Thursday, August 12, 2010

Of Angels and Demons

It is a peculiar thing amongst humans that we embody both the demon and the angel.
We see in the stories of fallen politicians, civic leaders and philanthropists that otherwise 'good' people may have very dark sides.

In fact we all have the dark that matches the light. That is the balance of the human psyche, and those claim to not are simply fooling themselves (poorly) and attempting to fool the rest of us with a facade of a saint that is a sallow one when compared to the rich tapestry of humanity.

We all embody both the potential for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and we struggle and battle to live the life of an angel, and sometimes succumb just a little to the devil.

That is the way and it is another call to action and a reminder to, in the words of Philo; "Be kind, for everyone is fighting a great battle..." and for us all, at the very root of it, the battle is the same...

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Richness of Exploring....The Value of Wandering

For some reason, while sitting on a bus in Vancouver, BC; I was thinking about a book that I had perused at my sister's house some years before...

Perhaps it was because I was just about to move back to New Zealand for the summer, to start a new chapter in the book of my life that this book came to mind...

In any instance I thought of that book that I picked up from my sister's coffee table (it's a real 'coffee table' type of book, so that at least is apt...)
1000 Places to See Before You Die has vignettes of many places around the world that you absolutely must least in the authors opinion...

I may have looked over this book after returning from 9 months or so of wandering in South America, and so my perception of another's wanderings was perhaps tempered by my own, and I must admit I have since not so much as glanced at the book; but at the time I flicked to the pages on that particular continent and needless to say I was underwhelmed by what was shown!

Flipping through those pages I was at least a little struck by the preponderance of tourist traps and travelers 'hot spots' included; many of which I had visited...and many of which were the more banal experiences of this vagabond.
It is of course just opinion, and I have no desire to beat up on the book - because I'm sure for author Patricia Shultz the places are indeed 'must sees' and for many others I'm also just as sure this is true.
But, and I finally get to my point, it does show that when we place too much credence in the opinions of others, and do only that which 'should' be done, we can miss out on so much of the wonder in this world.

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.
~ Gilbert K Chesterton

I remember sitting in a cafe in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City with my good friend Jason, enjoying a cup of Vietnamese coffee (the type with sweetened condensed milk....yum!). There was a young woman sitting just across from us at another table and introduced herself, and very quickly asked if we had been to any bars, cafes and hotels as she was a travel writer for a travel guide (she didn't mention the name...) and needed to give some recommendations in her write up for the city. We both (myself and Jas) thought that was pretty funny, as it certainly looked to us that she had been sitting in that cafe for many hours and we wondered how much she had been out exploring...or whether she had simply asked other travelers what their experiences were. Now there is nothing wrong with getting the opinions of others, but there is a point when if you want to grow, learn and evolve you have to actually do! 
And if you're writing a travel guide, or section thereof I think it'd help to know more from personal experience! (And I'm not suggesting that she didn't....but....)

A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.
~ John Steinbeck

Anyone who has done any amount of travelling knows that guide books are a prime example of this. Some places that are derided turn out to be gems, others that are highly recommended (like the dirty, squalid, rundown shack in which I stayed in Tucaman, Argentina) are in fact veritable crap holes (excuse me!) and some not mentioned at all provide the wonderful memories that will last a lifetime (like the cafe in which I sat sipping Sangria on the banks of the river in Hoi An whilst petals fell like snowflakes from the flowers of vines that provided a canopy over the outdoor patio, on which a sign proudly displayed 'Not in the Lonely Planet!).

There is not much more gratifying in this life than wandering and stumbling upon places, people and events that are truly magical for you, and it matters not if those same events are magical for somebody else. They are your treasures.

Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.
~ Benjamn Disraeli

I am reminded of another book, now in the retelling. Lent to me by a great friend in Vancouver, it is The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin. It tells ostensibly of a journalists journey into the Australian heartland to research the 'song lines', Aboriginal songs that describe the land, the people and history of the great country; and becomes a winding and marvellous allegory for the beauty and wonder of traveling, really travelling, when one wanders, learns and lives out the grand human imperative of being free in a very literal sense.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.
~ St. Augustine

There is a time too, to return home, or to put down roots and sit with your memories and apply what has been learned on the road, always in the knowledge that life is a process, and the road is always there when you need it.

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.
~ George Moore

Sunday, August 01, 2010

3 Years in Vancouver...

I began the way it ended....over a few drinks with my best mate.
What started as a whim and a fancy, and an idea honed by the sharp dullness of a few pints of the amber stuff ended as a beautiful resignation of those years spent wondering, learning and growing beyond measure.

My time in Vancouver was defined by the amazing people that I met. I said to my crew when I decided to leave that we have been a part of something special...and we really had.

I could not think of a time or place when I would be so surrounded by motivational and inspiration people.

The time in Van was one of experiences. Joyous and wonderful experiences.
One can lament what could have been, what wasn't and what is lost...but at the end of the day it is the joyous experiences of a time spent with amazing people, growing and connecting that makes this life worth living.
And this I had, and have still in the connections I made, connections that will last a life time.
In some ways the role play of sweeping dichotomies that was my life in Vancouver made the questions of who I am, what I do and why I do it harder to answer. After all being a bouncer, a strength coach, a nutritionist, a Naturopath...a Reverend and pastoral counselor, and some time roadie for a rock band can be a mouthful and ultimately confusing for all involved in the conversation....but at the same time the answers for me are clearer than they have ever been.

Thank you to all the shining lights who made my time in Vancouver a fantastic one. And although I will be back there is of course some sadness in changing bases because we know that those loving, smiling faces are not just in the next room or a short walk down the road.

But in our hearts they remain.

  Love and blessings always,

    ~ Cliff

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Will You? ~ A Poem by Cliff

Will you still lay beside me now that what was is no more?
Will you take a chance, that it all wasn't chance,
that we belong,
and I may do right...
Where so often all I have done is wrong?

Will you - just like the cliché - tell me everything's going to be alright,
while you hold me tight, and we both know
 that we don't know
but stay and believe it too?

Would you stroke my hair like you did that night,
caress my that I might just believe it too?

Will you walk the path,
hold my hand, never to leave,
with this knave, this thief, this wolf in the dark...
and take a risk to forgive, the flights, the fancies...?

Will you stand next to the fire and warm yourself,
and be burnt?
And weather the storms that gather, that carry me away from you...never for long,
but never to stay, except at heart
an eye for you?
The genius that destroys, the failings of this little Prince?

Will you?...

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