I Remember.

I remember times when just getting up out of bed
was foremost on my mind
and the biggest struggle of my day.
I remember times curled up with undiagnosed pain,
when I wanted to die,
when I hated myself for being this way.

I remember times when I could get up,
could get out of the house;
yet my head would spin,
and focus and comprehension were distant lands,
long journeys away.

I remember not crying through most of this,
because that felt like weakness when I needed to be strong.

I remember needing someone close to me,
needing someone to sit with me and be present.
Not to fix, not to suggest I am broken,
just to keep the loneliness at bay and
to bring positive energy into my day.

And I remember rarely receiving that.
I remember not having those people around me
and not knowing how to ask for it.

I remember alone, pain, hatred, depression,
and all the physical manifestations of a life in turmoil.

I remember Stars in the night. ✩
I remember pouring my heart into words,
flinging those words into the dark sky and
watching them match up with the results of others’ efforts.

I remember seeing out there;
words – with emotions,
that became faces, that
reached out to me, that
helped make sense out of it all.

I remember their souls
their energy, compassion, and love
some now faded, some drifted away,
some still flickering – as my light did for so long.

And I am blessed
to have lived through this all
to have been present through it all
and felt every fucking feeling that life has to offer.

Now…
I see this knowledge and understanding,
an integral part of me,
a gift I am able to share with others
As my light shines bright, once more,
for myself, and for those I connect with.

This life exists most wholly
with those whose paths cross mine
For minutes, or days, or months.
And in those moments I am brightest
in those moments I shine and
share the warmth that glows in my heart.

Remembering Magic.

I remember good times a lifetime ago. (Painful memories are there too, but I now see the importance of connecting positives within me.

I remember first loves, first touch, first kiss. Car sliding off-the-road down-the-embankment adventures with friends and knee-high-mud hikes through remote wilderness. The quizzical feel of unrequited love. The laughing easy fun of real friends around me, even though the new experience was confusing. The joyous sound & feeling of singing familiar songs. A-Capella blues improvisation on the rocks near the seashore. Feeling the chant of ancient community harmonies. Up all night talking, sitting on the side of a hill, then watching sunrise dawn on a new year. So many connecting in deep conversation moments. Special friends who may have loved you.

I know you. We shared life together. Then we never saw each other again. 

I know you. The first time we met was a meeting of old soulmates. I know you. Our time grew over years. Now we share warmth, inspiration, crazy fun and laughter. I know you. A few years of friendship remains a glow within my heart, whether or not we see each other again. I know you. We have never shared the same physical space, but our connection is as real as the hugs we will give when we finally do. I know you. We have walked together, talked together. Cried, lied, and sat together. 

And now, I have known you your whole life. Every day is a new journey and one day, this too, I will remember. 

[ Inspired by the magical words of @urbansirenllc ]

Reconciliation and Hope.

Today was Father’s Day in Australia.

I spent early parts of the day, with my limited resources, trying to find a picture of him that I could post for today on my FB page, in memory.

I didn’t find anything suitable. I found a selection of photos illustrating him wasting away in his last year and that brought back painful memories. I wanted to remember him in the best way possible.

I went out for a bike ride to a weekly markets in the city. It’s a good place to sit myself down with some live music in the background, think, write, and people watch. I had forgotten how much I enjoy observing what happens around me.

After a couple poetic sketches, I was inspired to write a poem in memory of my father today. And I found a picture suitable enough to use illustrating my creativity.

And I thought that would be that.

Friends on FB were posting pictures of their fathers. Old family photos of smiling people having fun together, mid-hug, joyous memories. Along with this, descriptions of their positive experiences, their support, their love.

And I thought about how I experienced very little of that. Since age 10, when my Dad was knocked off his motorbike by a drunk driver, family life was never the same again. He suffered many problems as a result, which resulted in a family of 5 active children living with a physically incapacitated person sensitive to everyday noise. He suffered brain damage which forever changed the way he would interact with us. We lived with a person who became increasingly angry, irrational and explosive.

After five years Mum left. Eventually I followed.

