Saturday, December 19, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Reception please

I once sat with my hand on it to ensure it worked. On another occasion I put sticky tape on it, and that worked temporarily. Sometimes, I simply endured it the way it was:annoyingly sporadic and frustrating. I considered buying some equipment to permanently fix it, but I baulked because it didn't quite make sense to me that a particular piece of technology would do the trick. I just didn't want to spend money on a possible solution.

I love cricket, and last Thursday, Big Bash 5 started. Covered live on Channel 10, the first match of the tournament featured my team, Sydney Thunder. I donned my lime green cap and settled on a beanbag in front of the television with a Cowboy on the rocks buzzing with anticipation.

In the beginning the reception was okay with only the odd interruption here and there. I hoped it wouldn't get worse, but it did. I became desperate. I had to be able to watch the game. Had to. I tried the sticky tape trick again, and also considered sitting with my hand on the cable. However, the first time I did that I was watching a thirty minute soap opera. A T20 cricket match lasts for three hours.

Then a great thing happened. I found another cable hidden in a drawer which when connected, once and for all solved the reception problem. Game on baby!

Victory was mine. I rejoiced, and to add icing to my cake, the Thunder won the match and in doing so recorded their first ever win over their opposition: Sydney Sixes.

Today I celebrate a little thing called an antenna cable. When you have you had a technical problem with a television which very nearly destroyed your life?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Soft Close

I'm a little late with this post, but I had a wee drama with my computer. When I say a wee drama, I actually mean a world destroying catastrophe: my world that is, not the whole world.

I upgraded to Windows 10 and discovered to my horror that all my files had apparently been wiped. I checked the hard drive and I had 610GB free space out of my 683GB available space, and my files were nowhere to be found. After following online help instructions I discovered a folder called windows.old and inside that, was directed to one called Users. This was where my files were supposed to be, Alas, there was nothing, nothing but empty folders. In shock, I packed up my laptop and raced off to the local computer repair shop.

Unfortunately, it was closed: open only Monday to Friday. I then sped to the next closest store which, to my dismay now housed an employment agency. On to the next suburb where I imagined there might be a computer a store. No such luck. Then I remembered a locally famous shop which frequently advertises on the radio and has a very well known, and annoyingly catchy jingle.

As I entered, I received a cordial greeting and an offer of assistance to which I replied "Please tell me it's not the end of the world."

15 minutes later and without having to part with so much as a brass razoo, my files had been found: all of them.  My relief was indescribable. My gratitude such that I had offered the guy a free copy of my book, but he was a fantasy or tech manual kind of guy, so he graciously declined. 

Speaking of relief: today I am celebrating soft close drawers, cupboards and toilet seats. What a great innovation! We've only lived in our current home since August, and I've never had a home with all these silencing wonders before, so I am still thrilling at this very clever invention. Soft close? Yes!!

Have you ever had, what appeared to be a computer disaster, and then had it quickly and cheaply fixed? Or a computer crisis which was an expensive and extremely troublesome one? Do you love soft close seats and drawers?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Celebrate the small things: Fairy Tales

If I had to choose a favourite movie genre, I would say romantic comedy. There's just something wonderful about the warm and fuzzy feelings generated by a well made blend of comedy and romance. The first stirrings of love, often looking more like irritation than attraction, and often as a result of chance or happy circumstances, blossom until the inevitable complication interrupts our journey to the much longed for happy ending.

The popularity of romcoms is due to the desire we all have for love. The need to love and be loved, is a basic and powerful driver in our lives.

In class yesterday we watched While You Were Sleeping which is a classic of the genre, in my view. I love it. My students loved it too and commented that it was nice to watch a film which made them feel so good. Although I had to explain "warm and fuzzy" to them, they understood the dream: our love affair with fairy tales.

Love is a small word to describe a force which really does make the world go around. Fairy Tales are cute little stories which mean so much to so many people. Today I'm celebrating them, and their significant and universal impact on society.

