Tuesday, 30 December 2014


December 30th, 2014. It is a strange day. The last day of this year that I have time and space to write. Today marks 22 years since my father’s passage out of this world and away from tangibility; from touch. I can still remember, 22 years ago today, placing my small, warm hand on his. Cold and heavy. The room, violet dark and filled with tears, has remained a precious haven to me – Now only in memory.

There are times when all I want, all I need is an embrace. His embrace. A father’s embrace. I feel it would help make sense of days like this, in their mingled joy and sadness. Perhaps it would make today feel a little less strange.

It is this memory that is precisely why I have a strong dislike for the concept of resolutions. Even the word itself, irks me. I suddenly feel that I am wrestling inside an itchy sweater, while swatting away at a fly pestering my face. A fly keen on eyelashes, to be specific.

Resolution: A decision or determination; the act of determining upon an action. A solution or settling of a problem.

While the definition doesn’t sound half bad, it’s the implication of permanence that doesn’t sit right with me. As I learned on this day 22 long years ago – nothing is permanent. In addition, the impending consequence (usually utter disappointment and self-doubt) upon failure to conclude said resolutions is what I really don’t like. As far as I’m concerned, resolutions are just ultimatums in a pretty dress.

Believe it or not, this is actually meant to be a message of hope. A message encouraging the creation of lifestyle goals, in place of New Year’s resolutions.

Goal: an achievement toward which effort is directed.

Goals, especially when realistic and attainable, become joyful pursuits. We often set the bar slightly too high, with rigid deadlines and strict parameters, turning our joys into stressors. (Sidenote: Deadlines? Really? Who came up with that word?)

Goals are flexible, pliable, and moldable to circumstance. Rather than a start-finish design like resolutions, goals can be added to, and adapted to accommodate for change. True, some old habits should be cast aside, but many habits simply need to be nurtured and encouraged to thrive. Rather than your focus being “ax that, toss this,” why don’t you focus instead on providing time and space for the things that bring you joy to flourish? As you focus on the beautiful aspects of your life, the unhealthy bits will begin to fade away, leaving behind bright and vibrant YOU.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A Legacy of Love

Katrina Dawson, 38 years old, sacrificed her own life to save two, by putting herself in front of her pregnant friend during the Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney, Australia this Monday. She was a loving wife and mother of three children, all under the age of 10.

I hear stories such as this, and my heart soars. Full of sorrow and full of light. It is in these precious yet devastating moments of observing true selflessness, that my adoration for humanity overflows. In a circumstance of suffering and fear, courage illuminated the darkness; a beam of light in a blackened room. This woman, in an outpouring of love, created a legacy in her final few breaths.

I believe tragedies, as they should, force us to reevaluate the value we place on life. We are fickle, forgetful creatures. We often, and easily, become consumed with things trivial and finite. Our personal feelings of contentment become threatened and bruised as we are manipulated into believing that all we are lacking is the next best thing; that your success defines you; that success itself is defined by money, status and power.

We suffer. Our obsession with obtaining – with hoarding – becomes akin to our pursuit of happiness. More is never enough.

We leave gratitude behind. The richness found in small moments of a stranger’s kindness is lost on us, and we turn the other way. A warm meal is not enjoyed in appreciation of it’s nourishment, for we are already on to the next item on our agendas. As we raise our expectations for ourselves to an almost unattainable level, we raise them for others as well. A kiss that once melted our heart is no longer enough. Households once built on Love and Trust are now sinking into a ditch of daily pressures, schedules, timelines and other trivialities that we’ve brought upon ourselves.

Anxiety and suspicion take over, alien vines choking out our Trust, breaking their way into the cornerstone of Love that once defined all.

Or did it? We, being fickle and short-sighted, have forgotten. Our self-worth is grounded in the temporal. Our vain quest to find a fountain of youth has led to a disdain for the aged, which once symbolized wisdom, thereby reflecting shamefully on our disregard for the honorable. Life begins to lose it’s value as we place it on scales easily broken.

Then, tragedy strikes. Those of us who take just one extra moment to consider the gravity of it are brought to our knees. Our memory, being jolted, forces us to consider once again the brevity of life, and how precious it truly is.

May we live and love in such a way that does not require tragedy to remind us of the daily gift we are given.

Rest in peace, Katrina Dawson, and thank you for leaving behind a legacy worthy of honor.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Elephant Love

“Love is many splendid thing; love lifts us up where we belong; all you need is love!” -Ewan McGregor, Mouin Rouge

Of the many great and profound mysteries in existence, there is none more evasive than the mystery of love. No matter how much you observe or experience it, love cannot be understood in it’s entirety. Unlike the many other great mysteries, such as: whether or not there is life on other planets, our changing perception of time as we age, how the universe began (truly) – love cannot be numbered, measured, dated or described.

Love is in and of itself, a paradox. It is an entirely individual experience, yet it is something to be shared. It’s forms are vast; innumerable. It is often referred to as the strongest force there is, yet it cannot function alone. Someone tells you they love you. What does that really mean, and how do you know it to be true? They can produce no substance, nor sign any paper that proves it. You must simply trust them, and hope that they know how love is best communicated to you. What feels or looks like love to one person, may be interpreted as an entirely different emotion to another.

Which brings up another facet of the mystery. An emotion – is that what love is? No, I don’t believe we can classify it so simply. Yet we do it anyways, because an emotion is far easier to understand than an invisible force. A whirlwind, if there ever was one. One moment it lifts you high above the ground, and the next moment you are dashed to the ground.

You cannot love without risking heartache. We choose to love even though it hurts. We do it again, and again, and again, ad nauseam. Yes, we choose to enter into a realm where we have a one in two chance of ending up face down on the ground, alone. We claim, “Never again!” Until another opportunity presents itself… 

I believe we choose it because there is no other choice. To close your heart to love and resist the mystery is to choose a life of darkness. A road where there is no light, and life itself becomes meaningless.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A Simple Summary

In response to the inspirational TED talk by Alain de Botton:


There is a constant pressure to amount to something worthwhile in the Western world. The language of that very sentence is full of value statements heavy with subjectivity. Amount to… what? Something worthwhile… such as? Worthwhile according to whom? We live in a continuous, repeating if-then statement. “If I accomplish said task, then I will obtain said status.” We are inundated by a constant deluge of “succeed, succeed, succeed…” It is initially an encouraging statement, but it quickly becomes cumbersome.

After the initial surge of optimistic inspiration fades from the message, it begins to be riddled with self-doubt and envy of others. Without knowing how it really began, we become obsessed, even subconsciously, with status and prestige. We insist on attempting to make a name for ourselves, rooting our value as individuals in what we have accomplished.

We don’t just apply this to ourselves. We also look upon others, and whether we mean to or not, cast judgment upon them. We assume that the position they’re in, high or low, is entirely they’re own doing. In short, we live by the principle that everyone gets what they deserve. We have created a ridiculous societal structure known as a meritocracy, outlined poignantly by Alain de Botton.

A cynical and bleak outlook to be sure. However, with every problem, there is a solution to be found. He makes a simple, yet very important, statement in this regard: “You can’t be successful at everything.” There is an element of loss in every success story. Furthermore, your vision of success is often not even from your own ideas, but rather it is gleaned from others and what you perceive their opinions to be. He brings this point home with the following conclusion:

“What I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but that we should make sure that they are our own… That we are truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what you want, and find out at the end of the journey that it isn’t in fact what you wanted all along.”

Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It creates the failures. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.

Anais Nin

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Defining God

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Many artists have turn towards nature. Others turn towards other artists. Still others find inspiration from the mundane, reading between the lines of the beautiful and extracting the commonplace. Take Degas and his dancers for instance. It was rarely beautiful pirouettes that coaxed his pencil to his paper. Rather, it was the lacing of their ballet slippers or the twisting of their hair that caught his eye and told him, “Create.” For Leon Lhermitte, his canvases often depicted the back-breaking farm work of rural peasants. For Elizabeth Gilbert, her own story inspired her.

With great hesitation I place myself under the great expansive umbrella of the artists of human history. I am passionate, yes. But ignorant also. Eager to learn, to inspire, and to be inspired. I feel like a newly hatched chick, peeping excessively, and almost unnoticeably. I squeeze in at the outermost edge, one shoulder rubbing the shoulder of another who has been in the game a little longer than I, but still a novice. Everything but their toes is shielded under the grand parasol. I, on the other hand, have a whole shoulder exposed to the elements. I glance over it sheepishly, wondering if I am qualified enough to be edging my way in. Is there such thing as a qualification? Do I need anymore than the desire to create? Can you create without being an artist? Can you be an artist without creating? Should I even bother with attempting to define the role of an artist? Many theists believe we as humans are “co-creators” with God. Perhaps it is as futile to attempt to define who an artist is, as it is to attempt to define God.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

It is better to give...

“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.” ~Annie Dillard, “The Writing Life”

Do you ever read or see or hear something that hits you squarely between the eyes? It moves you in such a way that for a brief moment time pauses, and all thoughts and emotions come into focus. For one minute, in this massive, confusing, colorful tapestry called life, there is a single pin-point of clarity. A small segment of the weave makes sense. You feel a sense of: understanding. You have been moved. You may not even know in which direction. All you know, is that something must be done.

You have been inspired.

