Monday, June 30, 2008

THE WHOLE TRAVEL THING

We are always saying that the world is a very small place - coincidences that happen and people we meet make this true. The day before my 21st birthday, when I was just hanging around in Japan, I met a girl whose 21st birthday was also the next day - on my birthday! She asked me to her party and we celebrated together even though we had never met before or since. Now that was an incredible coincidence. In Japan people spoke to me all the time and some had never seen a non-Japanese person before. It made for a great trip and I did some unbelievable things because I could speak Japanese and I was on my own, with no plans. None. A one way ticket to Japan. Every day was a new experience and I remember thinking one day "where in the whole world shall I go today?" Eventually I left because my second visa ran out and I went to England..

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This next trip is not dissimilar in the whole 'do it alone and go with the flow' thing but I have a lot of plans because of all the wonderful invitations and that is an unbelievable experience, even before I leave home! And the world is even smaller now than it was in 1979 - I will have a laptop and get email and post to the blog whenever I can find a connection. In a sense I will not be as free as I was before because someone will always know where I am - but it will do.

I think people see travel in different ways and as you get older your ideas about it and just about everything change. I want to step into the shoes of the gardeners I visit; I want to see life from their perspectives; I want to see their food gardens as they see them, rather than as a visitor sees them. I want to experience what it is to live their lives, why they do it and share with them the fun and follies of living a bit outside the square. I hope to leave them as friends, good friends, connected through a belief in going softly and taking responsibility for ourselves. I want to eat their food and drink what they drink, with no concern for what I might like at all. I will give them anything I can and share everything I think, and hope we have a good laugh along the way too.

This is not a generally accepted travel plan, I feel, but it is mine. I don't feel any anxiety over plans or things I should take. In fact, if I could, I would just take what I wear on the plane and borrow some clothes when necessary and travel with hardly anything - except all the electronic gizmos! That would be ideal but, again, not what most people aspire to doing, I think. I did this in Japan, after deciding to leave all my luggage at someone's house and just take a small daypack. When it got cold I bought a jumper at a second hand shop. When it got hot, I bought some sandals. I still have both these things and wear them and remember buying them. It will be interesting to see what I end up taking, won't it. Not much, I hope.

After all is said and done, the world is full of people just living their lives, like I do here. Why people get so stressed about travel I have no idea.....maybe I will find out!

Life is good. Take it with you on your journey and share it around.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A CAULDRON OF WORDS

Now I am so far outside the square there is no point looking back - is there ever any point, except for fun? Fun is something that is not too hard to find and that is good and it can be found in the tiniest of things and most unusual and unexpected ways. For me it is often to do with something someone innocently says that sends a whole conversation into quirky and creative places. Maybe this is a family trait - it is certainly something that I enjoy enormously with Alex and Hugh - and whole conversations swerve madly from one direction to another with puns and quips and tangents and a lot of laughing. Certain other people can join in - I can think of maybe 3 or 4 - but it is not everybody's cup of tea. It is great to meet a new person who has the same sense of humour as yourself because it just makes things fall into place so much more easily. Words -so much of my life is about words.

By exchanging emails and only having contact with a person through writing I find it more difficult to see what they are thinking unless they write lots of words. I love reading humorous stuff but that's not what I mean...it's the intended joke which is not necessarily clear or even implied to the reader, that is most difficult to get. I need to see the face and the body language, I think. One friend I write to sometimes is great in this way, because we knew each other first, before we started writing emails. I can see them and hear them in my mind and know what they are saying, even without so many words.

My father used to be great with words and every week or so from when I was very small he would teach me a new word - how to use it and spell it - to expand my vocabulary. He called them awkward words and he would spell out a-w-k-w-a-r-d every time until my mother and I got really sick of it but he never gave up, until the day he died, teaching me new words! The last words he taught me were to do with chemistry - something I never thought he would have known anything about. Amazing how much you don't know about a person, especially your parents, I think. For a bloke that didn't finish school he had a wonderful cauldron of words that he was always stirring and adding to, like spices, and pulling samples out to test and would pull out the interesting ones right in the middle of a conversation about something else, much to the irritation of my mother, whose forte is maths and logical thinking! How they ever became attracted to each other is a mystery to me but it means that my boys and and I have a lot of funny genes all rolling around in that big cauldron, especially when we throw Roger into the picture too.

