regard.
 
Yours, Richard

What’s so good about Australia.

9 September, 2006

It is easier to apreciate this place if you have actualy lived here and like anywhere it does have its downsides but i love it more and more.

Where else does a federal minister turn up to judge the kids efforts at the cub scout cookoff in the local park without any apparent security.

Why is this possable, because we are peaceful people. Despite all our louwd noises, our deeply competitive natures and our bizarre involvement in foreign wars, we take none of the decision makeing process personaly. Bless us.

Children?

9 September, 2006

I have no children of my own and i never wanted any. Not for more than a passing moment anyhow. My love has three boys who are great company and, on the whole, more fun than trouble. Having taken great care not to have children by accident during my youth, i eventually reached a point where i was glad of it. In short it would be good if that were that, if you see what i mean and will forgive my english.

It was a strange sense of guilt that came upon me when in casual conversation a friend informed me that children were not possible for him. It seemed that this was a great disappointment. Now i have every sympathy for this but i can not really understand it. Many years ago the one mistake i did make was aborted. Choice was not allowed me at any stage of the event but i am glad that a child did not result, not least because i would have made a poor father.

Is there some part of me missing that i have no desire for my unique corner of the genome to survive, or is it because i became self aware during that moment of the sixties when overpopulation was considered a crisis. Truth is, it would be a shame if the earth was so over run with people that it was no longer pleasant to live on or diverse enough to help guarantee the survival of its, so far as we know, unique inhabitants.

Well, either way, i am a third way to becoming part of a family and i am grateful for that. Problem is that if i am to take the position seriously then i still have many changes to make to my attitude. I should be trying to improve my income rather than writing blogs, building improbable experiments and devoting my time to a volunteer service. Can i change… i doubt it.

They have Farrung Husbands

6 September, 2006

The table was overflowing with omelets, curries, fish cakes, desserts for the kids, sushi, it was nothing short of a feast. The rainbow kids were running amok in the garden, the drinkers were drinking, the conversation was deafening in several languages and so far as i could tell, everyone was celebrating young Finns birthday in style.

My love took photos because she is, after all, a girl from a village near the Laos border made good. The term farrung refers to us Whites, if you’ll excuse my noticing. We are happy because we generally get much better treated than those involved with local girls.

Nobody minds Ted being crude, as long as he keeps it to a dull roar, on the contrary, we appreciate his Chi because he means well and is devoted to love. What a wonderful thing at such an age. We cant help agreeing with him when he says “pure honey, look at it, pure honey”, because he is after all quite right.

Australia has the great advantage of being a mostly immigrant population. We still have a long way to go in setting the tone of this our new civilization. During the first half of my life i have seen immense change in the culture and balance of the city and i look forward to more. The dry and unemotional style that was once the hallmark of most interaction here is slowly giving way to an acceptance of the principals of the mutual benefit of warmth. Which is something the Thais never doubted.