Sunday, 31 August 2014


Fatigue is a funny thing. Many of us humans like to live organized, compartmentalized lives. “Let’s put work here, relationships there, health over yonder – yes, that’s a good start.” It’s as if we are walking through life in a three-dimensional game of Tetris. We like lines, boxes, and boundaries. The infantile desire to be swaddled has never truly left us. It has simply evolved. What the babe in the blanket knows, however, and what we have forgotten, is that every bit of our existence is interconnected.

Our needs, as dictated by Maslow, are fairly basic. It’s not until one of these things is knocked out of place that we are reminded of the frailty of our existence. The infant knows this well. Full tummy, clean pants, tight blanket, hold me, love me – happiness. The spine is also a perfect analogy for this. One vertebra out of alignment causes an almost disproportionate amount of discomfort to one or more areas of the body.

Which brings me back to fatigue. It is so basic, so fixable. Yet the effect it has on a person’s body, mind and soul is quite dramatic. Have you ever seen a toddler throw itself on the ground in a state of utter despair just because they want to go to bed? Their little toddler world may as well be ending in that moment. Their state of happiness and well-being is very clearly connected to feeling rested. What a brilliant design: that which we try so hard to separate is brought back together by something as simple as being tired. 

When stress and lack of sleep get the best of you, it affects you in a holistic sense. Your optimism dwindles, your confidence wavers, your light dims; you feel incapable. Suddenly those decisions you’ve made, which made so much sense at the time, seem non-sensical. Doubts about your past, present and future flood your mind. Your soul is troubled as the rock you thought you were standing on now feels like sand shifting beneath your feet. 

All these thoughts aren’t the true message. What your body is really telling you is: sleep. Rest your body, rest your mind, rest your soul. In that order, if you can. Acknowledge your fatigue as a reminder of the importance of self-care. Then give yourself permission to nourish those parts of your life that have been neglected. After all, they are all connected.

Monday, 18 August 2014

A moment of weakness

It is interesting how the things that at one time inspired us to pursue what we dream about, can subsequently discourage us on a day of lesser strength. I sought out a used bookstore for inspiration. Although small, “Dog-Eared Books” in San Francisco provided the solace I needed for the frame of mind I was in. Sort of. Used bookstores seem to be the place where my intuition speaks loudest, and I feel free to follow it in any given direction without a real goal in mind. I grasped the spine of the first book that caught my eye. After I had primed the literary portion of my mind with excerpts from “The Bounty Trilogy”, I moved on. A book that a co-worker had been reading snagged my attention. A quick browse taught me that the author has become a best seller, and is on the New York Times list as one of the most promising writers under the age of 40. I looked at her photo on the back flap. She is a beautiful blond from Eastern Europe — and just two years older than me.

The ideal reaction to this knowledge would be one of encouragement. “Well, if she can do it, surely I can, too!” Instead, it was one of jealousy and a sudden feeling of futility. I took a few somber strides and picked up “The Writing Life”, by Annie Dillard. In the first few pages she describes a frustration regarding the writing process that is all too familiar to me. This, too, might have been encouraging on a healthier day, knowing that I am not alone in my struggle with word-smithing. However, my reaction was: I am really not so special after all. My quest to lasso the moon is a path that has been beaten down by many before me. I am left to wonder, “what do I have to offer that has not already been seen, accepted, and then cast aside?” The drop-in-the-ocean feeling that I despise so thoroughly set itself heavily upon my shoulders.

In a slightly cynical spirit of masochism, I bought the book. I intend to read it, pushing through the emotions of the average writer that are apparently ubiquitous, and find the joys that the book is supposedly full of, according to a New York Times book review.

As a friend of mine said recently, “The fire is still burning, let’s see what we can do.” Writing is about love, anyhow. Not about fame and glory, I remind myself. With shaky confidence I put pen to paper and let, as Dillard puts it, my words dig a path for me to follow. You never know, this may yet be the “road less traveled by.”

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Note to Self

It has been a long time. Many weeks, hours, and minutes have passed since I’ve last written anything remotely worthy of public viewing. Not “worthy” in the sense that my writing “deserves” to be viewed. I just think that no one wants to hear me rant about stressful-this and irritating-that’s. God forbid I throw another drop into the sea of ubiquitous whinging that is so prevalent in this Information Age.

That being said, however, I do think that the subject of stress is something that everyone can relate to at some point in their life. To be clear, I haven’t been all that stressed out. Simply juggling all the nuances of readjusting to full-time work, moving into a new place, organizing my world post-traveling, getting reacquainted with “real life” as it were, etc. So, really, as a friend of mine has tattooed on his arms: “I’ve had worse.” Much worse.

That is not a segue into my life story. The past can remain happily where it is — behind me. It is the beautiful present I’d rather talk about.

This is not my usual shpeal. I’ve gabbed on and on about being present and having an attitude of gratitude. Great principles to live by, to be sure. However, as I’m sure all of you have thought already, it is easy to say such things when one is lying in a hammock with a whole lot of NOTHING written on their proverbial calendar. (Because why would one who has no real agenda have a planner?) My point exactly. Stress-free environment to be sure. Yes, there is the whole “where is my next meal coming from” thought that may drift through hammock-inhabiter’s head three times a day. As it turns out, this problem is easily fixed by befriending a generous Italian named something like… Alessandro. Catching the eye of a handsome South African is also not a shabby idea.

But that’s traveling. Then you come home. Home. (Note to self: write soon about the vacuous idea of home.) “Where’s my next meal coming from” as you are lying in a hammock turns into “when’s my next paycheck” as you are responding to the incessant monitor beeps of an unstable neonate on a ventilator. Stress has entered your world, and now you must learn to adapt the care-free spirit of the Italian and the laid-back attitude of the South African to your life as a nurse in America. (Never mind that you’ve fallen in love with the Saffa. That’s a different story). Stress has attached itself to you, and unless you shake it off, it’s moving in. Before you know it, your new roomie will be throwing it’s wet towel on the bed and leaving it’s muddy boots on your ivory carpet.

I could dissect this concept a good deal, but this is the main point: zoom out. What were you doing while traveling? What was your purpose? I believe it was: bring light to every person you meet. Learn. Grow. Discover. Why should this no longer be your purpose? Re-entry into a familiar environment should not dim your light, stop the learning process, or stunt your growth. The list of things to discover is as long as it ever was. You may be crashing exhausted into your bed after a 12 hour night shift without a hammock in sight, but you have a job. A damn good one. One that will pay for your next meal. Not to mention friends and family that love you, and a memory bank full of amazing, life-changing experiences. Yes, things could be worse. Much worse.

So maybe this is my usual shpeal after all. Be grateful. Be present. And don’t forget to breathe.

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Importance of Being... Leisurely

The beautiful (and also scary) thing about writing is that I am at liberty to write about anything and everything. Writing about nothing is also an option. Which some (a lot of) people choose to do. We won’t name any names… Today, I would like to write about leisure. The importance of which you would not know by looking at its place on the average person’s priority list. That is, the average person in modern society. However, it couldn’t be more important. Our lives depend on it. Literally.

Let’s approach this pragmatically. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. According to theheartfoundation.org, it will be the leading cause of death in the world by 2020. What are the primary contributing factors? Clogged coronary arteries and hypertension (high blood pressure). The factors associated with these two things? Poor diet and lack of exercise. What is the number one reason a person eats poorly and does not have, nor takes, the time to exercise? My answer based upon observation: The demands, expectations, and responsibilities of the modern-day working lifestyle.

In short: stress. Some may argue that not eating well and remaining sedentary is simply laziness. They may be right. Although, I believe it is more than that. I believe the societal pressures of “more” and “better” are sapping time and energy from people who are struggling to survive in a world where success is measured by status and the size of one’s bank roll. Leisure is the new lazy, and it’s a hot trend that everyone is following. We are living life in the fast lane, and it’s killing us.

Those who take time to stop and smell the roses are overtaken by the unhappy, scowling people with large pension funds racing towards retirement. These people who are striving for this phantom idea of a better life are actually missing life in the interim.

Let me be clear: my suggestion is not that everyone throws caution to the wind, quits their job, and forsakes all responsibility. My plea is for balance. If you happen to be passionate about monetary success, by all means pursue it. In the meantime, however, take time to slow down, examine your priorities, and put that which is fleeing and without depth down a few notches on your list. Extend the quantity and quality of your life by taking care of (all facets of) yourself. Remind the people in your life of your love for them and the important role they each play. Try doing nothing but the unnecessary and enjoyable for a whole day. For, ironically, that which is enjoyable IS necessary. 

This may all come across as an oversimplification, but that’s just it, isn’t it? Complicated is stressful. Take time to breathe and you may just save your life.

Monday, 26 May 2014


I feel… bewildered. As if my life is happening and I am a spectator. Maybe it’s the jet lag. Maybe it’s me. It is amazing how one’s perception of experience can fluctuate. There have been moments in the last six months (or year) where I’ve felt as I feel now: viewing my life as one views an intriguing & peculiar film. Then there are those times where the essence of life is so punctuated that I can almost feel the individual oxygen molecules being absorbed by my body with each breath. The colors around me are vibrant, every sound is crisp & clear, every texture is new. Even each scent and flavour of the moment seems to exist solely to remind me of how alive I really am. The beam of light called life has refracted and every hue is visible in it’s dazzling entirety.

