Mikel Ocean Azure

A SOUL IN SHADES OF BLUE.

Blog

Honesty and Christmas.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on December 25, 2010 at 7:13 AM Comments comments (1)

 

 

 

 

I am a BIG movie fan. I mean, multiply the girth of the universe by the number of hamburgers eaten by the average Aussie bogun in any given year and even THAT number won't be big enough to let you grasp how BIG a movie buff I am.

 

 

I think movies are THE modern cultural stream.

If you want to write a PhD thesis on modern society and culture, write it about Movies.

 

 

Do you want to know what modern cultural expression has the same interpretive power in our generation as we attribute to the great Masters of classical painting? MOVIES!

 

 

OK, that's my one exclamation mark in ten thousand words. (Hemmingway's standard.)

 

 

Movies, despite the venality of so many .that get to our screens, are THE modern narrative expression of meaning and values and self reflection. That's what I think.

 

 

They incorporate story telling, visual power and (In those rare few with any good quality scriptwriters supported by intelligent directors and intelligent producers.) the soul scouring blade of well used words.

 

 

Sadly, the potential of the majority of movies are undermined by the power of the “bean counters”, the profit margin obsessives and the egos of the actors involved.

 

 

Here is a piece of movie world reality. Every major movie actor is insured for millions of dollars on each movie. The insurance company will not allow THE star to be at risk. If THE star takes an injury then the whole movie takes a dive or costs massive amounts more to make. Therefore, the insurance companies make sure that the star of a movie never takes risks.

 

 

Now, if you watch all the “extras”and “features” of some movies, you are given the distinct impression that the movie star DOES take risks. I remember one movie, it's quite impossible for me to remember exactly which movie that might be, in which the additional features were edited to make it look like the male lead, a real tomcat, actually DID one of the big stunts in the movie. That particular (In my view shallow and clearly insecure.) actor even gave the impression he HAD done the stunt. How embarrasing is that? A ful grown male PRETENDING he took a risk he didn't take? Like a twelve year old lying to impress a girl.

 

 

Meanwhile an actual stuntman took the actual risk and made the liar actor look good.

 

 

Now you might think that on Christmas day I had something more substantial and “deep” to write about.

 

 

Is there anything more substantial than honesty?

 

 

I love movies.

 

 

I admire the talents of actors and directors and screenwriters and producers and directors of photography and gaffers and all the gifted talents who work together to create the modern narrative miracle of the movie genre.

 

 

Any sane person knows that the actors don't take risks. We, the movie viewers, don't need to believe the actor is in danger for us to enjoy the movie and to be carried alone by the narrative.

Apparently some actors are so underdeveloped as human beings THEY still need us to believe they take risks they don't actually take.

 

 

I still remember, “You had me at.....”

No risk was involved in that truth, no danger imagined or stunt person involved. A grown up actor would understand they did not need to lie to convince us that they GAVE us something in their art.

 

 

In art, in movies, as in life, the truth always has more power than the lie.

 

 

Let us each be naked and honest.

 

 

Let us not pretend we are more than we are.

 

 

Let us not pretend we are less then we are.

 

 

Christmas is a time full of bullshit.

This year I met a guy who wanted toknow why people made such a fuss about being nice and honest and giving at the end of the year, why not all year round? Fair question.

 

 

So I leave you with this question...

 

 

Honesty?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


ONLY ONE VISION

Posted by Cobaltsoul on June 2, 2010 at 8:12 AM Comments comments (0)

Anyone who's been in leadership roles in the institutional church knows that a lot has been written and said in the last twenty years about The Vision of a congregation.  Most of it's absolute nonsense.  Many of the same ideas are common in books on business management.  That fact alone ought give the thoughtful Christian reason to pause before buying into the latest vision. 


There is only one vision for Christians - love people.  Not love them so they will join the church.  Not love them so they will confess Jesus.  Not love them so they will.... do whatever it is we think they should be doing.  


