Monday 15 April
A full and wonderful weekend, my brother John visited, stayed overnight and down memory lane we walked, fascinating, shared stories of our Father, Mother, Siblings. How different our view of the same adventures, we both added, padded out, the bones of shared stories. Milk runs, paper runs, lawn mowing, our teenage years before I left. Cross country running, marveling at the lack of family support, the lack of encouragement. Where we lived, how we lived, up market, down market. Dad’s errors buried me in shame. On reflection, John was my chief supporter. Standing beside the track or trail, John screamed me on. Quite amazing really, although not totally surprising, he is the only member of my family I feel able to have an open non-judgmental conversation with. I love it. Sharing, for the first time, how I carried our fathers ashes across the length and breadth of New Zealand, before sprinkling his ashes on the Avon River in Christchurch. John and I climbed Mount Taranaki together and I never revealed to him that our fathers ashes were in my back pack. Strange? Possibly! John’s friends, when I was a teen, were bullies and I was their target. I was such a skinny, sensitive kid, a day dreamer in fact. That aspect of my childhood empowered and guided my career as a film editor around the world. It became my strength. Story telling has become my true love today. Creativity, empowered.
John left the following day, driving north to Napier, hoping to visit brother Gerald. I felt less isolated from my family of origin. Now my daughter Emma, is coming over from Australia for a visit. Bliss.
Sunday and more visitors. A local couple for coffee followed by an old school chum, Roger and his delightful partner Carole, who now lives on the other coast, the west coast. A surprise visit which was magical. So very good to catch up. A 90 minute drive for coffee. Roger has helped me fill in gaps of my life in surprising detail. As kids he shared, we would be out on a training run and there we were puffing away and I would be spouting philosophic thoughts in describing our running environment. Waxing on about the light :) Nothing much has changed I guess. Roger studied for the ministry and I explored spirituality, same difference.
I guess today I paid the price of social intercourse and today, simply relaxed. Enjoying the golf, cheering silently for Tiger Wood, while watching Australian Adam Scott win the Masters from Argentina’s Angel Cabrerra over two extra holes. A well earned victory for Adam and a very gracious champion. I saw him in a far different light from the critical view I have held of him in the past. My eyes were blinded. A relaxing afternoon and later, ‘Hannah and her Sisters’, a great Woody Allen movie.
I can only imagine at muy Emily’s take on my brother visit and my conversation, more information to fill the gaps of my life story and an interesting take on my family’s journey. As life has taught me, it’s none of my business as to what other’s think of me. A challenging and ongoing lesson. This was a huge Achilles heel for me as a teenager when my Father lost the plot and we down graded our living style after losing the home I considered Paradise. I was not able to look my friends in they eye and acknowledge my Dad had lost the plot. All us siblings dealt silently with this change in circumstances. More of life’s bloody lessons :)
Woke to news that the Boston Marathon has been visited by explosions. Sad. News of death and destruction. The Boston was part of my mythology as a teenage distance runner. It was inspiring, started in 1897 or there about. Many of my childhood heroes competed and won. So very sad.
Waiting on my substitute carer, shower time, a female carer, this is going to be interesting indeed. Wonder how I, a mere male, will handle this. Badly I guess!
A day of television news fixation, a drug almost. Death and destruction. Lives destroyed. Limbs lost, families in chaos. Children. Athletes. Spectators. Terrorists know no different.
I coped well with my carer, was even showered by her. Taught her how to make coffee. Two different carers, both women, both enjoyable. Breakfast, lunch, chat. Now, time to kill the TV and read. A tragic day. An emotional day. Remembering my love of the Marathon. As a teenager, I saw myself as a marathon runner. In it for the long run. To run was my joy, to compete was a challenge. I did okay for a skinny kid. My thoughts today are with all marathon runners from Jim Peters to Abebe Bikila to Ray Puckett. Champions in their own way. . . ‘Night!
