Pain BeGone

When I was a kid, the last of five, I was sometimes a bit slow tucking in to whatever goodies were on offer. Apparently I used to say in a plaintive voice, ‘Poor me, gokka none.’ (poor me, got none). I think that is quite hilarious and often, when I feel sorry for my self, I say, ‘Poor me, gokka none’, and end up laughing.

The other night I was given (somehow) the instruction to release pain, to disassociate from it. I think I was beginning to define myself according to my pain, according to the weariness and depression associated with All This. As if I want to recognise myself as a person in pain, as if I want other people to recognise me as a person in pain. Why? Habit? Unconscious insanity? Do I want people to feel sorry for me? Why? Perhaps to get something? Sympathy for example, or stuff.

Really, everything is ok for us. Things proceed, we will have a house soon enough, and for goodness sake, it will be new! I get to choose tiles! I must keep my head out of suffering so that I can actually enjoy this once in a lifetime opportunity.

We have plenty of stuff. We even get to give things away because, for example, we may have enough cups, but then someone turns up with a cup or cups that are more beautiful, or that are given with such love that it will always shine from the object. So we receive these gifts and send the ones we with less desirability back to the op shop.

The instruction about pain was that, if I am to be of any use in a world of suffering, then I have to release my attachment, not only from my own pain, but from being consumed by the pain of other sentient beings. Nurses and other medicos learn this, eventually.

Anyhow, the following morning when I got the weeps, I had my first practice of sitting outside my pain, and it was very instructive to have a part of me observing. It took a lot of the heat out of it. We will see if I remember this lesson next week. But, for those workers in psychology who care for me, don’t worry. I do intend to cry when I need to. (Like I could stop!) I am not setting myself up to sublimate pain or be forever wounded.

Here is a Goddess figurine created by the melting glass of some window or other.

(Background artwork by Edward Bassingthwaighte)

How amazing that destruction can create anything at all, let alone beauty! Of course it can, in this universe that (inexplicably) creates order from chaos, and (more explicably) chaos from order. In my art, especially the last abstract exhibition, I explored this. Creating chaos and pushing it towards order, and vice versa. Something that is truly ordered is often as boring as a politician’s rhetoric. It sits on a very thin line and is easily toppled towards chaos, a state wherein it is much more interesting and fertile.

Perhaps this is the lesson of covid, and the other disasters that have and will befall us in this era. Perhaps we, as a species, had become too ordered, too complacent, too greedy for an unsustainable normalcy. Perhaps, if we are to thrive, we must shake up our norms. And I don’t just mean politically. I mean personally also. Face your pain, embrace the disorder in your life, be with the discomfort, and transcend it.

Just back from a little non-essential travel

Except maybe it was essential. We managed to squeeze two nights camping in before things get too tight. And I assure you it was good for my mental health.

Hand held, as far as I could twist, hence the horizon tilt.

We went to one of our favourite spots, a conservation park near Keith. This movie is of dawn on a little hilltop which has been saved from mining by a rare native mint bush. The park includes disused quarries and the first night night some hoonie types making skids and dust. They were not isolating, is my guess, but they were having fun.

Strange times we are living in. I can’t bear the face of our Prime Minister. That’s part of why we ended up camping because we didn’t hear his speech about parks closing. Lucky weren’t we! A ranger came but because there were only two of us and because nobody camps there much, he let us stay. He was such a nice man. He would have loved to see Solastalgia the exhibition. I showed him the beginning of my poem before it cut out from lack of data, and he took the address so that he could watch it later. We had been talking about interconnection from a distance of about three metres. Social distancing is larger at the best of times out there.

There’s no Covid19 in Keith yet. No toilet paper either. But there were cleaning products.

Mostly we are ok. A bit up and down. I noticed while camping a slight distance from beauty that used to feel when I was depressed. But nowhere near as bad or as often. And I have tools these days.

I’m a bit worried about other people though. The situation is a bit like a trauma for lots of people, because there is so much fear. Granted, we are yet to see the worst of it, here in Australia, but I wonder if the degree of fear is sensible. Fear is insidious. Wariness is great, carefulness is absolutely necessary, but fear is really bad for your health, especially over long periods. It can become PTSD that way. I think the obsessiveness of it is lifting. It must. Some humour coming back into social media, I’m pleased to note.

It’s really important to take care of your health. Get some exercise, preferably enough to raise a sweat, it releases those endorphins. Do nice stuff, watch nice stuff. Enjoy yourself as much as you possibly can. Remember your mind is not caged. This is a recipe for all times of course, but especially now.

Edges

The performance poem I wrote for the exhibition, Solastalgia, at Fabrik, in Lobethal. More details about this series of exhibitions, here.

The drawing is mine, drawn with charcoal from my burnt home. It ended up being about 13 metres long on the beautiful wall of this gallery. It is as ephemeral as my home apparently was, and will be washed off that wall eventually. But all kudos to Melinda Rankin (director of Fabrik) for facilitating it.