Love is the only reason to love. 


Any additional reason means it's not love we are talking about and not loving we are doing. 


Love people because they are people. 

Love people because that's how we want others to engage us. 

Love people because it is the only perfect gift we can give, even when our love is imperfect. 

Love people because loving joins us with the essential nature of God. 

Love people because when we love we discover what life is fundamentally about. 


There is only one vision, to love people. 


Pour out love like it's wine in a grape glut. 

Rain down love like a metaphysical monsoon season that lasts all year round. 

Pile love so high the tower of Babel conceedes defeat to this more worthy myth. 

Find so many ways to love that you forget more than you enact even when the doing takes a lifetime. 


Love. 

What happens after that is between each person and God. 


Loving is the only vision. 


Peace. 


Mikel.

THE RULE ABOUT RULES.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on May 31, 2010 at 12:24 PM Comments comments (0)

Some of us like rules and some of us don't.


Some of us need external rules to keep us from doing stupid things because we can't maintain our own internal rules.


Some of us use internal rules very well and are therefore very successful in life.


Some of us never think about our internal rules but still create succussful lives.


I am more a principles kind of guy they tend to be a bit more flexy than rules, closer to wisdom than to laws.  That quality appeals to me.


I do have one or two rules though, very conscious ones.


I am in a developing situation and part of the reason it is developing, very nicely in my view, is that I am ignoring one of my few rules.


Reflecting on this I arrived at the question:  How do we know when it's better to break a rule than to keep it? 


In my particular case, right now, the answer flows from the purpose of my rule.  It's not a rule to save me from death or anything particularly dire.  Breaking it exposes me to the risk of emotional distress but nothing soul destroying.  Obviously if I am exposed to emotional risk then there is also the possibility of emotional benefit.  In this case, great benefits indeed.


So, I'm happy to break my own rule and see how things turn out.


So what is my Rule About Rules?

Unbreakable rules are for robots.

We are human.


Peace.

Mikel.

Full Stop.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on March 10, 2010 at 9:21 AM Comments comments (0)

Twice in the last week I've had the same surprising experience. 


I'm at university, studying a Post Grad Dip of Counselling.  In that context I'm focussed, intensely focussed, on whatever process is happening in each moment. 


In one instance we were practising basic counselling skills, I was listening to a fellow student, me in the role of helper, him in the role of client.  I was listening very hard indeed.  My fellow student was talking, about a real thing, and he got to the end of his thought, stopped speaking and sat back with a body language action that said "emphatically finished speaking".  


As helper it was my role to respond at that point, to affirm what he had already said or to invite him to continue his exploration, something to help the process continue to flow.  But my head was empty.  A huge white void, silent and still.  When he stopped I also came to a full stop.   The silence between us stretched...  I waited frantically for an idea to come into my head space, a skill, a sentence, anything to help me respond in a flow appropriate manner.  Nothing.  Empty space in my head, totally inert.  Eventually I simply turned to the Lecturer and confessed, "I got nothing."


In the second instance we were in class, engaging a tutorial on one particular theory of therapy.  I was in critical/analytical mode, weighing what was said,  looking for congruence within the model and for it's helpful and unhelpful aspects.  An entirely hard and cold cerebral mode.  The students leading the tutorial presented us with an excellent exercise to demonstrate a core concept in the particular theory.   It imagined a situation where a desperate person came to us and explained something drastic they were about to do and the question was asked, what question would you ask them?  That was directed at me and again,  my brain was frozen.  To give an appropriate answer I needed to be in counsellor mode, friend mode, empathy mode, but not critical/analytical mode.  I could not switch,  I sat there, whole class waiting for my answer, again with the empty white space in my head.  I knew there was an answer in me but that empty space refused to give way to some helpful space.  Eventually I blurted out,  "Why are you telling me this?"   Oh my god!  I knew that was a totally unhelpful question, it's not the way I'd respond to someone in that situation but it WAS the way my critical/analytical mode engaged the situation and that mode was the only one I found access to.


