I hope, but I don’t think so?

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Hope gets me up in the morning. The forecast may be rain and the sky looks gloomy, yet I move on with the day, with a sense that it’s okay and it’ll be alright. ‘It’ encompasses much – relationships with loved ones and friends, personal and professional lives, the present and the future.

Hope keeps me going forward into an uncertain future, for none truly knows what that will hold except it will be different from the vision we have in our minds. Yet it is this vision that speaks of the intangible essence of hope. I still have an idea of what tomorrow will bring. That there is a tomorrow and it will be sunny in one form or another.

Hope is usually unspoken and often taken for granted. It is not measurable – though many of us would have heard of the ‘hope’ of making it big, being successful, being famous, of scaling Mt Everest… well, they are more aspirations than hope.

Hope is way more powerful than the mere attainment of goals.

Hope springs from our heart, the feeling of right-ness in the world in spite of its incomprehensible and reprehensible minutiae. It is the glimmer of light behind every cloud. Though we can’t see it now, we know it’s there. It is what underlies the belief that we can always start over, that we have the capacity to begin afresh. That at worse, no matter what happens, we will survive.

Then there are times when our minds, the greatest trickster, say “nah, I don’t think so”. We think it is impossible, too hard and unlikely to happen, too good to be true, too easy to be real…

Our rational minds, with memories of yesteryears collated and constructed into stories we can accept so our hearts, our psyche can no longer be threatened or broken. We make do. We settle. We lose hope and for some, hope is lost entirely. When our thoughts subsumed our hope and we no longer believe that it’ll be alright, then there is no point getting up in the morning. The dark clouds look like menacing monsters approaching; they feel like a persisting unbearable weight. There can be no glimmer of light behind that. This is the best it will ever get, and it ain’t pretty.

In as much as hope is a feeling from the heart, a deep sense of our belonging to this evolving world, it is also a practice of not letting the mind take over, of not allowing our minds default to the ugliness (as I call it) of life.

Increasingly, we are exposed to the underbelly of our world; the media’s choice of news based on fear and negativity, and sensationalised. In this climate, it is no wonder we are more likely to say “nah, I don’t think so” than “it’ll be alright”.

So, the choice is ours – to re-negotiate what we expose ourselves to and to redress the imbalance. The choice to read of wars and deaths and to practice gratitude, to decry and stand up against injustices and to show empathy and compassion, to expand our intellect and to reach into our hearts, to see each of our experience now in the long continuum of human existence, insignificant yet impactful.

What choice will you make? Does your voice contribute to the maintenance of hope?

 

Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.      ~ Lin Yutang

 

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

I exist…

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One must not only exist, one must be alive; live life to the fullest…

And so they say.

The narrative of striving and being more is around us, yet interpreted at times as an accumulation of status, power and material wealth.

Am I existing if I have the love of friends and family? Am I existing if I don’t have a dream? Am I existing if I am purposeful in my doing? Am I existing if I find meaning in my day-to-day life? Am I alive if I exist in the eyes of another? Am I alive if I find succor in nature? Am I alive in my aloneness?

What does existing really mean? What is at the intersect of existing and contentment?

 

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.

One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is
myself,
And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or
ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can
wait.

~ Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

 

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

The politics of water

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“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?”

And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

This well-known Buddhist story told by Alan Watts at the 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College have always resonated with me, in many contexts.

I had said, “I don’t like politics”, “I don’t do politics”, “I am not political”… and while the first remains true, I have come to re-consider my place in my mind, in my world about the latter.

I AM in water, rife with politics and I am impacted by it, like it or not. Perhaps I am at the lower end of the spectrum for the level of participation, yet there is no avoiding it. In fact, for every post, every tweet of gender equality, human rights, I am being political. I am glad to name it. Another self-awakening of a 40-something woman. 🙂

This realisation comes from recent events, namely the lead up to the now Trump Presidency and the Women’s March around the world. It is easy to say, as I have heard from others, that ‘they’ are about America thus none of our (Australians) business or the marches are anti-Trump rather than about women’s rights or they are exercises in futility. Hey, I even attempted to embrace these notions to arrest the listlessness and unease.

Yet it does not bring me peace.

There is a shift in global consciousness, signalled by the uneasiness and anger that I (and many others judging by the response to the Women’s March) feel despite being so far away from the source of the triggering events. The notions of ‘them’ and ‘us’, of ‘not this but that’ no longer hold water, we the people are connected, more so now than ever, and we in all we say and do influence and impact on each other, we are humanity as one.

So my response and the lessons from the recent events are these, expressed through those who came before:

Life is a circle. The end of one journey is the beginning of the next. ~ Joseph M Marshall III

We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity. ~ Dalai Lama

Each of us is responsible for everything and to every human being. ~ Simone de Beauvoir

Careful the things you say,
Children will listen.
Careful the things you do,
Children will see and learn.

Children will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be.

Careful the spell you cast,
Not just on children.                           ~ Barbra Streisand, “Children Will Listen”

 

Oh, and I have no answer, and I suspect there is no ‘Answer’.  We have done things in fear no matter what it is called, what not try love? What have we to lose?

Life is for living; it is movement, constant and every-changing. Let it be a movement inspired by love.

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Do not despair if the answers don’t come immediately. Some answers are only revealed with the passage of time.