I don’t have photos of hugs with my father. I remember some very early days of young boys rolling on the floor playing with him and that is all. I remember years of hating him, of wishing he was dead because that was the only way I could see life improving for the rest of us. Many years of having space and time gave me the opportunity to let go of the hurt and eventually reconnect. With assistance I eventually came into my own acceptance of what happened, of understanding, of letting go of blame and letting go of my own guilt.

I have come to acknowledge the aspects of my parents that I encompass, focussing on the positives. But I have always struggled with feeling loved, with needing to be loved. And I guess I am envious of those people I know who had such support during their formative years, who have some solid grounding in their lives.

When I see their stories, it leaves me sad.

A lesson I have learnt clearly, personally, this past week, is that the pain of emotions is a response within our mind. It is a chosen reaction. And we can choose to deal with it, to look at it with a different perspective, so that the pain is simply not there. The pain is only ever within our mind and as such, we have the individual power to not feel it. And that does not mean to bury it away somewhere. No, I mean to simply understand that by seeing around the emotions with a self awareness, there simply is no pain.

Pain only exists when we choose to create it within our mind.

This gives me hope. It lets me know that I can train myself to not create the pain. To live with a greater awareness of my self and a greater awareness around my thoughts. To live in a space where I am at peace, while still acknowledging all that I feel, all that I am.

And hope, is perhaps the most powerful emotion of them all.

Learning and Remembering.

I feel good today, proud of myself. And my Dad would have been proud of me as well. So today I was wearing the 35 year old t-shirt that I silk-screen-printed for him during a primary school camp. At the time I also made a much smaller blue one for myself. That wore thin years ago and was recently sewn into a patchwork quilt by my Mum. This t-shirt in the photo was given back to me by Dad a few years ago, in a very simple but touching gesture. He no longer fitted into it and was wondering if I would like it “back”. 

When I wear this shirt, I think of better times. Of childhood fun camps, of a good Dad before he was knocked off his motorbike by a drunk driver, suffering brain & body damage in the process that eventually led to the break up of our family.

Today I finally received the opportunity to take my firearms licence training course. Firearm safety is taken very seriously in Australia. So there is a day of training in all aspects of shooting. How guns work, Personal safety, Ethical hunting, Legal requirements, General shooting knowledge. There are two theory tests during the day and then two practical tests. I might say I passed with flying colours.

I listened intently and soaked up all the new information, and asked question about unclear areas, just like I used to in school. So I scored 25/25 on both theory tests, very happy about that. Then later in the day we had the practical tests.

First was firing a .22 rimfire rifle at a target 50m away. The goal was to have a cluster of 10 shots within a circle the same diameter as the black centre. Due to these guns being used constantly for training, the sights may not be accurate and may be misaligned high, low, left, right, or a combination of those. So all that is expected is a close grouping anywhere on the target. Other than one of my first two shots out to the right, I grouped the other nine within a half diameter of the circle. I call that very good consistency. Keep in mind that the last time I fired a rifle I was about 10 during one of our family camping trips into the outback. 

Second range test was firing a shotgun at 20m. Something I have never done before! First I had to pick up the shotgun, close the breach and take a firing stance. Perhaps I was practically applying all that I read and heard today, and perhaps distant memories of my father instructing my older brothers came back to me, but I took a perfect stance, leaning towards my front leg and keeping my outer elbow up for stability. 

Then a single cartridge is loaded, to get the hang of firing. I aimed the barrel at the first of five metal “rabbits”, and fired. The recoil ammount surprised me, but my aim was true and down went the first target. Not bad for a beginner! 

Next the two side-by side chambers are both loaded for the second and third shots. I decide to just keep working along the line of targets from left to right. Second and third targets go down cleanly. The instructor mentions that the centre target is a little stiffer than the others and needs to be hit dead-centre to knock it over. I saw plenty of other people miss or only edge some of the targets. 

Once more the gun is loaded with two more cartridges and I prepare to fire in my own time. Number four and number five targets go down. A perfect score! The passing requirement was to knock over three of the five targets.

So now I know what the recoil kick of a shotgun feels like. I’m sure that my shoulder won’t be bruised tomorrow, all the body support of the gun was correct.

Getting home after six hours of training, I felt very tired. All that concentration and focus I put into the day certainly paid off.

