Thursday, 19 April 2018

An exercise in hope

You can be my new Obama
Be the things he never was to me
Softly assembling new sense unspoken
Abolishing much hierarchy

Meanwhile I'm moving through theme parks
In a [fun/scary]scape of my own making
Recollecting vital pieces of information
Summoning avenues not yet taken

And so I think you're lovely
You keep inspiring me
Thank you for the things you share
They've got me reinventing me

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The power of permitting discussion

Once upon a time, back in the early days of Sydney Girls High, I decided to 'enlighten' one of my classmates on the topic of homosexuality. She emitted silent disapproval and kept her distance from me (until a few years later, when I came out as queer). I was pretty surprised at the time that this Anglo-Saxon Australian didn't agree with my homophobic views, but being exposed to a stance different than mine made me curious as to what in the world she was thinking.
It was through a process of continual engagement with the people and texts around me that I decided to change my mind. It was through empathising with a black American lesbian fictional character at fifteen, that I realised I could relate to her romantic and sexual experiences. Empathising with a black person wouldn't have happened without a sensitive and curious response to the study of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, and having peer groups predominantly made up of Asian girls. Australian liberal democracy took me on, and we won together. Now it's my job to keep the dialogue ongoing. There are people who are full of fear like I used to be, who are struggling to make sense of this multi-faceted world. They lash out, they speak with greater certainty than they feel, they perform hate, because they don't know any different. And yet, we democracy fans make a space for them. At first ensuring our own safety, we then open up a space for their views to be debated, discussed. We engage with as much respect as possible. We allow for difference of opinion. Not because we are weak, but because we can be role models in our open-mindedness. We can help others learn from us.
Homophobic views are intolerant, but intolerance isn't going away. The only way to change someone is to engage with their views, and give them the freedom to come around to your way of thinking in their own time. You'd be surprised how many people change their mind when they realise that there's little incentive to be a hate-monger, and you can live a happier and more peaceful life by opening your mind. But for that to happen, we have to be open to a public sphere where we may at any moment encounter something which hurts our feelings, or undermines our values. There is no easy solution for this, but self-love/self-care practices go a long way. :)

The previously exotic became relatable

Did you know that I'm more likely to be bitten by a poisonous creature in my native Australia than in Thailand? The lush greens of the latter seem relatively tame and innocuous by comparison. It was only through extensive travel through the Kingdom of Smiles, followed by various Google searches, that I discovered this for myself. However as early as several months into my travels, I noticed that I moved through the environment with such a high degree of comfort that I started second-guessing myself. Eventually I felt so at home that I tried relocate to Chiang Mai.

It's been a while since I've written about Thailand. This post began as an exercise in demonstrating why people only relegate to 'exotic' that which they haven't taken the time to understand. But that's pretty easy to sum up. You might find it humorous to note that I have a lingering fear of visiting Ireland on account of Bram Stoker introducing the creation of the vampire for a popular Western audience. I do not wish to be found scary yet sexy. (There are times I want to be viewed as sexy, but, in the words of Robyn Carlsson, "I'm only sexy when I say it's okay.") Yet I'll probably make it over to Dublin sometime soon. I look forward to understanding (as much as I can within a certain time frame). I'm sure that I will get a lot out of it. 

I intend to keep travelling. Much of my 'top destinations' already visited, I can now delve into underrated delights I don't even yet know dwell where they do. I can promote 'peace, love and understanding' through each journey, and enrich my inner world by learning how to emote in a different cultural environment. 


Monday, 2 April 2018

Searching for something, hard to define

Every day I emote with people
Who would will my destruction
If I were just a little weaker

Who do I dare become
In this stultifying emotional landscape?
Hard to gather
Pieces

It's an uneasy truce
Resentment bubbling
Under the surface
Need to push back
At all costs

*

I shy away from controversy
More than you know
Where once I revelled in its transmission
I've built up some resistance

Envisaging a smooth ride
Perhaps unrealistic, for this life
All I know is I
Can't fight them all the time

*

Every fearful eyeful
Take it step by step
Verve long hidden
Resilience long denied
Independence, to my chagrin
All the backbone I can find

All the people
I have been
Their ghosts now
Swirl around me
And in the shadow
Of the quake
There's little left
But to alter

Monday, 26 February 2018

Etched into my being

Desire to express lagging
Is it because I feel out of control?
Or that I keep hearing
My mother's voice in my head
Saying poems should rhyme
And shouldn't carry socially
Unacceptable residue of depression

Come now, I felt so free
I felt something release
When I wrote about that street
You will kill not only my writing
But my soul in the process
But you can't unspool the repressive coil
That has you captive so far

I just want to scream out
Be heard
Sing into the void
Put tinsel up in hard to reach places

Transform, catapult, recover, heal

With the nagging sense of urgency
Of a landmine on the radar
Clasped within my curled fingers
The embodiment of agency


Sunday, 25 February 2018

Post-Hobart

When bell hooks, who is influenced by both Christian and Buddhist teachings, promotes forgiveness in her 'All About Love,' I am inclined to take on the challenge.

You seemed to be ill-aware of all the ways I'd changed.
The anger bubbles up within me. Why do I need it?
But then I can't expect you to have noticed: gradations of change over time
I want you to understand
I want you to love me
I want you to join me: as a feminist activist
I want you to be the soul mate you never were, that I pretended you were at times

You were tired of opening up and being hurt
It doesn't seem worth it to dive back in
In the world of the social
Waiting for a friend to cross your path
Waiting and longing are never enough

Saturday, 10 February 2018

I hardly know what to do with myself

"So I took the path less travelled by/
And I barely made it out alive"

- 'Rebel Heart,' Madonna

37 countries. 2 universities, no degree. Incredibly bright, no official occupation. 3 extended periods of living across 3 different continents. 4, if you count those 5 weeks in Thailand. Hospitalisations in China and Australia. Exalted volunteering. New friends. Lack of financial independence or mobility beyond Australia.

I don't know what to do with myself. I've lived an extraordinary life, and it's probably time to take the plunge and write my first book, but it's scary. Until I learn to earn my own money, I will invariably feel trapped by circumstance. I've been planning to write a book for a very long time.

With every innovative book I read, I feel I can follow in these authors' footsteps. But then that feeling quickly fades and is replaced with self-loathing and a sense of worthlessness.

They say, 'one step at a time.' Build your self-compassion. Keep reading. Yes, keep reading. Books are artificial narratives of meaning to consume, but hey - why not. There's much to be gained in their comprehensive tours around the writerly soul. They help me.

I am facing an existential crisis of sorts. A flight from Sydney to Hobart next week will include me as a passenger. I have concluded that it's almost sort of affordable to move out in Hobart, providing I like it enough. My parents will supplement my income by a small amount. I will be free!

But I fear loneliness. I fear being isolated in a city where attitudes are provincial and I am even more of an eccentric than I am now.

Moving beyond fear is where I'm trying to be at - but first things first: What will my week in Hobart bring into my life, and will I wish it were reproduced for the foreseeable future?

*

Oh, and I really don't want Gary Oldman to win the Best Actor Oscar. I was instinctively repulsed by him long before I learned of his defence of Mel Gibson, or calling Nancy Pelosi a c*nt.

Too many horrible things floating around in my consciousness. You'll forgive the purge.