Tag Archives: peace

Monet’s Greatest Work.

There’s a fine line between madness and genius. Indeed, I’m currently feeling like the madness side of the equation has taken hold of my brain, but sadly I’m missing the genius component. I know what I’m wanting to say, and yet my brain’s stuttering and I can’t quite get the story out. Meanwhile, Monet, the man who is rattling my brain, was a mixture of the two. Moving into his twilight years, Monet was a man not only possessed by his water lilies, but was also trying to create what could well have been his greatest gift to humanity.Yet, afflicted by failing eyesight and chronic self-doubt, he was floundering. Indeed, he wrote to a friend that “Age and chagrin have worn me out. My life has been nothing but a failure, and all that’s left for me to do is to destroy my paintings before I disappear.” So, I’m hoping that you’ll join me on another detour. One which could well be life-changing.
After visiting Monet’s stunning garden at Giverny, now we’re catching the train to Paris, where we’ll be meeting up at the Jardin de Tuilleries, not far from the Louvre. From there, we’ll be heading into the Gallerie de L’Orangerie to experience Monet’s incredible gift to the French nation and humanity…a spectacular series of water lily paintings. Monet gifted the paintings to the French nation on November 12, 1918, the day after Armistice and two days before his 78th birthday. Monet wasn’t only wanting to commemorate peace. He also wanted to create a peaceful place, where those shaken up by the war could rest their weary souls:
“You see, while shrapnel from mortars, grenades and, above all, artillery projectile bombs, or shells, accounted for an estimated 60 percent of the 9.7 million military fatalities of World War I, it was soon observed that many soldiers arriving at the casualty clearing stations who had been exposed to exploding shells, although clearly damaged, bore no visible wounds. Rather, they appeared to be suffering from a remarkable state of shock caused by blast force. This new type of injury, a British medical report concluded, appeared to be “the result of the actual explosion itself, and not merely of the missiles set in motion by it.” In other words, it appeared that some dark, invisible force had in fact passed through the air and was inflicting novel and peculiar damage to men’s brains.

“Shell shock,” the term that would come to define the phenomenon, first appeared in the British medical journal The Lancet in February 1915, only six months after the commencement of the war- https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-shock-of-war-55376701/

lorainger
The Gallerie de L’Orangerie explains his achievement:
“This unique set, a true “Sixtine of Impressionism”, in the words of André Masson in 1952, testifies to Monet’s later work. It was designed as a real environment and crowns the Water Lilies cycle begun nearly thirty years before. The set is one of the largest monumental achievements of early twentieth century painting. The dimensions and the area covered by the paint surrounds and encompasses the viewer on nearly one hundred linear meters which unfold a landscape dotted with water lilies water, willow branches, tree and cloud reflections, giving the “illusion of an endless whole, of a wave with no horizon and no shore” in the words of Monet. This unique masterpiece has no equivalent worldwide.”
The Gallerie also did a far better job than I, on explaining Monet’s difficulties in completing the series:

It was in 1914, at the age of 74, when he had just lost his son and could see no hope for the future, that Monet felt a renewed desire to “undertake something on a grand scale” based on “old attempts”. In 1909, he had already told Gustave Geffroy that he wanted to see the theme of the water lilies “carried along the walls”. In June 1914, he wrote that he was “embarking on a great project”. This undertaking absorbed him for several years during which he was beset by obstacles and doubts, and when the friendship and support of one man proved decisive. This was the politician Georges Clemenceau. They met in 1860, lost touch, and met up again after 1908 when Clemenceau bought a property in Bernouville near Giverny. Monet shared Clemenceau Republican’s ideas, and we also know of Clemenceau’s keen interest in the arts. During the war, Monet continued his work alternately in the open air, when the weather was suitable, and in the huge studio that he had had built in 1916 with roof windows for natural light. On 12 November 1918, the day after the Armistice, Monet wrote to Georges Clemenceau: “I am on the verge of finishing two decorative panels which I want to sign on Victory day, and am writing to ask you if they could be offered to the State with you acting as intermediary.” The painter, therefore, intended to give the nation a real monument to peace. At this time, when it was still not certain where the decorative series was destined, it seems that Clemenceau managed to persuade Monet to increase this gift from just two panels to the whole decorative series. In 1920, the gift became official and resulted, in September, in an agreement between Monet and Paul Léon, director of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, for the gift to the State of twelve decorative panels that Léon would undertake to install according to the painter’s instructions in a specific building. However, Monet, prey to doubt, continually reworked his panels and even destroyed some. The contract was signed on 12 April 1922 for the gift of 19 panels, but Monet, still dissatisfied, wanted more time to perfect his work. Clemenceau wrote to him in vain that year “you are well aware that you have reached the limit of what can be achieved with power of the brush and of the mind.” But, in the end, Monet would keep the paintings until his death in 1926. His friend Clemenceau then put everything into action to inaugurate the rooms for the Water Lilies in strict accordance with Monet’s wishes.http://www.musee-orangerie.fr/en/article/history-water-lilies-cycle