Also kudos to all of the people involved in the exhibition, especially Jo Wilmot (creator of Solastalgia, The Exhibition) and Evette Sunset who said I mentored her when it was the other way around. We all learn from each other anyway, so who needs labels.

Thanks to my good friend David Salomon of Simply Splendid Productions for recording and creating this movie.

Charcoal Drawing With No Name (detail)

Update

Hi All. You haven’t had an update for ages. We’re living in our ‘timber chalet’ at the back of our daughter’s place. It’s a shed really but called that because she chose to have it lined with wood. Wood is lovely, We lie in bed and let our eyes play with the knots.

The back yard after a huge plastic tarpaulin was spread to dry but became a water slide instead. Great fun and frivolity (grandkids)

It’s strange. Part of me still thinks it is on holiday and will go home soon. When I massaged Ervin’s feet last night, I realised my body was expecting to soon be sitting on a particular stool with my back to a particular cupboard, like I have every night for years. How strange. Perhaps I need to do some sort of ritual so that all of me understands.

Before. They look much the same now!

Presently, on our place, it’s about waiting for the final clean up. No one can make up their mind if we have asbestos or not. First we had, then we didn’t, then we did, and the latest person thinks we don’t. That is sort of indicative of quite a lot of the whole process! It’s hilarious when it’s not not hilarious!

But we will get there.

Next week we have a team of people from Habitat for Humanity, to help clear some of the green matter, mostly the bulk of the crowns of trees that are lying all over the place.

Some of this will make good firewood

The first application for development to build a house is in at the council. They will need to decide if our septic system that has been working like a dream for 33 years needs to be upgraded to some all singing and dancing system. Of course we have no idea how big ours actually is so we have to unearth it.

Once the council is satisfied, they will send the application to the CFS and, if they okay it, then the building specifications will go in. Etc etc.

In the meantime, I apply for grants. A good friend, who is good at these things, is working on applications for grants for both of us, to replace art equipment. Good, because art grants are always ridiculous. I just did one for help controlling weeds and rabbits. Next one about business supplies. I think this last (?) one will be the 10th application! You’d think they could make it easier on people whose brains are barely working.

I’m sure the Watsonia will be weeds again and make another bed like this in spring. The little boy will be another year bigger.

People ask how they can help. It’s so hard to know.

A friend of mine was living in Lobethal after the fires. They had burnt to her back fence but all her property was ok. We talked of the feeling of complete exhaustion in the few weeks after the fires.

Psychologists say it’s the trauma effect and put it all down to chemicals in the body, but I think it’s more than that. I think we draw more from nature than we realise. We all love to spend time under a beautiful tree, but who knows what that really means. Because we are not really separate from anything, perhaps we are fed by nature in ways that we don’t understand and that no one has been able to measure. What if there is some interchange of energy? What then happens when nature has nothing to give? You get exhausted, that’s what.

Anyhow, my friend said people would ask her what they could do to help and, after telling them they could feed her and her son, she told them to get to know their neighbours. Get to know your local community. Make a community. This is the thing that we have felt. Our little town has come together in ways that they never have before. It is very heartwarming and nurturing. I think this is what we must do locally and world wide. We are in for some rough years, in my opinion, and by coming together we will survive. Even if I am wrong about rough years, it will still be a nice thing to do. Let’s not be lonely in our houses, let’s meet all the amazing diversity of humans in the places that we call home.

Perhaps if we were doing this we would not get so paranoid about toilet paper.

So that’s one thing you can do!

Talking community, I had such a lovely sense of it while involved with this exhibition. 400 people at the opening, another 60 (or something) last weekend to hear my and Evette Sunset’s talks. This coming weekend I will share the performance poem again and read some others for the last time in Fabrik, Lobethal at 2.00. Prior to that (12.00 to 1.30) on the hill behind Fabrik, Heidi Kenyon will facilitate the experience of a live sound work composed by regenerating vegetation. Ask in the Gallery if you’re wondering where.

Hana (our daughter) is managing the rebuilding. It will be interesting to see how easy it is to get supplies with China out of action. Good for the carbon emissions, I believe! Han was always mostly sourcing Australian materials anyway.

She has designed a very lovely house, a little larger than our old one that has a studio for Ervin with a covered outside area that can be shuttered. I will have a smaller nook as studio / writing nook. (With the best view in the house!) and of course I can use the rest of the house. It will be well set up for old people and we won’t have to climb into a bathtub to take a shower. We are looking forward.

Someone’s home

In the meantime the earth bursts forth with new growth. It was hard to imagine in the first days that seeds could have survived at all, but the ground is decking itself out with seedlings. A lot of weeds of course, but also things like running postman, a small ground-covering legume that’s I haven’t seen for fifteen years. I guess it’s a pioneer species and it was too rich and covered for it recently. Also tons of seedlings of native fan flower (Scaevola) among others.

