Mikel Ocean Azure

A SOUL IN SHADES OF BLUE.

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Thinking on the run and chewing the practical fat with fellow travellers.

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Cynicism Is Laziness With It's Chest Puffed Out.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on June 18, 2010 at 10:51 AM Comments comments (0)

The older I get the less patience I have with cynical attitudes and cynicism in general.


I have even less patience when people are cynical about me or my motives.  There is a handful of people who know me well enough to challenge my actions or motives based on knowledge and insight.  Anyone else who cops a cynical stance towards me is more than likely projecting their own shit rather than perceiving mine.


Cynicism being the world view that starts with the assumption that people's motives are always base and selfish.


It's a lazy stance to take. 


It's lazy because it's rarely based on reasoning or deep philosophical engagement.  Most modern cynics are simply emotionally bruised or tired and rather than dealing with THAT, they adopt a brittle shell of pessimism which is supposed to protect them from emotional investments that might get them further bruised.


It can be costly to believe in people.

In any arena high expectation are always going to be disappointed sometimes.

That does not invalidate the high expectations.

Expecting goodness from people is a sure way to encounter disappointments.

People will disappoint us.


That can hurt, and deeply.

The lazy response is to get cynical.

To turn the disappointments into the only truth we feel, the only truth we allow.


The cynics inevitably sneer at the people who do not share their stance. 

They adopt a superior attitude..."I'm the mature and wise one here, you all are naive and blinded by your wishful thinking...".  As if puffing out your chest, big noting yourself, makes your cynical stance something different from a lazy self protection strategy.


Except for those very rare occasions when the person who disappoints us actually kills us,  other people's human frailty is not going to kill us.

Yes, it hurts.

Sometimes a little bit.

Sometimes massively.

Just as our human frailty is, from time to time, going to cause small and great hurts to other people.


Some people are selfish.

Some people are even malicious.

Such sad souls are a minority.

Most of us are simply frail and fumbling and falling far short of our aspirations and our self image.


If you're an athlete and in competition you get physically hurt.  You don't curl up and say, "You're all horrible I'm not playing any more."  You take the hit, you take a deep breath, you accept it's going to happen again at some point then you get on with what matters.


If you're a student or an academic and one of your hard sweated over papers gets easily dismissed by your peers or marked as mediocre by your lecturer, you don't burn all your books and stop thinking for the rest of your life.  You wince, you have a grump for an hour or a day then you go back, read your work again, work out how to do better and get back to doing what really matters.


The athlete who stops because it hurts is no longer an athlete.

The academic who stops because it hurts is no longer an academic.


The human who stops because it hurts.........


Peace,

Mikel.

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.

Leadership Corruption and The Prophetic.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on May 26, 2010 at 2:23 AM Comments comments (0)

The Jewish and the Christian traditions of spiritual community have at least one response to the reality of leadership power corrupting leaders.


Prophets.


Prophets were/are people, sometimes a whole group can have the same function,  who challenge the formal and informal leaders of a community about the motivations and effects of their exercise of power within and over a community.  They also hold the community responsible for what the community allows to become true of the life of the community, it's management, values, direction.


Prophets are rarely welcome, by either leadership or by the community.  Prophets do not allow the hidden to stay hidden, they make life difficult for everyone.   True prophets do not have self interest, or at least, their need or commitment to speaking truth is stronger than their self interest. 


Prophets need to stand "outside" the community because if they become a leader within the community they immediately are themselves subject to the corruptive power of now being a leader people think of as "one of us" but who is not.   Classic prophets are not seen by the community as "one of us", the classic prophet wields no influence, are not welcomed, are not rewarded.    Any prophet who is welcomed and rewarded for speaking prophetically, inevitably moves from prophet to false prophet.  They become just another of the power corrupted leaders in the community. 


Prophets can be corrupted by their role.  They can think they are always right, when in reality they are as likely to be wrong as right, to mistake their own likes and dislikes for perception of a larger Truth.  Prophets can fool themselves into thinking they like being isolated and maligned.   No healthy human enjoys being excluded from community.  Once the prophet denies the pain of their isolation they will start to adopt attitudes and behaviours that have nothing to do with any truth, that serve only to magnify the "magnificence" of their isolation and weirdness.  This prophet serves only the truth of how much they superficially enjoy their unique role as the Outside, the Rogue, the Mystery figure.


The more powerless the prophet the more chance their contributions will remain truly prophetic,  potentially genuinely insightful and corrective if considered humbly by community and leaders.


Think about it.


Mikel.





The Dialogue: What is Leadership Corruption?

Posted by Cobaltsoul on May 26, 2010 at 2:02 AM Comments comments (0)

I've referred to the corrupting quality of power but have not described or defined what that corruption actually is.