Then the ironic truth of the disparity between being the observer or being the experiencer hits me: I get to choose which one I am.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Man with One Eye

I am pondering yet again the art of presence. Living and breathing the now. Sitting in this coffee shop I try to heighten each of my five senses by taking the time to notice each one, describing to myself the interpretation of my surrounding stimuli. The key is noticing, not analyzing. As soon as analysis enters the experience, so does judgment. Suddenly the peacefulness of simply being is disrupted by the noise of the mind. Anxiety regarding the past, and worry about the future are automatic components of this judgmental analysis of my sensory experience, now clouded by emotion, and I am no longer present —

In the midst of writing this I am interrupted by a one-eyed man asking for directions. Which I am unable to give him, being myself a relative stranger to San Francisco. Within moments we are discussing the philosophy of being, our individual pursuits of meaning, and the conclusion that there is no conclusion.

“Just do your best,” I tell him. He thinks for a second then smiles and says, “Yeah, I s’pose that’s all you can do, huh?”

It is my belief that this brief interaction gives evidence to the theory that our minds emit a kind of quantum energy, with like attracting like. It is possible that my musings on “being” caused this man (who had been sitting next to me for quite sometime) to turn to me and engage in a conversation which quickly went towards the subject that produced the very energy he was drawn to. Or perhaps he’s just a man who needed directions and I am the nearest person to him. Two theories of an endless assortment of possibilities. I digress…

Being present is far less challenging when one’s only agenda is to not have one, leading people such as myself to just go sit on a beach. Peaceful environments such as this were my practice grounds for “the art of the now” these last five months. In spite of such optimal conditions it was still a challenge. The true test will be attempting those moments of timelessness in the midst of resuming a life that runs by the tick of the clock: breeding grounds for stress and anxiety. I realize that succumbing to those conditions is a choice. A daily one. Even moment by moment. We are after all, the facilitators of our own reality.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Poetry on the Road

“…there is poetry on the road, in the heart of everything.” -Phil Cousineau

Cousineau writes this as what defines the difference between a pilgrim and a simple traveler. I found this amusing, because to me, there is always poetry on the road. It never crossed my mind to see it differently. I suppose it is a matter of perspective… but it is always there, whether or not we choose to acknowledge it. Take this moment, for example. Sitting in a wicker chair on a hostel verandah with my morning tea. A fairly simple setting to be sure, but one that is absolutely riddled with poetry. Penelope, the hostel’s favorite feline, dozing in the sun. The palm tree that casts dancing shadows on the floor. The Italian swinging in the hammock next to me, reading “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior”. The flap-flap of sandal-clad passersby. The cloudless, baby blue sky stretching endlessly into the distance. I could go on.

The point is not me saying, “Look at where I am right now!” The point is actually me saying, “Look at where YOU are right now.” What do you see? What do you feel? What do you smell, taste, hear? “Take refuge in the present moment”, as Thich Nhat Hanh says. Take note of the road you are on. Look into the heart of everything that surrounds you, and find the poetry within it.

She alone is the happy woman who has learned to extract happiness, not from ideal conditions, but from the actual ones about her. The woman who has mastered the secret will not wait for ideal surroundings; she will not wait until next year, next decade, until she gets rich, until she can travel abroad … but she will make the most out of life today, where she is. Paradise is here or nowhere. You must take your joy with you or you will never find it.

Orison Swett Marden

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Full Circle

I arbitrarily chose three different TED talks today to listen to. Two of them, though the topics were unrelated, had very similar thematics. They each spoke of coming “home”, returning, looking into the past; into yourself, as a means of becoming who you want to be, of finding joy in creativity, of bringing things full circle. This is intriguing because as I opened up my computer to write, before distracting myself with TED talks, my plan was to re-read & reflect upon Phil Cousineau’s excerpt of questions. The majority of these questions center around reflecting on one’s completed journey, looking back on past experiences; on who you’ve become, and looking forward to the return journey home, bringing things full circle. A coincidence? Likely, but perhaps not.

While it may be altogether egocentric to believe that random occurrences are inherently meaningful, and that they were specially placed into your life by a higher power to benefit you, specifically, one soul on this planet of billions, I still like the idea of coincidences being mythical. It is much nicer and much prettier to believe that every part of every moment is a stitch in the perfectly designed tapestry of your life, but it is my opinion that this belief cannot exist without a substantial amount of pride. I must admit, I do succumb to this pride in particularly magical moments when coincidence seems impossible.

Pride. The sin that begat all sins. In the second TED talk, David Brooks encourages his listeners to look into their past, seek a poignant, pivotal moment in their life and reflect upon how that has shaped them. He said the best way to do this is to actually think of a shameful moment, to think of the “signature sin” that has become the foundation for all other sins in your life, and how you can grow from it. (Keep in mind he is using the term “sin” generally, not in a religious context). He listed some examples. The one that highlighted itself in my mind as he spoke was “people pleaser.” Always making sure everyone else is happy & comfortable, meeting other’s needs before my own to the point of not meeting mine at all. This is also known as martyrdom. I’m not talking about when people die for something they believe in. That is often very admirable. I am talking about the martyrdom that is saturated with a “woe is me” mentality.

At one point in my life I was sick with this “sin”. Truly, I was nearly physically ill because of my dedication to keep the peace at the cost of all things related to self-care. Therefore, I feel I can say I know it well. It comes from an innate insecurity. A belief that “I am not good enough” and the idea that if we just set aside our own needs long enough to meet the needs of others, perhaps this will somehow earn us some value and establish our worth. What is the root of this and where does it come from? A prideful refusal to love yourself. This sounds oxymoronic, but it is not.

The more you set aside your own needs for the sake of enabling someone else’s happiness, the more bitter you become as your needs are not met. This bitterness leads to resentment, and you resort to random acts of selfishness, almost as a subconscious attempt to balance the scales. The vicious “woe is me” cycle continues. What’s the common thread that runs through each of stage of this cycle? I believe it is a reverse form of pride. A continual, anxiety-ridden focus on yourself; on striving to be good enough. In other words, while you’ve been so focused on everyone else loving you, you’ve forgotten to love yourself.

Some people are afraid, as I once was, to love themselves, believing that it is self-centered and lacks humility. Having come from a place of self-loathe to self-love, I now see that this is not true. (My disclaimer is this: When I say “I now see” I do not mean that I have arrived at a state of ultimate knowing. I have simply experienced a series of realizations. I am always growing & learning & seeing). The first task of learning to love yourself is self-examination. Raw, honest, stand-naked-in-front-of-the-mirror self-examination. Feel free to take that literally or figuratively. What is inevitable is that you will see flaws & failures, and you will also see virtues & successes. You will see that there are people you are greater than, and there are people you are less than. You will see yourself as the world sees you. You will see beauty. (This is very difficult at first. I found it helps to ask those that know you what they see in you.)

The next step is acceptance of what you have examined. Accepting fully that which you have seen clearly in the mirror. This does not mean that you like, love or admire everything you see. It simply means that you notice, acknowledge, and then accept what is true. The good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful. Herein lies the humility in this process of self-love. You are not only focusing on the admirable qualities, you are seeing and accepting all of yourself with honesty.

Then say thank you. No matter what the quality or characteristic, take time to be grateful for each and every one. The more you repeat this process, the more you will grow to appreciate those things about yourself that you’ve observed. Things which you once ignored, or didn’t even know existed. The most rewarding part about this, is that as you grow to love yourself more, you actually take delight in loving and pleasing others. The actions may look the same as they did before, but now they are rooted in love, instead of feelings of worthlessness.

This was not the original intent of my writing today. In a surprisingly wonderful, unexpected way, I accomplished what I wanted, but not in the way I had planned. I began by discussing the “coincidence” of coming across my intended theme of “looking into the past” in TED talks that I never meant to listen to, and in doing so, I digressed into a conversation about pride and self-love. Subject matter that, interestingly enough, can only be discussed by looking into my past. It was not what I wanted to reflect on, but turns out it was what I needed to reflect on to prepare me for my journey home and to get my creative juices flowing. Now that’s what I call coming full circle.

Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Sunday, 27 April 2014


“And for just a moment I had reached the point of ecstasy I had always wanted to reach, which was the complete step across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm, and the sensation of death kicking at my heels to move on, with a phantom dogging its own heels, and myself hurrying to a plank where all the angels dove off and flew into the holy void of uncreated emptiness, the potent and inconceivable radiancies shining in bright Mind Essence, innumerable lotus-lands falling open in the magic mothswarm of heaven. I could hear an indescribable seething roar which wasn’t in my ear but everywhere and had nothing to do with sounds. I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn’t remember especially because the transitions from life to death and back to life are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it. I realized it was only because of the stability of the intrinsic Mind that these ripples of birth and death took place, like the action of wind on a sheet of pure, serene, mirror-like water. I felt sweet, swinging bliss, like a big shot of heroin in the mainline vein; like a gulp of wine late in the afternoon and it makes you shudder; my feet tingled. I thought I was going to die the very next moment. But I didn’t die…” - Jack Kerouac, “On the Road”

If there was ever an author who knew how to translate experience and emotion into words, so well that you can practically taste the essence of the moment, it was Jack Kerouac.

Saturday, 26 April 2014


The ground sways from side to side. I am on the boat again. I remind myself to breathe. I am submerged. A yellow balloon bounces slowly across the ground in my periphery. My mind hiccups. Is that a butterfly fish? Palms sway - soft coral, inverted. I reach up to touch my hair. It is not sticky with salt water. I wish that it was, though yesterday I cursed it.

