Thorns (poem/poetry)

Prickly, yes,

A good description,

But no plant evolves thorns without good reason,

And so it is with people.

 

Your thorns have grown from your scars,

Battle wounds,

From everyday skirmishes,

That most people have no comprehension of.

 

Wars that only the few have to fight,

From a very early age,

That tear you down before you’ve even begun to grow up,

That define you, if you let them.

 

Some wear their wounds like a badge of honour,

On display for all to see,

A reason to stay stuck, comfortable and familiar,

But not you.

 

You chose to grow,

To fight back and learn from the battles,

To grow around and past the wounds,

Though, naturally, thorns sprung up from them.

 

And the lessons have served you well,

As have the thorns,

Able to embrace every challenge,

While keeping the fear at bay.

 

Prickly? Yes,

A good description,

But a rose cannot blossom,

Without the thorns that protect it.

Advertisements

Inquisitive (poem/poetry)

There are those who chose to live,

Without an inquisitive,

Nature to any degree,

What they don’t believe,

They cannot see.

 

Believe in every religious story,

Believe in myth and allegory,

Never question,

Trust blind faith,

And watch a good mind go to waste.

 

All good scientists scrutinize,

Every notion they theorize,

Careful claiming absolutes,

In their search,

For the truth.

 

I know which is the path for me,

Analyzing all I see,

Open mind and open heart,

Inquisitiveness,

The place to start.

Memory of Place (Poem/Poetry)

I can show you the place where I’ve lived most of my life,

But it’s not the place in my memory.

 

I could take you to the local shops, where the fruit shop was,

Where the fruit was stacked neatly in rows,

The green tissue paper contrasting,

With the red of the apples it was wrapped around.

And Mr Q would give us a piece of fruit to eat,

While he spun brown paper bags of produce through the air to twist their corners.

The shop is gone, as is the arcade it fronted,

The arcade we weren’t allowed to walk down,

Even to this day I don’t know why, I don’t know what went on there.

 

The chemist is still there,

But it’s not the one I knew,

It’s been rebuilt, on the site of the arcade.

Gone are the quaint double wooden doors,

And the scales where we used to get weighed,

The smell is absent, that medical, chemical scent,

With notes of soap and powder,

That somehow reassured that Mr C could cure any ill,

And would reward bravery with a jelly bean or two.

 

Long gone is old Mr R, shopping strip handy-man extraordinaire,

Whose wife couldn’t have children and who had no-one of his own,

So adopted all his neighbour’s kids instead,

And would give us rides on the mechanical kangaroo outside the milk bar,

He’d buy us a Cadbury Cub bar or a chocolate Yogi Bear (eat the hat and tie first),

Or a plastic spaceman of orange drink,

That he would cut the top off with his pocket knife,

Or a cup of milk, from the vat,

That could only be reached with the long handled dipper.

 

Of course, there was more than one milk bar, three or four within walking distance,

And the funny thing is, we didn’t buy milk from any of them,

Milk and bread were delivered to our door daily.

Milk bars were for treats; icy poles, chocolate, lollies and milk shakes,

We were allowed to walk to the closest on our own, with our few cents to spend,

But not to the one up the back, run by red haired ruffians, we were told,

We weren’t to go there alone.

All but one are gone now, put out of business by convenience stores and supermarkets,

And the shops have been replaced by doll-house-sized town houses.

 

Yes, I can show you the place where I’ve lived most of my life,

But it’s not the place in my memory.

Your Instructions (Poetry/Pantoum)

Be brave, keep fear at bay,

It will want to consume you, do not let it.

Keep moving, forward or back,

There is no shame in a wise retreat.

 

It will want to consume you, don’t let it.

Follow your heart, listen to your gut,

Keep moving, forward or back,

Do not overthink your decisions.

 

Follow your heart, listen to your gut,

Be true to yourself and your beliefs,

Do not overthink your decisions.

Be sure to keep an open mind.

 

Be true to yourself and your beliefs,

Keep moving, forward or back,

Be sure to keep an open mind,

Be brave, keep fear at bay.