Know that an Australian license holder goes through very thorough training. There are strong deterrents in fines of up to $75,000 and 5 years in jail for any firearm offences or hunting offences. And if accused the onus is on you to prove your innocence. Conviction of any firearm or hunting offences will also likely result in permanent revoking of your shooting license and confiscation of all your firearms. Because human life is so valuable, the legal deterrents are very strong.

No doubt some of you have different opinions of shooting or different experiences with firearms depending on which country you are in. I am against animal cruelty. Most of the hunting in Australia is of feral animals. Rabbits, foxes, wild cats, goats, and pigs have all been introduced during white settlement and pose serious threat to all of our native wildlife and plants. My intention is to have my license purely to inherit a few firearms from my Dad’s collection. With as much of their history and sentimental value to my father as I can understand.

I wish he was still around. I know he would have been proud of me. He would have humbly congratulated me and given some gentle reminders about safety and skill. I won’t go around bragging, this will stay here on a somewhat-private wordpress post. That is how my Dad would have wanted it and I understand why.

I wish we could have gone shooting together, now that I understand how significant that activity was to him. All I have now are the memories. But going through this process has given me a better appreciation of him, and that is more valuable than anything else right now.

Silver Linings – Day 16.

20150618-233013.jpg
“Quiz Night”

After yesterday, managing 2/3 of a day in the office was an achievement. But the real silver lining was going out to the pub tonight to meet some friends at a regular quiz night. Good people to laugh with, collaborate with, brainstorm with, good friends.

When I went to the bar for a drink, I saw a bottle of Cooper’s Stout in the fridge. And my first thought was that it was always my Dad’s favourite drink, especially when mixed 50/50 with lemonade and called a Portagaff.

So I thought, in honour of my Dad tonight, being at a pub with friends, I will have one. Not sure if I have tried this drink for at least 15 years and don’t recall particularly enjoying it previously. But tonight it was good. The sugar in the lemonade is probably going to bite me tomorrow or on the weekend. But tonight I enjoyed it, I remembered him, and all was good in the world.

Grateful for friends to have fun and a laugh with. Grateful for energetic days. Grateful for local drinks and memories to hold onto.

What is a drink of significance or memories to you?

Silver Linings – Day 5.

20150607-222817.jpg
“A Place of Memories”

Dear Paul,
We haven’t spoken in years. Between my health ups and downs and you with your family in Sydney, it’s been a while since we caught up. But you are always with my thoughts.

We first met in kindergarten. So our Mothers both say, because my memories from around that time are unsurprisingly few. Then the same primary school and the same high school. We were true locals. You lived up the road from me. I think it was 4 blocks away.

You were into so many things different to me, but we still played together and had fun. Gemstones, CB radio, flavours of electronic music that I hadn’t heard before, hobbies that were foreign to me. But we always had a good time. Just playing in your back yard, climbing the tree, or being secret agents. In the warmer weather your mum would offer us watermelon for refreshment.

Playing in your room, you always had some gadget or new thing to share and catch my imagination. As we got older, there were computer games on your Amiga, a synthesiser that you played that riff from Nik Kershaw’s “Wouldn’t it be good” on and I couldn’t identify it, 35mm cameras with electronic controls. And later on that Datsun car, it was so cool, even if it did get expensive to keep running. You were up with the current times and dragged naïve me along willingly.

There was that gorgeous girl who liked you, flirted with you, but was insecure about the photographs you took of her. Wanting to see them straight out of the envelope and confiscating the bad shots before anyone else could see them. But you weren’t that into her. I remember sitting at a cafe with another of your friends, feeling slightly embarrassed by his comments about passing females. He wasn’t being crude, it was just a new experience to me. How we laughed!

Then you travelled and told me about a girl you met overseas. And a year or two later you travelled again and brought her back. You got married by a celebrant at your parent’s house and asked me to play my keyboard at the ceremony. What an honour. House is she now anyway? Say hello and pass on a big hug from me.

You were a groomsman at my own wedding. Remember when we all camped together in the Flinders Ranges National Park, hiked all day at Wilpena pound and climbed to the top of St Mary Peak? Didn’t I carry my bicycle wheel on my backpack all the way up – just because my whole bike was too heavy. I remember so much mountain biking together, I was fearless on two wheels in those days.

Even when you moved interstate for better work, I managed to catch up with you every few years or so. Sleeping on your couch, or just visiting and cooking dinner for you all.