Unfortunately, I didn’t know about this exhibition when I was in Paris, and as I’ve mentioned before, with my love of expressionist art, I wasn’t as keen on Monet at the time. However, now I can just imagine what it would be like to stand in the middle of that room surrounded by Monet’s lilies and the deep sense of peace and serenity which must fill the room, as though Picasso’s dove of peace had built its nest in there. It feels like a miracle.
Have you ever been to the Gallerie de l’Orangerie? What was it like? How did it feel? I’d love to hear from people who’ve experienced the collection first hand!
Best wishes,
Rowena

P- Pablo Picasso: Letters to Dead Artists…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome to my A-Z Challenge Series: Letters to Dead Artists. With my most sincere apologies to Australian artists Margaret Preston and Thea Proctor, I’ll be writing to Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), largely due to his work towards world peace, something we should never give up on. Hence, John Lennon’s Imagine was a natural choice to accompany Picasso.

If you are more familiar with Picasso’s cubist works, you might not have made the connection with how he used his art to promote peace and deplore war. In 1937, incensed by the inhumane German bombings on Guerica during the Spanish Civil War, he painted Guerica, which he displayed at the Paris Exhibition as a political statement. I’m not too proud to admit, I knew nothing about this, but at least I’m always willing to learn.

However, I was familiar with his Dove of Peace, but not the story or image behind it.

Guernica Pablo Picasso

Guernica, Pablo Picasso, 1937.

Even if you are not familiar with Guerica, you’ll probably be familiar with Picasso’s very simple outline of a dove, which is still used today to represent peace. That design grew out  a lithograph of a fan-tailed pigeon (Matisse had given the bird to Picasso), which appeared on the poster for the inaugural World Peace Congress in Paris in 1949. When Picasso’s daughter was born on the eve of the Paris Peace Congress, he poignantly named her Paloma, the Spanish word for dove[1]. In 1950, when Picasso spoke at the Peace Congress in Sheffield, he recalled how his father had taught him to paint doves, and finished with the words: “I stand for life against death; I stand for peace against war”.

Antonio Banderas, who will be playing Picasso in the National Geographic’s upcoming: Genius: Picasso, touched on Picasso’s activism:

“He was not only a man who was very capable painting, drawing the reality, but he put that at the service of the political and social context of his time, a guy who was a visionary and had a long sight for the future and, also, an introspection of himself, a reflection about life itself,” Banderas says. “That was very important.[2]

By the way, Banderas was born and raised in Picasso’s home town of Malaga, and used to walk past his house as a child:

“[It was] a time in Spain in which we didn’t have too many international heroes, so Picasso trespassed that barrier at a time in which we were pretty much isolated by the dictatorship with [General] Francisco Franco in power,” Banderas says.

“So I grew up with the projection of this huge artist who was capable of actually making the people all around the world fall in love with his art, and he was [from] my hometown, and I was able to just see the house where he was born. That was very important for me.”

Once upon a time, I could believe in peace. Peace at any cost. However, now I also understand that sometimes you need to get up and fight and that we as a nation might have to go to war. That we must defend our borders, and the universal principals we hold dear such as freedom, equality and justice. Unfortunately, the nature of modern day terrorism, has muddied the waters. Now, it’s much harder to recognize the enemy. It could be anyone, anywhere at any time. Yet, we still need to be inclusive. Love our neighbour as ourselves, and not let the terrorists win, by having the rest of us lock ourselves up in our self-made prisons. So, while Picasso created that dove of peace over 60 years ago, it still means as much to us now as it did then.