Memories of another world flood my mind. I am weightless, mesmerized. Rainbow-scaled moon wrasse swim playfully around my hands and between my legs. Damsels of every color swim in figure-eights, keeping a watchful distance. A clown fish darts in and out of his anemone home. With a smile I mutter the novice diver’s cliche, “I found Nemo!” Suddenly, I am nose to nose with a turtle. It takes the red algae from my hand greedily, it’s leathery beak brushing against my fingers. For a second we lock eyes, then it begins to push past me.

I blink and realize I am nose to nose with a tourist, looking at me quizzically as she hurries onwards. A few moments and I am back to reality. I walk aimlessly, feeling heavy. I find a place to sit where the sunlight dances and the ground beneath me sways again. The breeze becomes the current and I am in my dream world again. Dreams that were once my reality - just days ago. Days that feel like ages. Ages that feel like another life.

When will I get to dream again?

Monday, 21 April 2014

Remember to Remember

“Imagine your return journey as the last act of an epic story. Which moments gleamed brighter, gave you pause, challenged all your previous beliefs, reconfirmed your belief in the power at the center? How did you happen upon them? Were they self-willed, the result of punctilious planning, or were they serendipitous? Did you feel any strange visitations of joy? Can you recapture them now that you are home?

"Epiphanies sometimes flash and flare for pilgrims, but there are also flickering moments of discovery on your journey, seen out of the corner of your eye. Small joys, humble experiences…

"You knew these things about people and places before you left home, but you had forgotten them. This journey reminded you of the sacred rhythms. How will you remember to remember when you return home?” -Phil Cousineau

My goodness… How does one begin? Where does one begin? An ironic question given that the subject matter at hand is “how does one end such a journey?” But the journey is never really over, is it? These questions make my heart race the same way similar questions did when given to me as a writing exercise from my English teachers. I remember the feeling clearly, for I am feeling it even now, well over ten years later. The prospect of examining one’s thoughts beyond the average depth of the daily requirement; the opportunity to kick the restrictive, proverbial box aside and dive into the unknown waters of one’s creativity; finding new & original ways to describe things; the never-ending, and somewhat futile, challenge of transforming interpretation of experience and emotion into noun, verb and adjective…

Then there’s the flow. My readers may tire of hearing me mention this, but having become consciously aware of this phenomenon, I cannot imagine ignoring it. It is the essence of optimum experience. When I am writing and my disjointed, clumsy beginning turns into a stream-of-consciousness, nearly-other-worldly experience of words appearing before me, as if unbidden by a force greater than myself - for me, that is one of the most powerful flow experiences I can have. To think… that it all begins from a simple challenge to exercise one’s thoughts; a question that beckons my curiosity: “What will you create today, Wordsmith?”

Of all the facets of Christian belief, one of my favorites is the idea of being created in the image of God. While the fact of God’s existence is yet empirically unknown, if there was any evidence for me, it would be the perfect, mathematical designs found in nature (i.e. the Golden Ratio), and my very own desire to create. Should I choose faith over fact, these would be the reasons for doing so.

Only now do I realize that I haven’t even begun to answer Cousineau’s questions. The impact of his questioning alone was enough to put pen to paper. There are so many avenues to explore with this simple excerpt! How thrilling - how marvelous - is the adrenaline of inspiration!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Traveler or Tourist?

“A good traveler does not, I think, mind much the uninteresting places. He is there to be inside them, as a thread is inside the necklace it strings. The world, with unknown and unexpected variety, is a part of his own leisure; and this living participation is, I think, what separates the traveler and the tourist, who remains separate, as if he were at a theatre, and not himself a part of whatever the show may be.” - Freya Stark

What does it mean, for me, to be a “good traveler”? To be in “living participation?” I agree with Freya. It is just as important for one (in this case, me) to be an active participant in both the interesting and uninteresting places:

Swimming without hesitation across cold waters in order to clamber across slippery rocks behind Milaa Milaa Falls. Engaging with my fellow bus passengers in friendly banter. Singing unashamedly (and loudly) with the bus driver to the songs on his ridiculous playlist. Taking time to sit and enjoy a coffee at a random moment in a random place, rather than as take-away (as if I have somewhere important I needed to be??) Making a plan to make no plans, except to hold a pen purposefully should I feel so inclined. Asking the hostel staff about their lives rather than just expecting them to help me plan mine.

All of these things are a combination of both the interesting and the uninteresting, and all of them are made meaningful by intentionality. That is, being intentional about my interaction with my current setting, especially in relation to people. Even if someone lives in a place that I am merely passing through, I am no more a traveler than they are. We are all pilgrims of something. As such, we must never forget to stop and recognize all our fellow travelers as seekers, just like ourselves. And as seekers, we are, also, all living participants. May we all make the permanent transition from the spectator-tourist to the “good traveler”!

My Endeavour

To make it my “passion to discover on a daily basis ‘the life contained in all things.’”

(Quotation: Phil Cousineau quoting Monet)

Saturday, 19 April 2014


Ennui: a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.

Retrospectively, I believe my transition from New Zealand to Sydney was a foreshadowing microcosm of my transition from Australia to home. I will be going from the consistent unpredictability of travel to the daily grind of the expected. In returning to Sydney, I went from moving to a new home after just a few nights, to staying in one place for 10 days. I began to get comfortable. I began to feel anxious. While I enjoyed the company I was keeping immensely, I felt a restlessness growing inside of me. It’s as if the anxiety was subconsciously self-induced in order to make up for my “lack of occupation” - my ennui.

While I am very grateful for moments of leisure, I am learning over and again, in a wide variety of circumstances, that I need to be occupied, even in these moments. Not with just anything. Occupied with a purpose. Perhaps I am still learning HOW to occupy myself when the opportunity for leisure presents itself. Yes, for me the best kind of leisure is that which is also purposeful.

As humans we are meant to strive for a purpose of being. It is why we are here today. It began as a method of survival, and as we have evolved, enjoyment has weaved it’s way into our priorities so that we have eventually learned that what it is we do to keep ourselves alive can also be something we love. Even the most mundane jobs can be sources of flow if we train ourselves well, and it is these very same jobs that provide for our physical needs and keep us - and thereby our species - alive.

So how do I avoid ennui when I return to Portland? I believe, by engaging in all my actions purposefully - with love.

Friday, 18 April 2014


I am finding over and over again that the more connected I am to my true self - to my soul - the more I meet people who are kindred in mind, heart and spirit. They are artistic and easy-going and have spent a good deal of their waking hours deep in thought. Generally in philosophical debates with themselves and with humanity. More often than not, interestingly enough, they are often admirers, or even followers, of Buddhism. (As such, they also happen to be admirers of other great spiritual leaders, such as Jesus). The primary statutes to which they hold are usually as follows: don’t attach - attachment is your only enemy; live and let live; do everything with, through, & for love; create your own path - no one can create it for you; home is wherever you are; be open to anything & anyone you may come across; practice the art of letting go… Just to name a few. I am examining my heart, mind and spirit - and questioning:

What are my attachments? How strong are they? Am I willing to let go? Where do I consider home? How close am I to being capable of feeling at home anywhere? What is the source of my anxiety and how do I release it? Where does my hope come from and how do I take hold of it? Am I creating my own path? How much influence from others am I allowing in it’s creation?

All of these are a various stages of being answered, and all of them - both the questions and the answers - are subject to change at any time. That is the beauty of being on a journey. Not a single moment is one of stagnancy.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

An inch of surprise leads to a mile of gratefulness.

Brother David Steindl-Rast

Saturday, 12 April 2014


Absolute freedom. Balmoral Bay was smooth as glass, I felt as if I was gliding through butter. Such freedom, such clarity.

I found adoration for the Divine out on the water. I cannot deny the presence I feel when I am in the midst of the elements. Especially when that element is the ocean. What an incredible, vast body of water. A simple, obvious observation to be sure. How often do we stop and admire it? Not often enough. When we do, does that admiration lead us to gratitude? Rarely.

Why do our hearts not swell with joy? Why are the words “thank you” not rushing from our lips? I don’t care if you’re an atheist, believing you have no one to thank. Or if you believe you know who it is you’re thanking. Or if you’re like me and don’t care who hears your gratitude - you’re just happy to have some. This world is filled with too much glory, too much splendour, to not be thankful for your very existence. Life - simply breathing - is a beauty all on it’s own. That beauty, coupled with the rhythmic lull of waves meeting the sand… For me, that is bliss.

Standing on that paddle board, I had to ask myself, what is this presence I am feeling? Shall I call it God? Is it the energy of the ocean itself? Is it the combined energies of all the life forms the ocean holds? Or is this coming from within? Is it simply the love and joy I already possess just bubbling out of me, drawn out by a blissful moment? Could that love within me also be called God? What is this power that melts my anxiety, eliminates my fears, and fills my world with colour?

Do I have to know? Or, can I simply say: “Thank you”?

Saturday, 5 April 2014

When everything is a possible poem, the world is suddenly far more interesting.


An Irishman's Review

A buddy of mine who hails from Ireland has taken a keen interest in my writing. Upon reading the previously posted poem “Analog Clock”, with me asking him if it needed more, he responded with the following. Pretty spot-on I’d say.

