The dealings of grief and possibilities

‘The emotion of it was still strong. There was a bitterness in him that he continued to chew over as Digger did not. For Digger it had been one time of his life among others; a time, simply, that had laid hard responsibilities on him, but ones that were too deeply ingrained in his nature now for regret. He accepted them. He made no complaint.

‘For Vic the injustice that had been done to him was absolute, a thing he could not forgive. Some possibility had been killed in him then, and though he had found others and made what he could of them – that’s how he was; that was his nature, his character – that other possibility, the one that had been starved and beaten out of him, seemed especially precious.’ The Great World, David Malouf.

An old war veteran died today. Like all of them, Claude Stanley Choules no doubt had his own way of dealing with the grief of war.

‘He served in two wars but he hated war – he just saw it as a job,’ said his son Adrian. At 110 he had been the last remaining World War 1 combat veteran.

Incredible grief and loss is buried in the lives of many who have returned from war but also in many who have never been. Australian author David Malouf captures two of the dealings of pain, loss and grief. Does one or the other resonate with you?

Some of us integrate it and become something a little more, or perhaps a little less, than we might have been. Others are driven and cajoled by what might have been and never truly settle. Even achieving great other ‘possibilities’ does not assuage our sense of loss.

There is a Way that releases us so that now and not the past becomes the arena of living.

Central Railway Pedestrian Tunnel # 1

Murmur of walking feet
Warm, very warm
‘He’s a great vocalist, but he’s just not pulling his weight’
Two Asian girls standing in a sea of walkers
‘And she’s consulting him
Two nuns, one speaking, Canadian, flourish of the arm
‘It’s good karma’
Young, white, with long dark hair, and not a clue about Hinduism
Cool near the end of the tunnel
Murmur of walking feet

Speechless of late

I know I’ve been speechless of late
Without utterance
It’s what happens when your ears are full
Your mouth is empty
And your heart is silence overflowing

I still see things and wonder and create
Small chains of ideas
But the energy to bother has been cruelled
Slipping through cracks
And running down the dirty city gutter

It occurred to me as a small example –
Our life addiction
How we settle for many impoverishings
Because we at least
Are alive to breath and remember

Or to notice the man with maddened hair
Dark tanned cracked face
Sitting on a shady step on hot King St
Counting his coins
Black eyes catch mine before we separate

Or to feel tears swell when crackly speakers
Come to life and bid
Us all stand and silently remember
I saw just a boy’s name
And recalled the worth of two quiet minutes

Here’s to all the dreamers and lovers and stealers
For the ‘sparks soul’
Where ‘love is the only art’; so mention
It again to yourself
And open wide your flailing utterance

Relentless, restless reading confessions

People with blogs often tell other people, with or without blogs, about what they are reading. This may be to come across as a clever, readerish type or out of a genuine attempt to stimulate reading and discussion.

In my case I’m going to tell you what I’ve been reading because the litter of books next to my bed could be ignored no longer. I suddenly noticed it one day and thought, mmmm.

Anyway, here’s what I’m reading and feel free to use the comment facility with this post to inflict on me what you are reading. No, seriously, I’m generally interested! By the way, this reading does not include the portions of novels I am required to read for the publishing and editing courses I am doing which so far has included Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, James Bradley’s The Resurrectionist and Brett Easton Ellis’ Lunar Park (and that’s just the first week…). And then there is the constant noting of books other people are recommending in my lectures so that I now have a list of about 37 books that simply must be read…

But back to the leaf-litter around my bed:

Read More »

God purposefully stringing me along

God had me on a string today, I thought. Everywhere I went, seemingly by chance, I met people, seemingly on purpose. I arrived at Lunch just in time for the Young Woman to ask me about her mental health. ‘I don’t want to be kicked out on the streets or get locked up. How do I seem to you?’ My answer was sweet and sour like the steaming bowl of food before me. ‘You have been more unwell than this but you were right to say the best thing is to see your doctor as you are not quite yourself.’ She was reassured and I left Lunch just in time to see the Old Woman exit the building opposite, heading for the bus. I walked up beside her and gave her the gift that was tucked away in my bag. She kissed me with delight and yelled thank you as we parted. After eight kilometres walking with Tall Boy in misty rain around Blackwattle Bay, I considered my next move and headed for a hair cut. Crossing the road I saw the Owner, who I had just been thinking off. He spotted me and came over with friendly smile and clipped accent. We chatted and he offered me a job and I said for us both, ‘It’s in God’s hands.’ Young Man appeared as we continued talking in the street, also heading for a haircut, which he beat me too. It has been some time and at least we locked eyes and I was able to find him in the barber’s seat and grip his shoulders. The Iranian was all smiles and curls and pleased to see me. I said I would return tomorrow and headed for the bus. Waiting at the lights before the River of Traffic, I spotted the Older Man, on the other side. We waved across the rapidly moving, and I let my green man go as Older Man crossed over. We shook hands, and affirmed friendship and there was more deep eye contact, much-needed assurance. As we spoke, Woman Carrying Box appeared next to us and so as the green man appeared again, we farewelled Older Man, and I switched conversations once more. ‘Growing in confidence’ I thought, as we talked at the bus stop, with women looking on it seemed. She asked a question or two and the red 10 arrived to deliver me from the enjoyable relay-conversation in which I had just featured, all on a city corner. Later, having left Something, I was driving back when I missed Someone’s call. I was not surprised (considering the day) upon reaching my destination to see him parking too, as if we’d planed a rendezvous. We talked in hushed tones and found the Walker sitting cross-legged on the floor, but that is one story too many. As I prepared to leave, having intended to ‘slip under the radar’, Woman of Art arrived but I left with a wave, thinking that if this piece of string continued, I would never get home. But I did.

How are those resolutions going?

This is my 21st blog post for 2010 having boldly resolved to post every day of the year. So I’ve already broken my New Year’s resolution eight times and January is not even over! I may attempt multiple posts to catch up. Do you think that counts?

 It’s an interesting phrase when you think about it:

  • Resolution is a firm resolve to do something;
  • Re can mean “again and again” while solution means “answer” so a resolution might be coming back to the answer again and again (which sounds very much like a new year’s resolution!)
  • Tracing back to its origin, the word resolution comes from the Latin resolutionem (nom. resolutio) meaning “process of reducing things into simpler forms,” which in turn comes the stem of resolvere – “loosen”. The solution, it would seem, is in finding the simplest way forward, free of restraints.
  • Resolution in our age also refers to the fineness of detail in an image which could mean a new year’s resolution is a sharper view of life. Or a blurrier one…
  • And as for being a new year, if the only thing that changes is the date – and not your decision, your thinking, your spirit – then is it new at all?

How are you going with your New Year resolutions? PH

Before a word…

The world has never had so many words. When we consider how few words it took to create the universe, and how many words we produce to get much less done, the efficacy of our speaking becomes questionable. How rare is it in our emails, texts, letters, conversations, sermons, speeches, and dare I say, blogs, are we truly understood. What comfort then in these ancient words of Psalm 139: ‘Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, oh Lord’. There is Someone who always knows the full intent of our words, before we speak and better even than we know ourselves.

Sleepless in the sands of time

I woke up one night with a line from the intro to Days of Our Lives going through my head. For the record, I do not watch Days of our Lives.

While trying to get back to sleep my mind kept twisting the words back on themselves in a ridiculous attempt to come up with ‘deeper’ meaning from the same words in different order…

Read More »