My best friend and a puzzle.

El and Peter in Paris last year.2014
El and Peter in Paris last year.2014

The other day I received a present from a very old friend of mine. We went to school together in Paris and really go back a few decades. In fact she is more of a sister to me than a friend.

We have known each others parents, brothers and sisters. We have been to each others’ house over the years and have shared very intimate thoughts. We keep in touch quite regularly and chat about all sorts of things.

So, as I said above I received a lovely present from her the other day. Of course I was quite touched by the gesture and the intention. She knows my tastes in perfumes and my weakness for some candies that we used to have when we were kids. A special shop in Paris where I used to live (that still exists) stocks the same ones we bought some 40 years ago. A real treat. The owner is no longer alive but his daughter has taken over and sell the same things. The only difference is the prices have shot up something shocking. What we used to buy for a few centimes is now quite a few Euros and really a luxury when you buy a couple of packet that amounts to 20 or 30 Euros. And I did not buy many of them.

So here I am with the parcel that she sent. Inside of course, superb perfume from Fragonard. A very famous perfumery in South of France in Grasse. Candies, and a couple of trinkets. A pumpkin shaped porcelain container and a chicken.  I was in a quandary.  This is not the sort of things that I want to have around the place. Not because I did not like them but because I do not want any more bits and pieces to display around the house. I was elated and at the same time annoyed.

I think it reaches a point in one’s life where we do not want any more gadgets, any more ornaments, any more decorative objects, any more items that you have to move around and about to clean behind them, under them and around them. I do not want to be surrounded with items that are gathering dust. Sure I do appreciate the thought and the expense that she went through, but from my point of view they really have no value except taking room and not really functional.

All this to get to the point of why do we accumulate? Sentimental reasons, souvenirs, memories, momentum. I don’t really know. I guess like my mother in law used to say:” to each his own”. I respect that especially coming from my best friend. I fully realise in the end that it is a gesture from the heart and dear El I am truly grateful that you thought of me and have me in your heart all the time. I did tell her tho, that it was not my favourite trinkets. She fully accepted that. We are too close for me not to tell her what I thought and there is so much between us. I know that you understand me completely. I also know it is very delicate to say that sort of things, I have said it. It took  me a while and I have played with the idea also of not telling you anything. . But it was beyond me and I took courage to be frank. So, I told what was on my mind over Skype. Thank you for being so gracious about it.

Till next time.

 

The few stages of having a dog. Reflections and observations.

The other day I was just thinking about the different stages on possessing a dog. These are the thoughts that I had. This came to my mind as I was watching our new German Shepherd puppy frolicking round and playing with the cat in the garden. Jumping, chasing, running .

Fripouille and Zaina
Fripouille and Zaina

There are different moods and stages on owning a dog. Especially a pedigreed one.

The first stage, one is proud to be associated with a mighty beast. It gives you a sense of power. Reasserting who you are. The power, the strength of the dog is transmitted to you and you feel the ownership of it all. As you strut on the roads, people admire the dog and your chest pumps up every time you receive a compliment from the people sharing your footpath. The kids also want to pat the dog and you feel friendly and want to show off how lovely your dog is. Power is the first stage that goes to your head.

Time flies. Time changes. The dog is no more. You have given it away because you are moving overseas, going into a flat, or a completely different circumstances forces you to find alternatives for your dog..or simply the dog passes away.

After mulling around for a while thinking will I or won’t I get another dog….you still are not quite sure. We start thinking about getting another one. Will I get a big one again or just a little dog from the RSPCA? Not sure. I leave it for a while…but time is not in my favour and after lots of deliberation… from one day to the next I am the owner of another big beast.

A puppy, yes, but this time the dog has to be trained properly. It has to be obedient and his behaviour impeccable. We are going to work on that one and we do. We take the dog for long walks, sit, stay, hold, heel, down, shake hand and the list goes on. My dog is perfect and the compliments keep on pouring in as we parade in the streets showing how well behave our dog is. An example of well-heeled pedigreed canine. There, there is a mixture of the might of the dog and the pride of having done some nice recognised work. A sense of power with the might of the big dog and the fact that the animal is beyond reproach. Total satisfaction, total identity with the size of the dog, achievement, self-importance and snobbish.

Then, times are changing again and they do change of course as one moves through different stages of life. The perfect companion is no more. Another phase, another moment in one’s existence.

Again after a long time of reflection the eternal question arises. Will I get another one? No, I shall leave it for a while. And one does. But after a few months or just a couple of years, the urge to own another little German Shepherd resurfaces and the hunt starts for a nice one again.

The new puppy is brought home. But something has shifted. Sure we still want the perfect mighty and well-trained dog. After all we always did train and groomed them to be the apple of our eyes. The responses that we had from people were always flattering and encouraging. But, it looks like this time not much importance or urgency is given to any of that. It seems that all the associations that we previously had simply vanished into thin air. Yes, we have the “ferocious GS, but he is just a companion a bundle of energy to be reckoned with. We are more laissez-faire, the training is not rigorous, tho, still the basics are taught. We are not ready to walk down the road with her showing her off. We are just contented to take care another lovely bundle of fun and cherish her.

Zaina and Elsie
Zaina and Elsie

Has something changed in the attitude of possession and pride or is it that we are getting older and all the self-importance has just flown out of the window? Well, I think that both are play.

Till next time.

