Melbourne: Sherbrooke Forest and Conversations

I am staying in Sherbrooke which I mistakingly thought was Sherwood Forest. I laugh, I have actually been to Sherwood forest in Nottingham, UK which is not a forest anymore but was remembered as the location of the Robin Hood and his merry men. So I smile.

I’m staying with a good friend of mine who is into laughter workshops. It was quite interesting about a month ago apparently the Herald Sun did a story on her work with a beautiful big colour picture of her on the front page and the inside page. To her shock and horror the article was about her charging too much and wasting public funds. The article was actually having a shot at the Government but using a small business to do it. We talked about it the other day and it turns out the business that charged the price for the laughter workshop was not her’s, it was a guy I know who actually had the same name as her business just dropping Australia off the end. I spoke to him some time later and he said the journalist tried to do the story with him and he asked what it was about, he declined. So they then asked my friend knowing she was not the company. She thought it was about promoting humour to find it wasn’t.

I wrote to this newspaper journalist and explained to her the value of wellbeing and questioning why the newspaper interviewed my friend under false pretences and what message they are sending the community. I told them about my life and told them they couldn’t publish it. I explained to them that 1 in 4 have mental illness in our society. This experience opened up a deeper discussion with my friend and I about the value placed on happiness. Some people see it as frivolous and not productive, that is because we are indoctrinated with economic paradigms which say productive work is valued and non productive work is not. We see this play out in how society values older people and children. The whole focus is economic growth not happiness. Some could say you can’t be happy without a job and food. The latter I can see Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (physiological needs food and shelter), the former is not true, you can be happy without work. Plus people will do what is natural for them and start growing their own food and finding things to create. they have done that through most of human history, it is only the last 200-300 years the agrarian revolution and industrial revolution changed the way we live. The indigenous here did it for 40-50,000 years. So the argument can easily break down. I love to reflect on Bhutan and their Gross National Happiness Index measuring happiness not economic growth. A new notion of wealth that the West or capitalist/socialist systems cannot reconcile, and certainly not on a balance sheet. So there is much work to help people to see that happiness is the number 1 goal of life and you can be happy without drowning in things you hardly use. When you are on your death bed I doubt you will be fantasizing about the flat bed t.v., the antique table, the CD collection, the microwave or dishwasher. What will flash through your mind will be your life, your family, your friends, the moments you were on holiday, your children and the happy times you had. I know from a brief experience working as a researcher in a dementia unit that people go through regrets. I feel we need to have more happy experiences.

I explained to the newspaper that they are creating the news and they are instilling in society a deeper disappointment, disillusionment about society. They are creating a society distrustful and shut down. I explained many are turning off the t.v. and not reading papers as it is depressing. I explained to them that I had attempted to approach the media some years ago to start a positive news paper. I knew the editor well, but unfortunately he couldn’t get it happening. I also recommended footnoting of articles on-line so people can check sources, it also forces journalists to use credible sources, bit like writing a journal article, you have to back up your claims, not just loose opinion pieces based on personal opinions. I would like to see journalism by all means show both sides in a balanced way but bring in conflict resolvers to offer solutions or possible pathways forward, rather than the stuckness society finds itself in, paralysed to change anything. I recommended forums to allow poeple to have a voice rather than newspapers translating people’s voices through their own filter, to actually catalyse democracy and help society find its own solutions. That is the message I sent, whether they do it doesn’t matter, the words are out there. That is how change starts. The fact that many people are going to online media is a real concern for newspapers as people are indeed moving away. So profitability will be a big concern for them, perhaps that creates the space for innovation and real public service. Well I can dream….

My friend and I also caught up with a film producer (PhD student) and her new partner. We had a really fun laughing lunch. My friend is a crazy clown like me, so we joke and carry on. They wrote to us and said they had a great time and hadn’t laughed so much. My friend is hilarious she has no cartiledge in her nose and she can move it around and push it up. It looks awful but hilarious. I observed a couple at another table looking thoroughly disgusted. Oh well can’t please everyone. I like her free attitude. She is just doing it in fun and she can be very funny.

I also caught up with another friend at a university. We are going to catch up tomorrow to check out a meditation class. I am told the couple running it are very tuned in. So out of curiosity I will go along and stay at her place. We had a good ol catch up at uni, how time flies when you are having fun.

I spent the day yesterday exploring Sherbrooke forest. The size of the trees blow my mind. It is a really beautiful national park here. It is called the Dandenong National Park. I remember a few years ago serious fires here and I did think about that, you wouldn’t want to be up here when it is summer. However, for the moment it is green and lush, lots of rain. There are lots of quaint villages where you can drop in for a coffee and listen to the birds and see some bright red parrots.

I went to Sassafras which is lovely little spot with coffee shops and my favourite shop – puppets. Oh I love this place. I am drawn like a magnet. Blow me down if I didn’t see my puppet I bought in Ireland and left in Peru (darn it). I saw it and it is a big gorgeous colourful bird that makes noises. So I bought it along with a twirly ribbon. I love this ribbon. I tried to make my own and laughingly said to the shop assistant my attempt was pretty pathetic, clearly I am a clown not good at making things. Good at making a mess (on reflection). Anyway, I left with my puppet very happy. The kids will love it.