Did you have a warm and fuzzy moment this week?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

It'll All Make Sense When I Get There

I've been challenged a lot of late about my faith which some say is futile. Accused of intellectual dishonesty because I choose to believe in and follow Jesus Christ when he is allegedly no more real, and certainly no more a god, than the tooth fairy, I have simply stood on the reality of my experience of God in my life. Apparently my experience is not enough to build my faith on.

The evidence I'm told is heavily against the Bible being the Word of God, and God himself, if he exists is clearly not worthy of anything other than contempt based on what the Bible says about him. I'm feeble minded and weak willed because I need to believe in a fairy tale as a crutch, or so I'm told.

I gave my life to Christ nearly 30 years, and nothing has happened to me since then to make me doubt for a second that God is real, and that I need Him in my life. There is much I don't understand, but I don't feel the need to know everything.

I do not pay lip service to live and let live: I respect everyone's right to the faith/religion/spirituality they want. The bottom line is we all believe or disbelieve what we want to believe or not believe. In the light of the current hysteria about religious fundamentalists, I can only shake my head and wonder why people are surprised by evil, and why they can't separate the radical minority from the moderate majority.

There is much I don't understand, but I don't need to have all the answers. I know this however, that Christ is the strength of my life, and I will walk with him for the rest of my days on earth...until he calls me home. Until he takes me higher.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: iPod Shuffle

It takes a bit of work to keep in shape, especially if you are like me: heading towards 50 and not willing to go on any sort of diet. I've exercised reasonably regularly over the years and am pretty satisfied with my weight and overall physical condition.

Of the many modes of physical exercise I have utilised, running has been a constant. It's odd because I don't really like it and it has certainly not become any easier with practice. I'm still tired and leg weary from the first step to the last. Running isn't fun, but I persist because I reckon it does me good. The end result is what motivates me to throw on my runners early in the morning and hit the road.

Of great assistance in this discipline is a little friend who comes with me. My children gave me an iPod shuffle (the only Apple device I own or intend to ever own) for Christmas several years ago, and it provides the beats for my foot pounding exertion. Loaded with an awesome selection of songs I love from band such as Switchfoot and As I Lay Dying, plus everything with crunchy guitars in between. I don't always listen, mind you. Sometimes the music is simply there in the background, calming my mind and allowing me to think. I couldn't punish myself this way without my iPod shuffle, so today I give thanks for this clever little device.

Do you exercise? How? How often? Do you listen to music while you do it?

P.S. Creeping Death by Metallica provides the best beat to match my gait.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Eight migrants and a cricket bat

Cricket is the national sport of Australia, and I am a cricket nut. I've loved the game since I was boy, and with each passing year I love it more and more. So, it seems only right to me that I should introduce this game, which in truth is so much more than just a game, to my students regardless of whether they are interested or not.

Most of my adult migrant students know nothing at all about cricket, but as I explained to them, cricket is a part of Australian culture. Even those who (gasp) don't like it, still know about it and understand its significance.

I developed a five week unit of study on cricket which culminates with a trip to the local park to actually play a game. I do this with my students every year in November as the international cricket season begins here.

Today was culmination day, 2015. I had eight ladies from Iraq, Cook Islands, Vietnam, Serbia and China. After some warm up drills we ripped right into a test match battle of Ashes like proportions, and it was a lot of fun. Not a great deal of skill was on display, but there was plenty of enthusiastic participation, and lots of laughter.

I love my job, and today was just another reminder why.

Photo sources:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What the Magpie Lark taught me

I was outside, enjoying a cigarette in the sunshine, with a pleasant zephyr blowing, when I spied a Magpie Lark attempting to fly into a closed window. It was sitting on the fence with its mate watching on. It had five goes at entering the window, and each time, merely butted its head and staggered (if you can stagger in the air) back to the fence.

Observing this display of bird-brainery, I was reminded of a common definition of madness: to repeat the same action over and over, and expect a different result.