Legs blown off, children killed, families distraught. Yes, I am repeating myself, I will not delete the repetition. Athletes unable to cross the finish line. 26 miles but not able to complete the remaining 385 yards. Not a pretty sight. Evil visits. Watching the media and political pontificating has me frustrated to the core. Knee jerk reactions, faster than healthy forecasting. Obviously there are viewers who simply want all the gruesome details, over and over and . . . tiresome to say the least. There is a hypnotic fascination surrounding disaster. The human tragedy. The thought of amputations had me thinking as I visited the bathroom today, hobbling slowly on my walker, as my legs lose their strength, my knees threatening to buckle and have me collapse into a powerless heap on the floor. These legs of mine have carried me well, as I have lived and enjoyed life. They carried me around the house as a toddler, exploring outdoors as I stood upright, allowing me to taste outdoor freedom from the confines of our home. Today, it’s like they are screaming . . . “enough”!
The past 60 years have seen my legs . . . run races from 800 meters to 42 kilometers, on road, cross country, hills, river, paddocks and tracks. Through rain and wind and even snow in New York. Barefoot and in Adidas, my shoes of choice. Stand steadfast on the decks of yachts as I sailed the coasts of Australia, New England, Maine, New York and the Channel Islands of California.
The past 20 have seen my legs . . . complete a marathon, train for an 1100 mile bike ride, kayak Malibu, intimately and thoroughly explore the Santa Monica Mountains and Southern Californian trails, hike with friends, run multiple 10K road races, even with my dog, Kiri te Kanawa.
The past 10 years . . . they have climbed the mountains of Colorado to close on 14000′, run and hiked the deserts of California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. My legs have done me proud.
So to consider the Boston injuries, is horrific for me. My worst nightmare I guess. Mind you, I have seen heroic act from those who have lost limbs. They continue to strive, achieve, live life to the full. Sitting here, in my recliner, feet up, I do not wish to be seen as a victim. Parts of my body don’t work, I cannot do what I would like to be doing, running, hiking, exploring but all in all I am still able to achieve and that, to me, is paramount. That is the human spirit at it’s best. My daimon. Gratitude :)
As my journey unravels before me, I am slowly focussing on what I can do. I have even competed in the Wellington Marathon 10K, in a wheel chair and, hope to compete and complete it again this year. We do what we can do, it’s known as the ‘Human Spirit’.
On reading The Tablet this morning . . .
“In Jewish theology, the highest human ideal is to “walk in God’s ways.” The Book of Deuteronomy mentions this lofty mandate five times, but curiously, it never spells out what it means. Modern Bible scholars tend to think that “walking in God’s ways” is just another way of talking about obeying God’s commandments, but the Talmudic Sages understood it differently. Their interpretation is something I suspect many first responders understand in an intuitive, almost visceral way—which is why, from a Jewish perspective, they are theological heroes. What does being godly consist of, according to the rabbis? A well-known Talmudic text puts it this way: “Just as God clothes the naked, so should you; just as God visited the sick, so should you; just as God comforted the mourners, so should you; and just as God buried the dead, so should you” (Sotah 14a). To walk in God’s ways, in other words, is to act in the ways that the Torah describes God as acting. Just as God is present when people are vulnerable and suffering, so should we be. Yes, for religious people, study is important, prayer is important, and ritual, too. But what this text, and others like it, suggests is this: If you want to really serve God, and not just go through the motions, then learn to care for people in moments of profound pain. In many ways, it is easier to study, or pray, or build a sukkah—or whatever. In telling us that offering care and comfort to people in pain is the very highest human ideal, Judaism alerts us to the fact that it can be intensely hard work. But it is also the heart of authentic religion and spirituality: To bring a little bit of God’s love and compassion to the widow, the orphan, the Alzheimer’s patient, and the bombing victim.” Shai Held
That sums up all my thoughts, my writing, my experience. I have been a responder, I have spent time with those who suffer, I have never let go of my friends. I guess I am on the right path for me . . .
My occupational therapist is/was here and I need to express an attitude of something rather than being a curmudgeon :) But I will not be backward in talking about my issues and the issues I see with the heath system. Maybe I could write about it, maybe! This therapist, her last name, Spite :) pushes my emotional and intellectual buttons, she gets inside my skin and irritates. Condescending even! But such is life and I am sure, I hope :) she is doing the best she can. Her journey. Her’s is a paid gig, I expect professionalism. Let it go Dickey :) no expectations, expect the unexpected!
been working on my photography, editing, color correcting and coming to the conclusion that I need a large monitor. My new MacBook Pro is 15” and the image, far too small for my eyes, more cost, bugger! However :) as my dear friend David would say, “a luxury problem mate” . . . true, so very true. I am doing just fine with what I have. Gratitude !