Picasso’s Blue Period 1901-1904

In addition to his peace work, I feel inexorably drawn towards the paintings of his Blue Period, which were heavily influenced by the suicide of his best friend and fellow Spanish artist, Casagemas. The works of this period are characterized by their blue palette, sombre subject matter, and destitute characters. His paintings feature begging mothers and fathers with small children and haggard old men and women with arms outstretched or huddled in despair. Picasso was heavily influenced by the Symbolist movement and a revival in interest in the art of 16th-century Spanish artist El Greco.

The Blue Room 1901

Picasso, The Blue Room.

Casagemas (1880-1901), the son of the American consul general in Barcelona, was a painter and poet, and accompanied Picasso to Paris to visit the World’s Fair in autumn 1900. There, he fell in love with Laure Gargallo, known as Germaine, who ultimately spurned his affections. In despair, Casagemas committed suicide, shooting himself at the Hippodrome Restaurant in Paris on February 17, 1901, after first attempting to kill Germaine. Picasso was in Barcelona at that time, but was deeply affected by the news, as anybody who loses a friend to suicide always is. However, two things I find quite intriguing here, is that when Picasso returned to Paris in May 1901, he took up residence in Casagemas’s former apartment and also began a liaison with Germaine. I find this very difficult to understand, and to me, it feels like he’s almost trying to step inside his dead friend’s skin. However, it also could have been, that the apartment was offered to him rent-free and it was more of a practical decision. Personally, I would’ve found it emotionally impossible to live in the home of a dead friend, and could well have left Paris entirely.

Old_guitarist_chicago

Pablo Picasso, The Old Guitarist, Art Gallery of Chicago.

Anyway, my favourite from his blue period is The Old Guitarist, where the blind musician bends over his guitar in an attitude of exhaustion and hopelessness. Like the figures of El Greco’s paintings, the guitarist’s features are attenuated and angular.[3]” It reminds me of a poet I met in Paris whose lover had thrown his guitar into the River Seine in a jealous rage. I can’t even remember his name anymore, but he was from Brooklyn and I met him at the Shakespeare Bookshop, when I was preparing for my reading. Things clearly weren’t going well for him, as he gave me a swag of his poems, the way one does when you don’t need them anymore. Anyway, clearly ours was a very short story. Not even a Haiku.

picasso-annotated-poem

Picasso The Poet

Finally, I wanted to share with you a bit of Picasso’s poetry. This has been yet another one of my discoveries during this series, and I really am starting to feel like I knew nothing at all about these artists before I embarked upon this journey. In the case of Picasso, I wasn’t too keen on his later cubist works, but really empathized with his blue period and Dove of Peace. So, I guess that encourages me to look beyond those few iconic works the world portrays as “THE Artist” and see what else you can find. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the time for that, but possibly through seeing more exhibitions and watching documentaries, we might be able to find our own view of an artist and, which might not be the so-called “greatest”, but become our own. After all, no one dictates which artists or their works we have to like or dislike. That’s our personal choice, but to fully capitalize on that we need to venture further afield away from the headlines and peer beyond the flow.

Anyway, back to Picasso’s poetry. He could very well be writing about my days in Paris when a deep and compassionate friendship became yet another victim of the male-female friendship debacle (which I’ll call the When Harry Met Sally Disease for all of you old enough to have that movie still etched in your heart like me!!) Quite aptly, it is called: Does She Know I Am There? I Doubt. –

You are beauty personified. You are charm solidified.
Without you, darling, it is a moonless night. I shall go to the ends of the world with or without a fight to seek you forever. Does it matter if the infinities crumble?
Does it matter if the worlds tear apart? You are the only one important to me, darling.

My entire being recognises and responds to you. I know it when you are close by. I can almost feel the sense of your cheeks on my lips. Your hair is my forest of ecstacy.

Your heartbeat is the only sound I’d give up everything for, love! Each time our eyes meet, my heart speeds, I only wish our hearts could join too.

Who said jealousy is green? It is fuming red. Each time I see you there, casting an occassional glance at me, my heart pumps sadness into my veins. I regret being unable to talk to you. How should I explain my love to you?

