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Archive for the tag “kindness”

Regrets of the living: Week 20: Blogging for Survival

Gosh there is a whole whammy of self-help out there.

Also lots of lists. Of the ‘five things you should know’ variety. But clearly don’t.

I have paid these lists a little more attention than is good for me. Particularly those hideous masochistic ones like five ways to tell if your partner is cheating on you and five things you should never eat again and five things not to say to a person in crisis. Unfortunately I read all of these after the fact.

I’m taking an interventionist approach. So I read ‘five regrets of the dying’ and perpetrate a new level of guilt warfare on my psyche. After reading it through a couple of times I realise it isn’t really about regrets. It’s about wishes. ‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, I wish I hadn’t worked so hard, I wish I’d been brave enough to express my feelings, I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends and I wish that I had let myself be happier’.

And wishing is a state of hope, even if takes us to the saddest, darkest places. It is for the living to have regrets, so if we are good at time management we can get to work on them with a reasonable chance of return. A regret investment.

Channeling the self help counter culture, not embracing the ‘have no regrets’ part of me, I get to work on my list. I chew through a block of chocolate and most of my Zen in the process because I’ve called my self delusion in for a show down.

I cut. I edit. I rearrange until I realise I’m still doing one of the things I regret. I look longingly at some of the regrets in the recycle bin. Some of them look longingly back at me and whisper seductively, ‘you want us, in all our melancholy stickiness, you know you do’. And I do. I know I do. One in particular won’t go without a fight. I was 7. I teased a girl named Wendy Breany. I called her a fatty bombardi. She cried. But there it is. In the bin.

I settle on the final five;

I regret eating animals,
I regret believing in a hierarchy of forms,
I regret not noticing pain. Mine, my child’s and my worlds,
I regret not chasing beauty to her lair and
I regret only discovering Florence and the Machine last week.

Tonight I’m letting myself go. I apologise to Wendy Breany. I have been tormenting her with regret for way too long. She needs to be free. Likewise the chances to be kind, brave and just. And to be an aerobics instructor. I savour the taste of this glorious nostalgie. But before I get too comfortable I remind myself that this sweet romance with lament cannot go on forever. At some point I will have to start thinking like a good economic rationalist and get to work on my investments.

I start making another list. Tofu, soya milk, lentils……

Kindness Nouveau: Week 16: Blogging for survival.

I fought my way out of sleep this morning. Quite relieved to bring consciousness to bear on the hell of my dream world. It was some epic horror story. I was alone. The last person in the world. I refused to give up. So whatever or whomever was in charge of this universe had left me to it. So it was just me really. And my high moral ground.

I considered the meaning of this. Literally and metaphorically. It’s not like I’m going to wake up tomorrow and hear the eerie silence of no one at home. Then walk to the shop and find the door to the Coke fridge wide open, the cash register blinking and an untouched pile of Sunday Times. Then check my phone and find I’m the only person active on Facebook and no one in the world has tweeted for 12 hours. That is not actually going to happen. Sorry Hollywood. Metaphorically however, I could say, I’ve just been told.

Truth, Versions of the Truth and what I know to be true create a vortex that could flatten towns and leave small animals cowering under rubble. The theatre of life is all well and good. I’m happy to watch you all improvise and interpret. Stepping in and out of character, reediting past story lines, deconstructing narrative forms, creating new family trees and erasing current love interests. Just don’t mess with my bit of the story.

I’m rethinking my strategy for the 100 year war. I have made it to the halfway point. And held the line. However I’ve spotted a few advance scouts recently. Casting a curious eye over what is mine. Some of them have maps. Which they roll out. They look at the empty, unclaimed space and they mark an x on it. That’s ours for the taking they say. No one lives here.

Some of them just wander in. Accidently. Drifters. They pick some fruit and water their horses. They rest awhile. Some clean away their leavings. Some inscribe their names on the living walls of the space. And some take mementos. Others were abandoned here. And sought refuge. Making little spaces in the warm earth into which they curl themselves. Round and small.

I wait in silence for them all to leave.

The cat that isn’t mine, and the baby who can say my name, insistently pull at the ragged edges of my storyline. Reshaping the silence. And the metaphor becomes a living, breathing present. Redraw your territory, open your borders, cede your tyranny or have a baby and a cat take you prisoner.

Someone lives here. And she says ‘welcome’.


Never trust an elephant: Week 13: Blogging for survival

I’m on my last elephant ride. The realisation that I will never do this again comes with the  certainty of the sunrise. Staying present in the moment. With a shame that comes from the imperialism of being human. Of killing, eating, enslaving and humiliating animals. She walks with care and deliberation. Each step takes me closer to my pathetic regret.

Elephants have a similar life expectancy to humans. And like humans they can live full and happy lives. Under the right conditions. Lakshmi Kahli is 35 years old. 9 am in Chitwan, Nepal and she is on her second run already. There has been a slight delay because we asked them not to overload her. Serious discussion ensues. Each of these elephants is expected to carry 5 people at a time.    

We are the last to ride. Hoards of animated, excited, overweight people jump, scratch and scramble their way on to the elephants. As each person boards, the elephant adjusts slightly to manage the load.

My first elephant ride was at the Melbourne Zoo. I was 5. In all the years that have followed I have also jumped, scratched and scrambled my way onto the backs of elephants around the world. Loving the view from up high, the gentle rhythm and the mystery of the elephant spirit. On top of an elephant is on top of the world.

I have been told about the vengeful nature of elephants. How they will remember a hurt done to them and wait for an opportunity to retaliate. In Laos, the guide at the elephant camp tells a story of a tourist who teased an elephant by offering bananas repeatedly and pulling them away just as the elephant was reaching for them. After a few minutes of this, the elephant whacked him to the ground. ‘So’, he says, ‘never trust an elephant’.

At 35 years old I was working 3 jobs. Harnessed. And at times I felt like a brute animal, with little value other than the weight of the load I could carry. I retaliated at acts of senseless cruelty. I also retaliated for much less.  There were times when people would say. ‘You can never trust a Lisa’.

These days I choose who, and what, I will carry. I do not carry entitlement, or cruelty, and I brushed rudeness and humiliation off on a low hanging branch some time ago. About the time I developed a deep fondness for bananas. And kindness. This is what it means to be free.

As Lakshmi Kahli stands steady for me to scramble my way off her back I think of all the elephants that have carried people, little and big, safely around the world and through time. Of their huge bulk kneeling to accept a small child and their gentle trunks touching the upturned palms of generations. And I smile.

You can never trust an elephant.



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