Stay with me here. I guy came into church last Sunday roughly five minutes before the end of the service. He carried a burger and a Coke, and was wearing sunglasses and a cap. Unfortunately, I made a quick call on this guy without knowing a thing about him. I shouldn't have cared about his late arrival, with or without food. I should have been glad he came in at all. I don't like being judgemental and I try not to be, but it's a little tricky fighting habit sometimes.

Back to the Magpie Lark. I edged a little closer and saw the bird make it's sixth attempt, but this time when it reeled away following the collision with the window, it had something in its mouth: a bug of some sort. The bird was not stupid. It was determined.

Moral of the tale? Get your facts straight before leaping to conclusions. When have you jumped to an erroneous conclusion?

P.S. Daniel Craig did not visit my church.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Movie Review: The Flowers of War

Christian Bale plays an accidental hero named John Miller in this film set during the fall of Nanking in 1937. As the Japanese troops march in and take over the city, Miller, an America mortician and drunkard finds refuge in a church with a group of school girls. They are later joined by a group of prostitutes from the nearby red light district.

The events in this exciting and tragic tale are based on actual events, but the story is quite fantastic so I wonder how much poetic licence has been taken. Nevertheless, it is a compelling and tragic tale with another wonderful performance by Bale.

Rated MA, the advisory says it features strong violence which in my view is a bit of an understatement, and it also contains rape scenes which I couldn't watch. The Flowers of War is in English, Japanese and Chinese (with English subtitles for the latter two) and is a suspenseful, shocking and heart warming film.

Watching it gave me some understanding of the historical antipathy of the Chinese people to the Japanese.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Celebrate the small things:Trivium and the cool

I love the space inside my car. I love the the look of my car too. Despite its flaws, it's a beautiful thing and it drives well, but it's the space inside that I really love. I love air conditioning, heavy metal music and privacy. These three loves of mine, which are not incidentally my only loves, unite in the space inside my car.

It's hot today, but not inside my car because the a/c is running. In Waves by Trivium is playing and it's the only sound inside my car. I'm alone so no one can tell me to turn it down. This a peaceful place, albeit a mobile one. I'm cool, comfortable and entertained. It's easy to make me happy.

The song is called Of All These Yesterdays, and it speaks of rage  burning the pages of the book of the past, and the ashes covering us. It's a sad, but beautiful song.

These are the little things I'm celebrating today.

The Magnificent Seven

Each Thursday I show a movie in my English language class. This is for educational as well as entertainment purposes. I have a data projector so I play the film on the wall and run it with subtitles. During the film I write questions which I put on the board for the students to copy down and then attempt to answer. As we go through the answers to the questions together, we discuss the film. Not surprisingly, this is a popular activity.

Over the past five weeks or so I've playing movies from my collection: my favourites. I began doing that after a student rebellion against the Australian television police drama, Blue Heelers. Despite numerous complaints I persisted and encouraged them to get to know the characters and get used to the language: genuine Aussie lingo complete with more idioms and slang than you could poke a stick at.

Alas, it was too much for them, and I was presented with a petition to end the Blue Heelers experiment. I heard the voice of the people, and gave them what they wanted.

Today, we watched The Magnificent Seven, and despite initial grumbling about viewing an old film, the overall reaction was positive. I asked them all to choose their favourite one of the seven, and to explain why they choose him. We had quite a bit a fun with that.

Have you seen The Magnificent Seven? Did you like it? Who is your favourite character?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Launching my River

Although local media ignored it, and the masses stayed away, Monday night's official launch of my latest novel, A Muddy Red River, was a blast. Dapto Library hosted the event which was my first official book launch. I entertained the audience with a talk titled Why Aussie Men Love Asian Women.

The talk included two selected readings from A Muddy Red River. It was the first time I had read my work out loud to an audience, and I liked it. The talk was followed by a discussion, and some selling and signing of the aforementioned and perhaps one day best selling novel.

I dream. I dream of big things. I dream of success. I dream of many, many, many people reading my work. I dream of touching people with my words. I dream therefore I write. I've nearly finished the first draft of my next novel, Lovesick. I have big dreams about it as well.

What do you dream of?

