A poem about loss, despair and healingRead More
2016 was bittersweet. It is a sentiment I have heard and read many people express over the last few days. I am admittedly not one that indulges in new year celebrations and resolutions, but I have felt a pull to reflect on what has been a defining year. For me, there was the joy of marrying my beautiful partner Sophie and being able to celebrate our union with family and friends. It was without question the pinnacle of the year. Furthermore, I've thoroughly enjoyed teaching, writing and playing an active part in supporting a range of community initiatives. I feel I am acutely aware of how privleged I am and I hope I never lose sight of the responsibility that comes with it.
However there's no denying that events (and non-events) across the year have cast a long shadow across my heart. Between the dire lack of action on climate change, the growing tenctacles of trickle-down economics, the heinous violence in the Middle East, the resurgence of overtly racist politics and the debacle that was the U.S. Presidential Election (I felt the Bern), I was emotionally spent by the end of the year. I must admit that I underestimated the toll all of this had on my wellbeing. For the first time in years, I reached a point where I detected a sense of dread as I contemplated what was in store across 2017. Not simply because of the likes of Trump taking office, but because of the apparent trajetory humanity is charting. Perhaps this was punctuated as I watched 'Planet Earth II' towards the end of the year, soaking in the glory of our ecosystems. All the while knowing that virtually all of what I was marvelling at, is on track to be lost within a decade or two. Unless of course, we change this flight path.
This year I have been reminded of how fast hope can evaporate. Particularly when the challenges to both people and planet require systems change. When you work at the grassroots but know that so much more could happen if policy and investment was driven by public interests. Not the greed of a morally unconscious few. When the levers of power appear to be tainted and tilted well beyond our grasp. When people succumb to triablism and other forms of divison. When you are sensitive to the injustices of the world and the cost of each backward step. Especially as many of our freedoms, though we are quick to forget, have been pried out of the hands of oppressors. There's the rub though. Our history as a species has been filled with struggles for progress. Filled with regressive marches backward that are only recognised for their depravity in the ensuing years. Filled with unlikely victories when destraction and division lose their hold.
Thankfully, over these last few weeks , I've slowed down, settled into my bones and found a sense of calm again. I've been offered gentle reminders of my responsibility. To join waves of resistance against injustice in Australia and beyond. To lend my voice to new ways of being in the world. To be among those who are creating and strengthening new stories for our species. I am not brimming with hope, nor am I huddled in the shadows of despair. I am somewhere between, determined to champion what I value. Not out of a sense of burdensome responsibility or the assurance of any success, but because I know of no other way to live.
In the unceasing ebb and flow of justice and oppression we must all dig channels as best we may, that at the propitious moment somewhat of the swelling tide may be conducted to the barren places of life. - Jane Addams - Twenty Years at Hull House
A reflection on the struggles of an activist.Read More
I confessed eventually.I know I am braver and wilder in my dreams....Read More
Could there be beauty in catastrophe?Read More
"I will not be reduced to the functions of an economics unit"Read More
I fear cold certitude more than I do the smoke of doubt.
For certainty implies a finality of knowing,
the closing of doors,
the chiseling of conclusions.
Why is doubt maligned?
Is it not both humble and honest?
It is to tread lightly through
the length of our days,
to leave doors ajar for a sliver of light,
to allow for the possibility of people
and the terrains we traverse
to transcend the limits
of what we have known.
It would seem that at the heart of the human struggle to evolve is a primal lust for control. The most pervasive being man's relationship with nature. We live in an insidious paradigm that seeks to subjugate and extract the essence of the ecosystems that support our very existence. Confident in our arrogance of no repercussions. The spirit of an aggressor captured in the words of Francis Bacon "For you have to but follow and as it were hound nature in her wanderings".Read More
Brother, my eyes swim in a retreating light,
between the shadows of our twin plight.
our hearts gripped by winter's collar,
furious and blind, bleeding summer.
I ache for a return to those times,
when as brothers we'd trace
those hills and rooftops,
unknowing of this end.
For were our lives not writ
with the ignorant ink of men?
wrapped in traps of intellect,
wearing muted masks to cast illusions
of strength that fool none.
Hostage to our tragedies,
only to find fleeting solace,
at the bottom of a bottle,
estranged from feeling.
Yet even as we raised
our walls and our voices,
we were loved.
By the casualties of our silences,
beyond our deepest afflictions.
May we be candles to our children...