“I ain’t no poem guru and don’t have the same abstract lyrical flair you have but from my reading into it, this piece tells of one’s (Its self-biographical right?) journey inwards in search of the most fundamental life questions and a search for personal truths. It appears the mind has been put under trial and finally confronted! The tick and the tock of the clock is representative of the deafening noise of the conditioned human mind, the trash-talk of the ego, hiding the answer i.e. between or "within” the tick and the tock. The path to get there involves weaving around these disturbances creating an anfractuous path. It feels as though those self questions that were initially asked were met with silence, envoking frustration and as a result the “tick and the tock” were working to find the answers, building to an unbearable agony and what seems to a point of no return, until a realisation (sense of awakening) has been met, the answer to these questions IS the silence?. I’m not sure if I’m a million miles away from this or not (haha!) but either way it ain’t a bad thing to have a third party point of view, am I anyway near the intended underlying plot line? I don’t think I would attempt to add anything to this in a poetic style, it’s your baby with your flow and language, I reckon it would become very disjointed looking if I tried to add anymore. It could be turned into a song though which is a different direction.

BTW, does this piece really need anymore? It seems to me like it stands on its own two feet, you have made your statement, the end leaves the reader thinking, which is what you want right? Maybe an independent sequel needs to be written at a later date?? Sometimes short poems have the greatest impact.“

Thank you, Cian, for honoring my words with yours!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Boycott Stagnancy

“Pilgrimage is often regarded as the universal quest for the self. Though the form of the path changes from culture to culture, through different epochs of history, one element remains the same: renewal of the soul.” ~Phil Cousineau

On first glance, I interpreted this quote at face value; seeing myself on a pilgrimage of various layers and scopes of time. Life is a sacred journey all on it’s own, what with all of the lessons, trials and triumphs that compose it. Then there are the adventures we take; sabbaticals from the daily grind in a search for a new truth. Last, and certainly not least, there are the journeys of turning inwards. Sometimes these are the most difficult, and the most profound. In a world where everyone and everything is trying to indoctrinate you, it can be nearly impossible to determine which thoughts of ours are owned by us, and which one’s have been “given” to us. A retreat from all the noise is the the only way to listen to your own intuition and thus finally allow your mind, heart, and gut to speak in tandem rather than quarreling amongst themselves. With all these components flowing together cohesively, one achieves “renewal of the soul.” The caveat to this is that renewal is not a static state of being, it is a state of fluidity and progression.

It was during this thought process that I suddenly saw this quote in a new light. A shift in my focus from the inwards out. I am not special. Not special in the sense that I am not the only one on a pilgrimage. We are all on a “quest for the self.” Those of various religious backgrounds may write this off as being egocentric, before reading any further: “the form of the path changes from culture to culture.” In the last epoch, say… the last 2,000 years of our human history, a certain culture has been created. Out of this culture many pilgrims have arisen on a “quest for the self.” One may argue, “Nay! I am on a quest for God!” I challenge you… to what end? Is a search for God not also a search for your own identity? An acquisition of love, joy, peace, hope? Are these not things that design and determine your existence? What is existence? Is it not your soul possessing a body, traveling through a human’s lifespan? How would you describe your soul inside your body? YourSELF. That’s right, if God is where you find yourself, then what do you call the journey that got you there? A “quest for the self.”

It was this realization that took my understanding of the various worldviews of my family and friends to a new level of appreciation. I can appreciate, and therefore be grateful for, the path that each of my loved one’s is on. We are all journeying together, even if the view out the window is different.


this will never be not beautiful

Friday, 28 March 2014

Poetry is the result of incoherent thoughts becoming homeless, destitute, lost; an outpouring of residual musings; a plea to bring chaos to order.

G. Lindemann

Analog Clock

This turning inward…
Is stealing my mind,
Paving an anfractuous path,
Bringing my sanity into question;
Putting it on trial:
“Where does your love lie?”
No answer.
“From where do you draw your strength?”
The silence deafens.
Then there’s the tick.
And the tock.
Growing to a maddening volume -
A torturous monotony -

Tick, tock, the clock stops not.

Ears ache, eyes burn, heart speaks:
“The answer to your questions?..”

The Duel

There’s a superbly rotund, little, finch-like birdie perched at the ready on the fence near my picnic table. He’s giving me the stare-down, waiting for me to drop a crumb. Or two. Or three.

“In your dreams,” I tell him silently. “This banana, peanut butter sandwich has only one home, and it’s on it’s way there now.”

He rubs his head vigorously on a nearby vine that’s twisted around the fence post. He resumes the stare. I picture a finch-version of an Aerosmith ballad running through his little bird brain: “I don’t wanna close my eyes, don’t wanna fall asleep, ‘cause I’ll miss a crumb, and I don’t wanna miss a thing…” He begins to scratch again. This time violently. And with his claw. It looks painful.

I challenge him with my eyes. “You know what that feeling is, princess?” In my mind I sound like Vizzini from The Princess Bride. Instead of “those are the screeching eels”, I continue with, “that’s called a histamine reaction caused by eating things you shouldn’t, you greedy little fucker.”

He hops onto the table, entering the field of honour. “Oh, it’s on now.” He cocks his head to the side. I stare back, cocking my head to mirror him, as if to say, “Yeah, I can do that too, fatty.”

For a moment we’re both statuesque. I break the stillness by throwing down the gauntlet with a slow, satisfying bite of peanut buttery goodness. He blinks rapidly. I smirk. It’s his move. One step forward, eyes locked. I take another bite…

Finally, he forfeits. With no small amount of indignation, he hoists his plump little body miraculously into the air and flutters off, likely to another duel. Well, while I may have the sandwich, Fatty has the ability to fly.

I call after him, “Until next time, coward!”

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Oz from Oz

My Milford Sound bus driver was also our tour guide, and he was nothing short of amusing. He is a tall, senior chap of a straight-forward nature, decorated with a patchy crown of hair, a Charlie Chaplin mustache, and a belly that’s seen a fair number of beers. Goes by the name of Oz, and is clearly Aussie. He is a man who loves colloquialisms and idioms in spite of the fact that many of his daily passengers have English as a second language, if even that. Therefore they were likely to miss little phrases such as, “five kilometers as the crow flies” and “if I haven’t kicked the bucket by then.” He also had absolutely no issue blending the subjective with the factual, making for a colorful, 10 hour round-trip ride to the Sound. His stories include, but are not limited to:

- An extensive and detailed account of the South Island’s venison industry. I dearly hope there were no queasy vegetarians or vegans aboard - even I was wincing a bit as he described the gutting process.

- He spoke of a man who, last year, ran 25 of the 26 annual races in New Zealand. “Not half bad for a man who’s 78,” he said. “You can be damn sure I won’t be doin’ that when I get there - if I get there!” He chuckles. “I’ll be bloody propped up on the end of a bar. I hope!”

- At one point we rounded one of many bends in the road and a row of forest-covered hills loomed in front of us. “This is where another bit of The Rings was filmed. Oh… oh damn, what’s the name of that bloody forest? Starts with an "F”. Faren or Farn or Fagern or - oh hell. Fagoo Forest or whatever it is. You know, the one where the trees walk about. Anyhow, that’s just up here.“ Apparently our group is a shy one, because many of us, including myself, mumbled the correct name of the forest under our breath, but none of us loud enough for him to hear us properly. Poor bloke is stuck thinking that Tolkien came up with a name like "fagoo” to refer to trees that were taught to move and speak by the elves of long ago. Brilliant.

- He did provide quite a bit of information about the surrounding flora and it’s attributes. Sort of. “This is all beech forest. Seven varieties of beech. There’s the red beech & the mountain beech. One grows near the water, the other near the snow line and has a much smaller leaf. The reason I mention these two is they’re the only ones I can tell apart. The others just look like trees to me.”

- As he described the shallow, rocky earth that the trees put their roots into near Te Anau, he gave us a little local saying to better describe the quality of the soil: “It took the Ol’ Maker six days to make heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He threw rocks at Te Anau.” Another chuckle.

- Can’t say he was the most encouraging fellow. Excepting when he’s encouraging you to kill stoats. The man went on for ages about stoat trapping. These things must be the bane of his existence. Also, he gave his two cents regarding camping: “Unlike Australia, where everything out in the bush wants to kill you, out here there’s only one thing that’ll kill you, and it’s your own stupidity. That’ll get you killed very, very quickly.”

Thanks for the tip? I think?

Needless to say, I loved the guy. He made one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever been on also the most lively.

Milford Sound was gorgeous.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Why should we not calmly and patiently review our own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us really are?


Surprised by Strangers

Ben and I met a lovely Brazilian girl from Miami at our hostel in Queenstown. She is around our age and absolutely passionate about travel, blogging, atheism (in the science-nerd sort of way, much to Ben’s delight), and many other things. We had a fabulously stimulating conversation about uncovering personal truths through asking the right questions, rather than searching for the right answers. For, what does that mean, the “right” answers? Right for whom?

I’m learning more and more the importance of separating personal experience and interpretation thereof, from an egocentric establishment of truth. Isn’t it much more productive and beneficial to learn to ask yourself the right questions, finding the answers from within, rather than looking for answers from without? We can achieve no progress by expecting others to deliver answers to us when we haven’t even figured out what to ask. Even if someone does deliver an answer, who’s to say it addresses your question? They are not you; their truth is not your truth.