P.S. I'd like to have more members in my group:Aussie Blokes who love and marry Asian Girls  If you know anyone who might be interested please let them know.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Going, leaving, gone.

After a relatively short and fiery sojourn in the Australian Alliance of Atheists Facebook group, I pulled the pin this week. 

I was often frustrated when trying to discuss issues, but I could have endured the frustration. For example, people suggesting that there is no evidence outside of the Bible that there ever lived a man called Jesus Christ, and me pointing out that a first century Jewish historian called Josephus wrote about Jesus, and them saying Josephus' writing was forged or faked. 

I also could have put up with the name calling and disrespect, which I mainly dealt with by blocking the offenders. However, I could no longer stand the negativity. In fact, I began to feel poisoned by it, and I was concerned about the very offensive memes being posted on AAA, appearing in the feeds of my Facebook friends. For atheists to deny that there is a God is one thing, but to suggest that nothing good at all comes from religion, is really wrong and stupid.

I made some friends on AAA, and I look forward to continuing  online interactions with them, but today I am celebrating the small action of clicking a button to leave a group.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

I am a Deluded Troll.

I'm a Christian: a follower of Jesus Christ, and unshamedly so. Recently I joined a Facebook group called the Australian Alliance of Atheists (AAA). My purpose is doing so was to engage with Atheists in order to gain a better understanding of them. 

Atheism is easily understood, being defined as disbelief in the existence of God or gods, but atheists are a diverse group of people. They may share common disbelief, but the practical outworking of this disbelief depends on individual personalities, values and experiences. This is true of all people, regardless of what they believe in, or don't believe in.

Generally speaking, there appear to be two broad types of atheists. Calm and polite ones, and angry, argumentative and abusive ones. The former disagree strongly with religion, but respect the right of all people to believe what they want to. The latter completely dismiss any religious beliefs as silly fairy tales,and are fond of abusive language and highly offensive memes. Hence I have been frequently called deluded and told to leave the group. Both types believe very strongly that religion is destructive, and that its abolition is the only hope for humanity.

I have made some friends on AAA, and am enjoying discussions with them. Those who are abusive and disrespectful, I simply block. I should note here that AAA admin has contacted me and asked me to let them know who I am blocking and why. To their credit, they are keen not to have such people involved in the group.

Despite the hostility I have encountered from some members, and the frustration I have felt at not being taken seriously simply because I choose to believe in God, it has been a worthwhile experience. I have met some very intelligent, witty and polite people who are serious about disbelief being the only rational option. I respect that.

What's your take? What does your faith or your disbelief mean to you? What experiences have you had of talking to others with very different world views?

Australian Atheist Alliance

Photos sources:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Lego

Lego: Arguably the world's most popular toy for adults and children alike, and according to Brand Finance now the world's most powerful brand. The Danish company, The Lego Group, began manufacturing this line of plastic construction toys in 1949. In 2014, a 47 year old Australian man began playing with Lego again, for the first time since his now adult son lost interest.

My current project is a Bulldozer. It's taking a long time because it's last on my last of things to do with my 'free time'. I'm also having trouble finding the right pieces. I have a five year old stepson, so there is Lego everywhere around our home. He even takes selected pieces to bed.
Last week we were playing 'together' and every five seconds I would ask him if he had seen one of these pieces anywhere, and he would say no, or yes, but I don't know where, or maybe downstairs. Anyway, I got stuck at stage 15 when after a thorough search of all the upstairs Lego receptacles, I could not find the next piece I needed.

Filled with desperate hope, I headed downstairs. Imagine my joy when fifteen minutes of rummaging through a box of Lego led to the discovery of the missing piece. I pumped my fist and uttered a deep and exuberant yes!

When have you become very excited about a very small thing?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Weirdness

I work for Mission Australia in the SEE (Skills for Education and Employment) Program. I'm an English language teacher who works mainly with adult migrants. We also have students/clients who are native speakers of English but have had some troubles of various kinds in school and end up unemployed, and in many cases unemployable. We dub them with the acronym ESL (Early School Leavers).