At times the present feels Like a slow burning fever,
A cascade of hurried days,
A cauldron of memories, hopes and tensions
that rise to futures of vague dimensions.Read More
It often appears to me that we have a cavernous hunger within our psyche. An insatiable appetite for knowing that rumbles through our blood and bones. An often bittersweet reverence of predictability. One that manifests itself in innocuous practicalities that make contemporary life, many would argue, better! Yet amidst our intricate maps, our technology, systems and methods ...I am often encumbered by a thought. The thought that men and women may well forge forward to understand the intricacies of stars and planets, even inhabit them, without having journeyed inward with purpose. Inward into that murky landscape some call the soul. The palette of artists, authors, musicians and the timeless pedestal of seers, prophets and philosophers. That map-less terrain upon which no house can ever be built . For its soil is teeming with life that is felt but never seen. A life that cracks through the naive predictability of all the foundations we attempt to lay upon its surface.
Ah...how I have detested these spaces within! Its taunting mixtures of fear and memory. Its unending questions, its grip upon all corners of time; the past, present and future all confused within its unending universe. The burden of thought with each plunge for answers, like sifting through the Sahara with a spoon! An endeavor that left my hopes parched, desires unfulfilled and me, alone in the eviscerating heat of an impossible escape.
Escape...for it was in the chaos of struggle that I was plunged into these depths I now refer to as soil. Yet in truth, it possessed no label, it was a place of suffering in my eyes, an abstraction in the depths of my mind from which I sought refuge. Refuge earned in desperate doses , albeit in brief moments of fantasy, of gratitude and service to others. A surface smile and sarcastic charm that veiled the intensity of suffering beneath. For that murky undertow, in all its depravity, could not be accepted. It needed to be suppressed, if at all possible, forgotten, as if it were some torrid imagining. For above it all was where life was worthwhile, even if it were a spectacle tasked with distraction. It was a life one could speak of , one which could be rationalised and planned for.
Alas... if you have attempted this with great earnest, you must feel the weight of the air beneath my sigh when I say that it is an exercise in futility. For I walked countless roads, with both feet and mind, only to return to the incessant beat of my core. That pounding within, like Poe's Tell-Tale Heart, unyielding in its seek of my sincere attention. Laughing at my meager armoury, my fondness of distress, all too aware of my tenderness.
Oh how weary I grew! Spent and ashamedly confused. Believe me... I do not lay claim to any convenient wisdom or badges of courage in saying any of this. For in entering this world, we are bereft of choice and as such, living is an act of courage that we all partake in. If at all, the intensity of weariness rendered me momentarily blind. Blind to pictures painted, roles cast and stories told. Fatigue tore open a void within which I could eventually summon the strength to see anew.
For in the depths of my weariness, questions simmered in the darkness. Centered on the utility of this murky core I endured visits to. "Surely there must be a purpose to it beyond suffering? These cycles of remembrance, these self deprecating projections ...do they serve any purpose?" This line of thought, in the winding canals of my day dreams, were incisive.They opened me to the possibility of extracting some use from the smoke within. Smoke from fires started long ago. And this is how I came to call my core...my soil. For utility implies the potential of growth and for any of consequence to grow...there must be fertile soil.
Could it not be that we are akin to seedlings, tunneling through an ambiguous earth in seek of sustenance? A journey in which our roots persistently swim through the damp earth of our experiences, tasked with the purpose of growth. Our leaves and branches in a vibrant dance to the songs of the sun, until the moon invites us to dream. A gorgeous symbiosis. For what is one without the other? Does a tree with shallow roots not risk the felling of its ambitions by the winds of circumstance? Does a system of roots, so attuned to the underground, not languish and lose heart without the joy of the sun? Without the sweet longing of its flowers and fruits to be of use to this world? Oh does this thought not shake to the foundations our infantile tales of light and dark? Does this not at the very least prompt us to consider how little we value struggle, our supposed demons, our darkness in the depths of our minds. Does it not ask us, in spite (and moreover because) of our fears, to dig deeper into our beings as opposed to building towers atop false foundations?
Oh brothers and sisters, forgive any pretense contained herein. In this rambling cerebral alchemy. For it is with unending sincerity that I share the truth of my realizations. I have long seen within, a hideous being, barely fit to persist. A swirl of smokey images that lingered all the more when I sought to escape them. Is it only when I chose to borrow deeper that I could see their fires of origin, the innocence of the starter. When doused with loving temperance, oh the lessons, the fertility contained in the ash! Oh the relief, the surge of power that flows through your being when these words swim within you....
" From all that has come to pass...how will I to grow?"