We are becoming, always
we are becoming Always.
Not the most elegant prose I've penned,
but you get the picture.
We are becoming, always
we are becoming Always.
Not the most elegant prose I've penned,
but you get the picture.
Drip, drip … drip, drip.
Little sounds everywhere
all a suddy you're aware
of creaks and cranks throughout the night
of bumps that wake you up in fright
a skitter on the floorboard starts
a mental theatre, in two parts
Act One houses moonlight through
the open window, there’s a clue!
but still you're in a placid sleep
dreaming of a lake so deep
fish swimming slowly down below
to fathoms where the strange things grow…
and then from blackness comes a shape
your dreaming mouth does drop and gape
a tentacle of brilliant hue,
of fleshy pink and mouldy blue!
comes winding upwards through the dark
it grabs your foot, and with a start –
up you sit in bed – the shock!
the frame like a canoe does rock
as though you're travelling on the tide
your foot (you check) is safe inside
you breathe anew and look around
you're safe at home, so lie back down
and slowly once again you go
into the moonlit shadows, lo!
"Behold Act Two!", Luna cries
while she lounges in the sky
a champion of eerie sport
this nightmare watchman loves her work
touching eyelids closed and calm
you've welcomed her, in all her charm
until you feel a hint of fear
for you don't really know her, dear.
She finds her way beneath your eyes
and side-long by your dream she flies
until you're moving head-to-head
you turn and notice what you dread
she's changed the course on which you fly
The Place of Plenty passes by
she leads you into craggy hills
where darkness clings to rock and tree
the sounds, the scents
instead come shadows, wraiths of fear
they circle round you, faceless, cold
this isn't where you want to be.
they wrap you up just like a fly
wriggles in a web to die
and all the while she gazes down
an ancient rock with gleaming crown
this is, for her, a nightly feast
she preys on dreamers in their peace
'That's it!' you cry, with raspy voice,
'dreamers dream, this is my choice!'
Luna looks on with a frown
you're free to go, you've won this round
you breaststroke upward to the sky
watching whisps of cloud pass by
the shadows fade, and light flows in
your body rests on pillows white
a breeze is rippling on your skin
but cloud-made quilts, they wrap you tight
you sigh a sigh of sheer relief
you conquered Luna's Land of Grief!
your eyelids open slow to see
moonbeams on the old gum tree
You’ll always find friends in the sea
blush-coloured fish in filigree
a countryside hidden from view
to folks who walk and talk as though
they understand the endless deep
the place that breathes while we sleep
the place from which we came to be
where life began, where things are free.
I heard whispers, old and true
that spoke of birth and growth in blue
they mentioned springs of conscious life
the start of colour, laughter, strife.
Then, in time, the plastic came
the water rose and warmed in pain
the colour drained from gardens few
so we continued, as we do,
till now past riches are bone white
creatures dart and dive in plight
this place will never be the same
if we can’t learn to love again.
And love we will, when we can see
that life itself comes from the sea
rolling fabrics, lofty hills
Earth’s palace swathed in emerald hue,
gilded waves with morning trills
and shards of sunlight sprinkle through
they glitter down upon the tide
and dance across the seahorse hide
to vibrant gardens underneath
our comrade, the old coral reef.
We spent the afternoon with them
In the orchard under trees
ten years had passed but now and then
my mind remembered them with glee
the baby rolled along the grass
a happy little bumblebee.
South of the city feels like home
a land where fewer people roam
away from buildings in the sky
a place where flocks of spoonbills fly
the bell bird’s song sounds all day long
amid the leaves and living throng
you’ll find some time to hear the breeze
spreading gossip through the trees
and when you’re by the inlet blue
the dappled sun shares stories too
tales of the fish below
and knowledge of how oysters grow
this wisdom travels from the deep
to mountains where old memories sleep
between the two lies rolling green
the lushest country ever seen
a countryside robust and true
but delicate as morning dew
the health of which, as all things do,
depends on folks like me and you.
We wonder if with ageing comes
a grace and wisdom far beyond
the measures of our childhood brain
which giggled sun, cried tears of rain
within that mind grew trees of gold, and endless mountains - aeons old
it played with faeries clothed in folded leaves with buttons marigold
the curving hills of Xanadu, the place of plenty, known to few
where played a music felt right through
I won't forget that place, will you?
Have you watched a flower grow?
have you watched from seed through sow?
watch the petals tumble out
watch them as they fan about
dancers on a ballroom stage
they move with grace and calm embrace
see the colours change from pink
to red with burns of orange ink
marvel as it stretches tall
toward the iridescent ball
the mighty sun, bringer of life!
god of love and war and strife!