Each day I stand so far, hoping that someday, the distance would become a bond. Your countenance lacerates me. Why am I so heavy? Oh, right! Because. I am carrying someone else inside me, my heart that belongs to you

Perhaps, this is a great juncture to stop writing about the man, and start writing to Picasso instead.

writing in Paris

Writing on the Window Sill at the Hotel Henri IV July, 1992.

A Letter To Picasso

Dear Picasso,

Where were you when I needed you? I’ve only just found your poetry as a mature 40 something mother and wife, when I really could’ve used it when I was in Paris as a heartbroken 23 year old who lived and breathed poetry with every breath.

No one ever warned about the ugly side of Paris. How the “City of Lights” so easily become a sewer of darkness, horror and despair where the menacing gargoyles jump off the roof of Notre Dame and circle overhead. The pain was so excruciating and as a writer, there was only one way to get it out. I abandoned my room in the Henri IV Hotel with its twisting spiral staircase, and set up residence beside the River Seine next to Pont Neuf with my notebook and pen. I was writing, writing, writing raw pain dripping from my pen onto the page, hour after hour, oblivious to all danger and any thought of sleep. Heartbreak can consume your soul, all sense of the wider world and everything you have ever been or worked towards all disappears, and all that matters is their eyes. That love, compassion and connection which goes so much further than a physical connection ever could. I’ve been told: “Ro, you know how to find them!” Well, I also know how to lose them and how much that hurts.

However, that was a long time ago. Indeed, I now look upon that young, naive girl as someone else. For better or worse, I’ve grown so much stronger. Indeed, I’m made of steel. Moreover, like most parents, I carry the world on my shoulders and wouldn’t be the first parent who’s fantasized about a little getaway. Indeed, some days even walking down the end of the street to our local beach seems like trying reach the other side of the world. It doesn’t take much for the To Do List to build four walls around me Lego brick by tiny Lego brick and fence me in.

Anyway, as I’ve already made clear to some other artist in one of these letters, all this is about to change. I’m going to find my feet and start walking. You just ask my physio. She had grand plans. Actually, they’re not all that grand. She only wants me to find 30 minutes three times a week and a ten minute walk on other days. That isn’t much, is it? Especially when all you artists keep telling me that walking kept you sane or at least saner than you might have been.

Anyway, I just wanted to ask you about what we can do help make your dove of peace a reality? Wars just never seem to cease, and people seem more intent on blowing each other up than trying to talk and sort things out.

Best wishes,

Rowena

A Letter From Picasso

My Dear Rowena,

I am so sorry to hear that you too experienced that horrible heartache of Paris. As you know, my best friend Carlos, suffered the same fate. I should’ve seen it coming and wasn’t there for him. You know how it is you replay and replay and replay something in your mind and try to change what happened, but it’s pointless. You can only change things moving forward, not going backwards. That is one of life’s hardest lessons, my friend.

There’s not much I can tell you about Paris, except that it became my home.

Next time you’re there, might I suggest take The Travel Guide to Picasso’s Paris . Then you’ll know me a little better.

By the way, I have been reading some of your blog posts and you have such a heart to help ease even the suffering of people you’ve never met. Never give up and keep carrying that dove of peace in your heart. You might not be able to change the world, but one by one the numbers add up.

By the way, I’ve also heard you keep all the paintings from your rainbow period shut away in a portfolio behind your closet. That should be a crime. How could you hide your art away? I want to see it framed and signed before the end of this series or I’ll set the gargoyles loose. Trust me, they know how to find you.

Best wishes,

Picasso.

References

[1] http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-liverpool/exhibition/picasso-peace-and-freedom/picasso-peace-and-freedom-explore-2

[2] https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/get-it-right-or-never-go-home-antonio-banderas-reveals-his-fear-of-picasso-20180413-h0yq1v.html

[3] http://www.artic.edu/collections/conservation/revealing-picasso-conservation-project/pablo-picasso-and-blue-period

 

“One Australian.”

Barefoot with Vegemite smeared across her face, Lilly was running through ancient alleyways exploring her mother’s homeland.  With a Jewish mother and Palestinian father, her parents had moved to Australia… a modern story of Romeo and Juliette and love borne out of hate.