Early morning

Good morning

Life on the farm has been busy recently. But that is hardly news really. Awake at 5Am this morning a cup of tea in hands, I ventured outside. Still dark. White clouds just visible in the dark shroud the whole valley and the top of the mountain. Chilly and nippy the cold mist spread on the fields creating an eery feeling of the world just about to wake up, emerging from a dream. The birds have not yet started and a lonely wallaby bent over the grass chews some unknown delicacies no doubt. Its ears pricked up. Noise, foot steps, am I worried? Yes, just a little. The smell of the dogs does not bide well for it. Shall I run or stay? I will stay for a little longer then will see how the situation develops. The last few bats makes their way back to the trees and one can hear their heavy flapping as they rush back to their habitat.

The sky has the colour of light grey charcoal and the half moon stands out yellowish and full of blemishes while the stars are getting a little fainter with each minute as the light starts to appear slowly over the horizon. The distinct bands of foggy clouds hover and move slowly across or down till they will disappear with the first rays of the sun. Different picture just from a few minutes ago and ever changing, transforming and continuously metamorphosing.

Invigorating… that little bite in the air. A shawl wrapped around my shoulders I venture in the semi dark morning towards the chicken run. The two dogs trailing behind me wondering what I am doing so early. As I opened the coop, the big and gentle ginger rooster called “Ginger”, flies off its perch and comes next to my feet. He does that all the time when I open the door. He seems to talk and asks me all sorts of questions…a chicken babble which I quickly interpret as: “Do you have any food so early”? But I am not ready yet, I have to open the little coop where the newly born chicks are still sleeping under their fat mother. Yes, Lady Grey is a little plump. Little chirps can be heard muffled by a load of feathers and little heads appear from under mum. They seem to say “can we go out now”? So, Lady Grey starts clucking and they all make their way out of the coop in search of little insects so early in the morning.

The first birds are on the move and their songs echo in the valley. Butcher birds, noisy mynas are the first in the morning concert. The dogs have smelled and are eying intensely the wallaby, ready to pounce, stop a second, wriggle their body and off they go, they are giving chase  Not a hope in the world tho! It scoots so fast that the poor dogs are left miles behind. But the pursuit was worth it. A little excitement so early is not to be missed.

Still my cup of tea  around my hands, a little cooler by now, I decided to meander down the drive for a walk to the pond. The cows were not around at the time, so I guessed they would have been at the back where the grass was greener no doubt. They are not going to miss me this afternoon tho!

The water hens have not yet emerged. The lilies are about to burst in flowers and thousands of little fish dance in circles in the clear waters. The dogs are running and frolicking chasing each other, grabbing some sticks and playing tug of war. Sipping the tea, I can feel the dew on the grass as the morning slowly breaks and to the east the first light shines on the opposite slope… slowly. Such a sense of vastness and serenity. Everything is alive, Away from news and politics, away from scandals and gossips, away from greed and the stock market, the economy, new laws, the internet, Facebook, corruption at every turn, wars in the world. Boy! How much can the mind take? Comparing to the calm and freshness…There is really no comparison. It seems that a part of the world has come to a stop. Just does not exist at this moment. All the noise that clutters your mind during the day appears to have ceased…at least for now. Just silence and a pristine state of being. Just breathing the crisp air that bites your nostrils and is drawn deep into your lungs with every breath. Just to be there and a sense of timelessness engulfs you.

As I make my way back slowly toward the house the first rays of the sun beam their little warmth over the land, just a little cosiness this morning. It is not going to be a very hot day as rain is expected later on. Dogs in tow, I sit down on the bench and soak it in this unspoiled moment. Not for long, John next door is also an early riser and he decided to slash the property next door. The noise of the old diesel motor makes its way sluggishly up the road to our neighbours and breaks the silence. But it is there and that is all. Part of the farm, part of the scene, part of rural living.

Zaina, our latest puppy gives Elsie a hard time. She is fast, mischievous and very playful. Not for poor old Elsie whose Labrador nature (she is rather plump) does not make her a sprinter. Given that her back leg is also injured, that does not help. But she stands her grounds and Zaina has to tow the line and obey her elders.

The colours of the trees now are greener and the tall bamboos sway gently in the breeze. I make my way to the vegies garden secateurs in hand that I grabbed on the table and start cutting the dead leaves from the tomatoes. Uproot the dead eggplants that have withered from some unknown disease. Plant a few seedlings of corn and okra and water the newly planted gherkins.

What a fantastic sensation to wake up to such an abundance of the world!

Time to see if Peter is awake. But not before peeping at the rose bushes and seeing that there are a few dead branches that I happily snip away. A few weeds also. But I stop there. It is already 7AM. As I enter the house, I can see upstairs that the curtains have been drawn and yes, Peter is awake checking his emails.

Cup of tea” I shout from downstairs? “Yes”, he replies. So the water is slowly on the boil and in the meantime I set out to feed the dogs and the cat. Quickly run to the chicken run and throw a few handful of sunflowers for them and coming back just in time for the water to be ready.

Oh! and I forget, I also read a few emails from J who went mushrooms gathering in the woods in England and is preparing a feast for dinner. Time for gym and a nice cup of coffee. The day’s chores and routines are about to get into full swing.

Till next time.

Certainty versus uncertainty.

Recently, I have been writing about the heat wave and other news from the farm. But today I will try to have a few words about our state of mind and dilemma that we have in life. Why dilemma you might ask? It is very simple. We face times in our lives where we don’t know what to do in a particular situation. Making a decision about a situation in life and when we don’t know how to deal with it. How to make “sure” that we have taken or are making the right one?