Having spent a considerable time learning and using other languages, I think my English vocabulary has diminished. However, in the last few months I can feel the recesses of my mind opening up and every now and then a forgotten word will come to me unexpectedly, when I am searching for just the right expression to say something on the blogs. Somewhere in there are all those a-w-k-w-a-r-d words my father taught me and I want to dip into that cauldron of words more often and even add a few spices and extra ingredients myself.

Friday, June 13, 2008

THE EDGES OF THINGS

Sometimes we can spend a lot of our lives amongst things - surrounded and sometimes suffocated by them. Life throws arrows, bouquets and rules at us continually and we make our way as best we can through them, picking up and keeping the best bits and trying to deal with the worst but most of it is just stuff to get done.

People often seek out safety and security and that's fair enough. But, once we have these it is worth peeking out from there and taking a wider look at what is going on. If you are in the right frame of mind and let yourself absorb the knowledge of those who have gone before you, you are ready to become a part of the evolution of thinking that makes humans different from all other species. Philosophies for living, sciences for exploring and arts for creating are all human inventions. To move on through the ages we must encourage stimulating thoughts and greet alternative thinkers not as outsiders but as an aid to the development of ideas and ideals for us and the earth as a whole. After all, as far as we can tell, life only exists here, on earth. It is unique and precious and anything we can do to assist its survival is worth thinking about.

If we want to, we can all be a part of the rolling ball of life; not by always going with it but by giving edges to the ball that will make it swerve and twist and turn as it rolls on through time. These are the edges that will make tangents for future generations of thinkers and shakers to use in the moulding of their own ideas. These are the edges that can turn adversity into potential, despair into hope, chaos into civilisation, and the power of one into the power of all.

Edges are sometimes scary as we don't know where they will lead but it is the not knowing that is the advantage, the not knowing that gives us the energy to find out and the not knowing that gives us a spark of an idea that can turn into something good.

Lately I seem to have either made or come across more edges than smooth surfaces! They are challenging me and changing me as I change them; it works both ways. Sometimes it is clear where to land from jumping off an edge and sometimes it is foggy and the way more treacherous and uncertain. Now I am comfortable with edges and seek them out. I now have the confidence to know that I could deal with almost any outcome of leaving an edge.

Why, when I was a shy little girl have I developed such passions for things now? Why do I care so much for these things that I am willing to go through huge changes in myself in order to further a cause? I have no idea. But every time I take on a new challenge or say yes to something I never thought I would it is a stimulus to keep doing it. Now 'yes 'comes more easily than 'no, thanks' or even than 'let me think about it'. I can always change things and mould things later but now I just want to take that ball and roughen its edges and to be a tiny part of turning the power of one into the power of all and of steering ourselves away from the disintegration of civilisation into chaos, instead using the edges to roll the ball into a peaceful and sustainable future.

That is scary stuff. But I am up for it. Are you coming with me?

Monday, June 9, 2008

UNDERSTANDING THE FOOTPRINTS OF LIFE


What I am wondering is if it is possible to really leave only your footprint and take only photos, on this planet, if you have not spent time in a wild place. I mean, do you need to have a connection with the earth, in order to feel a need to respect and cherish and care for it? This came to me over the weekend when Roger and I went camping down in the rugged coastal conservation park south of Adelaide called Deep Creek. At one time I was sitting there, in the bush, thinking how lost I would feel if I couldn't spend a few days in a place like this, once in a while where I am totally comfortable, with the bare essentials, surrounded by a landscape, a feel and a smell that I know with no evidence of any others having been there.
And I wondered if I could live in another country, such as NZ, where I would not be able to take the power of this connection back to my everyday life, even though the scenery and the mountains there draw me to them so strongly. And does that rooted feeling of belonging to this landscape, here, in South Australia, allow me an easier inroad into being a low impact person and is it actually a prerequisite to understanding and accepting whatever it takes to end your life in an equal balance of giving to and taking from the environment?



These are pretty challenging questions and I don't know if there are any answers. Last night, sitting by the campfire with Roger, after the hardest walk I have done for many years (in painfully steep terrain), I felt so attuned to the experience and so relaxed and content with life. Not far away were other campers, with huge tents, blazing lights, massive bonfires while we had a tiny campfire, a 2 person tent and not much gear - enough to cook on a fire and to sleep cosily in the tent. When we leave a campsite you cannot see we have been there. Which is just as well because often we disobey the rules and set up our camp in a no camping area so as to wake up in the morning enveloped in forest or surrounded by birds and kangaroos, alone. Our fire takes up no more than a 30cm (1 foot) circle and when we leave we bury the ash and dust the ground again with leaves and disappear quietly. If you have never done this, can you feel in your heart the purpose to it?
(We rarely camp near other people or go somewhere popular but we were only an hour and half from the city this time so it was unavoidable.)

