I hope your life is unfolding as you would like. If not, everything will work out in the end, and if they haven’t worked out? Well then, it’s not the end.

Last night we were practicing “California Dreaming” in three-part harmony (SAT). It’s a straightforward arrangement and the tenor/bass part is somewhat boring (mostly on the B below middle C!) except for an exotic twiddle (B-B-C-D-E-E-C#-D#  Wow!) But, the harmonies are wonderful when combined. Maybe that’s who we are: 90% boring, 10% exotic twiddle, but when we get together? Wow! OK, that’s cheesy, but when an analogy strikes, it strikes.

Anyway, the reason I started to tell you about this was that while the conductor was working with the altos, we tenor-basses we saying what a beautiful song it was. The Mamas and the Papas. Who can forget Mama Cass! And one of us said “A song from a happier time. How sad it is to remember.” The grief of for our dying world is surfacing, finding a way to express itself. Leaking out into our lives. We have to grieve ambitiously and noisily. We have to. I mean it. We have no hope of creating a new way of living built on suppressed grief and rage.

ADVICE: In your home grow True Love and tomatoes. They’re the only things that money can’t buy. (there’s a song about this: Home Grown Tomatoes)

The Ender Seed – Amy’s Dream 28/11/15

Last night I dreamed that an alien ship (not looking -entirely- unlike the deathstar) appeared in the sky, and fired ‘a warning shot’. We could see it coming like this extra sun in the sky, burning down towards us slowly getting bigger and bigger, until finally it crashed down far over the horizon in silence.  We all thought ‘well that wasn’t that bad’ and then thirty seconds later the boom hit, and then the shaking, like a really big, sharp earthquake.

I knew, somehow, that they were here for this thing I had – which was a small weasel in a box, but in its true essence it was a seed. The Ender Seed. A seed of life, a seed of death, somehow a thing that The Bad Guys could use to basically eliminate everything, while at it’s best it could have been used to create everything. I’m unclear why I had it, I just knew I was supposed to keep it safe.

Its nature meant that it was indestructible, the only exception being that it could be crushed under high pressure. When the ground settled, I took off at a run to the junkyard, where I knew there was a trash compactor. The Bad Guys were coming, and I knew that even if they blew up the planet, the ender seed would still be floating in the debris and they’d find it and use it, so I wanted to destroy it before they could get to it.

I got to the place and stood in line very impatiently. Behind the counter were my friend Kit and some other guy, and Kit was busy so I got the other man and asked him to squish the seed and he was like ‘Lady, we’re not compacting a weasel, what kind of monster are you’. I was arguing with him, when One Of The Bad Guys arrived, so I hid it in a little shelf behind me. He (it?) knew came over and started demanding it, but of course I pretended I had no idea what he/it was talking about.  He/it started torturing me, making me feel like I was burning alive, and it was very Not Good but I still wouldn’t say where it was or even admit I knew what he wanted. Suddenly the dream revealed that Kit was a super powerful immortal, but he was just trying to stay out of the whole thing / not break cover. I kept screaming out to him “do what I asked, do what I asked” but he wasn’t really paying attention and didn’t get why it mattered, and I didn’t want to say anything more because then The Bad Guy would have known that I really DID have the seed.

Finally I decided it was better to risk it and yelled, “KIT, IT’S AN ENDER SEED YOU HAVE TO CRUSH IT!”. Kit leapt over the counter and grabbed the box to keep it safe, but the Bad Guy was there and was stopping Kit from getting back to the compacter to crush it. There were more alien ships in the sky and we knew we were totally screwed and they’d destroy the planet with the ender seed just out of spite at the end of this.  And then Kit opened his mouth wider than any human mouth could have opened and *ate* the ender seed – weasel in a box and all.

Then the immortal, all powerful being Kit died.

And the world blinked and the skies were clear. And we knew that somehow by sacrificing himself and eating the weasel he’d shifted us to an alternate reality where the Bad Guys simply didn’t exist, and we were safe.

When the Streets Were Paved with Grass – Amy’s Dream 19/11/15

Last night I dreamed that I walked out the back door of my apartment into the sunshine, and strolled down Victoria St towards Manners St. There was a market on, with lots of stalls selling beautiful glassware – fine long stemmed wine glasses, delicate brandy snifters, colourful bowls and plates and so on.