And today . . . I wake to President Obama giving the most powerful, most invigorating speech that I have ever heard him deliver, passionate and strong, right on the money. Holding the US Senate and Senators accountable, for not voting on Background checks for those who buy guns.
Will Rogers always said it as it is. It saddens me that we seem unwilling to protect our children and communities. Be that America OR New Zealand.
“Our constitution protects aliens, drunks and U.S. Senators.”
- Will Rogers
Sitting quietly, the fire, in it’s cosy red box, has the house warm as toast. It’s a grey day. A cold day, a wet day. Sitting wondering, fixated. American, Australian and British TV is churning out drama and I am fixated. Opiate of the masses applies to the Box as much as it does to the Church. In front of me, on the table, along with my feet, are a pile of books, screaming at me. “Read me, Read me!” Okay already, I will, I will. But what? Poetry? Spiritual? Philosophical? Fiction? Or do I get up and hobble to the kitchen table where my laptop sits and where I can work on my photography? But for the moment . . . Write and then, Read. ‘The Spirituality of Imperfection’, I guess one of my all time favorites. It inspires, questions, challenges me. Religion. Christianity. Church. It’s like a 7 course lunch with wine. Chewable, complex, appetizing, nourishing. It feeds me like nothing else. Extracts of William James, quotes from Jewish philosophy. All wrapped in the principles espoused by Alcoholics Anonymous. I am hungry for such words. With MND my ability to eat food is severely compromised. Therefore my intellect, more alive than ever, more curious than ever, enjoys feasting on the unknowable aspects of human life. Who, What, Why and . . . The list goes on. Some friends express their devotion to Jesus. I find it hard to go there as I see the historical Jesus, a Jew, captured by religion when, in my eyes, he was more like a curious philosopher, one who travelled widely, embracing many beliefs and over time, formed a philosophy of his own. I support and embrace this concept. I used to live under the delusion, or was it real :) that somehow I was like Jesus. Now I see the possibility I may not have been totally wrong. Jesus appears to me as a humanist, not a closed minded religious fanatic. He believed in his philosophy and it seems to have attracted like minded fellow travelers. Thomas, Doubting Thomas, questioned his philosophy, as I have done and do, today. Taking anything at face value has it’s risks. “Does this work for me?” Good question. One I ask often. “God, please show me”. And as my day unfolds it appears that I am guided, especially if I let go of any and all outcomes. All I can do is ask the question. I am powerless over the results, not that I ask ‘for’ anything material, simply for guidance and strength. Day after day, year after year, ever since I was a child, I have asked. And, on reflection, I can see a steady hand on the tiller :) it’s not my hand. I have been guided in directions that have challenged, pained, inspired and loved. Pain is essential, suffering is optional. Life to me, is like that. A journey. Simple. “Mine is not to reason why, mine is to simply do and die.” Life in a sentence. Its not a prison sentence however. Paying attention to my own, not your’s, or your’s, or your life, simply paying attention to my own, guided by my own compass. A philosophy that has taken years to form and take hold. Integrity, where my actions match my words. Hypocrisy was my teacher as a child, attending Sunday church services. What I heard from on high, inside our cathedral, booming down from the pulpit, never made it outside and onto the hard tar sealed footpaths and roadways of life. The words of the ministers never connected with, never made sense, to me. Nothing was based around real world principles. It appeared as religious jumbo jumbo. I turned up regular as clockwork, week after week after week. As demanded by my Mother. Sunday school, then my first Communion, sipping the blood of Christ, eating his flesh. Pretty gross when I look back. A form of brain washing. Cannibalizing Life. Years went by and I continued questioning. I experienced life. I beat myself up, whipping myself with confusion and passive anger. Not at all good as I continued to question and doubt. Guilt sat with me. If I am not careful, it still can, fed by believing, searching, exploring outside the box in which I grew up. “Who do you think you are?” Painfully negative.
