Monthly Archives: September 2016
Tagore on a Sunset Sky.
“Clouds come floating into my life,
no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add colour to my sunset sky.”
-Rabindranath Tagore 1861 – 1941
Photo: Rowena Curtin: Sunset Pittwater
The Butterfly’s Strength.
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
Photo: Rowena Curtin.
Around 18 months ago, I joined a revolutionary blogging network called: “One Thousand Voices for Compassion”. We not only write about compassion, empathy and trying to make the world a better and more connected place, we try to take that out into the real world and translate these thoughts into action. Naturally, we feel a strong need for compassion, or we wouldn’t be part of the group.
This month, we’re addressing whether compassion is innate or learned. Are we born caring about the welfare of others or is it something we learn along the way?
While I could’ve written this from my gut, instead I fleetingly perused “the science”, which seemed to support that we’re at least born with some level of compassion and that our life experiences can either nurture or diminish our compassionate selves . If you’d like to read more about the nature versus nurture debate, there’s some recommended reading.
This leaves me doing my usual thing of exploring yet another tangent, looking at why people don’t help or respond to someone’s pain, loss, discomfort…you get the gist. Why do people do nothing?
More pertinently, why do I do nothing?
That’s right. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. No matter how hard we try, people fall through our cracks, even when we know they’re falling through a dark abyss. Even though we love these people with all of our hearts.
For those of us who are part of this 1000 Voices for Compassion Movement, these personal failings are even more frustrating. After all, we are striving to be that compassionate caring person… the Good Samaritan who stops and takes care of that person in need…not the person who walks past. We think from our hearts, not from our heads and would be willing to leap tall buildings in a single bound for anyone in trouble.
So, why can’t we do it? Why can’t we always be the person we’re striving to be?
The trouble is we’re only human. That as much as we might strive to be that superhero…Don the cape, flex out muscles and take to the skies, we have so many limitations, frailties and who hasn’t ended up somehow paralyzed and glued to the spot in a stressful situation . Who hasn’t forgotten to phone a friend when you know the proverbial’s hit the fan?
Guilty as charged.
Compassion guilt…send me straight to jail…directly to jail. Do no pass Go. Do not collect $200.
We can’t be in two places at once. We can’t clone ourselves and even help everyone in our own backyards, let alone to try to save the world as we would like.
That learns us having to make choices.
Or, circumstances can also dictate our response.
This brings me back to what I’ve written before about being kind to ourselves. Understanding and being compassionate to ourselves when we don’t live up to our own principles, ideologies, which includes fighting whatever negative stuff someone else might send our way when we let them down. We’ve done our best and even when we haven’t, know we can take that life lesson back to the drawing board and hope to be a better friend or person next time.
I am rushing this through to get this up before the link closes. So I hope it make sense. I’ll be back to straighten up the rough edges.
Or, perhaps writing rough is good enough, after all.
Well, at least once and awhile.
This has been part of 1000 Voices for Compassion and if you’d like to read other contributions, please click on the Linky.
PS: I just came across a great hymn “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” over at Ann’s Corner. It guess it’s a precursor to a great slogan from our times: “Think global. Act local.” https://annofgg.com/2015/03/07/anns-corner/
Why Get Your Paws Wet?
Try telling this dog it’s not the Captain of the ship, Master of its domain?!! As I watched the boat powering through the river with the dog proudly standing at the helm, how could I let the moment pass by?
As a casual observer, I never had the opportunity to find out whether this dog was an avid swimmer and water dog or a land lover who couldn’t think of getting its precious paws wet.
However, after my recent post A Different Type of Rescue Dog where a Newfoundland Dog threw its anxious visitor far into the river to stop its yapping and get it where it wanted to go, this dog really caught my eye. He didn’t need to swim. He had a boat. No doubt a boat it considered its own.
How does your dog manage around water? Do they love swimming or perhaps they’re more into dry land. Let your stories flow!
This photo was taken at Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River, Sydney.
Photo: Rowena Newton.
Day Trip to Brooklyn, Sydney.
After intense winds swept away our sailing plans, we decided to drive home via Brooklyn, on Sydney’s Hawkesbury River. We were there a few weeks ago for a cruise but our connection with Brooklyn goes back even further. Geoff and I seriously considered buying a block of land in Brooklyn when we got engaged…almost 16 years ago. So, when we cam back for this wander around Brooklyn, it was also a case of exploring what might have been…our other life.
The railway arrived in 1877, making it less than an hour’s journey from Hornsby. A ferry service then conveyed passengers to Gosford.
