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