I reached the Manners/Victoria intersection, but all of Manners St on both sides was planted out in grass and trees, and at the intersection there was sort of a grassy knoll that rose up into the sunshine between the high rise office buildings.

In the middle, sitting at two desks, were my friends Brenda and Ruth. They apparently had decided to go into business together, and had a small windowless office nearby, but on nice days they liked to bring their desks out and sit in the sunshine to work. Brenda was coding a new social media tool, called SeCo, which was more or less like a giant calculator that let you tweet. The left hand side was the alphabet in rows of four (ABCD then EFGH etc), and the right hand side was a normal calculator keypad. I asked her how long it took to adjust to typing on the alphabet keypad, and she said it was pretty quick, but it was even quicker to just use the number pad the way we used to use old phones to text (222 to type ‘c’ etc).

Ruth got off the phone where she’d just been trying to organise a meeting, and told me that one of the things she really hates about Wellington is trying to find office space for meetings. I suggested that she come over and have a look at my spare bedroom/home office, because I could rent it out to her for meetings. She came over to have a look at it, and every wall was covered in bookshelves, with all of my mum & dad’s books. Apparently they’d decided to throw them out, and I’d decided it was never ok to throw out books so I’d taken them all. Some of the higher shelves were stacked 6 or 7 deep in books, covers out, and just nailed through into the wall, so more for appearances than actual use. Ruth said she’d love to rent it if I could put down a rug and maybe get a little table with four high backed chairs as well, so people could sit and write, which I thought was a very good idea.

I woke up thinking about redecorating my study. I’m not sure nailing books to the wall is going to fly with my landlord though.

Rage and grief and sadness

It’s good to be talking with you again. I am in a dark place this morning. I hope your life is as filled with as much light and joy as you can make.

I am in a dark place because of the dream I had last night.

I dreamed me and many, many  others were in small cages stacked one on the top of another and arranged around a large open space. We were watching a dance, a dance of grotesquely misshapen beings. We knew, all of us in the cages, that they had been created from us. It was a grim dream and It is unnecessary to go into detail.

But it is a grim meta-description of what we have become. We live in cages created by ourselves and others out of jobs, and mortgages and insurances and bank loans and things we endlessly buy. When we think we get free and dance we are deeply deformed and cannot see our own terrible injuries and even mistake our grotesque gamboling for happiness.

ADVICE: Read Ursula (Little She-bear) K. Le Guin’s books.

Zhaozhou and the dead cat

This isn’t really about the koan of Zhaozhou and the cat that was killed by Nunquan, although I think it arises from walking The Way with Zhaozhou for several months.

Last night I dreamed the same dream over and over.

We were preparing for a great battle in which I knew we would all die. We were all children (10-12 year olds) riding beat up motorcycles, we were all filthy dirty and exhausted and the only weapons we had were brickbats which we had collected from the ruins about us and carried in old beer coolers on our petrol tanks. The noise and the dust and the smells and the fear were apocalyptic.

I was riding behind Zhaozhou. He turned around and beckoned to me. I pulled up beside him and we were ready to go into this hopeless charge. He smiled and pointed to his denim jacket and there, peeking its head out, was his cat.

“You see the cat is still alive, Brett! That is the way it always has been and always will be. And we ride beside each other, just as it has always been and always will be.” I laugh out loud!

We gun our motors and take off with ten thousand others, skidding and slewing in the dirt and screaming our brains out.

Then we are back at the start again …

This dream reminds me of the Bhagavad Gita and the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna.

ADVICE: Ride your life at Mach 3 with your hair on fire.

Who is that dancing?

That is Kali: the black one, that one, the one that was created before Creation; before there was Light.

She is dancing on our Earth. Can you feel her? She is dancing with us to our destruction in fire and light. And she will not stop.

Unless … she holds up a hand, palm out, it says “Don’t be afraid. Come closer. Dance with me.” She is inviting us to wake up from our sleep.

Come dance with Kali, she will kill if you don’t, she will kill you if you do. UNLESS …


ADVICE: Take dancing lessons.

Imagine this melon …

OK here is a thing to try:

Hold out your hand (either one or both of them if you want) and then when you have read the instructions, close your eyes and don’t peek at all.

All you have to do is this: with your eyes closed create a melon in your hand(s). If you find visualising things difficult, just relax and do it anyway. There are no prizes for this and no right way to do it.