Bringer of death its role as well
do not forget life comes in two
from night to day, from me to you
harmony can only be
when two things balance equally
like petals on a rose with thorns
or gentle deer with savage horns
and when the flower dies,
don’t lament, there’s beauty still
beauty in the curling leaves,
for life is growth and death and change
from clover through to mountain range
we are the stars, we are the sea
and when we die we are all three
the sun, the deep and all between
that dying flower is our Queen
watch her grow from birth to death
her beauty lies in changing breath.
'I love the way you take a walk
and all the things you see with your eyes
Oh, to be that distant thought
some growing meaning in your mind.' - Angel Olsen
They tie a rope to a piece of coral 10 meters below and you start to breathe. Big, wave-like breaths into your belly so that they roll up and out of you. Just focus on that. Just focus on that... But then your little toes wiggle in the flippers - a reminder that you still have to paddle to stay up in the air - not time to head down there yet.
"Okay, Ash, give it a crack" says Scott. He and Woody can melt down to 40 meters and stay there for minutes at a time - crawling around on the coral below like octopus(es/i/whatever) - patient, slow and curious. It's epic to watch. Ash takes her breath and dips her head below her feet, grabbing hold of the rope. We watch her place one hand in front of the other over and over until she decides she needs to turn around. About 7 meters... Damn good for a first try according to the boys.
We all take turns at this for some time. Ash has smashed the 10 meters by now, she's lived here by the water for years and shrugs her shoulders in quiet content when we all congratulate her. My turn. She's done it now so I bloody can too I reckon, but I've never been good at staying calm.
So breathe. GiGi's a doctor and she says the body can survive on one good breathe for up to 5 minutes before you're actually in trouble. Funny though, it's not knowing the science that gets you down there, it's not thinking much at all.
I roll over and down with a torso full of air and start to pull myself along. The deeper you get the more you slim out as the particles compress. Right over left, repeat. It's further down than you think. I close my eyes and think about the humpback whales we'll swim with this week. Whales! Right over left, repeat. By now I'm at around 7 meters, I open my eyes and I decide to do it. I'm doing it. If I run out of air on the way up Scott and Woody can help me. Time feels kind of strange down here, marked out by small accomplishments rather than a constant drum. Is that how time feels normally? I don't know, point is it was different.
I realise I'm holding onto the coral, I'm there, suspended upside down at the depth of a tall town-house. It's not the deepest depth in the world but it's further than I've ever gone without an air tank. I close my eyes and all I feel is a deep sway. After a few moments that feel like a deep pause I roll back over and lock eyes with Scott. He's down there with me and throws me an underwater shaka as I grab the rope to head up. I do a little slow-mo boogie and then look up at the surface. It's a way up but I take my time. I start my ascent and the closer to the surface I get the more I start to feel that jolt in my diaphragm that tells me I need air. They told me to push it aside though so I do... I don't worry this time. Up n' up I go, all the while thinking only that I like it down there and I can't wait to go back.
Most of us are part of some kind of workplace...it's a necessary part of living today, but it's also pretty odd. Have you ever found yourself confronted by the pecking order or by the nuances of how you all communicate?
I've been chatting with friends recently who are burgeoning high-flyers...'yuppies' if you will. Hammering away at the base of a looming column of concrete bureaucracy. My worst nightmare but an admirable display of determination and patience. Anyway, within these conversations there's much yammering about superiors' treatment of juniors, the lack of ethical culture, and of course the perks of those long wine-filled lunches (so it's not all bad).
Gets me thinking though, surely a shift in perspective would benefit even the most skeptical of groups, the big business folk. This is not to say that all my friends and people who work in the corporate world are disconnected with the process of life, rather that the structure of many a corporation eggs on the perspective of disconnect, rather than of cooperation and flux. We're in this together and surely the best way to flourish is to utilise that. I'm not 'business savvy Sonya' but if workplaces approached their internal workings from the perspective that they're an ecosystem rather than just a hierarchy, there'd be less politics and more productivity.
I went kayaking in the wetlands outside Esperance…it was whimsical and full of peace so I wrote a ridiculous poem:
Oh! To kayak in the breeze,
With wild birds and twisted trees,
The swallows diving from on high,
Under the misty morning sky.
Oh! To kayak in the sun,
What better way to have some fun?
The spoonbills would agree I’m sure,
I only wish to do it more!