I would have been more honest to simply confess again, "Sorry, totally blanked on that one." 


It is a measure of how intent I am on learning in this course, how focussed I am.  More focussed than I have been for quiet a few years.  This is good, I'm loving it.  It is a joke in our culture that women can multi-task but men are single minded.  Apparently in my case it's almost literally true. :)  I'm going to have develop some strategies to help me bridge that gap, that big empty space, when it arrives again.  Find ways to let it open up to the other modes in me that can respond to the dramatic shift in context and input. 


There is a whole lot more going on inside us than we usually notice, whole landscapes and processes and mysterious dynamics.  It's pretty cool to notice a new one, maybe not actually new but the first time you notice it it feels new.  It's even cooler to notice that one part of me is actually "watching" the rest of me go about my inner business.  It's called meta-awareness and many theorists suggest it's the mental skill humans have that sets us apart.   Hmmm, until we can determine what's going on in the brains of every other animal on the planet, we can't really be sure we are the only one's with meta-awareness.


A full stop,  twice, kinda weird to experience at the time and on both occassions entirely unhelpful to the situation I was in. 

Peace,

Mikel.


BEAM OF LIGHT ON A GLOBE

Posted by Cobaltsoul on February 11, 2010 at 10:59 PM Comments comments (0)

 

The Australian National Gallery is here in Canberra, on the watefront. Right next to it is the Australian High Court, our constitutional court. These two massive concrete monstrosities are connected by a walkway. I've never really grasped the significance of that, perhaps to make it easier for the judges and lawyers to dodder over to the art gallery whenever they need to be reminded which lasts longer, works of art or works of law.


The close proximity of these two buildings does have one advantage, it's easy to string high tension wires between them and hang stuff high up in the air. Hanging up there between the two buildings, a good three stories up, is a sculpture. It is a globe, presumably hinting at the globe of the planet but that's not super clear.


The previous globe that hung up there was obviously a depiction of the planet, something like that globe that sits atop the Daily Planet building in Superman, only in colour. That globe was struck by lightning one balmy Canberra eve and blown to pieces....hmmmm.... I shall leave the gentle reader to their own devices in extracting meaning from that event beyond merely the loss of a work of art.


They replaced the globe but obviously could not put up a copy of the first globe cos that would be merely a copy of an original work of art and you can't have a COPY hanging outside the National Gallery. So they commissioned, or found, a new globe and put that up instead.


I was on the waterfront, camera in hand, trying to get some decent night time photos of a particular building that has been bugging me for months and months. I just CANNOT get a decent photo of it. It's shape and setting are entirely messing up my compositional approaches.  Driving away from that shoot I drove under the aforementioned globe. It was after 12 midnight and there was a little moisture in the air, not exactly a mist, but not pure dry clean air either. The globe has a single spotlight focussed on it, normally you don't notice this because all you can see is that the globe is well lit. The spotlight is well hidden so the globe almost seems to have it's own light. Not tonight. Tonight the air was not pure and the light passing thru the air from spotlight to globe was reflecting (or is that refracting?)off all the water droplets hanging in the air. I could see a clear beam of light, which allowed me to spy where the spotlight was positioned by following the beam from globe back to the source at the other end of the beam.


Now this was quite cool looking and if I had not already been annoyed by the inadequacies of the just completed shoot I would have stopped and got some shots of this new scene. I stored it away in my head, to keep this image in mind for the next time it's dark and there is moisture laden air to create the beam effect. The image of a beam of light shining on the planet seems potent, worth pursuing as a photographer.


The other thing about it all that struck me was that the beam was not evident until the air was less than dry and pure. It was because there was extra stuff floating in that air that I could see the beam of light.


