27.12.11

"Maybe this was why monks embraced such fathomless silence: they'd glimpsed how deep grief really was and understood that to grieve properly they had to sink from sight. They'd discovered that love lived at the bottom of grief, the love you couldn't bring to the surface because the daylight and the bright air and the business of everyday life twisted it into something unrecognisable, something that inevitably seemed crude.
She had never allowed herself to grieve wholly before, she realised now. Not for her father, not for her grandparents. Not even for her marriage: she'd never allowed herself to face what it meant to fail in the central relationship of her life. To really remember that shining, innocent love she'd felt and everything that had happened to it. And this was why, of course: because some pragmatic, self-protective sense had told her that grief was bottomless. Skirting this sea, she had dipped her toes in: she's wondered what would happen if she crossed the line, but it had always seemed that it could only be a kind of defeat, a drowning, a death. And so it was. But maybe it was not the end, to be defeated bylife. Maybe that was even part of what it meant to be a human being: to recognise the ways in which life had finally defeated you to accept the ways in which death had come, to stop looking away from the failures of love, and to grieve. To keep your heart open to the sea of this silence; to drift in it, surrendering to its currents, baffled and without recourse. And at the bottom of it, to be surprised anew by loves simplicity. To feel that nothing had been lost."

-Tim Farrington, "The Monk Downstairs"

21.12.11

Songbird.


...in you little bird, there is more than a song
rather, forever, there will be
what has been all along

in your voice, and in all else
I sit in the quiet, while they praise all else
but I hear you songbird, in the whisper of your sound
for all you sing of is waiting to be found...


I used to write. I have years worth of notebooks, journals, pages and pages of paper, scribbled upon by biros, late-night thoughts and dreams expressed in ink. I loved that when I wrote, my thoughts and that moment in time were immortalised forever. To be able to articulate an emotion, an experience or a moment is an artform. To be able to shape letters and words and sentences and adequately describe something so complex and beautiful and elusive is akin to the crafting of a beautiful song, I think.

I haven't written as much lately...numerous notebooks sit unfilled, and my thoughts cannot be ordered in to the neat, horizontal lines of the pages. Instead, they fly around inside my head, captivating and frustrating me. How does one determine what her song is? How is it that I once had a song, a tune, a melody, yet now it has been snatched from me, and I am left wondering how to put my pen to paper? Ernest Hemingway said "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." This implies vulnerability...to write is to create, and what is created is a black and white illustration of ones own soul. To sing aloud of the joys and sorrow within my soul is surely something I fear. Yet is this not what we all desire? To be open and honest and thus to have no fear of neither man nor beast? To be at peace with ourselves, with others, with the world? I find it fascinating that life is full or ironies; that God created such paradoxes in this life. What we fear, we desire, and what we need is akin to what we avoid.

Most of it all comes back to the same thing; identity. We wish to belong, and to belong we must appear acceptable to those we love so that they will have us. In belonging, the little holes are filled inside of us. But lately I have found,  my desire to express myself overrides my fear. Loneliness is not an enemy, but a mere acquaintance. I must write. Yet I continue to search for my song.

18.12.11

Vivian Maier

This woman inspires me. After her death in 2009, hundreds of thousands of negatives she had taken throughout the course of her life were discovered and developed, bringing to life a collection of street photography that is, in a word, breathtaking!




 
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11.12.11

Poverty.

http://www.cpag.org.nz/assets/sm/upload/d4/ei/sg/g4/LFBDec2011.pdf

I am so ANGRY. 

We may not be a nation afflicted with a corrupt government or HIV/AIDS epidemics such as Africa or other third-world nations, but it is plain ignorance, or arrogance, to claim that NZ "has no poverty." As a first world nation, to have over 200,000 children living in conditions that condemn them to poor health/education/living conditions is unacceptable. And  it breaks my heart.
I am a Law and Development Studies student, blessed with education and a wonderful and reasonably well-off family in Auckland. Yet in Wellington I have friends who sleep in the night shelter and struggle to afford meals. My friends are not lazy, or criminals. But they have been dealt a terrible hand, made some mistakes, or just been oppressed in a society where the underclass are rarely considered. And I don't really see what our government is doing to help them find warm homes and regular meals. Most of the help these people receive are from NGO's or non-profit organisations; they get little sustainable help from the government. Yet there are still people that claim that NZ is unaffected by poverty. "Go see what it's like in India, or Cambodia, or Africa," they say. So perhaps we are affected in a different way...it is ridiculous to say that NZ isn't affected by poverty when the facts plainly tell us that we are - our Gini index (which measure the level of inequality present in a nation) is higher than the global average, which means that although we have significantly wealthy citizens, we also have an unacceptable level of poverty as well. As a nation, and as whanau, we need to grow a pair, accept that there are kids growing up with no choice but to beg, borrow or steal what they can to survive, and DO something about it as opposed to ignoring the issue or, worse still, talking but not acting.

