Thursday 23 May 2013


What does it mean to be at home?

  • when you speak using a certain inflection and the other knows exactly what you mean;
  • when you leave a sentence hanging in mid-air and it says more than any words;
  • when you make a small gesture and it conveys a whole story;
  • when you don't say anything and everybody understands;
  • when you don't mistake your friends for adversaries and adversaries for friends;
  • where there is no need to retreat into a state of separateness in the face of some negativity.
  • when you do the right thing with no instructions needed;
  • when everybody behaves the same way because the situation means the same to everybody;
  • when something can be handled at a distance because direct feedback is unnecessary;
  • when a group performs in unison without a specially prepared script;
  • where simple silence is just as meaningful.
  • when the beginning of a story is enough to evoke its meaning;
  • when a memory from one's youth can be shared as if it had been an experience for all;
  • when the intent behind a myth serves as the explanation;
  • when a piece of history can be used as a gateway by everyone;
  • when there is a problem and all parties speak from a similar context;
  • where criticism does not automatically imply the categorising into some 'other', simply because there is no 'other'.
How many of us can say the above happens to them once a day, once a week, once a month - ever?

Thursday 2 May 2013

Is this scary?

The unexpected is sometimes scary. I don't mean waiting for a bus and now there are two; or getting a letter from someone after years of silence.

I mean situations that burst into our personal mind space dislodging what has become accepted as usual. Suddenly there is something else, and it just shouldn't be there.

At the very least it can be unsettling.

There is a Japanese ghost story which unfolds along these lines. I don't know its author, or whether it has been told and retold through the ages.

It goes like this:

Back in the feudal days a wide avenue skirted the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. One late night a farmer made his way home, alone on this wide, deserted street. Suddenly he noticed a little girl, all by herself hunched on the kerb. He went up to her and said, "Hello, little girl, what are you doing all alone this late at night?" But the girl did not move. So the farmer went closer and asked again, "My child, is there anything wrong?" Then slowly the girl raised her head, and her face was smooth like an egg.

In Melbourne there is a small niche at the end of Degraves Street which is filled with graffiti. It reminded me of that ghost story.

Would the following situations be scary?

Lying alone in bed at night, sticking your foot out and suddenly feeling some touch.

Looking over your shoulder in a dark and lonely street, over and over again (try it!).

Closing your eyes for a moment, opening them again but you can't see.

Closing your eyes for a moment, opening them again and suddenly there is a face staring at you.

Your daily routine involves getting up in the morning and catching a train to work. One day you think the alarm clock is wrong, you get up in a hurry and rush to the station. There you notice the clocks don't work either. At that moment, what is your perception of time? Have you ever experienced this?

We like to believe life is ordered. Yet it doesn't take much to shatter our peace.