Like the Greek myths of old, storms are reminiscent of the orderless jumble of energy, growth and destruction that was said to have been present directly after the birth of the Universe. Whilst I don’t agree with the nitty gritty of this myth, I do think the nature of chaos is something significant that we can consider.
In the past year Australia has seen some weather that rivals any I’ve witnessed in my life so far: beaches gutted like dead fish by the wind; waves literally bursting with force and intent, charging the harbours, bays and inlets that make up much of the coast; people and animals drowned.
In line with the thoughts of the presocratic philosophers, namely Heraclitus, everything is constantly in flux. Harmony in this process of flux comes from the meeting and binding of opposites. In other words, calm and peace are the products of balance. In the same way that having a balanced diet and sleep cycle keeps you functioning well, having balance in the environment allows for peaceful days and smooth processes of growth and decay.
When a storm with such destructive power hits, it must be a sign of discord. Surely the growing imbalances in the cosmos (as a result of our personal and wide spread action) will only create more discord around us. If this continues, it logically follows that more destructive events will follow. No matter how small we think our impact is, we are in flux and we are flux, so let’s try to bring in a bit of balance!
Have you ever noticed the points where gum tree trunks become the trees’ arms? I’ve been looking at them recently. They form in the same way our own skin does. Wrinkled, care-worn and characterful. In a funny way recognising that similarity has made me consider our connection to trees as a whole.
A great friend of mine, Sammy, has spent time in China in the past few years, writing for The China Daily. On her return she spoke of how many of the Chinese regard trees with reverence. They literally hug them when they spend their lunch times in the city parks.
I have begun letting my hands brush the limbs of trees as I walk by them and I often find myself pausing to look more closely. Many are stoic, giants of our world and their impact is solely good. What a thing to exist, what a thing to be humbled by!
I dawdled down to the oyster shed around 7am the other day and found myself looking at dew drops that had formed on leaves in the early morning tingle. The droplets were sturdy and fragile, transparent and colourful. After a decent gawk I realised I could even catch glimpses of my face staring back at me. It made me think – those tiny worlds form and dissipate in the morning light, only present for what we perceive to be a pretty fleeting instant in time. But that’s just the thing, that’s how we perceive it. Would an ant or a butterfly, alive for just a matter of weeks, have a another concept (in our understanding) of time and movement? Of growth, decay and all that is flux? These little droplets are transient existences, just like our own and just like all things. They are still, however, existences, that surely affect other lives too. Think of an ant moving along a leaf to find food and water – holy smokes – this droplet is an oasis! Packed full of organic molecules, food and hydration, this bead of liquid could be the holy grail for our little ant friend.
I suppose the point is this: consideration. All animals (including us) perceive the world in different ways. There are even differences between humans, when has the way you see the world been exactly and completely in line with someone elses view? It is partly because of these differences that we have so much beauty and variation around us – variation in thought, action, growth and decay. Awareness of these different perspectives is so very important, as they contribute to the change and flux that is us and is all around us. What we perceive as the important parts of our world are not always the focus of someone or something else’s. I dare say I’ll consider this when I’m next walking through any environment. Our understanding is not the only understanding and is certainly not always the most important. It is a part of a changing whole.
A while ago I went to my aunt’s place on the least populated stretch of the eastern coastline of Australia. First, because it’s my favourite place on the planet and second, because I was keen to help her and her partner out with some oyster farming. Boom!
We took the boat out onto the lake one day to fetch some oyster slats and decided to pop around to paradise for a swim. After a dip in the channel I lay under the coastal mahogany trees and gazed upwards as the sunlight tiptoed through the branches and onto my skin. There is only natural sound there and it engulfs you: lapping water; the breeze in trees; cicadas; soldier crabs marching; crickets; frogs; birds; even the creaks of old wooden branches that have seen too much salt and sun.
My eyes were fixed on nothing. I was staring upwards in a daze, the sounds around me swirling in my head. A tangible thought did cross my mind, however, and it was one that I am glad for. I realised that the more I ‘stared’ – the more my eyes weren’t focused on a particular locus – the more I was aware of the flowing movement of everything around me.
I was aware of the tide running outwards in the very bottom corners of my vision, I could see the pattern the breeze made in the leaves above, I saw the light gently hitting my prickling skin, I knew that the sunlight bouncing off the water was reflecting the soft, moving patterns on the branches of the trees above.