 

Mirror of Society

I recently heard a commentator describe Social Media as a mirror of society. I don’t think any comment could be further from the truth. Rather than reflecting society, social media is a glass that magnifies the very worst of society and human nature, and worryingly, the kind of behaviours and attitudes that now are commonplace on social media platforms, are slowly seeping into the real world and changing society for the worse.

The fact that most social media platforms allow members to remain anonymous by using fictitious screen names means that many will say things and behave in ways that they would never have the courage to in a real world situation. Aggression, hate, bigotry, misogyny and more is all delivered on a regular basis. Even if not using a veil of anonymity to spew their vitriol, the perceived distance that cyberspace provides, often emboldens some to behave in ways they would not in any other setting. Sitting, typing at a keyboard, words to an unknown, unseen person who they may never encounter in any other environment provokes behaviour they would not have the courage to display anywhere else. Often when these people’s actions are exposed and called into question in the offline world, they respond by saying their behaviour was out of character. That’s not strictly true, it was just a small aspect of their character never normally seen, made large by the social media bubble.

Bullying has run rampant since the rise of social media. No longer is it confined to school yards and workplaces, now you can bully and harass twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and once more that distance, that perceived disconnect that cyberspace allows, means that it is more prevalent and severe than it would be in other situations. It is also made public, given an audience and often that audience is encouraged to join in without the real effects of their actions being seen. To see someone harassed in the real world, one may have sympathy for the victim. In cyberspace it’s easy to perceive it as a victimless act. It’s just words on a computer screen after all.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion – a right in any society that values free speech – but again, the rise of social media has led to a lot of people believing they are entitled to impose that opinion at every opportunity and often in the worst possible terms. It’s also easier to find like-minded people meaning that hateful, intolerant and bigoted opinions often garner more weight and validity, and groups and organisations have a means of growing, publicising and politicising their views. It’s also easier for those with evil intentions to find their victims, all without leaving the comfort of their own home. Social media can be a hunting ground for many – from scammers and criminals using information gleaned from profiles, to paedophiles using it to groom their prey.

Social media is responsible for the rise of the selfie. In the past, people mostly took photos of other people and places as a memento, a reminder of a certain time, but now we photograph ourselves to share online. Activities, holidays and outings are no longer to be simply experienced or enjoyed, now they must be photographed and shared online. Concerts and performances must be filmed and uploaded. We no longer just enjoy the moment or savour the now, it seems everything is about the photo opportunity.

Perhaps it’s not surprising then, that there is a rise in vanity and narcissism. The perfect selfie now seems to be a life goal for some, posing and pouting their way through their days in pursuit of the perfect photograph. Many use filters and editing programs to airbrush their perceived flaws before posting their photos. Rather than just posting as a means of sharing who they really are with friends and family, many seem to use social media as a way to project a perfect image of themselves, a perfect life. Photos and activities are posted as means of almost skiting or bragging, of exaggerating their contentment and happiness. This of course has flow on effects with rates of depression increasing with social media use for some. Low self-esteem and body image issues are also increasing. It’s hard to live up to a perfect profile in real life.

Most people know that if they use the internet they are sacrificing some of their privacy, but by using social media, we are sacrificing almost all of it. Even if keeping profile settings on private and providing very little in the way of information about yourself – even if using a fictitious screen name – vast quantities of information is tracked and collated and often shared with other sites. Information enough to be able to paint a clear picture of who and where you are, personal relationships, likes and dislikes and almost everything else. Information is power and is highly sought after. Advertising can now be targeted to each user increasing its effectiveness. This is why social media is incredibly profitable for some and social media companies are now some of the heavy-weights of the corporate world.

Social media, of course, is not all bad. There are many useful and positive aspects, but like the internet itself it is a double edged sword and the negative edge often appears to be the sharpest on the blade. Far from merely reflecting society, social media is playing an active hand in shaping it, having created, distorted or exaggerated many behaviours which are now starting to become prevalent in real world interactions. Many people appear to be more aggressive, intolerant, rude, less caring, more superficial and vain. So, perhaps we should think twice before we share every thought in 140 characters, should focus on being a better person rather than having the perfect profile pic and eat our food rather than photograph it. And don’t get me started on the cats.

Down the Lane

Laneways aren’t like other paths. They’re special. Magical.