Try to love the questions themselves. Do not look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

All along my denial of the political self, I now realise, is not about politics per se, but rather the politics of division, of hate, of exclusion… and even as I am reconciling to the fact “politics” is being played on me and vice –versa, this remains true – love and compassion, understanding and collaboration shall be my beacon. Though I may at times fail, these I strive to be.

One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion. ~ Simone de Beauvoir

One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.

~ Joseph Campbell

I am in water.

Namaste!

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

The Plight of Solitude

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I often do things alone. I tell everyone who asked ‘why’ that I love my own company, and I do. I enjoy the freedom of ‘not minding’ and ‘not caring’ of another. I enjoy the opportunity for introspection and contemplation, as if I don’t do it enough.

Why? These statements are simple enough, yet behind each of these simple statements is a world of meaning.

 

Solitude is companionable. I have done this since I was a teenager. A (loosely) self-labelled introvert, I never did have a crowd of friends, rather a few good friends. And like me, they are introverts and a serious bunch. We spoke of ‘things’, discussed ‘stuff’ and we had fun. Then we retreat to our own worlds for respite. I remember being entirely happy with this situation, despite others beyond my world looking at me with pity in their eyes because I was a “loner” and “friendless”. They would not comprehend why nor understand me.

“I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, ‘Walden’

 

Solitude is freedom. There is a certain independence and freedom being in my own company. The connection to my inner self, if you would call it that, or to my thoughts, feelings, senses… is heightened when I am alone. Perhaps I am conditioned to be more social that I am – that in the company of others, my attention is to them and about them; and for a long time, this attention was also worrying about how they were and how they perceived me. With a degree of hard-fought self-awareness and inevitable age and maturity, I am comfortable in my own skin now.

A man can be himself only so long as he is alone, and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom, for it is only when he is alone that he is really free. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

 

Solitude is nourishing. Cultural, gender and familial norms dictated my presence – to be attentive to others and to serve. I do care, I do serve, I do for others and only to the extent I can and in the circumstance within my control. Beyond this I am merely fretting and worrying, over-managing and to be frank, somewhat of a pain to be around. It also taxed my sense of self, of not giving myself permission to do what I desired and what I would. I have learnt that being selfish is not a bad thing. All things in moderation and to each their own.

“I had told people of my intention to be alone for a time. At once I realized they looked upon this declaration as a rejection of them and their company. I felt apologetic, even ashamed, that I would have wanted such a curious thing as solitude, and then sorry that I had made a point of announcing my desire for it. … the decision to be alone for any length of time is dangerous, threatening, a sign of rejection. … Having never felt the need to be alone themselves, having always lived happily in relationships, they looked upon my need as eccentric, even somewhat mad. But more than that, they saw it as fraudulent, an excuse to be rid of them rather than a desperate need to explore myself.” ~ Doris Grumbach, ‘Fifty Days of Solitude’

 

Solitude is growth. Those who know me will attest that I think a lot, some may even claim that I over-think. Being a lawyer and educator, academic and intellectual pursuits are part and parcel of my life, one that I am comfortably familiar and cherish. All this ‘head-y’ stuff can sometimes be overwhelming, or strangely addictive. Either way, solitude is my step away from the mentalising and cognizing, away from boundaried explorations to experiencing varied possibilities, where I can broaden my sphere of seeing, and to draw a thread through the many systems and structures in my world. Most importantly, it allows me to just be. And it is only in these emotional and spiritual states that I am once again reconnected to the inner me which gets forgotten or ignored.

We have the choice of two identities: the external mask which seems to be real…and the hidden, inner person who seems to us to be nothing, but who can give himself eternally to the truth in whom he subsists. ~ Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

 

I am practicing this often – to be at peace with my desire for solitude, no matter the consternation of the outside world. The “motivation” to be alone are many – because one has to, because one must, because one has something to prove, because one was forced to by circumstances…

Regardless of the cause, should you ever find yourself alone, revel in it. Take a deep breath, listen to the voice within, observe your self in this place, and allow yourself the joy (however tiny or great) of being your own companion for a while. There is always time to make friends with your self.

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘Self-Reliance’

 

In solitude,
~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

#Haiku Challenge 117 @RonovanWrites

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RonovanWrites Haiku Challenge 117 with prompt words – Lark, Rush

The lark, so I am lead to believe, is a creature of flight with great symbolism in mythology. All species live in northern and eastern Australia, with only the horned lark to be found in North America.

Only male larks sing and with great musicality, even in flight, to defend their territory and to attract mates.

According to Wikipedia, “[t]he lark in mythology and literature stands for daybreak, as in Chaucer’s “The Knight’s Tale”, “the bisy larke, messager of day” … and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29, “the lark at break of day arising / From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate” … The lark is also associated with “lovers and lovers’ observance”. According Pure Spirit, the lark symbolizes “beauty, fidelity, happy marriage, and fertility” and self-discovery. “Lark encourages us to explore our inner selves and sing out loud.”

Fascinating indeed for a bird that is not that spectacular in its plumage.

This haiku is a reflection of how the lark sings for love, beauty, fidelity, marriage… and self-awareness, as seasons change without the rush of living thus bringing the truest of love and joy.

Singing lark invites

Seasons change, true love and joy

abide without haste.

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

 

How love turns pain into purpose – Stephen Hayes

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Disclaimer: what this video is not – an academic talk on psychology.

What it is – an inspiring personal account of the transformative power of love in the face of human struggles and difficulties.

Enjoy!

“… I stood up inside a promise – never again, I will not run from me.” Stephen Hayes

 

~ FlorenceT

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.