I think the first thing that we have to remember is what is the instrument that will hinder you from making a move in either direction. We are going to try to deal with our thinking to try to resolve this issue. Of course you might say. What else is there? That is the only thing that will allow me to see what is going on. That is the only instrument that I have and that I know. Ok. Hence my thought process will permit me to deal with it. Will it?

But, have we ever thought about how skewed that is in the first place? Have we ever ask ourselves what is the make up of these thoughts? How are they moulded, how do we organise them and are they adequate to deal with this issue that I am struggling with. Thought is only a tool. Like I said previously, the menu is not the food. Thought is narrow, restricted, reductionist, bigoted, distorted at the best of time, a definition and representational only. It is never the thing/object itself. With that in mind, how can you be sure of anything?

Let’s take an example of how this works. In life we strife for certainty. Yes, we want to be sure that everything is going to plan, nothing will interfere with this plan. In other words we want certainty. The quest for certainty will stifle creativity, certainty does not leave space in the mind ( it is always busy thinking of ways to be sure), certainty will hinder compassion, love, openness, certainty is tyrannical as it wants to control and impose its ideas on others. Has your boss been recently a little too aggressive? Certainty does not allow uncertainty. It allows no space in the mind because we are too busy filling it up with ideas to define ourselves and struggling to always get it right.

The purpose of thoughts is to control our surroundings, our identities, our position, our image, our standing in the community…To a degree, there is nothing wrong with that. On a functional level that is totally necessary. Necessary to drive a car properly or build a house, one has to know the rules and what instrument to use. But on the psychological level it does not happen like this. Thoughts are really weak. Should I go and meet my friend or should I go to Paris? Should I stay with my husband or take a lover? Should I…should I…should I. All these create confusion. Why does it create confusion? We are torn, not being to jump one way or the other. If I jump this way I lose control, if I jump the other way I will also lose something else also. Lose …lose situation. May be my position at work, my lover, my security. Yes, security. So, here we are, we don’t want to lose anything. We want complete certainty. Yes, the mind, my thoughts do not want to let go of that uncertainty. Why? Because thought is the source of uncertainty and does not want to let go in its desire to get rid of it. You will take away its “raison d’être” …reason for being. So it remains in the state of uncertainty in order to search certainty for ever. Like a dog trying to catch it tail. Not realising that it is running after itself in total unconsciousness of its action.

Yes, we are not aware of the battle that is taking place in our mind. Because it is a battle, a dangerous battle that drags on sometimes for the rest of our life. Trapped in the fight and not knowing how to get out of it. Stuck.

Of course, now one may ask: how do you get out of this trap? Ah ah! here comes the question that might elucidate my dilemma. Ask yourself this: Who want to get out of what? Who asks the question? It is a legitimate question of course. Now, how can the mind who is trapped in a dilemma going to answer how to get out of it? My mind is the problem. My thoughts are the problem. So, we are asking the problem to get out of the problem, no? Is this feasible? No, so what am I to do? I am still in a quandary. Maybe I should go and meditate, go and see a master or a guru. I am sure these people have the answer.

So, off I trot in search of certainty starting of course from a state of uncertainty. What if the master is no good, but he might be. S/he is quite reputable and has skills. So, I am sure, yes, I am sure he might give me the answer. If she does that is great, you are liberated. But if he does not where are you? Back to square one.

It is uncertainty that makes search for a place where I can at last rest in peace. I am obsessed trying to find the right solution. This obsession is blurring my love, my openness, my space. And it is in that space that I can see, yes, see the stupidity of my position not before. But again you may ask, how to you get to this space? How do you sense that openness? Of course these are very good questions and legitimate.

Can you see the obsession? Can you see the turmoil? Can you see the battle? Can you see the dilemma? Can you see how run down you are? Can see you how tired you are? Yes, you can see all that. These are all the result of your thought process going in circle and trying to resolve the impossible. That is why maybe people are taking so many prescription drugs to calm them down. They have trouble dealing with all this burden. I make it sound so simple. The mind never rest, never stops, never have a moment of silence. When you realise that you will never know, when you stop controlling, when you stop giving way to your thought and roof brain chatter, there is a moment of uncertainty. Are you going to fill it again? or are you going to let it be. Letting it be is the opening that you want. Yes, again how to make the decision? Well, let it go first. Then you will see.

Catch yourself in the act of trying to control an event. Catch yourself yelling at the dog. Catch yourself imposing your opinions on others. Catch yourself obsessed with tiny little things that don’t matter. Catch yourself ever furtively trying to profit from a situation. Catch yourself with your friend competing for a place on the tennis court or in a race. Catch yourself trying to get the best bit in a restaurant . Catch yourself talking…moving… see if these actions arise from a sense of wanting to secure a place or a position. Are you a winner? Are you a great person? All these arise from a sense of wanting to be sure….hence uncertain of yourself. And we do that day in day out.

In life one is never certain of anything. But the struggle is the fight for certainty. When one knows that we can’t be certain of anything then, something happens. That something else is the opening that you are REALLY looking for. Stop wanting to control!

What happens when you become aware of hurt and the dilemma inside you?