It was invigorating to meet a stranger and transition so fluidly into discussions of existentialism as a result of our individual introspections, and the desire to share them. Her longing to inspire change in the lives of others in a significant way matched my own longings. I left the conversation feeling refreshed and filled with a renewed motivation to continue putting pen to paper.

How Great Thou Art

One of my goals on this trip to New Zealand was to see Shotover River. Instead, I got to sit on a boulder practically in the middle of the river. Ben and I rock-hopped several hundred yards until all we could see on either side of us was the walls of the narrow, deep canyon, carved by the glacial waters of the river. Ben scaled the rocks like a spry, young mountain goat, while I clambered clumsily behind, looking something like a bunny rabbit with wet paws.

While Ben continued on exploring, I reclined on said boulder, which was shaped in such a way that it was practically asking to be sat upon. As I stared at the clear-turquoise waters, I had what I would call a transcendent moment. The sun warmed my back and my ears were filled with the river’s rushing. I have a catalogue of hymns in my head and there is one in particular that comes bubbling out of me when I am in the midst of natural beauty. I sang “How Great Thou Art” at the top of my lungs, knowing that the roar of the waters wouldn’t allow my voice to carry further than a few meters.

Both the words and the melody of this tune speak to me of pausing and noticing; allowing oneself to be awestruck. The gratitude I felt in that moment was so great, my eyes began tear up. Gratitude not just for what I was currently experiencing, but for all the circumstances that led up to me being there. As I thought on this, my gratitude took on a different form and found a new home.

I am so thankful (for many reasons) that I grew up in a home surrounded by people who love Jesus, even though my personal beliefs now differ. I was raised in a loving environment in which I was given the opportunity to learn beautiful songs written by the saints of old. Songs that I carry with me, and at times, like this one, are the best expression of joy I can come up with.


MONA is like a dark, mysterious woman of an indeterminable age who seduces you into her lair, then spits in your face while feeding you salted chocolate. She is as brash as she is mesmerizing; as uncomfortable as she is intriguing. The only thing to expect from her is unpredictability. Her only consistency is the steady click and subsequent splash of water droplets raining words from the ceiling, echoing throughout her interior.

Thought provocation is her bread and butter - she thrives on contrast. Hers is a world of tangible metaphor. Entering into her realm is to invoke a truce amongst the dreams and nightmares of your past, present, and future lives. An agreement who’s consequence is their commencement into a debaucherous romp in celebration of your powerful subconscious. Those who do not leave her with their head spinning, thirsting for more are those who wander through life robotic and superficial; never accessing the crevices of their mind or asking the unanswerable questions.

Here, time stands still, consciousness aches, and beauty is obsolete.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

I'm in the mood for expletives...

(If you’re faint of heart and/or easily offended by off-color language & questionable innuendos, I recommend you skip the first part of this post and go straight to the second.)

I feel like I’ve been doing a shit-ton of sitting on my ass. So today I decided to get off my ass and take my ass up a mountain. I went to the hostel reception desk to ask how the hell I get up the damn thing, and they said, “We’re driving up there tomorrow if you want to come?”

Drive up there? Fuck that shit, I’m climbing that bitch!

“No thanks,” I said, “I need the exercise.”

“Okay, have a good walk!”

Walk? It better be more than some pussy stroll in the park.

Oh my, was it ever! What should have taken me 3 hours to summit Mt. Wellington took me 2 hours. In other words, I hauled ass! Yep, I scaled the shit outta that thing!

It was fan-fuckin-tastic. When I finally mounted her, I felt a huge release. I sense of accomplishment, really. It was a hard ride, and it was worth it. Once I got there, I considered for a moment going all the way down - about another 90+ minute commitment. In the end, I pussied out and hitch-hiked back to Hobart. After all, she would always be here should I want to come again. What a good, fucking hike.


Well, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I have to say, what a lovely hike it was! The word that best describes the whole experience is “divine.” I was in a wonderland of over-sized ferns, eucalyptus trees, and babbling brooks. I kept saying, “thank you, thank you, thank you” out loud as I climbed, until I was too out of breath to speak, which didn’t take all that long. The climb was rather close to bouldering at some points. The Zig Zag Track I was seeking wasn’t as easy to find as I’d thought it would be. At each fork in the road (and there were many) I decided to take the steep, narrow, rocky one. Less out of an attempt to literally fulfill a Biblical analogy, and more out of an inspiration to take Robert Frost’s advice on taking the “one less traveled by”.

There are many activities which produce “flow” for me. That is, that optimum experience that lies perfectly between boredom and anxiety on the spectrum of activities one can undertake*. I’ve always known, but it was confirmed today, that hiking is one of those things. This particular endeavour was a perfect balance of pleasure and challenge, thereby providing the utmost enjoyment for me. As I neared the summit, the level of difficulty increased as the air got thinner and colder, and my legs & lungs burned with greater intensity. I started to feel like the “Little Engine That Could”, saying to myself, “I think I can, I think - no! I know - I can, I know I can!” But that final bit of the trail that hurt the most also made the arrival to the top of the mountain all the more rewarding. I met a lovely couple from South Carolina, who graciously gave me a ride back to Hobart. Before we left, however, they took a photo of me in all my mountain-scaling glory, and gave me time and space to have a moment with the breath-taking view. I even built myself a little altar as a monument to the adventure I’d just had, which was almost more spiritual than it was physical.

I went from hiking & dripping sweat, to standing on the summit & freezing cold, to climbing into a warm car. This left me feeling like I’d just taken a bath in some endorphin-infused Icy Hot. What a beautiful experience. Positively divine.

Fuck yeah.

*concept gleaned from the book “Flow (P.S.)” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

We do not commonly live our life out and full; we do not fill all our pores with our blood; we do not inspire and expire fully and entirely enough… We live but a fraction of our life. Why do we not let in the flood, raise the gates, and set all our wheels in motion?

Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Writer's Block

I am at another slump in my book. Unsure of my trajectory once again. I think what I need to do is read through everything that I have written up until this point, and then figure out where the holes are and how it is that I should fill them. I began by going through my dad’s journal to my brother and I, responding to each segment at a time. However, I no longer think this is the best, nor most efficient, way to go about it. Instead, it’s taking on a life of it’s own; becoming more and more thematic, with a chronological strand running through it in kind of a “two steps forward, one step back” motion. After all, isn’t that how we go through life? Progress with the occasional bit of regression? It is the moments when we feel we are moving backwards or simply stagnant (arguably one and the same) that we must pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and meet the challenge face to face, unblinkingly. It is in the last second of our backwards step that we find our true grit and are then propelled forward to take those two, bounding steps ahead. That feeling of progression gives us the energy and courage we need to carry on, preparing us for the next backwards step that occurs. Every one of these revolutions takes us a bit further, makes us a bit stronger. This cyclical, forward-motion provides us with knowledge to pass on to those who come after us, and also wisdom to draw from the knowledge of those who have come before.

“Writer’s block, begone! Thank you for the purpose you’ve served, but it’s time I move on!” This is me pushing ever-forward in search of my dreams.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Tasmanian Botanical Gardens


When the wind blows, the trees respond as if some kind of Spirit is moving through them. They begin to dance and sway, leaves shimmering with an audible rustle of an almost joyous nature. In a place like this, nihilism cannot exist. Here there is far too much hope, far too much evidence of Divinity for this beauty to be written off as happenstance and inconsequential. The lush, radiant flora that is present here speaks loudly of a Creator. It’s almost as if every living thing not just speaks, but sings of such a Being. It is a song of hope, peace, redemption, but above all, love.


To begin arguing about how one “gets” to the Divine I believe distracts from the purpose of Creation’s song - which is gratitude. Gratitude: Noticing the gift of life we’ve all been given, and being grateful for it by loving the Giver, the gift, and all recipients of it. This is where I find joy - taking in every aspect of each passing moment and saying, “Thank You.”


For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, 17 February 2014


Today, I am exceptionally happy. There is a very specific kind of joy that occurs when one wakes up in hostel. Especially when it is the rising sun that wakes you. Despite the fact that today it was a migraine, not the sun, that woke me, my delight with finally being on my way could not be dampened. The fantastic introduction to Newcastle that I had yesterday carried it’s energy into the early morning hours. What a joy it was to debrief with myself on yesterday’s adventures while on my walk to this marvelously vintage cafe. The salt air purified my lungs as I joined the other early risers at this fantastic find of a coffee shop.

This is a prime writing setting for me. Rustic wooden tables, plush leather couches and chairs, the menu detailed in colorful chalk, set in antique wood frames, a busy espresso machine chattering away, and a perfectly eclectic mix of The Drifters, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Ray Charles, and other geniuses coming through on the speakers. My favorite little accent of the place: an aged Bach composition inlaid within what looks like an old door (pictured above).

I take a moment to notice and be grateful for all of these things while I compose in my mind a summary of the latter half of yesterday…

I stepped off the train yesterday afternoon and found my hostel, just three blocks away, with incredible ease. The woman at reception was nothing but kind and inviting, and upon entering my room I met a bubbly American who - as I found out within minutes - is infatuated with Australia and doesn’t plan on ever returning to the States. She commented with relief that she was so glad to meet a “calm American” (it’s no wonder that she thought so, I couldn’t get a word in edge-wise). I welcomed the compliment, exchanged FB info with her and left for the beach. Within about 45 seconds I was at the water’s edge and began meandering in a southern direction. It was drizzling and I was cold in my denim shorts, but I zipped up my rain jacket and pushed on. Despite the cloud-cover, the water was still turquoise and gorgeous. I was enchanted.