If you have never cooked on a fire made by you and struggled with the logistics of it how can you appreciate the luxury of electricity or gas? If you have never done all this with only the light made by the fire itself, why would you ever understand the need turn off the lights at home? If you have never gone to the toilet in the bush, in the dark how can you see the pointlessness of fancy toilet paper?

....The track here goes straight down from where I am sitting to the sandy lagoon below. Then it goes around the corner and straight up the other side....
Once you get this far, it's several hours before you are back to the tent and there are no other routes. If you have never done something challenging on foot how can you appreciate the ease of going by motorised transport?
Really, camping is such a fundamental need in me and it draws me to the bonds of earth, fire, wind and water - those things that make up the essence of my life. If you have never done it, what are you drawn to? Where do you go to recharge yourself? How do you stay in touch with yourself and the world?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

IN PERSPECTIVE


I left home this Thursday morning feeling gloomy and I have returned, not quite skippity-doo, but at least relaxed. As I was walking along the beach, towards the end of my walk, I opened my jacket and put my hands in the back pockets of my pants. Anyone who knows me well will know that this simple thing signifies a few things about me. Firstly, I am hot - nothing remarkable about that, I have always been that way, while everyone else shivers. Secondly, I am relaxed; funny the things we do. Thirdly, I am confident about something. Body language is fun to observe, even about yourself. ( There were lots of these sea sponges here today, see?)
The light at the beach today was interesting and, as I had an inkling it would be, I took my camera. Black clouds looked threatening but barely a drop of rain was squeezed from them into my rain gauge.









It is nice, when you are familiar with a place, to know that nothing can spoil the day when you are there and that just the process of going there puts things back into perspective.Whether it be sunny or grey, windy or calm, hot or cold, I know that when I walk between the Henley and Grange jetties, with one or other of the dozens of dogs I have known and walked with here over my lifetime, life will be good. Very good.



















Wednesday, June 4, 2008

PISSED OFF

This is not a phrase I have ever had cause to use until recently. I hate swearing, but feel that 'bloody' and 'pissed off' have become strong words rather than swear words and, thus, have entered my language by the back door. The other day I was doing my usual rant about inept governments and their lack of environmental awareness and the consequences for all of us. The person I was speaking to said "You are pissed off with everything today." And she was right and I still am and so long as I stay pissed off and not become morose, I feel I am on positive ground, so to speak.

Morose is not a word I would ever have used about myself until recently either....hmmm...is there a theme happening here? But, there you go. After pissed off, closely following is stubbornly morose (I like the italics better). With the whole lack of rain thing, together with the oil thing and the environmental degradation thing and the food biodiversity thing and a whole lot of other things that I tend to care a lot about, it is a slippery slide to morose, from pissed off.

This morning when the garden group came, I had managed to get away from morose and told them I was pissed off, big time, with almost everything, but not them, of course. This idea of spending time gardening together is really wonderful therapy for any one of us who seems a bit out of sorts about something, which is not often but sometimes the case. Things can be thrashed out in the garden, with a bit of digging or pruning or shovelling and 5 women, all with different opinions and not afraid to voice them, and by the end the rough edges have been smoothed over and ruffled feathers preened and a pleasant humour restored. What is more, it is free and you and your garden get a workout at the same time!

The only trouble is that the problems mentioned before don't go away but, rather, get more acute every day as the solutions which seem bloody obvious to me remain elusive to anyone with the power to do something great about them. And so, pissed off returns a little faster than before and so enters morose again. Where do we go from here? I wish I could up and go a long, long way away to a land of milk (well, water, actually) and honey but those fences are always there and always bring compromises. Once again, ignorance would be bliss. Maybe I will just go and pig-out on wattleseed icecream instead!

Monday, June 2, 2008

A NEW IDEA

Ideas are my forte. I just had the idea of sub-titling myself -

"Kate; fortified with ideas and opinions"

Totally. The other one I like is -

"Fearlessly living an authentic life."

So self-indulgent; I can't get used to talking aloud about myself on this blog. Me; whose always been so well-mannered not to talk about myself. "'Don't talk about yourself; always ask about the other person. " My mother said. Sorry Mum.