When you first arrive at Brooklyn, you’ll soon notice this stone obelisk commemorating Governor Arthur Phillip’s first expedition of the Hawkesbury River. In March 1788, little more than a month after the arrival of the First Fleet, Governor Arthur Phillip led an expedition which explored the mouth of the Hawkesbury as far as Dangar Island, near Brooklyn. In June the following year, his second expedition reached as far as Wisemans Ferry. It was on this expedition that Phillip identified the river and named it in honour of Lord Hawkesbury, the president of the Board of Trade in Britain.
Fast-forwarding one hundred years, in 1877 the railway came to Brooklyn, although the town wasn’t established until 1884 when the Fagan Brothers subdivided their 100-acre grant. A ferry service conveyed passengers to Gosford, on the other side of the Hawkesbury River, until the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge was completed in 1889.
I was receiving subliminal messages telling me I needed hot chips.
However, while they might have sold fish and chips, we had a a few chickens and even a rooster thrown in.
Indeed, the rooster had quite a lot of attitude.
I also admired this anchor hanging on the wall.
As we walked around the streets, we stumbled across the old Brooklyn Post Office with its very old mail slot referring to “GR”.
Ferries, fishing boats…the Brooklyn Marina is a great place to poke around and explore. This place is rustic with a capital R with all sorts of nooks and crannies which were paradise for the kids. It was hard work trying to keep them on the track but they weren’t the only ones who wandered off either. Remember, I was there with the Nikon Beast looking through my lens at every step, seeing through 6 x 4. That made for numerous detours and so much fun.
We also found some stunning native flowers:
I also loved this incredibly beautiful gum tree:
I wonder how old this tree would be and what it has seen. If only trees could talk!!
In case you get lost in Brooklyn, this sign could give you some idea of just how far you have to walk home:
However, you can easily visit Brooklyn by train, alighting at Hawkesbury River Station in the centre of town. Indeed, if you love a bit of train spotting, Brooklyn is a great place to see the trains up close just don’t brhereeathe in as the trains go past. The stench of burning brakes could seize your lungs. You might also enjoy watching the trains pass over the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge.
Also, if you’re thinking about visiting Brooklyn , you could enjoy a Hawkesbury River history cruise. We took the cruise a few weeks ago and you can read about it here.
Meanwhile, we’re signing out for our first day of the school holidays.
The Fork in the Tree.
What do you see when you look at this tree?
Initially, I saw the fork in the road but when I look at it now I see a very flexible, headless dancer whose toe is pointing up into the clouds. Mind you, when I came up with that image, I’d chopped the top off the photo on my laptop screen. or, maybe, the dancer hasn’t shaved her legs?
Unfortunately, I also noticed this tree isn’t looking very healthy.While it is deciduous, it’s neighbours are all sprouting Spring leaves and there isn’t so much as a bud on this one. I’m hoping my suspicions are wrong but is this tree deceased?
“C’mon! Grow, baby. Grow!…Just a leaf? A sign? A glimmer of hope?”
Meanwhile, looking further up the tree, I spotted “chaos central” where there is no clear-cut fork in the road… the A & B options. Rather, these twigs graphically portrayed:
“My life is such a Mess!” or “I’m soooo confused”.
There are no patterns and no pathway through. No exit from the maze but at least there is no minotaur but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a spider’s next in there…a tribe of Huntsmen.
When you have complicated decisions to make, what do you do? How do you choose which way to go? Toss a coin? Phone a friend? Write about it? Make a list of pros and cons?
I use a range of these strategies but what I’ve finally come to appreciate the hard way, is that action outranks procrastination. That even if you make the wrong decision, that’s better than doing nothing at all. Procrastination is not my friend and yet…
Hey, I just went chasing up a quote to illuminate this post and this was the first quote I found and it was so about this tree. It must be a sign:
“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”
Robert H. Schuller
Perhaps, this tree should be renamed: “The Philosopher’s Tree”. Well, it’s certainly got me thinking and fired up a few brain cells. Dare I say, cleared out some “dead wood”?
Surely, there’s life in the old tree yet!
In a split second of eternity,
everything is changed,
A few bars of music,
rising from an unfamiliar place,
a touch of perfection in the flow of human dealings…
I lean my head slowly to one side,
reflect on the camellia on the moss on the temple,
reflect on a cup of tea,
while outside the wind is rustling foliage,
the forward rush of life is crystalized
in a brilliant jewel of a moment
that knows neither projects nor future,
human destiny is rescued from the pale succession of days,
glows with light at last and,
warms my tranquil heart.
The stunning pink camellia I’ve photographed in situ here, was lying on the mossy grass in my parent’s garden yesterday. It was about the size of a saucer and absolutely beautiful!
A taste of a Sydney Spring.