Then I came across a sign that said “Bogey Hole”. I thought, “Well, that sounds gross.” Intrigued, I wandered over to the steel staircase that it pointed to and looked down. There was a large, natural cerulean blue swimming hole, nearly flush with sea level. Waves were crashing over the sides, spraying the two men who were braving the chilly waters. I went down to the edge and dipped my toes in. I debated… One of the two men asked me if I was going to get in. Well, I thought, I WAS wearing my swimsuit. Thinking, thinking… “YOLO!”

I climbed into the frigid liquid and am SO glad I did! I ended up befriending the two men (a Filipino and Colombian architecture students) while we stood at the edge of the Bogey Hole, grasping the rusted railing as the waves smashed against the walls sending a salty spray all over us. The dolphins that were jumping in the waves just a few hundred yards from us added to the magic of it all.

Just as we decided we couldn’t take any more of the cold, the sun came out. We got out and dried off and I ignored that little voice in my head that said, “Don’t get into a car with strangers.” Again, SO glad I did! They drove me around pretty much the entirety of Newcastle, we got pizza and beer at two different locations, both with excellent views. It was laid back and lovely. I ended the night at my hostel cozied up with a book, snuggled in my PJ’s, and no complaints.

Confessions of an Optimistic Masochist

Monday, February 17, 2014

I’m beginning to wonder if a love for traveling implies a certain degree of masochism. Between unreliable buses, being delayed by the love-confessions of fat, old Lebanese men, the platform you’ve alighted upon from your first train being a quarter of a mile from the platform you think you need for your second train, by the time you get to it, they announce on the intercom that your train is departing from a platform even deeper into the station - well, it’s a wonder we get anywhere at all. It’s even more of a wonder that when we arrive at our destination, we’re game to repeat the process all over again in a matter of days.

Especially when this process includes (more often than not) frantic searches for toilets with comically dissatisfying results. I believe the intercity trains in Australia were built before obesity was a diagnosis and when people had possessions so few in number that they required little more than a knapsack as their luggage. I consider myself a small individual, with a bag of a comparable size. Imagine, then, the size of the loo when you picture me and my pack squeezing between the door and the sink like a feral cat escaping between two fence posts. I felt like Harry Potter in his first experience with Floo Powder; collapsing into a dank environment, choking on the air and blinking in the darkness. It was all I could do to not bang my knees on the wall and smack my forehead on the sink as I desperately bent into a squat position to relieve my anxious bladder.

As I stood to pull - with difficulty - my leggings up my thighs, which were now covered with a sheen of sweat due to the uncanny temperature in this dungeon, I saw a sign on the sink. “Do NOT drink the water from the tap.” Well if I can’t drink it, then should I stick my hands in it, since those are the things I eat with? I looked at the wetness of the floor, considered why it might be as wet as it was, then thought about the fact that the clumsy hands who’s bad aim resulted in such dampness also had to touch the handle of the door in order to exit - most likely without washing first. One more glance at the sink and I decided: What’s the point? I wormed my way out of prison and stumbled into the open air with a gasp of relief.

Praise God for hand sanitizer.

One would think that all of the luggage-juggling, inconveniences, and unpleasant surprises would deter a person from even attempting such as feat as travel, but like I’ve said: masochism. Not any old masochist would get enjoyment out of these experiences. No, you must be an optimistic one; one with the ability to smile at potentially frustrating conundrums and say, “It’s all part of the adventure!”

Saturday, 15 February 2014

An Irresistible Force

I mentioned the word “tapestry” in my previous post. This brought to mind something that my father wrote. Something that I believe, biased though I may be, is the one of the greatest descriptions of love and connection that I have ever read. He wrote this about my mother, his little hummingbird, and I want to share it with you:

“‘What are you doing?”, I asked. “Nothing. I’m just sitting here.” Just sitting there! When did she ever just sit there? A pile of laundry just sits there. You look at it, it occupies space, maybe pricks your conscience a bit, but it wields no more power over you than the damp wash rags buried deep within its musty mass. No, “just sitting here” is beyond the realm of possibility where she is concerned. Even in her deepest sleep she radiates an energy… a magnetic force that renders one incapable of merely observing her in passing. A casual, disinterested, glance in her direction is impossible. As she just sat there, I found myself a helpless victim of that immutable law. It is a law of nature, much like that of gravity. Except this law seems to have been written solely for her and me. I found myself playing the role of Sir Isaac Newton’s apple, inexorably drawn by an irresistible force.

As I helplessly yielded to this law, I began to notice that the force which drew me was not monolithic in nature. It was a tapestry. Each fibre of energy had its own color and texture. If unraveled from its weave, the fibre still stood, vibrant and beckoning. Calling for the observer’s eye, insisting on being absorbed.

I found I could shift my perspective within this magnetic tapestry. As I drew back, I would be struck by the full strength of the weave, each individual fibre bonding with its neighbor to produce that force against which I had no will. If I moved in close, I could focus on the individual fibres. From this perspective I was able to enjoy the uniqueness and beauty of each one, without being buffeted by the sheer power of the whole.

This discovery merely complicated my happy dilemma: Do I move in close and lull about in the individual fibres of energy, as they roll over me, or do I step back and exhilarate in the power of the force as it reaches toward me, all components woven together, drawing me to her, helpless in the irresistible grasp of its totality?

No, she is incapable of “just sitting here.” She is as powerless in controlling her irresistible force as I am in resisting it. She can no more save me from it than I can break free from its grasp.

And yet, if we could, I seriously doubt that we would.”

- Mike Lindemann

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The woman who has mastered the secret will not wait for ideal surroundings; she will not wait until next year, next decade, until she gets rich, until she can travel abroad … but she will make the most out of life today, where she is. Paradise is here or nowhere. You must take your joy with you or you will never find it.

Orison Swett Marden

I challenge you...

I’m feeling a strange combination of comfortable and stir-crazy. I quite honestly don’t have the emotional energy to dissect that statement. It is what it is. And as such, that is, as it is something which IS, then it is something which one can draw lessons from. Every aspect of a situation, whether positive, negative, or even neutral, can contribute to the rich tapestry that makes up one’s experiences. Every nuance of a circumstance provides subject matter for the person doing the experiencing to reflect upon. I suppose this is a relative statement, because for it to be true it requires the person to be - at least to a small degree - introspective. Something that I would know nothing about. Ha…

I have no profound conclusion to this thought process, other than perhaps a gentle challenge to my readers: Wherever you are right now in your life, I encourage you to enter into the headspace of mindfulness at various moments of your daily routine. In other words, consciously consider the information that each of your five senses is receiving at any given moment. I promise you that you will begin to notice things that were previously overlooked. Hopefully the result will be a surprising amount of enjoyment in simplicity.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Dirty Feet, Books, & Snuggles

I have been very fortunate - very blessed - to have had the opportunity to stay with my family in a beautifully grand home where I am not in want for a single comfort. It has provided me the opportunity to save some money at the beginning of my trip, and has given me an altogether incredibly consistent routine. I go to bed at nearly the same time every day, and likewise rise around the same time every morning, always getting at least 8 hours of sleep. Sometimes ten. I only have to pay for my transportation - sometimes - and for my lunches. Also - sometimes. There is always someone who knows my whereabouts, what my plans are for the day, how I enjoyed my day at the end of it, and how I slept. I’ve watched many movies and not one time by myself. I have had an amazing amount of time to focus on taking care of my body via exercise and yoga, and have had time left over for writing and socializing with new-found friends. I wake up in a room to myself to a sunny view of Botany Bay every day, and go to sleep listening to the wind in trees and the bats that live in them. (Yes, bats. They’re everywhere! They love figs.) For all of these things, I am incredibly grateful.


I’m ready to be in a place where I’m unsure of my surroundings, where perhaps the shower isn’t always hot, where I have to clean my clothes in the same place I clean my body, where I am an exciting, new stranger to everyone. I want to live out of my backpack for awhile, wearing the same five outfits week in and week out. I want to run out of shampoo and have to borrow someone else’s. I want to be unsure of where my next meal is coming from. I want to go to bed with dirty, tired feet that have traveled far and made amazing discoveries along the way. And I want this bed to be a bunk bed, sharing a room with other bunk beds; bunk beds that are full of other exciting, new strangers with dirty, tired feet. People with stories to tell, who’s stories make me feel like a novice traveller. People who are only sure of the importance of love and life experience, and are unsure of everything else, even their next step. It is these people whom I feel I belong with… They are people without belonging. People who are free of that desirous attachment that anchors so many of us in one place. People who, by letting go, have found that which they want to hold onto the most; that which they want to live for.