These problems are a direct result of thinking trying to achieve certainty …a hopeless battle. Given the premise that it can never be reached, what am I left with…being tyrannical with my partner, abusing other, being obsessed with cleanliness or looks maybe, imposing stiffer rules and regulations on others, beating someone, killing another human being maybe. All these actions are the result of not knowing what to do. Never being able to achieve something in life. Sure, I can be perfect in my job, super organised, super conscientious, being promoted to new heights, but has that resolved my issues?

Also remember one thing, the more you talk about your issue to other people the less you become apt at resolving them. What I am saying is you are leaning on others to find a solution for you because you are not able to do so. Normal you might say, but this will take any initiative that you may have. “Polling” as Brene Brown would say takes away your ability to see through your issues. Of course that is assuming on my part that you are still in good health and do not have any serious mental problems. I am not advocating by any means not to see a counselor or someone who at time might be extremely beneficial in trying to elucidate a few important points that one may have. But that is not polling it is taking steps to understand where you are at.

I am sure there is plenty more to add, I could go on and on but that is all for today.

Till next time

Life in Nimbin

Here I am at the Gallery…Nimbin Artists Gallery. Almost an icon of village life. Established almost 17 years ago by a lady whose passion was to get the Artists of Nimbin together and stay in the village promoting their works and contributing to the life here. Margaret McLaren was a woman of vision and she gave her life to the gallery. She has retired now due to ill health.

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What is so special about Nimbin? Many things makes this little village unique….a sister town with Woodstock in the US. The birth place of the Aquarius festival, the famous protest in the 70’s that save our forests from logging and the formation of National parks in our community. The establishment of MO….(Multiple Occupancy) Some communities are on large estate where everyone shares the benefits of the land, but have their own house and little plot. Usually no dogs or cats and decisions to be made by committees. Many people enjoy this lifestyle around here. But for me and Peter not our scene…too many conflicts and resolutions are few. But there are quite a few of these communities around here. Blue Springs, Mundani, Tuntables, Jarlanbah to name just a few.

Festivals, classical concerts, ragae, fashion shows, Blue Moon Cabaret, Mardi Grass, farmers’ markets, Poetry competition, Weaving for healing…there is not a month where Nimbin does not have a special event to offer.

A mixture of old farmers, retirees, academics, liberal professions, restaurateurs and… and of course Nimbin has a reputation for weeds….I mean Grass…I mean pot…I mean the famous or infamous….”I did not inhale”.

The village is well catered for with alternative therapies, doctors, a hospital, community radio, pharmacy, medical clinic, schools of many descriptions like the Steiner School, Tuntables and the local public school ( NImbin Central) that the Gallery sponsors.

The town is in a caldera surrounded forests and national parks. The energy of this village is its opposition to huge business, coal seam gas. Funky art on the streets, shops decorated by local Aboriginals, masons, wood workers, mixture, crafts stall springing up at anytime along the pavement. Oh! And if you fancied a little Indian treat, there is a stall that has just sprung out of nowhere selling you the food! Watch the health inspector there young man! The Japanese tourists or French or German that fancies a little pocket money and who are a young people visa, offer hand made necklaces and earrings for sale on the pavement. Old clothes also appear out of a suitcase sprawled on the pavement, books, plants, eggs, home grown vegetables, coffee, palm and Tarot cards reader sitting on a little stool, all done up, playing the part. Oh! I almost forgot, the “musicians” that appears from nowhere and entertain the passersby. We frequently hear a lone sax payer, a didgeridoo, and the famous drumming every Friday night. Many people get together to perform a night of only drumming in the village. Now, that is something to see! Lots of folks also dance on the pavement to the intoxicating rhythms of the many drums beat. A night out and getting together and rejoicing.

Unfortunately, the local Aboriginals with a a few other people prefer the bench and tables next to the Hemp Embassy to drink their litres of plonk. Shouting, swearing and then go back to sit gazing into the never-never. Harmless. We all know them. But from time to time a dispute arises and this whole side of the street becomes the focal point for a few minutes. Sometimes blows are exchanged, the police comes 30 mns later and everything is back to normal. Police just smile and are on their way. Just a little commotion from funny Nimbin. But if it is more serious then it is not funny anymore!


On the way to buy something:

Oh, I forget to get some milk…a quick run into the village will do. So, here I start the car and say to my husband I won’t be long…just getting some milk. Really? says he. Yes, won’t take long. Of course there is no such thing in Nimbin.
I park the car and ready to walk into the little supermarket. Hi, G says Russell, the local artist who has spent 15 years in France. Here we go exchanging the latest news on France and the current political atmosphere.
Ho! Hello Tim! So Tim tells me all about the new house he just moved in and what is happening in the Gallery. Tim is treasurer there. Another 20mn later, Steve says:” is this ok for Saturday’s catering” no sorry, the spot has been given to someone who can do coffee for the classical concert in October. 20minutes later AGAIN I am still saying by this time “good afternoon” to Vicky, David, John and so on.
What did I come to buy? Oh! yes, the milk. So, I walk in the supermarket and head for the milk. Hi! says Fabien…long time no see. What have you been up to? another 10 mns inside the supermarket chatting about the latest happenings. By that time I am getting quite frantic. It has been over an hour and am still no back.I am supposed to be on duty at the Gallery and have 20mns to eat and get going. I rush to the car and Liz says: “you are in a hurry today” Oh boy! Liz, “I am sorry can’t stay and chat… have to get back I am at the Gallery today” “Ok catch up soon” she says. “I’ll drop in later and say hello”, “sure I am there all afternoon”. Phew! the car is starting and I am off.