Why I’m Not Sailing!
Today, when our sailing trip with my Dad was cancelled due to strong winds, I discovered that even when you have a yacht, going sailing isn’t guaranteed and smooth sailing isn’t as easy as I thought.
Apparently, one of the first things you need to learn about sailing, is that just because you have a yacht or access to one and you’ve made plans, that there’s no guarantee that you’ll get out on the water as planned.
Indeed, it turns out that having a yacht is only a very elementary part of going sailing. Unfortunately, sailing is at the mercy of that greatest of vagaries…the weather. Of course, you don’t want to take unnecessary risks. However, when you’ve been counting down the days and you can already feel the wind in your hair, it’s only natural to feel upset. Want to fight back. Ignore the weather report. After all, where there’s a will there’s a way.
It’s good my Dad knows when to call it quits. Moreover, quite aside from risking lives, taking the kids out in rough conditions is counterproductive. We need each and every sailing experience to be a good one when they’re starting out. So, I had to be sensible and find an alternative to lessen the disappointment.
Today, we’d arranged to go sailing with my Dad. I had a routine appointment with my lung specialist in Sydney and sailing fitted in well afterwards. So, I’m sure you’ll understand that while I’m coughing away having lung function tests, that I was picturing being out on the water enjoying some smooth sailing and my disappointment when it didn’t happen. As we were driving back from the hospital, the wind was whipping through the trees and although my knowledge of sailing is pretty basic, it was looking like we wouldn’t get out.
Yet, I’m a pretty determined person and live that old adage: “where there’s a will there’s a way”.
However, you also need to be responsible and know when it’s time to think laterally and find something else to do…especially when the weather bureau is reporting 30 knot winds and making special, additional reports.
Clearly, it wasn’t the day to go out.
Yet, Geoff has the week off work and the kids are on school holidays and I didn’t feel like simply going home. We decided to stop off at Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River on the way home.
In the meantime, Dad was taking a few photos of the garden and I decided to retrieve the camera from the boot and go hunting. We’re just edging into Spring in Sydney. Lush green leaves are budding on deciduous trees, flowers are blooming and inspiration was everywhere.
My parents have a very established garden, which was initially developed by an avid gardener with then exotic plants. There’s a jungle of azaleas front and back and numerous camellias including the ginormous reticulatas, which Dad planted and more dainty sasanquas. Their garden also has quite a range of Japanese maples and there’s a stunning Crab Apple flowering by the front door at the moment.
If you are also seriously into photography, you’ll know what I mean when I say that I was walking through the garden looking through the lens, trying to pluck things out of the under and overgrowth, which would take on a life of their own in 6 x 4.
I spotted bare branches with a maze of dark sticks silhouetted against the azure sky. I saw that proverbial fork in the road as the branches split and branched out but then as you moved out toward the twiggy ends, there was such a maze of sticks. This reminded me of what it’s like to get lost and how your plans can get so badly scrambled, that you get lost in the maze..where am I? Do I even know who I am?
Fueled by the strong wings, clouds were sprinting across the sky, whisking me out of myself and into their arms. Senses overloaded, I lay down on the grass using my camera bag as a pillow, opening the eyes of my heart up to the sky. White, flossy cloud streaked across the intense blue sky like trails of cotton wool. The leaves were rustling and chattering in the wind and various birds flew by.
Indeed, while I was lying there I heard a “Scratch! Scratch!” in the undergrowth and a brush turkey was wandering by.
Despite all these “distractions”, I could feel myself melting into the grass and the full weight of life’s burdens being lifted from my shoulders. I can’t remember the last time I lay down on the grass and looked at the sky and stopped. Completely stopped…my heart rate slowing right down to R for rest.
So, although we didn’t get out on the water today, I was able to experience the same sense of deep relaxation on land.
This is an important skill for a sailor to learn. After all, just like you don’t catch a fish every time, you can’t always get a sail. So, instead of succumbing to the disappointment, you’re better off keeping an open mind and finding other ways to carpe diem seize the day.
That is, instead of dwelling on the yacht which got away.
Have you ever been sailing? Please let your stories flow!
Sailing to the Soul- Quotes Day 2.
I would like to thank Olive Ole from https://travelmuch.net/ for nominating for the 3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge.
Olive lives in Denmark and produces a stunning travel blog with some very striking images. Being Australian, I really appreciate being able to explore other parts of the world with her. So don’t hang around here – go check her out!Let me talk you through the rules of the challenge:
- Three quotes for three days.
- Three nominees each day (no repetition).
- Thank the person who nominated you.
- Inform the nominees.
On Day 2, I am nominating three people who are into sailing or water sports: