This rambling story begins with some musing on boundaries, specifically between public and private, and onto my journey, and some current thoughts, to a little stab at storytelling with the telling of a memory, to this moment and where I am at in my life. And perhaps I am describing a circle, or circles within circles, because each realisation I have had is like the closing of a circle. My life has been a journey of wondering, searching and answering in endless circles.
public vs private
I’ve always been a very private person. I’ve tended to protect my boundaries like a spy infiltrating a danger zone. When I was growing up I felt my private became public too easily, and so I went into shutdown, hiding out, laying low. That has been my comfort zone for such a long time. And that’s the comfort zone I am currently challenging by opening up and sharing. words | circles | life represents the journey, the circle of life, described in words, telling a story. The irony is that I have never been a good storyteller. I’ve marvelled at people who could with a sense of dismay at their handling of the truth.
And telling stories, and my own truth, were intertwined with my obsession with privacy and need to cut off from people, which came about from a deep sense of disconnection. I turned inward and away from people and learned to live a life of extreme self sufficiency, isolation and emotional disconnection.
Right now, while things are quiet and mostly noone is watching, I am going to be brave and start to tell some stories. I plan to improve as I go. Because stories can be fun. And I can tell my stories while reading other’s stories. And I can release some of my closed off, private self into the public realm and take my place in the arena.
Expression is my simple breakthrough life change experience. All I need to do is to do it. So simple and yet so difficult. I need to stop worrying about what others think or even what I think. In fact, I am my own worst critic. In telling my truth, maybe I can tell someone else’s too.
Seeking to understand life has been my lifelong quest. And my search has taken me on some amazing journeys. And though I feel like I am running late, I am right where I need to be and with perfect timing.
I am going to do some random ramblings while I work out what it is I really want to say. And I am going to get more comfortable with speaking in public.
My extreme sense of disconnection at an early age turned into a longing for disconnection. My bliss was total aloneness. My desire to be alone had me live a simple life of self sufficiency, enjoying the anonymity of large cities and opportunities for solo travel. It opened me up to lots of different experiences and perspectives. I refused to be bound to any person, place, thing or belief. I wanted to understand the world from every possible perspective. I was open to all views and held few of my own. I embraced any opportunity for learning and was constantly in search of the meaning of life.
I am trying to zero down on a story. The place that keeps jumping into my mind is this small town in Japan called Iga Ueno. I lived there for about seven months in 1997 & 98. It was an intense and isolating experience for a number of reasons, but it also helped to break me open and shift me into a new experience of life.
Okay .. here goes .. I will tell a memory which popped into my head the other night, of one particular experience I had in that small town.
Here is the memory. I am walking on this slightly main road in this small town, to get some food. My body is covered in bruises and I am wearing a singlet. I feel defiant in exposing my bruises. This was perhaps the beginning of the end of karate for me. I had just been to a spring camp with my karate club. The style was called GishinRyu, a small full contact karate school I had found that fit into my schedule of teaching English classes afternoons and nights. The dojo was on the edge of town looking out over farmland and I could ride there by bike. I had been having private daytime classes with the teacher and founder of the club in exchange for English lessons. We forged a sort of friendship and meeting him late at night to drink and chat at a local bar became a favourite pastime.
On this day my friendship with my teacher had gone through a rocky patch, partly due to my decision to do less drinking. My life had started down a new trajectory. I had quit my job, moved in with a new friend, and been on my first Vipassana meditation retreat. My hair was cut very short and I must have felt a bit monk-like.
And in a highly sensitised, post-meditation retreat, super introverted state I had gone away on this karate spring camp. I was an extreme outsider. And the training was brutal. I was pummelled. I felt so overwhelmed and defeated I was in tears – and tears did not come easily to me. I returned from the camp covered in bruises.
And on this warm spring afternoon I walked out into this still very foreign town, which I would soon be leaving, wearing the bruises like battle scars with a sense of defiance, a “this is me, deal with it” attitude. I felt quite bold and liberated.
That was before a big life shift. Before I moved to Tokyo and then back to my hometown of Sydney which I had left for dead both five and nine years earlier.
As feared I got stuck in Sydney and stayed for thirteen years, at least nine years longer than planned. But in that time I found aikido, found a partner, finished my architecture degree, made new friends, had lots of adventures, had a baby, sold a business and explored, designed and created.
And I finally moved to a fairytale hamlet six hours north of Sydney, surrounded by nature and culture and an alternative way of life. In this paradise I have finally started to settle down and to let go of my excess baggage.
writing into the light
And now I am writing into the light. In speaking up I am starting to shine my light and be a beacon for others.
And as I write I can step into that singlet wearing battle scarred memory from twenty years ago and remember the “this is me, deal with it” feeling of bold self assertion.
So here I am. Sitting by a blow heater, indulgently using electricity rather than setting up the fire, which would involve collecting wood in the dark. Now I’ve switched it off. I just do it in short bursts. It is winter solstice and tomorrow night I am going to a community bonfire and lantern parade 20km out of my local town at a community hall and fire shed. I truly live in paradise and I am very grateful. I have a sense of having finally landed. I can start to tell my stories and run my business from home, sending inspirational rings all over the world and working towards creating massive public sculptures. My house is filled with inspiration and I am taking focused action in my life.
I need to treat this writing more like breathing .. not holding my breath for too long (as is my wont) but releasing in order to keep the fire alight.
Breathing is so important. Breath is the spirit of life, the essence of life. Being ‘inspired’ is really just about living and breathing. So I hereby release my concerns about my naive expression, since I know I don’t know everything and I don’t pretend to. And I continue to be open to listening to other points of view, but here I am offering my own quirky perspectives, explorations and takes on life.
‘breathe’ and ‘release’ were my words for 2016 and 2017. ‘INSPIRED’ and ‘EXPRESS’ are my words for 2018.
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