EMporium Little supermarket

Bringabong shop

Upon arriving back home, Peter smiles and says: “Just the milk I suppose”. “Sorry can’t explain have to eat and rush don’t have any more time to chat”!
So, my little quick trip ended up just over an hour. And it is like that almost every time we need to buy something in the village. Now, we ask each other: “who is going to the village to get something”? We decided to take it in turns or go together. No more reprimands on either side.

As you all can see life here is not without its tribulations and beauty. All surrounded by the magnificent Mountain range of Blue Knob, Lilian Rock, Nightcape ranges and the famous very famous Nimbin Rocks. Every tourist that comes here must have a photo of the rocks. But, of course “Nimbin” in Aboriginal Banjalung language tribes means Big Rock.
3 to 4 buses packed with tourists young and old arrive daily to visit this little village which has become an icon world wide I am pretty sure.

See link below for the picture of the Rocks.

Till next time!

A simple little incident

We live everyday without really paying attention to how we operate. Why is this? Because most of the time we work with our thinking without leaving a just a little space for the unconscious to emerge. What is that? What does it mean? I will proceed to explain in my own way  what I do mean with this relating to a small incident that happened the other day.

Well, you might say of course we have to think in order to operate. True, this is normal you might even add. Thinking is how we operate, how we function, how we act and how we lead our life on a day to day basis. A necessary tool of course. So what are we talking about there? If I need thinking to function in our life what wrong with this?

Well, there is nothing wrong indeed. Thoughts, we forget are only a little part of our life, but it plays an enormous role and has taken over in more ways than we can imagine. We are word addicts more than coffee, drugs, nicotine and any other substance you can imagine. My father said that many years ago: ” Words are a drug and we don’t know that we are addicted”. Thoughts have taken over our life and we don’t know how to stop. Stop? how can you do that?  Yes, of course there are countless methods that will tell you how to do just that. You pay for them and follow them: the gurus, the methods, the masters, the newly illuminated that have found peace, the countless men and women that swear that they have discovered THE WAY.

AM I to believe them? AM I to follow them because they are gurus and masters?  Tempting no?  Well, I have decided to look at it all in a different way.

If I follow all these masters and know-it all men and women, where do I stand in all that? I’ll be merely a follower. Nothing wrong of course if that is what you want to do. But why can’t I be my own master and guru? Can I discover by myself what they have discovered? Why can’t I do it? What peace are they all talking about?  If they have done so, it must be in all of us. Therefore what is the obstacle?

So, here is my little incident that helped me see through a few things related to thinking and how AT TIMES it can be a real hindrance.

The other day, a friend of mine was looking for a phone number. Have you seen that phone number? No, I said. Never saw it. So, he went on looking for 10 mns solid searching for this evasive number and could not put his finger on it. I remained silent and did not utter a word. After a while, I said: “did you look in the 3rd file in the filing cabinet”? So, he went there and could not find it either. So, he went on looking for a while longer to no avail. That is when I got up, searched that very file in the filing cabinet  and found it. The 3rd one from the back. Dumbfounded he could not understand why he had not seen it.

How many times this happens to all of us? So, I ponder on it for a short while and suddenly it became clear why he had not seen it and why we are not seeing when the object is there in front of our eyes. My simple explanation is that we are taken so much with our thinking that we do not pay attention to what we are doing. We are not with the ACTUAL process. Our mind is filled with ideas hence cumbersome to see the obvious. Our mind is busy, busy with formulating ideas that represent only the world within our frame. We see what we want to see or not see. Seeing requires an attention to the process (thinking) that guides our activity. When that process is too taken by itself it becomes the obstacle. It becomes a hindrance. We can observe here that thinking is necessary but not the ultimate tool. A tool that it is, and that is what it is. A tool that allows us to go to work, to drive a car, to walk through the door, to build a house, to water our garden to cut down a tree and so on. But I would not go as far as saying to know who we are. Thinking can’t know who we are. It approximates our status and makes us THINK. But when it ventures into the realm of being it has lost its power. It pretends and can’t get a foothold. Hence the justifications and the reiterations of its position.

We see the world according to our perception of it. That perception is molded by our background, upbringing and education. Everything is translated by what we know. Of course that is necessary and I won’t deny it. But it becomes an obstacle when that is the only thing that supposedly exists. We forget this. We forget that they might be some other ways to see the world. Thought has become so dominant( addictive) that it remains the only thing that is viable. Hence our narrow minded views of the world. We can’t extend further than what we have become accustomed to “seeing”. We fight for it, go to war on it, annihilate countries and people, torture, maim, rape and so on.

So, if my friend, could have only extended his vision outside his thinking process he might have been able to see the paper and the phone number that he was looking for. In other words he remained glued within his narrow frame of vision and did not see the obvious. That happens to all of us all the time. It is because we do not leave a little space, we do not pause, we do not arrest ourselves just a few seconds that there might be another way of looking,  another perspective on our pseudo reality that we latched onto  as being the only reality that ever exists. How small that is!

It is therefore important to stop and take a few seconds to envisage another way. To let our unconscious speak. It knows what to do and how to go about it. But that is very hard one might say. Of course it is hard because thinking does leave any gap. It engulfs us and we say that there is no way out. What else should I do? What Can I do? Can you give me a trick or a method? and we do not realise that it is thinking that is speaking. Yes, thinking does not see this realm, can’t fathom it,  can’t hold it, can’t touch it, can’t sustain it, can’t even start to imagine what it could be like or look like. This realm, is not within the grasp of thinking.  It encompasses thinking but not IT!