There is something akin to a truth there about imperfections of environment or situation enabling insights or some such other metaphysical application of the concrete thing I had seen. I am disinclined to pin it down more than that.

Peace,

Mikel.

 


Knowledge Geek

Posted by Cobaltsoul on February 10, 2010 at 5:55 AM Comments comments (0)

I am a total knowledge geek.  Today was my first class in my new Post Grad Dip of Community Counselling.  I loved it.  Like a kitten in catnip.  We looked at the way counselling theories are socially constructed and the implications of that for undestanding them and understanding how to apply them.  Sounds theoretical but from my perspective, entirely practical. 


Maybe other people come at things differently but my entry point is intellectual.  I adore the discovery of challenging new ideas and arenas of thought and so far I've never found such an arena that didn't immediately strike me with it's practial, real life  relevance.  I had massive fun today.  Tomorrow is another class, I expect more fun. 


Peace,

Mikel.

Why Sad?

Posted by Cobaltsoul on February 8, 2010 at 10:13 PM Comments comments (0)

Life is full of little mysteries.  My most recent mystery has been why I've been feeling sad the last few days.  Not a huge aching sorrow, just a noticeable mist of sadness floating across my inner landscape. 


It was entirely mysterious to me as my life is looking very positive these days.  There are plenty of reasons in my past to be sad and I figured it was surely flowing from that direction but what and why now? 


As I woke up this morning and looked around my room with a fuzzy, not quite awake yet, head, the answer came to me.   I've noticed this before,  if I wake up slowly my mind often spits out useful insights and ideas while I'm in a less mentally organised space.  Never happens if I wake up to the alarm and leap out of bed focussed on getting into the day. 


What did I notice?  A few days ago I unpacked my posters and started putting them on the walls of my new bedroom/study.  Most of these posters have been in storage for nine years, since my blessed divorce.  The last time I saw them on my walls was when I was still trapped in that hellish marriage.  By putting them on my walls now I re-created enough of that old environment to stir up some of those old feelings. 


It is time to redeem these posters, to have them here, up, me enjoying them and letting these elements of my former life become attached to the good times of my life, the second half of it.  So I'll feel the sadness, honour it as a truth worthy of recognition and reflection and invite it to resolve itself a little more. 


Denying the pains of the past is pointless, we might be able to dull our awareness of the past but we continue to carry it within.  We can carry it healed or carry it weeping pus into our souls.  Our choice. 


Peace,

Mikel.

Breaking Self Consciousness

Posted by Cobaltsoul on February 7, 2010 at 3:22 AM Comments comments (0)

When I was a kid I was paralysed with self consciousness.  I can still remember going to the toilets during class and walking across an empty play ground to get to the loos, everyone in class, not a soul anywhere, but me feeling I was being watched and having to keep checking my watch, as if I was demonstrating by that act, that I was "doing something" to whoever was watching me. 


Of course no-one was watching me except me.  What a horrible way to live, always acting "for" the imagined observer rather than acting out of your own identity.


I changed that pattern in my teens and it's vanishingly rare for me to feel self conscious in the 3D world.


But I have continued to feel self conscious when I write stuff down and share it.

I've recently realised that this self consciousness has stopped me blogging here on my own website.  Thus the months long lag between my last blog and this one.


I'm trying to train into my head the idea "write first".  Part of that process is to write what I actually think, not the edited version for the assumed "critical observer".


You will see also that I've changed the categories within which I will blog.  I'll explain those in my next entry.


Peace,

Mikel.

FROM KLONG PRAO

Posted by Cobaltsoul on August 6, 2009 at 9:33 AM Comments comments (1)

Hi,

I have a few minutes to kill sitting here in an internet cafe waiting for someone to appear online.  I figured I'd blog whatever details about Koh Chang and Thai ways just leapt into my head while I sat here.   So here goes.