I have always lived in an older area, so there are lots of laneways around. I used to walk past them on the way to school, on the way to the shops or friend’s houses. And of course, sometimes I would walk down them, or up them. They are gaps between properties, between buildings. But they always feel like more than that. Like gaps between worlds. Or even other worlds themselves. They are always different from the streets at the top or bottom of them. They are always darker, colder and quieter. And some are always windy, even on a still day. They feel different, like you could be in another world. And they are dangerous. We were always warned about them. Watch for strangers lurking near the lane, and if you see a stranger walking towards you, turn around and walk back to the street. And never play in the lanes (though we did).

And so, with these warnings echoing in your head (even now), you’d walk down (or up) the lane with a feeling of anxious anticipation. What would be waiting at the end? Would you even reach the end? And what would you come across on the way? Fairies, pixies and elves? Wolves in girl’s clothing? Would the path change, become other and lead you into another world? Anything seemed possible. So much so, that we used to dare each other to walk down (or up) the lane alone. Sometimes we’d dare ourselves. A lane was an adventure, waiting to be had.

There are laneways in the city too and most of these are fairly ordinary, just like smaller streets, but there are a few, tucked away, off the main streets that carry that magical feeling. Well there were anyway. Ones that I’d visit as a child and once you’d stepped into them, you could feel it. The sights, sounds and smells of the city seemed duller somehow. The shops that populated these lanes felt different too. They were small, dark, specialty shops, run by interesting people, selling interesting things. We used to go to a café in one of these lanes. It was called Mr Gordon’s. It was tiny, and dark and every wall was covered in art, which was for sale. It felt otherworldly. I loved it. Even when I was older and worked in the city, some of the lanes that led to the alleys that led to the backs of the buildings where I worked had that magical feeling. The alleys didn’t. The alleys were just dirty and dangerous for a completely different reason. But the lanes… I don’t know if they still exist or if they do, are still magical. I hope so.

The lanes where I live are still there, and even now when I walk past them I can still feel their magic. I still hear myself daring me to go into them. The lanes are still an adventure. Where the gaps between worlds are blurred. Where anything is possible.

I think I need to go for a walk.

Lanes 7 (600x800) (2)

 

 

Things

Today, I’m making a stand for things. Things as in things – objects, items, material possessions. This is partly because I’m in the very long process of cleaning out my things and those of people no longer here and partly because I’ve read a couple of those inspirational memes that do the rounds every so often. You’ve probably seen them, the ones that say things like ‘use things not people, love people not things’, and ‘the most beautiful things in life are not things, they’re people places, memories and pictures, feelings, moments, smiles and laughter.’

While I absolutely agree that one should not use people, I think that some things are worth loving, and while yes, people, places, memories, pictures, feelings, moments, smiles and laughter are beautiful, things can be too.

We certainly live in a society where far too many people place too much importance on material possessions, but I also think that some things deserve to be considered important. I feel that some may even be more important than people, and it seems some people agree with me, enough to be willing to risk their lives – or in some cases willing to give their lives – to protect these things. Things that they deem more important than their life: great works of art, religious iconology, archaeological artefacts, books and great architecture. These things are irreplaceable. They show the genius of those who have gone before. Things, the likes of which may never be seen again. Things that inspire. Things that shine a light on the past and perhaps even give us guidance into our future.

I have trouble parting with some things, and it’s not necessarily because I love them. Part of it is because I appreciate how lucky I am to have things. I don’t come from an affluent family, so anything I got was gratefully received and truly wanted. I was never the sort of child to often break or lose things, so I still have a lot of things from childhood, a lot of personal history. I also hate to waste things, so when cleaning out I need to know that they will be re-housed, re-used, or re-cycled. But it’s also more than that. I have trouble parting with some things because of what they represent. Each thing – even mundane objects – has a whole history of memories associated with it. Where and when I got it, who gave it to me, what it meant to get it. And some objects connect us to others, especially those no longer with us. We love some things because someone we loved loved them. And sometimes it even feels as though a thing has somehow absorbed a little piece of the soul of the one who loved it, and when we see it or hold it, it’s like seeing or holding them. It connects us to them. And surely, that’s a thing worth loving.