Yesterday my colleague and I were discussing the lifestyles choices of some of these ESL clients. They own nothing and do not desire to. They eat rubbish, not literally, but their diets are unhealthy and they don't care. They don't have jobs and they don't want jobs. They dress shabbily, don't attend very regularly to hygiene matters, and they have loud conversations as though they can't be heard by others, or they don't care if anyone hears what they say.

Image Source
We agreed they were weird, but then my colleague said to me that they probably think we are weird. She is right. The word weirdness has a negative connotation, so it's probably better just to think of difference rather than weirdness.

It was a small, casual conversation, but it had a profound effect on me. Live and let live right? As long as another person's weirdness does not negatively affect other people, who are we to judge?

Photo source

Friday, October 2, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Smile

Depending on your interpretation, and your mood, a smile may not be such a small thing. It takes about 20 muscles to smile so it's not a trifle. However, the mental power required to generate one, to get those muscles doing their thing, can sometimes be enormous, particularly if you haven't had much practice or if you are feeling decidedly un-smiley.

I think a smile is a mighty weapon which can be used for both good and evil purposes, but because I do not want to make you frown, I wish to focus on the positive aspects of the upside frown.

1. Smiling is easy. Forget everything else I said, and remember this: it really isn't very difficult to muster a smile, even when you don't really feel like.

2. Smiles are free. Although costing nothing, they can achieve a great deal.

3. Smiling makes you feel better. I read somewhere (so it must be true), that forcing a smile when you need to can actually generate some positive energy and make you want to smile.

4. Smiles are contagious

What makes you smile? What made you smile today?

Photos sources:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Silkworms

First let me confess and repent of blog neglect. Thank you for your forgiveness.

The reason for my absence, not that I have to justify myself, is that I have fallen in love...with silkworms.

Three weeks ago, they were tiny, little things but they grow fast because all they do is eat, defecate and sleep. Now? The pictures speak for themselves. Fifty survivors of the original brood (is that the right word? - help me out silkworm aficionados) are thriving under my care. I don't have time to go into the joyful simplicity of raising silkworms, or to regale you with the tale of our hilarious and desperate search for local mulberry trees to plunder, and I'm certainly not going to go anywhere near the polarising politics of worms vis-a-vis earthworms and other lesser worms (oops! Did I say that out loud?).

These little creatures do some pretty magical work during their short two month lifespans, so today I am celebrating silkworms and giving praise to their Creator.

Have you ever raised silkworms? Are you a silkworm fan like me? Do you have any special facts about them to share?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Building a River Part 2

I have questions about people and relationships, and I attempt to answer those questions by creating characters who are totally believable, and placing them in difficult circumstances. The major concept I wanted to explore with this novel, A Muddy Red River, was what it would be like to have a brother. 

In the novel, my two lead characters, Shane and Rob Archer, are brothers who have grown apart due to their differences. As children these differences were complementary, but in adulthood they are catalysts for separation. Shane and Rob are essentially opposites; two sides of one coin. A Muddy Red River was originally a single point of view narrative but wanting to show how inextricably linked the two men were, demanded I use a dual point of view.

My hope is that the reader will see the importance of relationships, and in particular, the unbreakable ties of brotherhood, and appreciate that reconciliation is never as far away, or unlikely as it may seem.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Building a River: Part 1

A Muddy Red River was originally inspired by a chance meeting which in fact was barely worthy to be called such. In 1990 I was working with a volunteer missionary group called Youth With A Mission (YWAM). I was in Thailand where my team visited a high school in a province whose name I can no longer recall. I may have forgotten that name, but I have never forgotten the name of Jam, a beautiful young student to whom I was briefly and perfunctorily introduced.

Her name, her pretty face and her slender feminine body became the inspiration for A Muddy Red River. I never saw her again, and it was not until ten years had passed that I began to write the story: a handwritten draft about an Australian man who falls in love at first sight with a Thai women after a chance meeting. As most romances are, this tale would be full of drama and difficulty. Chris Cornell's lyrics sum it up nicely. "You fall in love from a great height, now the easy part's over."