The Xanthorrhoea are all sending up their flower spikes. They become much taller than a man, with flowers all the way up. I have been told we are likely to lose some and sadly some are not recovering well. But let’s not give up on them just yet.

Meanwhile the grandkids leave gifts on the doorstep of the chalet to make us feel at home!

.

Our GoFundMe page is still open for about another week. Sincerest thanks to everyone who helped us. It has made, and will still make, a major difference to a lot of things. Love love love love love. We feel loved. I will post about this again soon.

Tears etc.

Four o’clock am. I have spent five out of the last seven nights asleep. That’s pretty good going. However I have been crying a lot for the past few days for no immediate reason. I suppose it is normal that after a month of twenty-four hour hyperboil, that one would fall in a heap. It’s a state of high alertness, of adrenalin overload, of flight and fight.

I’m not the best at organisation at the best of times but that is what one must do, try to keep a track of all the things that government, insurance, grants, well wishers, loved ones, friends, and complete strangers do for you and work out how you need to respond. Also thinking things through, trying to make good decisions. 

But everything is really ok, good even, given the circumstances. The insurance for eg, is much better than expected, with extra from the government and things we didn’t know we were insured for. Clean up for example, and extra costs of building to the new fire rating. We have to get shutters on all windows and doors for example, also dedicated firefighting tanks, changes to our driveway. Apparently there are some provisions for that, and while we will not be replacing the huge sheds that were our rambling studios and wood working workshops, we will have a lovely small house and a shed, and we can dream now. 

I can’t help thinking how we are in this situation precisely because we had something to loose, and my mind goes to all of the people who are sleeping on the street tonight, or holed up in a refugee centre, or running from American leaders’ latest war, or losing the very land they stand upon, the sea claiming it, all that salt water. 

Our threats have been very real and although we can now see, as well as believe that we will be ok, my body and mind have got used to this state of crisis so that now it’s hard to turn it off. Time will do it, I suppose, but in the meantime, tears.

endless blue sky
and from charcoal and fallen leaves
first flower

***

This post decided to crash and destroy itself. It is something that is happening a lot. We even crashed the doctor’s computer. Twice. Tesla said that human emotions can affect electronics. Certainly seems like it.

I think here I commented how I am sharing this because I am one of hundreds going through this and that it is not always talked about. It is a normal reaction to loss, of course, but sometimes people feel very cut off in the midst of it all.

Also I shared how we waver from tears to laughter and other good emotions, and how my Granddaughter made ‘Cat Poo’ for us and served it like a waiter saying, ‘Would Madam like some cat poo?’

Update

I think the adrenaline is over. Exhausted. But here’s an update.

We aren’t looking for rentals in The Hills. We will stay with our daughter Hana and her family down here on the plains. We’re going to (as quickly as possible) seal their back shed and use it as a bedroom. They wanted to do it anyway, eventually, as a studio.

It will work well because we can help with childcare and Hana is going to manage our rebuild. She is very close to being an architect and has put together a wonderful team to work on the design, and to research materials and necessities for building to ‘blaze code’.

I will miss my hills though, and Lobethal. But we’ll be back and forth. After all people commute in the other direction all the time, and in February / March, I will be involved in an exhibition up there. (Save Saturday 15th February evening).

I had already put together a book of poems on the theme of the exhibition. And a performance poem too. Very interesting how pertinent the theme is now. It almost seems like premonition. I only have to change a few words in the performance piece. Odd.

More about that later. First. Sleep. Possibly for a week. Lol. I first need to be able to get through a night. I lie. I had three nights in a row! But up again this morning before the first grey of dawn.

(Of course, this was written goodness knows when, yesterday?)

23/12/2018
09/01/2020 (two weeks later!)

Red Heart

Sometimes I get so angry
with politicians for example
or people who are not yet changed,
who go about their business, about their lives
as if nothing has changed.
I am angry with those who do not allow
their hearts to feel or their minds to see.

I am angry with those who refuse to acknowledge
that this is but the beginning
that the world has turned
that the red heart has awoken
that the red heart is beating in anger 
that the red heart is beating towards change.
There is no going back.
The transmutation has begun. 
This is the lesson of fire.
Keep up, People.

There will be yet more suffering.
There will be yet more sorrow
but eventually your anger will be
as strong as mine
and you will    stand   up.

You will stand up and the world
will stand up with you.
Our hearts will beat with fury.
The red heart will beat with ours
and there will be change.

We will stand together
ignited by anger
and
ignited by love.
How can this not be so?
Love is the seat of our anger
and love will be our healing.

Love will be the sacred water
that drowns ineptitude
that, when the time is right, 
quenches the fires of rage
that brings us back 
to our own beautiful, pumping hearts
that brings us back to each other 
that brings us back to the earth
with its red and vibrant heart

first sprouts

https://www.gofundme.com/f/ankth-ervin-and-belinda039s-phoenix-fund