When I was 11 our whole class year sat a General Knowledge test. They asked us the usual questions about people, politics, news, sport, and current affairs. It was the last question that took us all by surprise: “What is the name of the lady who cleans the school?”
I think we all thought it was a bit of a joke question. We all knew the cleaning lady — we saw her every day. She was short, wore a head scarf and was in her 30s. But none of us actually knew her name. And so I handed in my test leaving the last question blank. As we walked out of the classroom one of my friends asked our teacher if the last question would count toward our mark.
“Absolutely,” said our teacher. “You will meet many people in your life. All are equally significant. Every one of them deserves your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello’.”
I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I learned her name was Dorothy. And it’s shaped the way I relate to everyone ever since.
Yesterday afternoon, as I was taking a walk down Crown Street in Surry Hills, I noticed an old man with a white beard and wearing a taqiyah cap being harassed by a couple of teenage kids for being ‘a bloody terrorist’ [amongst other things]. As I and a few other people stopped and turned, the kids made a bolt.
I sat down on a nearby ledge and watched the old man. To my astonishment he actually began crying. He then slowly made his way to a bench next to the library building, and before he sat down he took off his jacket. His T-shirt underneath read, “Proud to be Australian”.
RUOK? Day is today.
Started by Gavin Larkin, RUOK? Day is a reminder to all of us to ask someone we know who might be struggling with life, if they are OK?
While RUOK? Day is a once a year event, asking someone if they are OK is not — it’s something we can and should do every day.
To me RUOK? speaks to the power in each of us. When you understand that what most people really, really want is simply to feel good about themselves, and when you realize that with just a few well-chosen words [e.g. RUOK?] you can help virtually anyone on the planet instantly achieve this, you begin to realize just how simple life is, and how powerful you are.
Thanks Gavin, and thanks to all of you who show your care by asking the question ‘RUOK?’
A baby in the womb has no idea
its Mother loves cool September breezes
floating through the twilight window
with cricket dreamtime energy.
….and human society and history and
geography, geology, astronomy,
zoology, botany, ecology
or an affectionate puppy
that sleeps next to the Mother.
What about us?
What’s outside us we don’t know about?
Excerpt from All a Baby Knows by Antler
I think we lie to ourselves to keep our soul from having an adventure.
The voice in our head says “It’s not safe to stick my neck out; to speak before thinking; to take that chance; to take the road less travelled by; to back my self; to believe in my self. I can’t do that. That’s too big an adventure for someone like me. That’s too big a risk for a person like me to take. What if I’m wrong and it doesn’t work out?”
This is the voice of fear, passivity, and self doubt, and it plays over and over in our heads like radio station: I SUCK 99.6 AM.
I call it soul surrender. It’s the opposite of soul purpose. It’s like trying to get an overly active child to go to sleep. Lying to your soul is like saying to the child, “You are too tiny to know any better or make a difference. Sleep now.”
Methinks it’s time to wake up da fucking tiger!
Every day you are confronted by people who are trying to define you, label you, and put you in this or that box or category. They may even explicitly lay some kind of judgment on you, telling you that you are this or that.
At home, it might be your father, mother, husband, wife, son or daughter. At work, it might be your co-worker, client or boss. At school it might be your teacher, a friend, or a group of other kids.
What can you do about it?
Well, you can either agree with them, and come to believe that what others tell you about yourself is the truth.
Or you can reject these descriptions, labels, or definitions by just doing what you do, by just being who you are, and by telling them to all get fucked [in the nicest possible way, of course].
the little you
the big you
the powerless you
the powerful you
the afraid you
the confident you
the cynical you
the positive you
the indifferent you
the passionate you
the glass half empty you
the glass half full you
Right now there are people all over the world who are just like you.
They too feel different.
They’re not always comfortable in their own skin.
They have dreams that would make you gasp.
They have secrets you wouldn’t believe.
They wish and they dream and they hope, and they look out the window whenever they’re in the car or on a bus or a train, and they watch the people on the streets and wonder what they are thinking and feeling.
They wonder if there are people out there like them.
They’re like you, and you could tell them anything and everything, and they would understand.
And right now, they’re sitting here reading these words, and I’m writing this for you and for me so we don’t feel alone anymore.
I wonder, I wonder what you would do if you had the power to have everything that you want.
A new iPhone — the new iPhone 10 — with a PERFECT LIFE button. With just a touch of this button you can design for yourself the most perfect life. The perfect job. The perfect partner. Perfect kids. A perfect pet. Perfect weather every day. A perfect home in the perfect location, with perfect furnishings.
Imagine now that you do have this power; the power to create your perfect world. And imagine you’ve had this power now for a few months. What then … ?
Methinks that after a few months of ‘living perfection’, your perfect life would start to feel a little predictable. Stale. Not as interesting. Kinda boring. Flat. And that’s because if you want guarantees in life, then you don’t want life — you want rehearsals for a script that’s already been written.
Life, by its very nature, cannot have guarantees, or its whole purpose is thwarted. Otherwise we’d all buy plastic roses that last forever.
And so the new iPhone 10 would soon be superseded by the iPhone 11 — now with a new SURPRISE! button.
Fuck me, I’m alive!
Just imagine living in a world without mirrors. You’d dream about your face and imagine it as an outer reflection of what is inside you.
And then, when you reached forty, someone put a mirror before you for the first time in your life.
Imagine your fright! You’d see the face of a stranger.
And you’d know quite clearly what you are unable to grasp: your face is not you.
Milan Kundera, Immortality