This is just what I want for my travels. For when I return to Portland… I want to have a varied schedule. One that is consistently unpredictable and keeps me on my toes. One where I have to be crafty to get my yoga sessions in. I want to work dayshift, so at least my sleep borders on normal… At this point I am eager for a lil studio apartment all to myself. A place of rest where I am surrounded by art and books and color and light. I desire nothing in excess; I long for simplicity. So much of what we need in life is not tangible, and those things that are, are fairly straightforward. Food, water, shelter - a warm place to lay your head. These are rights and also privileges, and anything else is an added blessing. With these basic things, and my loved ones close by, I cannot think of a single, extra thing that I would be in need of.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Newtown Intuition

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

After a slow, relaxing morning, complete with tea, yoga, and the Five Tibetan Rites, I ventured off to Newtown to spend the whole day by myself. At first I found myself rushing, as if I had an appointment I might miss. Then I realized: I have the whole day… Nowhere to be, no one to cater to - just me, myself and I on an exploratory adventure. I slowed my pace and started to do things that I might do with a kindred spirit as a travel buddy. I hummed a tune from a musical, pointed out funny store names, and mentioned how glad I was that I’d chosen to wear my sneakers. I slowed my footsteps even further as I walked under a canopy of green. I noticed, with a small giggle, an overwhelming scent of eucalyptus and menthol. I breathed the earthy, herbal scent deep into my lungs and said under my breath, “How wonderful… Thank you!”

As I rounded the bend, I saw that I had entered the hub of Newtown. Realizing that my throat was parched, I bought myself some coconut water and meandered into a huge, used bookstore. It was wonderful… I was pleased to find it smelled just like a used bookstore that you’d find anywhere else in the world! The same colorful spines, texture worn down from being held and opened and discovered by countless other humans. Stacked upright, with not so much as one extra page to fit between them; looking disorderly in their organization. Hardbacks with barely-visible titles contained yellow pages decorated with coffee stains, hanging on to their binding as if each page knew the importance of their presence as part of the whole.

I practiced exercising this newly discovered - or rather, newly appreciated - muscle of mine: intuition. Letting my eyes follow my mind, I snatched up books that caught my third eye and thumbed through their delicate insides, like a little girl who’s stumbled upon her mother’s jewelry box. Curious and happy, I learned tidbits of delightfully useless information. Such as, the first jam to ever be invented was quince jam. It was made by peeling the fruit, then boiling it in honey until it’s half its mass and the hard parts can be removed. Then it is finished with a sprinkling of ground pepper. I thought of all the apron-clad women who have used this recipe, serving it with tea and cakes as part of their afternoon tea… The most fascinating thing about used books, is that a book is not just a story. It is a story with a story.

Satisfied with my discovery, I continued my wandering, smiling at a cute young man on my way to a Thai restaurant that I spontaneously decided to eat at. Considering that one block earlier I’d seen another Thai restaurant with mains listed at $17.90, I just simply couldn’t turn down this one: my favorite curry listed at $7.90! With appetite satiated, I continued my journey with no plan in particular except to eventually get to the Bodhi Books & Gifts that’d I’d seen in passing last week. I’d followed the proverbial scent of the shop with my intuitive nose. Interestingly enough, I accidentally took a “wrong” turn (as wrong as one can be in a neutral situation), and ended up skirting around the block the shop was located on. In my detour, I found yet another lovely used bookstore, in which I bought a book by a poet I’d never heard of. I wondered about the credentials of said bookstore’s owner when he gave me a quizzical look upon my inquiry about R.W. Emerson. Apparently he’s never heard of him. Hmm.

My next discovery was a positively delightful experience. I stumbled into a stone and gem store and was found subsequently in a deluge of fascinating information pouring forth from the balding owner, in a show-&-tell format, complete with heavy London accent. At one point I was holding in my hand a 180 million year old fossil of the original chambered nautilus, fossilized in ammonite. He showed me gems that could supposedly heal me (smoky quartz) and stones that could literally kill me (arsenopyrite). I ended up spending more than I intended (I hadn’t intended to spend anything at all) and was more than happy to do so.

Finally, I made it to my Bodhi Books & Gifts. It smelled of sweet incense, and was being maintained by the kind of woman you’d expect to be working at a store full of books on meditation, Buddha and the Dalai Lama. The most intriguing bit of the shop was the children’s books corner. “Yoga & Meditation: For Children” & “Start Early with Practicing Mindfulness” and other such titles populated the shelves. I tucked away this genre of books in the back of my mind for later years. After some heavy deliberation (I’d already bought a book today - not practical for a traveller who also happens to be on a budget), I bought yet another book. A small one, however. It’s ironically titled, “Making Space: Creating a Home Meditation Practice.” Ideal train reading, I decided.

Last stop in Newtown for today: Froyo. Nothing like a frozen yogurt fruit smoothie on a warm, sticky day. Especially if that frozen yogurt is coconut flavored and the fruit is mango and passionfruit. “Last purchase!” she tells herself… “What a marvelous day,” she continues. “Yes, quite splendid indeed,” herself replies back.


Disclaimer: the following statements are merely observation…

In Portland, if a female of decent appearance should frolic through a park (let’s say… Laurelhurst, for example) in her swimsuit in midsummer, where other individuals are doing likewise, it would not be altogether strange for her to receive (if you can call it that) one, two, or three remarks and/or “looks” (you know the kind I mean) from people of the opposite sex. This isn’t a revolutionary insight; it’s neither here nor there. It just is.

Now, said female may think nothing of this, except to be occasionally annoyed or even grossed out, until she goes to Australia, specifically Sydney. Imagine her surprise when, clad in similar attire (close to nothingness) she frolics on the beach chock-full of Aussies, particularly of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean descent, and she receives (if you can call it that) not one, not two, not three, but ZERO remarks and/or looks?

She would feel, I presume (because this is obviously hypothetical) a very brief, mild-in-intensity, moment of disappointment (I mean, she’s only human, right?), followed by a twinge of guilt at the discovery that she has such shallow expectations. She then likely reminds herself confidently that her value is not based in, nor gauged by, male attention. This reminder would, again presumably, lead to an exhilarating sense of freedom! She was invisible! How marvelous! She can frolic, walk, run, play, or trudge through the shallows with book in hand (probably the most likely option) without any interruptions or disturbances. She may, on occasion, glance up to be sure she’s not about to trip over a toddler half-buried in the sand, only to see a male in her age range looking at her. Oh wait, no, he’s looking through her. How splendid… When she relays this information to her cousin, she (likely) gives a matter-of-fact reply, “Sydneysiders keep to themselves.”



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The adventure to the Blue Mountains was a much-needed, and not altogether unexpected, confirmation that this trip must be much more focused on the bounty of Nature rather than the chaos of the city. I will do my time in Sydney, yes, as well as in Melbourne; but escapes to the beach will be necessary. Not just for the saving of money, but for my sanity as well. Being surrounded by people who are connected only to a false sense of reality - their manmade superficial idea of home - can by grating, nearly painful, to the soul. Why do we run from the steel and glass and “plastic paradise” we’ve constructed into the woods or to the sea as a “vacation”? I believe the answer is simple: What our consciousness is perceiving as an “escape”, our subconsciousness is perceiving as home. We’ve got it backwards. It seems the the structure of the Great Metropolis, what with all of the bright neon lights and abundance of diversions, suggests a kind of theme park; an endless array of entertainment meant to be enjoyed from time to time. But instead of intermittent diversion excursions, we have created a society that leaves one in a constant state of distraction. This has inevitably raise our entertainment threshold so that we are motivated to create environments such as Las Vegas in order to satiate our lust for that which dazzles and impresses.

In this whole process, we are producing waste - massive amounts of it - that we discard with the ignorant belief that it doesn’t affect us. Or an apathetic attitude towards the affect that we know it has. In reality, we are poisoning the home whence we came. It is no different than spitting in the eye of the Mother that loving raised you. Or, even more graphically, putting arsenic in her tea.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sitting cross-legged under a magnificent fig tree, in the Royal Botanical Gardens of Sydney, I held my japa mala between my fingers with tenderness, draped between my ankles. As I slid each little Bodhi seed towards the large tassel toting seed, I took a deep breath, straight to my core, and repeated in my mind, “We are One.”

I felt the wind rustle the fig leaves; I heard them sing as if to compete with the chirping birds who dashed from tree to tree, sunlight glinting off their feathers, chattering - likely about the scent that I, too, was inhaling. Earthy, herbal, minty, salty, sweet, warm air. The same air that made the ant cling to the blade of grass as it trembled. The same air that rustled the fig leaves above, casting dancing shadows on the ground.

And then, that beautiful, glorious thought: “I am a part of this moment.” I am sitting on the trembling grass, on the ground that’s been nourishing this tree for hundreds of years. Feeling, smelling, watching the effects of the wind.

I am not alone.

I share this sacred ground with a group of Hindu monks, robed in gauzy orange, flapping in this breeze. In silent solitude nearer the water sits a business man - feet in the grass, shoes beside him; ironed pleats wasted as he rolls his pant legs to the knee. Noisy Arab-Aussie children also enjoy the fig, jumping over it’s massive, exposed roots. We are all - wind, fig, grass, ant, birds, monks, man, woman, child - in this together. The ironic beauty of this moment is that it is not limited to time nor space. I am just as connected to my loved ones back home as they sleep & dream, as I am to this sunny patch of Earth.

All of these thoughts and observations occurred within a matter of seconds. I looked down as I continued to slide the seeds, one by one, breath by breath, “We are One… We are One…” In doing so, I was struck with the thought that this japa mala represented the very thing I was pondering: individual seeds strung together into One strand; a continuous loop, connected by one, larger seed - the Divine.