Try to see its colours, feel the texture of the skin, feel its weight. Try hefting it in your hand. Can you smell it? Can taste it? Can you drag a finger-nail over it and hear the noise it makes? Make it it as real as you are able.

Now open your eyes and ask yourself: WHERE HAS THE MELON GONE?

Try doing the same thing with your SELF, the bit you call “me”. Look for it, look at it, track it down. If you ask yourself “Who am I?” what are your looking for? WHERE HAS YOUR SELF GONE?

ADVICE: Sing in a choir!

A minor amazement

But not only in A minor. Joke!

It’s been a day of writing. I am trying to combine Proust, Ovid and maybe kishōtenketsu via Actaeon and his hounds; all thirty-six of them. That’s how many I counted anyway. The story has always interested me because Actaeon was killed by Artemis for looking at her without her permission. It was not intentional as far as I can see; he wasn’t a high class peeping tom. Well, actually he was, but he didn’t mean to be. His fate felt like the promptings of curiosity, that’s what Ovid (metamorphosed into Ted Hughes) says.

But did Artemis kill Actaeon? She turned him into a stag certainly, but she didn’t whistle up the dogs. They came on their own. But she was a hunter wasn’t she? She knew dogs.

The metamorphosis was triggered as Artemis threw water into Actaeon’s face. Strangely, he didn’t feel the transformation until he saw his antlers reflected in the water he was running through. Typically of Ovid the whole story has an erotic edge to it

All this is suffused with melancholy. I love melancholy. Here’s a good thing to remember about melancholy: John Dowland (the composer) thought that in this state you were closer to god, so he wrote a lot of melancholy songs to help you be close to god. That’s a very generous spirit he had. It reminds me of the Mormons who keep a huge database of everybody’s births so we can be baptized (I think!) and they can be sure we (the rest of us non-Mormons) will all go to heaven with them.

The Japanese have a feeling, an emotional sate, called wabi-sabi, the emotions around the decayed, the rusted, the forgotten, the over-looked and things just coming into and going out of existence:

At the lake
Small waves swell about
The heron’s legs.

All this is in a minor key. I learned recently that there are four minor keys! Fancy that. Who knew we needed more than one? There are the natural, melodic and harmonic minor scales and the Dorian mode is the fourth one. They are all the same (with the flatted third) up to the fifth but the sixth and seventh are flatted. So it’s this way: both flatted, six flat and seven natural, six natural and seven flat and both natural. I’ll leave you to find out which is which if you would like to do that.

ADVICE: Start playing the piano as early as you may, get a good teacher and don’t give up.

Love you!

Jefferson and holes in you

For a long time, I have been an somewhat uneducated fan of Thomas Jefferson. I have been inspired by his trust of people, by his trust in The People. That’s not an easy thing: to trust people and particularly The People.

And before I get too distracted, how are you anyway?

It is not easy for me now, to trust others I mean, but I used to be much more trusting, perhaps to the point of it being a fault.

How is or was school for you? Many feel that school was a waste of their time, others that it was the happiest days of their life. For me school, a boarding school, was terrible. I distrusted almost everyone there; but they were the enemy: that was how they declared themselves to me, as my enemies. You don’t trust your enemies do you? So that never really affected how I trusted people in general. Then I went into business. Self-interest and lies were everyday coinage. These were good people in other respects but in their business dealings they were wretched.

Thomas Jefferson felt that way about priests and ministers. They hated and feared him and he said they were right to do that. He said he loved Jesus and his simple message and believed that it had been corrupted by those who wanted power. He felt that right from the start, the simple message had been deliberately (maybe?) distorted to make it so complicated that The People would need rituals and priests to interpret it for them. And, he he kept on saying so even when he was president. Can you imagine Dubyah or Obama doing that? Nope! So he, like me, feels that he had his “religion” stolen from him.

You feel like that? As if there’s a hole in you that you cannot fill? That hole was made in part by the wretched priests and ministers.

But don’t you fear, the mystery remains. It does. The deep unknowable, unimaginable mystery is still there just as it always was and always will be. When the disciples asked Jesus where was this mysterious kingdom that he was always talking about, he told them to stop looking for it, it was already spread out around them and they just didn’t see it. See! It’s there, now, right now. Always was. Always will be. Just relax and let it wrap its arms around you.

ADVICE: You can’t mess up cooking a loaf of bread. Try it!