So, the  pause that is needed to see is gone,  and we remain with the status quo…I can’t find it and start to search around. Stop, and let the mind rest for a second or two. I am not keen on the saying: “search and you will find” it may apply in other occasions but not in that instance. If our mind is perpetually busy,  the standstill, the suspension and the gap  just disappear and we are left with the same old story….the incessant roof brain chatter that hinders us for being present. Being present is  where the thinking does not get involved. It has nowhere to go. In fact it can’t deal with the present since it does not “know” it.

Till next time.

Back to the ranch

We have been back 2 weeks now and the first week was spent in bed recovering from a heavy cold. Both of us got it pretty bad. Not had a cold in such a long time!

I guess the travels added to a lot of fatigue. It was a great holiday in all. Visiting the family and also friends in London and south of France. Enjoying good food and wines…maybe a little too much I guess. The extra kgs are showing it at the moment. But having just recovered from this cold I feel right now is the right time to get back into shape.

Shape it is! I spent all morning cleaning the curtains and behind the sofas. In spite of having a charming lady looking after the place, the mice did not ask permission to their right of abode in our house. They were quite a few. The first thing was to get rid of them. After all they are not paying rent and were not asked to come in. So, right now there are little corpses to be picked up and buried far from the house. The chicken coop also had their mice number up. It was a real invasion there. They were scattering everywhere. They had the time to multiply with all the good grains that were fed to the chooks. What the difference now is that our beloved python is no more to keep them in check. And of course they had the chance to nest around the coop and had a ball. Yes, had. Because now the poison had the opportunity to work its miracle and I am pretty sure that they are not going to stay that long. Revenge! yes, they managed already to eat all my melon seedling that I painstakingly planted the other day. Yum! Melon seeds. But that will be dealt with shortly.

The cows have made it back today. All in form and are looking fabulous. Nice to have  our little troop back in the paddock. I did miss them. When they entered back in, I called them and they picked up their head and look at me. “Haha , you are back, I am sure they were saying, so are our treats ( I do spoil them rotten with special lucerne hay…nice and green). So, they came rushing back to the edge of the fence expecting but looked puzzled that I did not have it ready. Yes, girls, it will come. give me a minute!

Little butcher bird greeted us by coming straight into the kitchen demanding its ration, and that was on the first day! Lucky I had kept some meat in the freezer for him…sorry her. I just found out it was a female. I fed it and it did not want to move at all. In fact she remained there for quite a while on the sofa, its usual place. Welcome home little bird.

As for our fat Labrador it was such a rejoicing for her,  she could stop wagging her tail, but with her it is hard to know if it is the tail or the body that wags. That night she climbed up the stairs and onto her favourite place, beside us at the foot of the bed. Not on the bed mind you that would have been impossible. She did not wake us that morning to go out. She waited patiently till we got up which was quite late. She went for a little walk  but came straight back inside. No, I am not going to let you out of my sight right now she must have said to herself. And the whole day she followed us around keeping an eye, making sure we would stay put. And put we stayed indeed with that rotten cold.

Spring cleaning is under way. Washing all these dirty curtains scraping the dust from winter as well as the smell of burning fires of these cold winter months. Rugs got a heavy pounding and they are soaking the spring sun at the moment. Behind the fridges and the furniture with the vacuum and a good disinfectant.  It smells wonderful and ready for these balmy evenings where the breeze is caressing softly the top of the bamboos which sway gently. against the backdrop of the mountains.  It is a delight to feel the gentle warm evenings, the calm and serenity after busy London, Paris and Bangkok. The superb sunsets, the tweeting of the birds, the swamp hens that have taken refuge and settled on the edge of the dam, the rails that have had babies running around everywhere foraging, the magpies still shy  but ready to be fed if I called them, the mudlarks dirtying our windows as they see their reflection on the glass and peck it. What a mess they make! The wallabies hoping around the fields at sunset. A delight to the senses!

It is hard to reintegrate into the routines and the mind wonders about living somewhere else. Having another dog, living in Thailand where it is nice and easy, fantasising about all sorts of possibilities, hard to get re acquainted with friends and even forgetting some of the names. I always do that, finding it hard to remember names when I get back. Ready to take off again! dreaming, yes. But that was when we were in bed sick and lamenting about our health. So, the mind goes to find dreams and projects.

We are back on our feet and getting back into our routines and all these fantaisies have disappeared …almost …for the time being. It  is back to the ranch and back into our lovely setting and breathing fresh air and eating our garden produce. It was great to go and travel to see especially family, friends and relatives but it is even greater to be back and we settle into our home.  Comfort you might say, yes, there is something to be said about routines and the feeling to reintegrate what you know. We are creatures of comfort. A bit like a cat that loves the plushy sofa and stretches lazily. That is what I feel right now that lazy feeling of being back home.

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Oh! and also the fact that I am going to loose these extra kgs . I have started already. No more rich sauces, wines, cheese, heaps of cakes…tho I am not so much of a sweet tooth, but I had a bit of Peter’s all the time and my own to be honest. These lovely buckwheat pancakes, with Calvados/cider from Brittany, these rich butter cakes called Kouing Aman warm and so easily tucked into! That delectable EDDU, a whiskey  made from buckwheat in Brittany…These oysters and mussels accompanied with french fries. No, my mouth is not watering right now, but I am happy and fulfilled to have indulged in these delectable specialties. Again? yes, but not so soon! Now for some more sober eating.