Went down and had a coffee. I have a very interesting book that I am reading on earth changes. I don’t even think I will go into it here as it is communicating messages I doubt most people would accept. However, I want to understand what is happening on the planet and I keep my mind open. I am aware there is much I don’t know and I allow for ideas that may sound incredible and I await confirmation in my life experience. When I hear something from a range of divergent sources, I start to pay attention. Life brings you truth if you are patient and open. I am a peacemaker so I need to remain open. I am interested in a world community that is harmonious and working towards the highest good of all. This is not idealism this is a vision and it is indeed possible, just as violence and social fragmentation is possible, so is the opposite, it comes down to changing how we think and hence, see. If you want to grow, face yourself, be happy, you will start to open your mind to finding or indeed creating that. I see nothing as impossible.

I went up the road and ended up in a long conversation with a shop keeper. He had an amazing surreal painting up on his wall. I’ve seen this work before it is a picture of the world, but men are painted into the countries and there is a chess board. It has strings indicating they are puppets, it is really well done. Have taken a photo and will put it up in the gallery when I find a broadband connection. He and I ended up chatting I told him of my adventures and how I am living out of my car and travelling around. He looked at me and said I am free. He said many of us have responsibilities can’t just take off. I said I understand that but what I would say in response is it has to be a calling to do it. Not just a moment of escape, but a real feeling pulling you. That is certainly what I experience. I said maybe you are meant to be where you are and just work with that, for me I am learning about the flow of life where I am learning to tune into where I am to go next. I don’t have any idea most of the time, a rough map but I could go off on a tangent. They are not so much flights of fancy, I do feel the pull and I am learning to follow this. I see nature as a flow and I think the natural human life is flow as well, given we are nature. So I am consciously breaking away from the structure to explore what is natural. I am working on peace within myself to see what fears come up and you can’t do that staying in your comfort zone. I also explained to him the difference between joy and pleasure. The real joy is listening to yourself and doing and being what makes you happy. I see pleasure as buying things for temporary entertainment, joy is much deeper and comes from within. I experience it these days as falling in love with life and myself. I am explaining this is what real happiness feels like, it is not temporary, I feel happy I would say 98% of the time. That is not too bad, I am aiming for 100%. This is not to avoid pain, it is to live in a flow that accepts life as it shows up. I said to him the test will be when I don’t land on my feet and find I have nowhere to stay, that would be great if I can experience it positively without fear. That is the game I am playing with myself. Harmless but interesting. He was really engaged in our chat and he was deeply reflecting on what I was saying, he saw credibility in it I felt. I also told him I believe the world will change, I see it as a positive change. Of course I could be wrong, but I feel that it is coming and to approach life in a way that is positive and unafraid. The way the world is right now we are not seeing significant changes to turn the ship around ecologically or economically. Also when I see signs of increasing unhappiness I know we have lost our way. That in truth is the social barometer. So I am looking for another way that brings peace. That is my life and purpose. I am working on me, as I change the world changes.

I might add in here as an aside, my friend did a really interesting thing the other night. She actually bent a spoon. I laughed at her, so you spoon bend as well as do laughter and muck around. She smiled and said let’s do a short meditation imagining the colour orange permiating the body from the crown right down to the hands. Anyway, I kept my mind open, I didn’t really expect to bend this metal spoon but I was open if it was to happen. Blow me down she did. However, I do not find this amazing with her. This is the girl I visited in hospital who had electrodes all over her head to monitor her brain wave activity for epilepsy. Anyway, when I was there she smiled and said do you want to see how I can make all the brain waves stop. I said absolutely. She is a meditator of 20 years and she quietened the mind and all the lines except the heart rate electrode, all went flat. I actually filmed this. Then she said now watch if I think angry thoughts, watch the patterns change. So again, the lines were going erratic. I was shocked. I filmed her a few times as it was so extraordinary to see a person control the brain wave activity. So to have her bending a spoon in front of me is fine. I am sure she has many gifts. She then went online and showed me a guy who not only bends the spoon but twists it, made me think of the matrix. I said to her I am the spoon (haha). She said see it as an extension of you. I really like that as I see the planet as one continuous energy flow, so why not. When I was travelling the world, somehow I deleted this file, I never really got to go over it. I’ll have to wait for her to go into hospital again.

So there you go, life is never dull. Today I have some domestics to do and will plan a walk in the forest. We had some heavy rain yesterday so all will be fresh. I’m loving the space up here. I can hear the trees and birds calling me out to play.

So will leave it there kiddies. You have a great day and be a peacemaker in your own right. We all are if we choose. Peace is really about truth and happiness. When you start to flow in this way it does fullfill your life, that has been my experience.

Life is great

Much love and peace,

a Peacefull clown

Mohandas Gandhi

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”