Yet, that hate had tracked them down. Grabbed them by the throat, until they choked. There was no escape. As the twists and turns of a war she didn’t understand flew from side to side, Lilly learned the Kookaburra Song.

“LILLY!” The scream echoed with reverberating anguish.

When she grew up, Lilly wanted to be a ballerina…

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers. PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

…..

I struggled a bit with this prompt, as I’ve never been to Israel and was struggling to think of something and I remembered what it was like to go exploring as a child and how we ran barefoot through paddocks, and poked underneath my grandparents’ house so freely without any thought of danger. Growing up in Sydney, war was always somewhere else, although there had been some bombings by the Japanese during WWII, most notably on Darwin. So, I grew up with an idea of being safe.

At university, I remember meeting someone with a Serbian father and a Croatian mother and how they’d moved out to Australia to start a new life together and that inspired this story. That, along with the struggle many immigrants experience finding some sense of identity and belonging when the boundaries of home are blurred.

So, Lilly grows up eating Vegemite and singing the Kookaburra Song at school, which every Australian child learns and it’s usually sung as a round. Meanwhile, despite moving to Australia, her parents are still caught up in this war back home. There is no escape. Unfortunately, Lilly, the child of their love and an absolute innocent, becomes the the victim of that war.

Tragically, this sort of thing happens two often. Two Australians were killed in the recent London Bridge attack.

Oh for a perfect world.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with the words of the Kookaburra Song:

 

Kookaburra

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Merry merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,
Gay your life must be!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Eating all the gum drops he can see.
Stop Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra
Save some there for me!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Counting all the monkeys he can see.
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra
That’s not a monkey, that’s me!

Here are some alternatives that have been created over the years.
See if you can add some more to the collection.

Kookaburra sits on a rusty nail,
He gets a sore in his tail.
Cry, Kookaburra, cry, Kookaburra,
How cruel life can be!

Kookaburra sits on electric wire,
Jumping up and down with his pants on fire.
Ouch, Kookaburra, ouch! Kookaburra,
Hot your tail must be!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Eating all the gum drops he can see.
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra
Gay your life must be!

xx Rowena

F-Ferndene, Tasmania.

“When we walk slowly, the world can fully appear. Not only are the creatures not frightened away by our haste or aggression, but the fine detail of fern and flower, or devastation and disruption, becomes visible. Many of us hurry along because we do not want to see what is really going on in and around us. We are afraid to let our senses touch the body of suffering or the body of beauty.”

Joan Halifax

Welcome to Day 6 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

Today, we’re driving from Eaglehawk Neck, South of Hobart to Penguin in search of Ferndene, a local nature reserve.

Map Eaglehawk Neck to Penguin

It’s 343.8 KM from Eaglehawk Neck to Ferndene, Penguin via Highway 1…a journey of 4 hours and 3 minutes.

Penguin is located on Bass Strait on Tasmania’s North Coast and has a beautiful sandy beach with some very striking basalt boulders covered in orange lichen. However, we’ll get back to that when we return to Penguin for letter P…a long way down the track.

Indeed, it was quite a search to find Ferndene. Being quite a long way down Ironcliffe Road, it is off the beaten track and difficult to find. Indeed, you really need to be a local, or speak with one, to find out about it. This also means that you won’t find rows of tourist buses parked out the front. Or, that you’re having to share your solitude with the throngs. You can commune with nature all by yourself under the shade of a giant man fern and dream you’re one of the wee folk. Well, that is if that’s what takes you fancy.

I hope you’ve brought your walking shoes because it’s a half hour walk to the old mine site. While the old mine isn’t that exciting, the gigantic, towering eucalpyts and huge man ferns are magical and on the day we went back in January, there was what I consider to be a perfect sky…bright blue dotted with white, sheepy clouds. Wow! I could just lie there watching the clouds float by forever if I was there by myself…and I didn’t have so much of Tasmania to squeeze into 3 weeks!

dsc_6994

 

While we pretty much had the place to ourselves, we did run into a group of young film makers down there and this very interesting lizard character, who was only too happy to pose for yours truly.

 

 

 

Well, it’s only fitting that we duck back down into Penguin for some fish and chips for dinner. The fish and chips in Tassie overall are great and there was only one place that was a bit average. You’ll also notice that the batter used on the fish is bright orange. This intrigued us so much, that I eventually asked someone how they did it. They add orange food colouring to the batter. I must admit I was gobsmacked, shocked etc as I really try to stay away from all of that. Colours do nasty things to the kids and I don’t think they’re good for me either. All the same, the fish and chips was fantastic and we also had a great piece of apricot crumble…highly recommended!

DSC_6764.JPG

How are you finding our trip around Tassie so far? I hope you haven’t been tempted to dart off on any detours without me, have you? Have you snuck back to Ashgrove Farm to Seize the Cheese? Or, perhaps you’ve headed over to the Raspberry Farm for pancakes or to the chocolate factory? As someone who isn’t very good at following orders or sticking to the plan, I understand but don’t forget we have G to look forward to tomorrow. You don’t want to get left behind…or do you????

See  you bright and early in the morning! I can’t quite remember where we’re going so this could be interesting!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

The Path…A Magnetic Poem.

Today, I was struck on the head by the magnetic muse in what could only be described as a “coup de foudre”.

In case you “ne comprendez pas”, that means falling in love at first sight. I thought falling in love, or becoming addicted, sounded much more dramatic in French.

Like a proverbial matchmaker,  Merril D Smith  introduced me writing magnetic poetry online at http://play.magneticpoetry.com/ It’s so much fun. I chose the nature theme and I was thrilled with the results. I felt my poetry gained very rich symbolism and I put images together which I never would’ve thought of combining before, yet made such sense and expanded my vision exponentially.

Dare I ask you what you think?

Well, here goes:

The Path

Shine moon spirit.

Listen.

Breathe.

My soul is withered.

I wander down a lonely path.

Every daffodil Spring,

the bright, blue bird walks

through the fresh earth.

Garden tendrils rustled.

Then some seed said:

“Use intuition.

There’s a sanctuary.”

Secret winds murmur:

“Climb the ancient mountain.

Know her peace.

Rest.

Leave moss be.

Make song.”

Behold,

I thrive.

Rowena Newton

Magnetic Poetry 23rd November, 2016.

Have you been struck by the magnetic muse? I’d love to hear how you went.

xx Rowena

Accidents, Blessings &Tibetan Monks at our Australian Beach.

It’s no wonder I “over-think” things. Strange things keep happening and I’m trying to work out whether it’s chance, coincidence or destiny. That’s why I like the word serendipity because it seems to covers that ambiguity. It was “meant to be”, and yet it was also brought about by chance.

Moreover, I should also add that it’s up to you whether you grasp that serendipitous moment (that is, if there is such a word) and run with it or let it slip through your hands into the wind where it could well be grasped by someone more daring.

Before I get to the audaciousness of the woman with the long camera lens (I tell you I’ve lost count of how many doors a long lens has opened for me over the years but it’s certainly been more influential than the sword!!)

As I said, before I get to the audaciousness of the woman with the long lens, let me just tell you that before I was strutting my stuff down at the beach and flashing my lens around, yours truly had a nasty fall. Not of the figurative kind but of the real, painful and ouchy kind. I’d ducked down to get my daughter a loaf of bread and for no reason whatsoever, my ankle flipped over, gave way and I landed smack onto the concrete.

As I’m lying there, pain receptors all over my body are flashing red and my  brain is doing this desperate mantra: “Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!” Meanwhile, inside I feel this desperate, crushing sadness. It’s almost been 2 years since my last fall where I broke my foot in equally pathetic circumstances and yes, I was feeling sorry for myself. I was wanting someone to rescue me and give me a hand up. I might have been at our local shops and I know a lot of people around here, but there was no one in sight. As much as it’s embarrassing to have a fall, it’s also a relief to have help getting up and some loving, caring stranger ask if you’re okay and bless you with the touch of human kindness.

However, as I said, there was no one in sight.

So, I picked myself off the ground and hobbled with my sprained ankle on one leg and my grazed knee on the other, looking like a mutant John Wayne. Bought my bread. Said hello to a friend (without mentioning my accident) and drove home.

Life as a parent…there is no off switch.

The kids were going to their first surf lesson this morning. I’d been really been looking forward to watching them, but now I was wondering how I was going to walk along the beach. I was angry with my foot. Angry with life.

By the way, as far as I’m concerned, it’s alright to ask: “Why me?” at these times.  It’s just not good to dwell on it.

dsc_3816

The kids learning to surf.

Anyway, I made it onto the sand and was taking a few photos of the kids and listening to their surf instructor, when I noticed a group of Tibetan monks wearing flowing robes on the beach. Immediately, instinctively even, my photographic eyes were starting to switch.

Obviously, a group of Tibetan monks in robes stood out on an Australian beach. We’re about 90 minutes  North of Sydney and not what you’d call a multi-cultural area. It’s bikinis, board shorts and surf board territory around here.

Now, I have seen some interesting sights on the beach, and more often, I’ve been an “interesting” sight myself (what with taking photos of things at the beach…tea cups, Eeyore, kids etc ). However, Tibetan monks on an Australian beach is a first.

DSC_3911.JPG

Our son taking to the waves.

So being the helicopter parent that I am, I totally switched off from my kids’ surf lesson and started chasing these poor monks up and down the beach with my camera instead. Actually, unlike my kids they were there to be photographed, were only too happy to meet and greet and they also did a meditation to bless our beach.

However, these monks weren’t just there to look at the waves. Apparently, they’re going surfing. They’ll be having a surf lesson and I later saw them wearing wet suits and life jackets, although we left before they had a go. The TV station was there and an official photographer with a much bigger lens than mine. They were conducting interviews, filming and taking photos. However, I was able to mention  1000 Voices for Compassion  and my blog. I also found out that they’re coming back in November for a series of talks in Gosford. I’ll be there!

dsc_3916

The Monks have changed into beach gear and life vests ready for a surf.

It was remarkable timing running into these Gyutan monks from Tibet after my disheartening fall this morning. It gave me such a such a sense of yin and yang. There was the physical pain, shock and disappointment of the fall followed by the excitement of seeing the monks but also feeling touched by meeting them and being reminded about peace and the goodness of God and the need to look up instead of down.

Perhaps, I was meant to learn to trust God. That even when I fall and feel incredibly alone, that God is still there with me and carrying me forward to something better. And I know that if we didn’t have the rain, we’d never appreciate the sun and the plants would never grow.

That said, getting hurt still hurts.

“Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

— Nathaniel Hawthorne

As you may recall, I’ve mentioned  in various posts before, about how I see better when I’m looking through my camera lens. That I see things I miss with my own eyes.  Well, photographing and meeting these monks was confirmation and I really appreciated these added insights.

dsc_3860

The Monks blessing the Beach as their feet get wet.

It turns out the monks haven’t had much, if any, exposure to the beach and, for example, didn’t know that the water would be salty. I noticed that they flinched as the waves rolled over these feet. Perhaps, the water was cold but I saw this as an unfamiliarity with the waves.

However, while they were meditating and the very same water whooshed over their feet, they stood completely still. They didn’t flinch.

That touched me. That gave me an insight into the depths of their meditation and its power. That it’s something deep and very real. Not only that, I would love to reach that level of peace in myself…especially in stressful situation. It was such a powerful testimony.

“We must begin our search for meaning when things are going well. A tree with strong roots can withstand the most violent storm, but the tree can’t grow roots just as the storm appears on the horizon.”

Dr Howard Cutler: “The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living” (which was co-written by the Dalai Lama.) […]

So, after photographing and meeting these inspirational monks, I was back to Parenthood 2.0. Watching the end of their surf lesson and taking them to Maccas for lunch on the way home…a special holiday treat.

Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, we have a way to go too!

dsc_3914

By the way, you may be interested in a previous post I wrote where I reviewed The Pursuit of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and Howard Carter. You can check it out here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/the-dalai-lama-and-the-psychiatrist-converse/

xx Rowena

PS Tonight my husband was catching the train home from work when he spotted our dear neighbours returning prematurely from the trip. They’re in their mid-80s and the wife had had a nasty fall and had spent the night in hospital. I received a phone call on my “death bed” and the next thing I was driving to the station picking them up and helping her back into the house… past their tribe of about 8 duckling and a single parent who were missing them terribly along with their “pet” magpie. It felt nice to be useful and to be able to help them and be part of community instead of sitting on the edge! This couple have been a bit like grandparents to our family and today it was our turn to look out for them instead.