As we took the boat home I tried this thought of mine out again and stared across the water, focusing on nothing. Again it worked. I could see the different patterns of the tides and eddies on the lake, all moving together. I could see the lively movement of the wind on the water’s surface, I knew how strong the breeze was and where it was coming from, I could see a bird flying low across the water, I knew when a fish jumped up ahead.
It was hard, my eyes aren’t used to that and I kept falling back into focusing on one point and had to try and make myself revert back into this staring state once again. It made me think – our understanding of ourselves, of the world and of our part in it is so singular, so self-oriented – to the point where we see things (anything outside what we consider to be ourselves) as singular, individual things too, rather than seeing a flowing whole.
My aunt once talked to me about fishing with some of the Aboriginal people she knew, she spoke of how they could see things she couldn’t, how they knew when an octopus or fish was under the water because they truly knew how to look. Their understanding of the self is that they are truly part of the cosmos, not just selves on a planet within it. It is this understanding that enables them to see things differently. When they look out at a forest they don’t look at each tree and bird singly, they see a whole, moving world. Of course they can focus on things when they want or need to, however, their natural state is to see flux, and be part of that.
I have decided to keep trying my little staring trick. People always remark when they see a friend staring…as if it were a useless, unengaged thing to be doing. I think that it's the opposite of that. Maybe viewing things in this way is a far more raw and beneficial way to see the world and in turn feel ones position as a part of it.
What a sparkling little day!
Calm and powerful, from this viewpoint in San Diego the ocean was infinite.
'The untold grand and intertwined tale of Earth’s living and nonliving spheres…is utterly amazing. It must be shared, because we are Earth. Everything that gives us shelter and sustenance, all the objects we possess, indeed every human atom and molecule of our flesh-bound shells, comes from Earth and will return to Earth. To know our home, then, is to know a part of ourselves.’ – Robert M. Hazen, The Story of Earth
The place pictured is as untouched as they come and every time I go there it’s a reminder of what true harmony feels like.
‘The unity of opposites’ is the ancient concept that everything is in harmony as a result of opposing forces that meet in balance. Similar to the concept of Yin and Yang in the eastern tradition. The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, illustrates this: ‘The cosmos works by harmony of tensions, like the lyre and bow’ (Fr. 56). Whilst a bow is in harmony with its own form, this harmony is created by the pull of the string against the wood and the pull of the wood against the string. If the string were to break, the bow would snap back, indicating the constant tension that was not obvious when the bow was in harmony.
Philosophically, we can view all things in the universe and life as being made up of the unity of opposites. Whether it be the structure of atoms, the formation of a cloud or even the feeling you are having right now. These opposites are also always in flux. Constantly part of a process of flow and transfer. Nothing can ever be static and nothing can not be a part of this process.
Think about what you're doing right now. Your thoughts are changing as you read and as you think, the temperature of the air around you is hitting your skin and your skin is reacting as a result. Your blood is moving nutrients and oxygen around your body. Your tum is digesting something, hopefully something tasty. You're mood is whatever it is, but it has been made up of all the components that have come beforehand and it's changing slightly now too (either to annoyance at me or to a consideration of itself). The light coming through the window is changing the temperature of the room and the little specs of dust and air floating around you are moving, in what had before seemed to be stillness. The light from outside is filtered by some tree leaves which are having their own internal processes as a result of the air, light and flow around them. Those processes are moving all the way down the branches, trunks and roots and into the soil...there's a little fella down there (I'm thinking a worm) who's having a delectable meal I'm sure...the roots are bringing nutrients up through the trunk and out into the branches and leaves until oxygen hits the air. There's a bird singing while he waits for that worm to surface, his little feathered body is warmed by the sun and his blood is moving around too as his breast rises and falls. The air around and above him moves in fluid pockets of temperature, carrying pollen, moisture, dryness, insects, birds, the person in the garden next door's breath. The clouds out there are gathering and dispersing, with infinite processes of movement and flow that are just as much a part of the air, the bird, the tree, the leaves, the light, the temperature, the dust...and you. There is no blank space. No nothingness. Everything is in flux and everything is what makes up life, and that means you too.
When nature is not in harmony, it means that there is an underlying imbalance. Everything genuinely affects everything. It really does. Even though it may not be personally apparent. That's not to say that a polar bear's disagreement with a penguin in the Arctic is going to put me in a bad mood in Australia, but it is to say, once again, that there is no blank space. We are all part of the planet, a flowing motion of atoms, energy and thought. When the world and the movement of flux is in harmony and balance, we don’t need Disney magic, we live it.