Thursday, September 23, 2004

Recognising cloud formations

deftly, you deflect and
putting back in my lap
the question that is, in reality,
not a question about you
but rather, a reflection of myself,
remain dry.

what was it you were saying
this morning, pre-deflection,
about recognising cloud formations
in others?

June 2000

Treading Water: A modus operandi

Treading water has become my 2004 modus operandi. To a friend, I described it as wasting time. She generously reframed this wasting of time and referred to it as treading water. Treading water implies a conscious, deliberate activity. One is seldom unconscious when attempting to prevent oneself from drowning. Wasting time implies inactivity. Doing nothing. A peculiar expression. How does one do nothing? That aside, it would seem I can actually choose. Think of myself as one or the other. Active or inactive. Conscious or unconscious. Which is strange. Either way, the actual behaviour amounts to the same thing. Doesn't it?

But even now, I am aware of a definite pull towards perceiving myself as a conscious and deliberate treader of water. It’s a seductive perspective. Especially if it allows me to feel more comfortable with temporary withdrawal from the wider world. And after all, I do know what I’m doing. Don't I?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

More Than A Botanical Phenomenon

Kowhais will be flowering on the ridge. Deep yellow cups, hanging from slender branches almost bare of leaves. An annual playground for tuis. The valley will be disguised in camouflage. Splotches of the same yellow, along with various shades of green.

I may no more see the ridge in its September glory but imagine that kowhai will always represent for me something more than a botanical phenomenon.

Seasons (lately revised)
Golden kowhai cups
Once punctuated a
Holding of hands

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


For Jim

(Being uncertain as to his tipple of choice, amongst other things, I take poetic licence in the semi-light)

Leaving one world for another and
Upon arrival, he, finding no scarcity
Of boozy chums, old and new,
Thrusts hands deep into pockets
Suddenly swollen large
And erupts into irrepressible laughter,
Declaring the Guinness ‘very, very good’.

September 2004

Footnote: some winters deal a hard blow

Monday, September 20, 2004

Once, I Held The Sun

A world framed by constraint
Observed through glass:
Trees, silvered
Denuded by winter’s absence of leaves
Plucky lemons
Hung like yellow Christmas decorations

Bugger Christmas!
The view through Dufy’s window is so free.

September 2004

Friday, September 17, 2004

Human Imperfection: The thread that binds

The callous nature of personal judgment – one human being against another – is brought to my attention again. How all too easy it is to exercise, what psychologists have termed, The Fundamental Attribution Error. That is, the human tendency to attribute the ‘imperfection’ of others to internal dispositional factors.

We tend to have a default assumption that what another person does is based more on what kind of person they are rather than the social and environmental forces at work on that person. This general bias to over-emphasise dispositional explanations for behavior, at the expense of situational explanations, is far less likely to occur when evaluating our own behavior. We are much kinder to ourselves. Our own ‘imperfections’ are attributable to external situational factors. This is what we like to believe.

What is it about our own human ‘imperfection’ that threatens us? For surely that is at the root of this fundamental error. We do not accept our own ‘imperfection’ and so we mask it from ourselves. Explain it away to others. "My car would not have spun out and hit the lamppost if it hadn’t been raining". (Never mind the fact that I was driving much too fast for the road conditions).

It seems plausible that the ‘imperfection’ we can not accept within ourselves will induce powerful judgmental feelings towards those others whose lives demonstrate the same ‘imperfection’. Why admit to our own ‘imperfections’ when we can judge others for their’s instead? It is a safe option. Involves much less discomfort.

If we are lucky, we have at least one person in our life who forces us to look at ourselves with an objectivity we might not ordinarily choose. Someone who peels away our mask. Holds a mirror to our face. And a candle. In the depths of ourselves, we respect them for their frankness. Although we may hate them at the time.

Ultimately, of course, we choose to see those things we wish to see. Some things we will eventually choose to confront. Others, we may remain blind to all our lives. And is this not simply an example of the human 'imperfection' we do not tolerate in others? The thread that binds us together in our humanity. The reminder that, beneath our carefully chosen clothing, we all consist of flesh and blood and bone. Perhaps it is this knowledge that makes acceptance of our own 'imperfection' so difficult to acknowledge.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Shallowly Buried Ghosts

How shallowly buried, these ghosts of the past. Summoned awake, six months down the track. One, at the other end of the phone line, proffers caring and the promise of a future visit. I feel moved, more than I might have imagined. The other, following a series of coincidences, comes to see the half-dead 2CV lying in the garage. Brings with him the guitar with which he is inseperably associated. During this unprecedented visit he sits in the bedroom, eyes closed, playing the Flamenco that comes more easily than conversation. The bizarre quality of the event does not pass by me unnoticed. I wonder, did he notice the absence of espresso and bread and olive oil; inferred appreciation for his gift of music? Was he aware I was not actually being inhospitable?

Sunday, September 05, 2004

A Bud Opens Behind My Back

This morning, in the course of my daily routine, I glance up at the dresser in my bedroom. I notice a pale blue arrangement of yellow-tongued petals. An iris bud has opened behind my back. I admit surprise. Thought it had been picked prematurely. Would remain unopened amongst its proud companions. Eventually rot away. Apparently not.

It strikes me as one of life’s mercies. Not simply because energy already spent on development was not wasted. But also, because the opening defied my prognosis. There are times when it is very reassuring to be proved wrong. An almost imperceptible lesson in the fickle nature of improbability.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Swept Into The Dizzyingly Seductive Orbit

It is an interesting exercise to consider a third person observation of events I had only hitherto perceived with inevitable subjectivity. Well, in actual fact, that’s not entirely accurate. I had already commenced working on a retrospective dissection of these events, with the increased objectivity that only distance affords. Still, the view through someone else’s eyes offered another window on a complex puzzle that has only recently begun to unravel and assume greater clarity.

Perhaps what I find most interesting and reassuring about this third person observation, is that it possesses a resonating echo of newly hard won insights. Confirms my own fresh and liberating understanding. While distance affords increased objectivity, it can also veil reality with an opaqueness that is potentially treacherous. Self-deceptive. And I want to avoid that.

(Yes, I too, retrospectively perceived the 'orbit': ‘Bright new toys, swept into the whirling, swirling, dizzyingly seductive orbit and later, spit out when they cease to amuse’).

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Contemplating Deferral

I feel surprised to be considering deferring my current Counselling Theory paper until February next year. More than a little disappointed in the complete lack of motivation I am experiencing. The vast amount of reading I need to complete before undertaking the next assignment, due in three weeks, leaves me cold. No, worse than that. Leaves me frozen.

It’s not difficult to conjecture about possible causes behind the potent psychological barrier standing between me and completion of another paper. Effortless to berate myself for being simply slack. I’ve worked consistently hard the past twenty months. Potentially, this knowledge could provide the permission I seem to be seeking (from whom I wonder?), in order to take a breather for six months. Equally, it could be fuel for self-flagellation.

A decision to defer seems so significant somehow. It probably isn't. I know that the worst I might suffer as a result of such a decision is a sense of having failed. Whatever that means. Could I live with that? I shall soon find out.