How is this so hard??

9.12.11

One of those songs that sings of a painful truth.

Jump into your white mobile and run away,
You're always leaving me behind.
And I can think of a thousand reasons why,
I don't believe in you, I don't believe in you and I.

I'm not yours anymore,
I'm not yours anymore,
No, I'm not yours anymore,

I'm not yours anymore.


It's always a raw moment, when we realise how alone we are. Something happens and you turn to tell that person. But as my lips part, the words are caught in my throat. Because that person is no longer my person. 
How long does it take before the words become unstuck from my throat? How long until I cease to harbour this fear of choking? Does anyone ever teach you how to breathe easily once again?

7.12.11





"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry beauty with us or we find it not"
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

4.12.11

When I was young...

My first memory is as a toddler, strapped on to my mothers back, tramping along a river. The sun is hiding behind the leaves and the water is calm, green, dappled with sunlight. We are walking upstream, and I remember being fascinated at the way the light danced on the water.
I remember being 5. Having grown up together,  my cousins and I swim in thier pool in the nude over summer, running around and playing Marco Polo for endless hours. 
I remember being 7 and my sister and I having wrestling competitions on my parents bed. She  always beats me, except for when we get older and she occasionally lets me win.
At 9, I am riding scooters down my friends driveway, burning my heels on the brakes and daring myself to ride down from the very top of the hill.
When I am 10, I run away from home for the first and only time. It is a late summer afternoon, and I am enraged and frustrated that my family 'just don't understand me.' I run over to the plum tree that borders our neighbours property, and climb to the top, planning on hiding all night to make my point. When Mum calls out the window to me half an hour later, asking me to clean my room, I am baffled at the fact that she hasn't noticed my absence. I never run away again.
I am 12, and building forts and dugouts in the forest behind my best friends house. We explore the native bush, swinging over ponds and constructing hideouts alongside the creek.
At the age of 13, when my sister is 16, we climb on top of the water tank, picking plums off the tree. With plum juice running down our chins, we  have pip-spitting competitions to see who can get their pips the as far along the garage roof as possible.
I am 14, and surprised with my first kiss. Under the stars, for that one moment, I think that life could not be any more perfect (until I later find out that he has a girlfriend).


 Last night, at my cousins 21st, I looked around and saw how everyone had grown up. We are all at university, or working full time. The Pony Club paddocks we spent years playing in have now been developed in to lifestyle blocks. The creek I used to pick blackberries by has now been cleared and cut back. The kids I grew up with are no longer kids. My two best friends from intermediate and high school are both engaged...all the adventures seem a life-time ago. Yet there is so much to remember, so much that I am afraid to forget.

I think my favourite memory of being a kid was when Dad used to take us all over to Tasmania to visit my Baba in the school holidays. Excited to be in Australia and full of notions of spiders and snakes and the great Outback, my sister and I would pack a lunch, find the perfect hiking stick, and set off on an adventure around the paddocks behind Baba's property. I think the most exciting thing we found were scorpions in Grandad's old glasshouse, or perhaps the time I got bitten by a fire ant when I was climbing the silo's on the neighbours farm. But, for just a moment, I would feel like a great explorer, discovering new worlds and at one with Mother Nature as I clambered and climbed through Baba'a magnificent gardens, picking blackberries and warily watching out for snakes.


 The other day I was at the beach eating a picnic dinner with some friends. I went for a walk and climbed on to the rocks, and while I was looking out in to the harbour with the wind in my face, I suddenly realised how blessed I am to live in a place of such beauty. I miss the outdoors so much - I seem to have forgotten the joy that I got from being covered in dirt and in amongst the trees as a kid. That swelling of my heart as I breath in the salty ocean, the smile that is inevitable as the sun warms me. That feeling that says..."Olivia. You are home." 

I hope I never forget it.