Koh Chang is drenched with internet cafe's.  In high season I suspect they do a roaring trade, many of them have only two computers and I can imagine all the dual computer internet cafe's doing a gangbusters business when the island is really  hopping, but that's  not the case now.  Good for me, always easy to walk into any internet cafe and get online.


The Geckos are Soooooo cute!   They are everywhere, little ones and big ones, the biggest I've seen was close to 30cm nose to tail but most are only finger sized.  Clever little fellas worked out pretty fast that the bugs come to the lights at night so outside light fittings (Though concepts like outside/inside don't really apply here.) often have three or four Geckos sitting on them, in them, hunting the bugs.   Seeing them gives me an instant time trip back to my childhood in Western Australia and all the little skinks living on the backyard fences.  I've seen the odd skink here too.


I had a Thai massage today.  Every strip of shops has multiple massage rooms, just like the internet cafes.  I've been riding a scooter for a couple of days now and the tension in my right shoulder (Accelerator handle) and all down my right back has started to bother me, so I figured, for $13 Aus I could get 45 minutes of back massaging, might do the trick.  It did, there were a few moments of pain but the overall discomfort in my back is down by about 90%, pretty good result for 45 minutes work.  I kind of felt sorry for the lady who did the job, in walks this hulking, sweaty Farang, all stone hard and twisted muscles and she has to jump up and down on him to loosen him up.  Ha.


My first week here I was with two Thai friends, they did all the translating for me and selected most of the food at restaurants.  Now that's down to me and it's not a problem until I decide to eat somewhere only locals eat.   My Thai friends already told me that there was always "food everywhere" in Thailand, they were not kidding.  Five minutes walk from the front gate of Chockadee Resort  (Actually the sign says  Chockadeere Sort but we know what it means.) are easily 15 places to eat.  The range is from open air restaurants catering only for tourists, priced to make sure locals wouldn't bother eating there and offering a mix of western and Thai foods to the one I ate at last night, an open air shed by the side of the road where Mum and Dad do the cooking right where you are sitting and there is no menu and rarely any Farang who'd need a menu.  I ate chicken fried rice because it was the only thing the cook could offer me in English.  Ha Ha.  It was good, I don't know what the cooked meat on the sticks is but I might get two of those on the way home tonight, more out of curiosity than real hunger.


Most of these shops are live in deals,  eateries or internet cafes, like this one,  have the business out the front and the family wandering around the place as well.  Here for example are at least two little ones and one young boy.  The baby boy has already given me his gun and his furry red toy.  When I gave them back he promptly shot me with the gun!  Ha, cool, I was the same as a little fella.  I don't know if the men of these families are asleep out the back or gone or off working somewhere else in Thailand but easily half of these business are run by women and I only ever seen women, even if there are kids around, on the premises.


The current excitiment in the shop is the black mouse that thought it was smarter to be inside than outside, bad idea, the young lad saw the mouse the same time I did and proceeded to hunt it around the room, part of that hunt involving the panicked mouse running over my foot as it tried to get away.  I think the mouse won the hunt, got away clean, probably never to come inside again.


Oh, Geckos, they make little chirping noises, sound cute but I think they are actually aggression sounds.  Sitting here yesterday two Geckos had a bit of tiff, speeding across the wall until they both noticed ME at the same time and froze in mid argument, but the larger one doing the chasing continued to do a lot of chirping will frozen still.  A pretty loud sound to come from such a little critter.


The official information sources tell tourists that they must wear a helmet on their scooter or the police will book them.   It's been ten days and I only just saw a police man for the first time on Koh Chang and clearly lots of other tourists drew the same conclusion, certainly most of the locals don't bother with helmets on their scooters.  I have a helmet but I'm pretty sure it is useless, I think it was a polo helmet in the past, or maybe a baseball helmet,  one layer of molded plastic is not going to save my scone from anything except a scratch.  But I've got it and I wear it, being the law abiding soul that I am.


