Happy House Cleaning? Awareness. Appreciation. Action.

Happy Cleaning

Cleaning with Awareness, Appreciation and Action

I’m doing a bit of house cleaning, not the washing floors and dusting kind, but the kind where I scan memories, tease out any recollections and attempt to validate them. Memory is an odd thing, really inaccurate, different parts of me remember differently, the ego sees slights and disadvantages in the action of others from my past, or my child self remembers things that may have been movies or pictures or family tales as if they were real. There is no one to validate these memories and so all I have is an attempt to use self aware honesty to examine these fleeting impressions that somehow amongst all the trillions of things I have witnessed or experienced have embedded themselves near enough to the surface of my consciousness so I can access them. The rest is a wave length in my consciously unremembered past that flowed through my being leaving no discernible impression.

Some things are real, I did have a tin jewellery box as a 6 year old and I kept in it coloured, sea smoothed, glass collected from a pebbly Indian Beach, I did see tropical Islands slide past as I sailed across the Indian Ocean and I think I was adverse to being daubed with strawberry ice-cream by King Neptune as that same ship crossed the Equator. The sun was shining, adults were having a raucous time, having greasy pole fights and suddenly this alarming figure appeared. Dressed in blue and green tatters, with a full Santa beard, three pointed spear a red ruddy nose below beady black eyes. Children were being singled out to receive the royal daub so they could be issued with a certificate saying they had crossed the equator. I have no idea where the certificate is now, but I kept it for a few years, the seaweed, trident and fish decorations around the edges of the parchment rectangle were green and blue contrasting with the beige of the thick paper. It was rolled and tied with a dark blue ribbon. That’s what I remember but I also remember that my younger brother was terrified by King Neptune and I watched him being man handled into the dauber’s range, and somehow I wonder if the memory of my dislike was a memory of his distress or really mine.

So I avoid housekeeping, it brings up stupid questions that I have no answer for and interferes with my sense of now; the being that is sitting on a bed propped up on pillows writing about memory and experiencing the thrill of finding just the right word. I have no idea what or why certain memories are kept and others are beyond recall. Do neurones only have a limited capacity for storage and have to discard irrelevant memories to make room for possible new imprints?

I am a space in time and yet I am really a space in memory, there is no time without the memory of time passing, so I remember enough to feel sure time is passing but even that poses a question about the nature of time as memory, imprinting the continuum unified field that I can’t sense because my senses filters out the reality of space without time.

I’m sitting on my bed a little dehydrated from a bout of diarrhoea (house cleaning). Something I ate on Saturday night at a concert for the super stars Dengue Fever. The band playing at a local club. Phnom Penh authorities gave the band, the only one to achieve international fame, the run around, making them change venues in the middle of a tour, refusing various licences. Fairly standard stuff for the corrupt and arbitrary local officials. The music was a rich psychedelic rock, the lead singer a Khmer girl with a great singing voice. I had a good view from a balcony but my numb backside eventually slid me off my posse and I moved into a greater space of dancing with my friends and watching the big screen view.

So the days roll on and I was asked if I am happy and in the same hour received an invitation to the Happiness & its Causes conference scheduled for 2016 in Sydney. I couldn’t answer the question and even though I know that happiness is desirable, I don’t desire its balm. Yes I have had great moments of happiness, they come and if I remember rightly they go. It is not how I feel that is important it is what I do with what I feel that is important. I have spent years in the pursuit of equilibrium and in balancing my position and posture so that I can retain equanimity in the face of both happiness and her twin sadness. I am now taking bathwater, baby, old memories, old concerns and maybe I am throwing them all on the same pile of manure and detritus as the valuable stuff but remembering is not making sense and that doesn’t make me happy.

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.”