This is my first shot at exploring that description.


People are what matters. 

The only root purpose worthy of pursuit is helping people enjoy life and enjoy it more deeply, more widely, more freely, more generously, more, more more LIFE for more, more, more PEOPLE.   


Just in case you misunderstood that,  I did not say "helping a person", it's a PEOPLE thing, plural, not individualistic. 


In terms of leading a community this root purpose equates to good, honest, healthy leadership being the leadership which produces the most life, quality and quantity, in the most inclusive way and mutually respectful way for the widest range of community members.


Power corrupts leadership in this way - people with power, formal or informal leaders,  immediately see themselves, consciously or unconsciously, as different to the community at large.  Hidden in that difference is the reality that these leaders start to pursue what is good for them rather than what is good for the community they now see themselves as different from.  It may be a small thing at first but it's a corruption, and it grows.  When you have more power than the community members generally have you immediately percieve yourself as different from the community and your goals likewise differentiate.


Soren Kierkegaard said that purity of the heart is to will one thing.  Power corrupts leadership because with power comes a second purpose, a purpose not fundamentally about helping the most community members enjoy the best quality of community life they can.  The second purpose flows from the fact that the leader(s) become, consciously or unconsciously, a community within the community and their first loyalty is to this smaller community.  They may deny it to themselves,  makes no difference,  the dynamic is psychologically inescapable.


Think about it.


Mikel.

Leadership: Formal and Informal.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on May 26, 2010 at 1:42 AM Comments comments (0)

If you've been in leadership and you've been paying attention you will have noticed that there are at least two categories of leadership.


Formal leadership - the official leader or leaders,  appointed by some sanctioned process and given clear powers with regard to community management and direction setting. 


Informal leadershp - people or groups that exert strong, consistent influence on what happens in the community (Management) and what direction the community moves.


The relationship between both categories often determines the politics of that community, and every communty has "politics".


Sometimes the informal leadership becomes, by a legitimate process, the formal leadership of the community.  That might sound like a good thing, sometimes, for a while, it is.  But, due to the corrupting quality of power, the increased power of being the formal leadership (While still having the power accrued as the informal leadership) quickly (Ironically) starts to erode the dynamics of that informal leadership credibility and influence and the reaction of most such leaders is then to focus further on the formal powers of influence they have which speeds up and magnifies the way that power warps them and corrupts them. 


More commonly the formal leadershp and the informal leadership are in competition for the influence within the community.  In this competition the formal leadership is actually at a disadvantage, everything they do they are accountable for, it's generally done in public view.  The informal leadership is not accountable to anyone except themselves, very often the members of the community don't really identify the informal leaders AS leaders.  They just think of them as "my friend" or "the guy who's been here from the start" or some such.  Because they are not seen as even informal leaders no-one measures their actions in terms of responsibility or accountability. 


Imagine for a moment the corruptive potential in that leadership process.  You can wield influence over this part of a group of people's lives, without ever being asked to explain yourself, justify your motives or your actions, you can have power in the shadows.  


Power corrupts formal and informal leadership in the same way.   If you are reading this and you are an informal leader, don't kid yourself  that your motives and processes are any cleaner than the formal leaders.  They are not. 


Think about it.


Mikel.

The Problem of Power and Leadership.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on May 16, 2010 at 12:46 AM Comments comments (0)

Power corrupts.  You've probably heard that idea before.  In it's classic formulation it is extended by the statement "...and absolute power corrupts absolutely." 

I think the first part of the statement can be tested by any honest human, we all have power of some kind somewhere at sometime in our lives, we are able to reflect on it and the effect it had on our thinking, our self awareness, our attitudes to others and our actions. 


If we are honest we will see, power bends us out of True. 


This is a problem for anyone who believes that creating community is a primary human goal and meets a fundamental human need.  


Communities do not exist without leadership.  The nature of that leadership can be very diverse but the fact that it IS leadership cannot be avoided.  In any community some people will accrue more power than others. 

That process might be legitimate and transparent or it might be covert.  Even if the process of someone accruing leadership influence and power is legitimate the effect on them is still going to be corruptive. 


I'm going to have to write several blogs about this idea as I've made statements without giving examples or arguments at this point.  So consider this blog as "dot points" on this particular issue.  These blog entries are going to be "quick and dirty", what you might call "old school" blogging, thinking on the run, no concern for finesse or seamless integration of all the parts. 


It says in Philippians chapter 2 that in Jesus God chose to become empty and powerless and we are urged to do likewise. 


So there is the problem, if we want to nurture a community of people enjoying the love of God how do you do this without the corrupting effect of leadership power bending people out of shape? 