In a curious reversal from Aus the spirits here are cheap the wine expensive.  Spirits are generally half their Aus price or less, wine generally twice the price or more.  I presume the spirits are all made  here, not imported, if they were imported I don't see how they could be half the price.


It being the rainy season here I've not expected much in the way of grand tropical sunsets.  Not got any either.  So much cloud low on the horizon the sun simply disappears before it reaches the horizon and only the palest hint of colour, if any, is on display.  I might have got something mellow but elegant tonight,  if so it's sure to turn up n the galleries when I get back home next week.


Well, my friend just came online so I'm stopping for now.

Sawadee Krap

Mikel.


First From Thailand

Posted by Cobaltsoul on July 29, 2009 at 3:08 AM Comments comments (0)

Hi from the idyllic island of Koh Chang, region of Trad, over near Cambodia. 


Some things just jump out at you when you are in "new country" mode.  Your awareness is on another level than usual.  Well, that's what it's like for me. 

This is the first time I've ever seen a mouse as roadkill! 

Scooters everywhere, never thought you could carry three adults on one scooter, but you can.  It's both cute and a bit scary to see a scooter coming toward you and just above the handlebars is some grinning little Thai child's face, clearly feeling safe sitting between his or her parents legs and arms, face in the wind. 

It's almost inspiring to have a one tonne ute go past you on the freeway, loaded so high that it's taller than it is long!   When one goes by every minute or so you start to grasp that the rules are different in this country, very much a "must do, can do" attitude.  I like it. 

I came without a belt and my shorts are falling down, you wouldn't think a belt would be a hard thing to find, but here on Koh Chang even the Tailors don't sell belts!  You can't take anything for granted in a new land.  That's part of the fun, it forces you out of "I know my world" blindness and back into full on open hearted student mode. 

Sitting on my veranda,  waves lapping at the beach, just there in front of me,  along flutters a gorgeous black butterfly with bold yellow patterns on the wings, the size of my hand, then along comes another one, from the delight I feel you'd think I'd never seen a butterfly before!  Well, it's almost like that, I've never seen THESE butterflies before. 

Sitting on the deck late last night with Kanitha and I spy movement on one of the garden lights that are scattered around the resort.  I go over and discover a smarter than average little gecko fella.  He worked out that the insects come to the light, so there he sits on the light fixture gobbling up the insects as they fly around his glowing throne. 


There are other areas that I have to recognise my ignorance in,  culture is ever the stumbling block when in country but it's often not obvious to us if everyone is speaking our language.  One other area I need to be open and flexible in is pretty important, the main reason I'm here.

 

I am here to meet Kanitha and meet her I have.  A beautiful Thai business woman I met online, half the world meets online these days, and after a few weeks of fun chat we decided a face to face would be useful.  Now I know Kanitha likes me, I know she likes the attention I give her, I know she likes my values and goals, she likes me enough to come meet me.  You would think this was enough for me to have a good sense of where I stand.  You'd be wrong.  Ha Ha.  Culture imprints us with a set of expectations and dance moves between man and woman.  We generally don't think about them, we observe them, absorb them, function in them unconsciously.  Kanitha has a different set to mine.  I know that, but knowing it doesn't really help much, except to keep me aware of my ignorance and keep me open to a steep learning curve.  Kanitha sends me a signal, without even knowing she's done it, but I don't recognise the signal as a signal, so I don't respond, then she wonders about my strange way of responding to her and asks me and I discover all manner of levels and complexities are flying past me like midnight bats in a gale force wind!  As long as I don't take things to heart it is kind of fun.  I think it's good for me,  I can get very serious about matters of the heart, I have a tendency to rush in.  I don't really have that option with Kanitha,  if I want to see our friendship's full potential then I have to go at a speed other than my own.  My ignorance helps me step out of my own groove and be more open to doing things differently.  I don't have a stellar track record with female relationships so doing things differently seems pretty cool to me.  :D


Until next time.

Peace.


Mikel Azure.