The manuscript ran out of steam after four chapters so I shelved it. At that time, I was concentrating on short stories, believing I was too busy to attempt a novel, and very uncertain about my ability. The very short life of A Muddy Red River proved the point, and those first four chapters remained hidden away in a drawer for more than ten years. Until...

Friday, July 31, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things:Online forms

The online form wants to verify my identity, and it must do this in a number of ways in order to protect me with added layers of security. Like thick, soft blankets to help me sleep in comfort and space on cold winter's nights.

This particular form had to assign me a colour for my online account, and a three word screen as well as my user name and password. (I chose orange by the way.) Next there were three security questions. The first one asked for the name of my eldest nephew. This sounds like a joke, doesn't? I dutifully filled in all the spaces, and was then taken to a page called the verification page. Here, I needed to add two forms of ID. I had a choice of driver's licence, Medicare card and passport. Medicare card was an obvious choice, but it wasn't clear to me why they asked for the colour of the card. I didn't actually know they came in different colours, and I'm a little bit upset that I've only ever been offered a green one.

Are we there yet? Next, I attempted to add my driver's licence number, but it was rejected on the grounds that it had to be a nine digit number. My license number is 4 digits followed by two letters.

To cut a long story short,  I was then locked out and unable to finish. The company does not have a telephone, and their online chat service is a computer program, not a person, so I had to send them an email asking for help. They'll get back to me in five business days or so.

I think life has become ridiculously complicated, so I am going to switch off this computer, after I post this, and put on some good old fashioned heavy metal music. I'm thinking Black Sabbath or Metallica...these tough choices are the nuts and bolts of life, aren't they?

I don't know what I'm giving thanks for today. Oh, I know! My daughter passed her driver's test, so after over 120 hours of supervised driver training, she can now fly solo. Hurray!

Photo source:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Shoelaces

Today I had occasion to hurriedly remove my shoes, and I did so without undoing the laces. To my credit, I did undo them before I put the shoes back on, and then re tied them. That's what you're supposed to do with them.

They're a very old idea actually. Thousands of years before Christ men were lacing up, and although shoes have taken on all manner of weird and wonderful forms, the laces with which we tie them haven't changed much at all.

Anyway, how many times have you chastised your children for slipping their laced shoes on and off? How many times have you done it? Is it really the serious concern that some have made it out to be? Are these questions important to the future prosperity of mankind?

I like undoing and doing shoelaces. I find comfort in the well practised routine. It's an orderly and proper thing to do, and I like orderly and proper things. That's why I was inspired to write this trivial blog...because I circumvented the right process. Shame on me. I'll never do it again.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Words

Today's blog is brought to you by the letter 'F'. (Hats off to Sesame Street - what a great show!) In the A-Z Blogging Challenge, each day began with a letter and the opportunity to choose any word beginning with that letter, or any theme, and write about it.

In language, the smallest units are called graphemes, and these combine to make phonemes which in turn unite to form morphemes, and morphemes collaborate to form words. And words, as we know, are put together in such a way as to communicate a meaningful message which we call a sentence. It's beautiful, isn't it?

Most people take words for granted. Not me. I love them. I like playing with them, using them, and discovering new ones. I love putting them together. I get excited when I hear or read others do it well. I feel proud when I do it.

Yesterday I wrote another chapter in the first draft of what will be my fifth novel. Chapter 37 contains these words: Did she love Angus? Did she want him back? Forgiveness. Easy to say, hard to do. Nice word. Potent word. Terrifying word. The last adjective in that triplet did not come to me immediately, but when it did, I stared at it with a big smile on my face. Forgiveness is a terrifying word.

Today I give thanks for words. Do you have any favourites? I still get a thrill when I hear someone say pulchritude.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Tags

Have you ever tried to dress in the dark? You rise early to work, leaving your partner in bed to slumber on, and you don't want to disturb them. You're very considerate. You can find you clothes. You may have even arranged them just so, thus facilitating potential ease of donning said clothes. You understand the theory of dressing in the dark. You've practised it many times. You are no novice 'in the dark' dresser.