The Christian tradition, in the stories of the Old and New Testament is full of leaders, leadership is inevitable.  Corruption of those leaders is inevitable.  If I'm correct that's a pretty lousy situation to deal with. 


So, how do we deal with it? 


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.


The Body Speaks.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on March 8, 2010 at 10:49 PM Comments comments (0)

 

 

I wrote this eight years ago and it's stil true today.


I am hungry for sex like a wolf is hungry for meat.

I am hungry for a woman’s touch like a desert is hungry for rain.

I am hungry to express my bodies potency like a fire is hungry to burn.

This hunger flickered into existence when I was about 11. It continues to grow. Forget what is said about a man reaching his ‘peak’ at 18. The more I mature, the more I become me, the deeper my sexual hunger becomes.


I am done with those who fear sexuality and I long ago dismissed those who trivialise it. Passion and pleasure are designed into Life. The creation of God not the corruption of demons.

We live in a society obsessed with control, afraid of freedom. Some of us hide from the power of our sexual desire behind endless rules. Some of us hide from the responsibility of our sexual potency behind a self obsessed hedonism. Both ways destroy life and steal away the intended joy.


I am hungry for sex. Sometimes my body is like a huge furnace on the inside. Incandescent fire flows along my nerves till my whole body sings heat like a choir of volcanoes. I love it. I love being so full of desire that my body reaches a peak of tensioned silence, like the earth a breath before it quakes.


I love feeling the need in my body to be touched by a woman. I love the way different parts of my body cry out for passion or whisper for tenderness. Speaking to me of deep things in my spirit. Reminding me of profound intimacies available to me for joy and enjoyment.


A wise young mate of mine, noticed last year that when he was sexually aroused by female beauty he became sensitised to all other beauties as well.  What a gift! Male sexual hunger opening us up to beauty.


My hunger for sex constantly drags me into the Now. The power of my need is felt in the present and so it keeps my attention in the here and now. You are daydreaming, someone speaks to you but you don’t notice, you are lost in some reverie about the past or a hoped for future. Then someone calls your name! You are immediately back in the present, alert to what is real, what is now. Drawn back into the only moment in which you can live.

My sexual hunger is me speaking my name into my body, calling my name, drawing my attention to the only moment in which I can live. This moment.


I love that my body is hungry for sexual intimacy. My body is ready for all that can be communicated in the touch of love and desire. In this my body speaks for my spirit, all of me is ready for intimacy and thus it is that my body gives witness – I AM READY. That feeling of constant readiness is a promise to me, a promise that sometime, somewhere my hunger will be met by a woman’s hunger. We will feast on joy as our hunger is transformed by love into a life giving intimacy.


Today I do not have a lover, nor do I know how long it may be before that situation changes. This does not reduce the joy I experience in being sexually hungry. I love being male, I love being horny. I love the reality of this particular masculine potency being expressed in the only way my current situation allows –in the ageless song my body sings.

Chant of tireless power.

Wail of untapped passion.

Ancient song of a man’s good hunger.


Peace,

Mikel.

 

 

 

 

 


Attitude To Rain

Posted by Cobaltsoul on March 7, 2010 at 1:54 AM Comments comments (0)

I went for a walk over to the nearby shopping centre.  While I was inside it started to rain so I took the opportunity to have a mocha and a muffin at a sidewalk cafe.  So I could enjoy the rain.  Sitting there with the creamy smooth flavours rolling across my tongue I watched my fellow travellers coming and going thru the light and refreshing rain. 


Rain was making beautiful sounds as well as sights.  The faint soft staccato of drops hitting the pavement and the roofs.  The liquid swiiissshhh of tyres thru water as cars cruised by and the noisy ribbons of water rushing eagerly from downpipes to make temporary rivulets across the pebbled pavement. 


There was a crosswalk close to my table.  It was uncovered so anyone using it had to step out into the rain from the protection of the covered sidewalks.  I spied a father pushing a shopping cart with one hand and carrying his young son in the other arm. 

The lad was somewhere between one and half and two years old.  Pale ginger hair crowned his cheerful looking face.  As the Father looked out at the crossing to make sure it was safe I had a moment to wonder how the boy would respond when the rain started kissing his ginger locks.  Would he notice?  Would he start to cry?  Would he think it was fun? 


Out into the rain they stepped, it took about four steps, at first the boy noticed the rain on his face and was momentarily puzzled, then he understood. 

His head went back as he looked up into the rain and he opened both his arms, palms up, to feel the rain the most he could. 


As the rain fell gently across his face and onto his open palms his eyes opened wide and his smile grew large with delight.


Watching him, so did mine.


Mikel.


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