Check ignition, and may God’s love be with you



EL ANATSUI, from the exhibition at Carriage Works


EL ANATSUI, from the exhibition at Carriage Works

I’ve spent some time in Sydney with my family and friends, the days were hot and cold. A strange summer with its Christmas land fill excesses, party after party frazzled parents and the assault of red Santa colours on posters and wrapping paper. I may sound disingenuous with regard to the material ritual of Christmas and that is because I am.

I have been living in Cambodia and will return there soon, to a country assailed by poverty and a right wing government. People in searing heat work long hours in big breathless markets, Tuk-tuk drivers work all the hours God gave them to support their families. A wedding can cost a  large fortune, so it is difficult to marry in the traditional way and Khmer people love their traditions. The tradition of white rice and adding sugar to everything has given most older Cambodians, Sri Lankans and Indians type two diabetes. Cambodia is a Buddhist country mainly so Christmas is not big but the tinsel and red decorations are there in an attempt to bling up the shoppers. The tradition of the West has given us an epidemic of debt, excess consumption, obesity, and diseases related to sedentary lifestyles. Traditions can suck the life blood out of us and I really think they are.

The tradition of Christmas means families reunite and can also mean that those without support are depressed, alone and of course the suicide rate goes up. My last post was about the health giving benefits of connection. I have re-tweaked those thoughts on my immanent departure and realise on reading my mentor Thich Nhat Hanh that, “To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love.” I return to my simplest precepts, I mindfully breathe when I notice that my thoughts are taking over my mind space and practice Patangali’s suggestions for the good life: be friendly, practice compassion, practice dispassion and non envy.

David Bowie’s passing has put us all on notice, that time is short, and life is too short to hold onto thoughts that can make you ill. The creative muses in each of us are always ready to erupt. The problem is that if they have been malnourished they wither into pathology and disease and life becomes a lurch from one painful moment to the next. A survivor of life’s vicissitudes take pleasure in the small joys and accomplishments of each day. These are the food of the muses. You are under no obligation to become a creative genius but merely to satisfy your own creative appetites is enough. Life does not need to justify itself, but it’s a whole lot more fulfilling when you can express the strange and wonderful love within yourself and connect to your spirit within.

I wish you all well in 2016 and may you love within yourself and extend it to this beautiful little planet. Say to yourself daily, “I truly love myself.”