However, it's hard isn't it? If you miss one of those leg holes on the first thrust, you are gone. You could end up on the floor: contorted and ensnared.

Naturally, I can't speak from a woman's point of view. Not only am I not a woman, but I have never attired myself in women's garb. However, there is no doubt that ladies wear, being occasionally less orthodox than men's, also presents challenges.

Today, I am giving thanks for a little thing which makes a difficult task somewhat easier: the tag.

If I can feel the tag, I know I have found the back of my pants or shirt, and knowing the front from the back significantly aids the putting on of said garment. I want it right the first time. I can't be expected to leave the sanctuary of my bedroom for the glaring spotlight of my empty living room with my shirt on back to front. Neither do I wish to end up on the floor of my bedroom with my head in the cupboard. Come on. Thank you tags.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Hugs

This may cause some discussion amongst readers. Is a hug a small thing? Some would say even a small hug is a big thing. Others might suggest that some hugs aren't as meaningful or poignant as others, and that can't be contested. Although one might think that all hugs are nice, some would disagree: unwanted hugs, for example, are certainly not nice. Anyway, I'm not here to debate the merits or significance of hugs. I'm here to tell you about a recent hug which meant a huge amount to me personally.

Last Sunday night we had a family farewell dinner for my son who was heading off to Europe for a six week holiday. After dinner we hugged, and I wished him well, thinking that would be the last time I saw him before he left. Four days later, the day before departure, I was at his house to pick up my daughter and my son was unexpectedly there: washing clothes and packing. We talked for a bit, and then we hugged again before I said goodbye. It was such a lovely bonus to be able to hug him once more.

I don't see much of my son these days. He's busy with work and uni, and his girlfriend, and that's all okay. He's 19. He has his own life now. I've been letting go of him slowly every since he started school, but I am thankful for the fact that we have a good, close relationship. Despite some dramatic turbulence over the last 12 months or so, due to the break down of my marriage, we are still friends and of course I am very grateful for that. That last hug was serendipity: a small thing and a huge thing simultaneously.

Have you had a nice hug lately?

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Growth or Decay

Image result for as good as it gets imagesThe film As Good As It Gets is an urban fairy tale about unlikely relationships which speaks volumes about how people relate to each other.

In one scene Melvin (Jack Nicholson) and Carol (Helen Hunt) are in a fancy seafood restaurant in Baltimore. Having just a made a mad dash to buy a jacket and tie so he would be allowed in, Melvin makes a comment about how he was forced to dress formally, but she was allowed to wear a house dress. Carol takes great offence, naturally, even though Melvin did not intend to insult her. She then insists that Melvin pay her a compliment or else she will leave. Eventually Melvin comes up with what is the best line in the movie, "You make me want to be a better man."

Image result for as good as it gets imagesMelvin thus indicates his willingness to change for Carol. Given his mental problems (OCD and perhaps mild autism), this is a big thing for him, but instead of leaving well enough alone, Carol pushes him for more. She wants to know why he brought her on the trip, and under pressure, he says enough to make her angry and she takes off. Carol's neediness insists on more intimacy than Melvin is ready for.

Two quick points. Firstly, if you don't want to hear the answer, then don't ask the question. If you aren't prepared for the pain of an honest answer, don't ask.Carol pushed Melvin for the truth and then became angry at him when he tried to be honest with her.

Secondly, do not expect or demand change from your partner. Hope for it by all means, but nagging and threatening does not make a good relationship. Melvin told Carol he was willing to change, and he demonstrated that with baby steps. Towards the end of the film when Melvin is avoiding the cracks and lines on the sidewalk, Carol tells him not to or 'this' (meaning their fledging relationship) is not going to work. Another demand. Another threat. 

Change is inevitable. "Nothing stays the same,"  screams the As I Lay Dying track, 'there is only growth or decay'. In personal relationships acceptance is important - in fact for some people, that is all they want: to be loved for who they are - but where does one draw the line. Where do you draw the line?