Till next time.

Coffee, scones and clotted cream at Selfridges, London

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Mussels again and fried potatoes. Yum!

conformity is intrinsically dishonesty

This is just a quick insight into a little event that happens regularly among people.

Not so long ago, I attended a family wedding. There were many people that I had not seen for many years, in fact some 30 years or more. In passing it is quite something that you meet old acquaintances only at weddings or funerals. Normal, you might say and it happens all the time.

When you arrive and see all these faces and everyone is impeccably dressed for the circumstances, you wonder where you stand and who are all these people. Most of us  in our late  60’s and 70’s.  Even family members seem so distant and you try to put a name or  recollect who they are now. Or rather who they were then.  I  stand for a while a little lost trying to figure out this face or that. But  nothing comes to mind and names are so far away in your memory that all the searching does not bring anything back. Dozens of people are in the same predicament as I am, that is sure. Finding a name or a face or some vague memory of where did I see them last. What do they look like now? Yes, what are they now that is what matters after all.

After re acquainting yourself  with faces of so long ago I hear this sentence frequently: ” Gee you have not changed at all”. Really,  I asked myself, if that were the case why is that I do not recall any of you…but that was an internal remark. Do I play the game and say ;” wow! neither did you” You look exactly the same, you have not changed at all. That would be really telling a fib I say to myself. So I reply;” I don’t think so, surely I am not the same as I was 30 odd years ago…I have more wrinkles, my hair is whiter, I wear glasses I exclaim laughing.”  The other replies:’ yes, it has been quite a while and what have you been up to”. Internally, I muse and say to myself, where do I start? So, I say:” it depends where you want me to start from”? Cheeky, unnerving, puzzling, disrupting the nice flow of the meeting. So what, I don’t really care in the end. Totally unsociable. 

To this, the other person is a little at a loss. A few seconds of silence ensues. Both feeling the awkwardness of the situation. Why is this? Simple when you think of it. Had I answer to the other person who was fat, slumped and white haired: “Gee, you too, you look amazingly the same” which of course that what they wanted to hear also. We would have been both comforted in the notion that we had not aged, we were  both the same spring chickens we were 30 or 40 years ago. We would have both felt elated at this and reassured. So, the original statement that I had  not changed was futile and a conformity that we apply in social settings. In my views this is really dishonest because we are not facing to the fact that we are getting old and all the psychological and physical  problems that old age may bring. Especially at a wedding, where the couple are in their late 20’s or early 30’s. We feel left out, the good old times are gone and so is our youth and glamour and at times our social status with it.

How many times have you found yourself in that same situation? How many times have looked at the exchange with friends and people were you are obliged to reply in a flattering manner to suit you and be nice to the other, just to comply to the social etiquette.  I am not against social etiquette but I am always intrigued at what is BEHIND our simple exchanges. 

Why do we have to ignore the fact that we are ageing? . These polite exchanges are trying to ignore the facts of life. Well, I feel quite confortable where I am and do not wish to play this silly game. It breeds a false sense of security. After all we are mortal, our life has a definite curb, so I’d rather be well in my skin NOW and stop pretending that I am the same as in my 30’s. How hard is it to accept this? It could be, if you are regretting what you were. Why regret? Is there something that we are not accepting now?. That something that we refuse to look at is our mortality. A famous Indian philosopher Krisnamurti, said: “Die now, then you would be able to see and may comprehend what is immortality.”

Maybe the subject for another little writing.

Till next time.

Preparations

The weather is getting slightly colder but not quite. And it is time again to think about our big trip.

Part of the excitement is all the preparation  beforehand . I am not quite sure whether I call that excitement or a lot of thinking before going…anticipation. Well it is going to be the usual taking care of the house taking care of the chickens and the cows, ensuring that the hay has been ordered and delivered. Taking care of the dogs sorry the dog. I had almost forgotten that Sam had gone last year.Taking care of the veggie garden. Planting the a few seedlings that will (maybe) be ready when we get back. Ensuring that the house sitter knows the routines and where everything is. Sometimes I wish that I did not have such a menagerie. But that is only a wish, because when I am not going anywhere I love to have them around and looking after them all. Plenty of weeks left to prepare the little goodies to take with us and think up of what we are going to carry. Not much but, it is when we come back that we are going to be loaded…as usual. Lucky Thai Airways is quite generous with our luggage!

Also the small butcher bird that made himself at home… He comes everyday for his little feed. Should I tell the house sitter to feed it or do I let him fend for himself for two months? He did manage well before. I have just noticed also that he got rid of his babies. They use to come all four of them for a feed. No more. What happened? Well, I gathered that he gave them the whole the boot. Nowadays he is the only one. All of them  have gone away , they deserted the nest. Now, he gets all the best bits.