This morning, before I even got out of bed, I thought of you again, and it brought a smile to my face. All those years, all those adventures. Thanks for being you and thanks for the memories.

My Dad.

What I saw, what I experienced, what I remember. There were other darker times, but to me they were caused by his motorbike accident induced physical battering and brain damage. Here is the true man that I recall.

Physically active, healthy and strong.
Strong energy of person, bold.
Comfortable to sit with himself.
Caring, patient, considerate.
Dedicated.
Humble.
Loving.

As I remember him being laid to rest with his parents one year ago, in this way I honour his memory and acknowledge his life within my own.

(1 January 2015)

Surviving School Summer Day Trips.

I live opposite a primary school. In fact the school crossing is right out front. On weekends and during holidays it’s rather quiet. And when I’m having a slow morning, I hear all the noises and chatter of children arriving, crossing monitors, parents’ vehicles, and finally the school siren signalling the official start of the day.

At this time of the year, when school will finish up in a week or so, I also hear the buses. School day trips where the children hop onto big commercial buses and head off to, well wherever they head off to.

All these sounds, in particular the buses (the hiss of air brakes, parked, but engines still rumbling) bring up memories from long ago. Over thirty years’ past. My experience was summer day trips to a swimming pool somewhere up in the hills. I suppose it was intended to be a change of environment, with a scenic enjoyable ride. Or perhaps one of the teachers lived up that way and had an association with the area. But my memories are not particularly fond of these times.

I recall feeling uncomfortable. Perhaps the shift away from the known structure of a typical school day. I recall feeling lost and confused. Why were we doing this? Where were we going?

I have always had a good sense of where I am spatially, a sense of direction. As in North is that way, so home is this way. Something to do with growing up in a city based on a square grid street layout. Occasionally getting disoriented, and feeling very confused until I find my North reference again.

Anyway, back to school day trips. I only ever recall these uncomfortable, unpleasant feelings and worries. Where is my lunch – did I remember it? It’s going to get very warm before lunchtime – I don’t like warm sandwiches in summer. When is lunchtime – how will I know when we are allowed to eat? Did I remember my bathers, my towel? Will there be change rooms or do we need to change before we leave?

And then the kids. Bus behaviour. Outside of classroom behaviour. Some enjoy the fun, some revel in the chance to misbehave under less supervision. Bus journeys were a strange thing at that age. We always walked to school, fine weather or rain – the one and half kilometres or so. We rode our bicycles to the local shops. Family car trips to farther afield. Four-wheel-drive trips to the outback. Buses were a foreign experience. As were these day trips.

Am I any better these days? Sometimes the unknowns of a new journey can be terrifying, especially travelling in a foreign country. But I always survive. Often it is even fun. It’s just that, having spent most of my junior years trying to avoid the personal unpleasantnesses of daily life (and for me there were so many), it’s still my instinctive reaction to unfamiliar situations. I don’t like being too hot – too cold, too tired, too headachy, itchy eyes and runny nose from hayfever. These all impact on my ability to enjoy a situation. Am I oversensitive to the impact of these ails? Or is my body so sensitive to the many everyday provocations, that it takes so much effort to keep up and survive?

Missing Feelings.

It’s hitting me now, I miss my Dad
Scared to let go of anything
Associated with memories of him
Susceptible to regret, loss, fear
Low health heightens sad feelings

.

[ It’s been six months since he passed away. And now 29 years after we moved into Mum’s house, she is downsizing and my second home will be demolished. Helping Mum sort and pack for the move into a smaller house, coming across old memories, having to let go, is reminding me of what has been and what is yet to come dealing with Dad’s life and death. ]

A Child Of Yesterday.

There was a place
Where it all began
But that was so long ago
That now could be forever away
from the start –
Another lifetime altogether

Memories of the past
As if just yesterday
Indelible influence

Present presence
Straining against time
Running out of the now

There was
There is
What will there be?

I can imagine
Freedom
Through these chains
As meaningless possibilities
Futility calls me out
And I die
just a little more

20140406-105740.jpg

===

[ This is me getting deeper into my head, than perhaps I ever have before. I am still grasping for answers. So if the words mean something to you, please share with a comment below ]