I had noticed over the last few weeks as he brought them for a feed. They would arrive and wait on the veranda each of them singing their head of for a feed. I did feed the lot of them. HE would not give them the bits of meat that I had presented to him. So, I diligently gave the meat to the babies which of course they looked at puzzled then, chirped, sung for dad or mum to give it to them…to no avail. They would not budge. They would wait patiently on the balustrade and not  moving till they had begrudgingly flew down to pick up their meat. One of them had even the temerity to take it from my hand. Great, I thought you are daring and you are going to be part of the clan. At one time they even flew into the living room, my husband was horrified and would choo them away. That little circus went on for a few weeks till, I am sure the parents “told them” enough, you are on your own guys, now it is time to go and fetch your food somewhere else. Presently , he is alone and enjoying the privileges of being king of the roost. Talking about roost, we have just discovered that the surviving chicken that the python did not manage to eat ended up a rooster. This morning for the first time we heard a croaky sound coming from the coop. Peter said:  “Listen, carefully” I stop what I was doing and gave my attention to the sounds around me and low and behold, indeed, it was the young rooster exercising his first song. I was stunned because all along I was almost sure that it was just another hen.

But back to the preparations. We still have heaps to do. We have not booked any flights within Europe. We have not booked our trains tickets for travels within France. So, in the next few days this is going to be out priority. All the families in France and England have been told of our arrival. I did change some money already, that is done. I’ll have to buy heaps of food for the chickens and the only dog. What else is there? Gosh! Have I forgotten anything? I am sure I have, things will start to come to the surface as time comes near. In the meantime, I will be busy at the Gallery doing some voluntary work till the last minute.

I am so looking forward to this break, as I said earlier it is exhilarating knowing that there not long to go. It has been a very demanding last few months. The little cabin that we built had taken so much time. Peter has just managed to install the last few bits this afternoon and I am happy that he will not be doing any more work on it. That project had taken so much of his time, energy and I dare say sleepless nights of fathoming what the next move will be or churning over and over what would be the best approach to the sink, the composting toilet, the kitchen shelf and above all the immense chore of all the water works. DONE! finished and well executed Peter. You earned a great holiday from it all. Now, he sleeps better not having any more ideas or designs..till when… that is what I am scared of with him.  Time will tell!

In the end I talked about lots of other things and got  a little carried away. Till next time!

Being here!

Like the far away friend that writes to her blog about “the moment”, I decided to add a few things to her marvellous text.

Yes, it is true, we miss a lot …our roof brain chatter is non -stop. The stream of thoughts that come and go have nothing to do with the present. There are remnants of the past. These thoughts are a long stream of ideas that have shaped us.  Through our teachers, parents, friends, media, environment, and our experiences that we had. We churn them out day in day out. But this is the process that we are made of. They have moulded us into what we are today. Then, we say, “this is me”. We have acquired all of them and selected a few to make them our reality,  are they really?

In my view that are not the reality at all, only a representation through old …very old ideas. An idea is never present. An idea is a reflection of the past. Show me a present idea? They don’t exist. Why?  the answer is very simple and you know it already, they simply don’t function in the now as they are build up of the past and will always be generated by the past. They come after the events as a description of what is….or try to describe what is. They could never succeed because they recall. The present has no words to describe itself. If it had it would not be PRESENT. The present can’t be described. The thought is always after the event. It recalls. It is a normal process. The magic is that NOW is only to be lived. Trying to describe is futile.

If I am cooking which I really like, I am with the cooking. The process knows what to do. If I start thinking, or just come at the time of my doing something we can quickly witness it and go back to what we are doing. If I give vent to that thought: how horrible is my dog, or the problems that I encounter with m y neighbour, or thinking about my next week end, or whatever goes in at the time, then I quickly lose track of the present task. I get confused, lose the thread, or just give that thought full rein and I am lost. Then we go back and they ” what was I doing? what did I forget to add? what should do next? all these question are a sign that we are not with what we are doing. Of course, one has to stop and see what is needed to complete the task, but that is being with what is.

My father used to say it the simplest thing in the world. is to BE. How easy are the words? How easy it is to UNDERSTAND? Yes, dad, to understand is easy, to do or not do,  is harder. Intellectuel understanding is the half way measure. Catching yourself in the act is the hardest thing because thought comes back to justify its position and attitude. Simple but not easy!

What does it mean to catch yourself in the act? My neighbour insults me, is angry with me, treats me like I was a fool. What should I do? Attempt to convince him/her that I am not. If he has decried that I am, what and whom am I fighting. Oh! wait a minute, I am seeing that I am trying to protect my little ego or my big one. The more I try to convince him, the more indignant I become and the more I will boast my self righteousness. I feel hurt to be treated in such fashion. But on the other hand if I see right away his anger, his arrogance, his hatred, his frustration….which I am also made of but not aware of, then my response will  be different. Why should I feed him more of the same that he is already fighting to achieve? What he is achieving? He also wants to be right. Both can’t be right, one has to give in or give up. The stillness inside me will point the way and see all that. If I REACT, I won’t be in the position to see anything and be caught up in the same game. What to do,  you may ask?  Simple but easy again. The space, the calm, the stillness, the vision whatever you may want to call it has the answer. But watch the mind and see how it wants to defend itself against all that. That seeing is the freedom from the known. One may not see it right away (for me that is). But on the other hand, Krisnamurti would say the seeing is the liberation and it is instantaneous.

Being here is the only answer to the myriad of problems and issues that are eating us and causing us ill-ease.   As we are always caught to remedy situations and issues,  it appears unsurmountable. Again my father would say in that vein, that “the solutions of today are the problems of tomorrow” simply because we are always dealing with half concocted solutions. They are never whole, but partial. But that could be the subject of another topic and exchange.

 

SUNSET IN NIMBIN

 

Sunset in Nimbin