However :) Today, being open to other ideas, new directions, ancient wisdom, I am finding a new freedom, a new peace and a new and stronger sense of my self. My journey, there is no destination, no answers, is a spiritual one. Where I continually question life and, my self. And will continue to do so. Who knows where it will take me, I certainly don’t.
The questions that continues to challenge me are concerning photography and writing but as I have learned, more will be revealed . . . time to read :) and did!
Muy Emily just left to drive over the Hill to Wellington. Driving a Renault Espace with Wheelchair access. A new Car? Hopefully if they offer a good deal.
We have also ordered a new wheelchair. A combined cost of $60 Grand, she-it!
As Emily was preparing to leave I burst into tears. Her love knows no bounds.
I am humbled to my core. Letting love in has not been easy in this life but, as I am discovering, it’s never too late. God and the Universe work in mysteriously beautiful ways.
Earlier we took the Renault for a test drive. Motored out to the car in my PWC, checked it out front and back. My last French vehicle was a Renault 16 TL. It was fun, drove it in the Barrington Tops forests, off road, was awesome. So here we are 45 years later, another Renault. Very spacey, spaceship looking, four years old. Took a bit of experimenting to unlock the doors, everything electronic, spacey indeed. Lowered the rear ramp, hooked the chair to the built in winch, and ouch, found that my head didn’t quite clear the roof and my neck felt it was going to snap, bit of a humorous panic and out I came. I sat in the front. Much safer and much more comfortable and next to muy Emily. Off down the road, into the country, off sealed surfaces, it delivered. We look forward to so fun adventures in the future. The view out the front and sides is panoramic indeed. The seats, comfortable, the suspension . . . Didn’t feel a bump :) whew!
a day full of people and experiences that filled me with love and gratitude. Nurses, friends. Artists who are Nurses and Friends. Checking on my health, giving me a clean bill of health. Sharing Art. Sharing life. Not at all bad :)
Now, sitting at the kitchen table with my laptop.
Muy Emily is back home, we now own a very nice new used car to carry our nice new wheelchair, bloody awesome . . . oops Dickey, no superlatives :) Ciao!
Restless, prowling FaceBook, junking an eyeful of news, prowling movie channels, even Humphrey Bogart does not entertain or fulfill. So, here I am, tapping a keyboard. Determined to save the only life I can save . . . Mary Oliver’s ‘The Journey’. How to create sentences that explore the richness of my life, my love and the challenges muy Emily and I face. I wish to live as fully as I can for the hours and days I may have left. We, may have left. Life is a mystery to be explored. Hour by hour, day by day. Cliche following cliche. The fan rotates and oscillates sending cool dry air toward me, helping my breath, helping my life. Dinner tonight was half a beef & burgundy pie, made fresh by our friends at Cafe Mirabelle, steamed fresh green beans from our garden with finely sliced carrot and mashed potato. Along with a glass of Belgium bier. The energy it takes to consume such a meal wipes me out and after a few mouthfuls I put myself on my BiPap machine to reenergize myself, exhausting, not at all enjoyable. The most enjoyable part of the day was driving north from our house, into the country, testing our new car. Breathing freely of cool, clean country air. Taking in the sweeping panorama of the local farming plains. Rivers, plateaus, forest and pastures bathed with dramatic shadows and afternoon sun light, now that I love, it opens my heart and clears my mind of cabin fever.
What to make of the Boston bomber brothers? One dead, one taken captive.
It’s a mystery to me as to what takes place in an others mind. No matter how much I want to believe that I know, I simply don’t. Can’t. I can love, embrace, support but I can never truly know. We are all unique in that regard.
I can harbor love, hate, I can dream of delivering answers for life’s questions and at the same time, hold strange and uncomfortable dreams of destruction, revenge, anger. But that is all they are, dreams. To make the step across the line, to put thoughts into action, that has to be a dis-ease. Pure evil. We are part of, I am part of, nature, no different from a tree in the forest. I can experience internal rotting, damaged limbs, I can be eaten alive by insects of the mind, attacked by men. Cut down, chopped up, discarded and forgotten. War! Or, I can embrace a power greater than myself, the Sun, Moon, Stars, the Universe, God, whatever. I can ask aka pray for guidance and listen, trust my instinctive, intuitive self or I can simply run wild, out of control. A savage beast of the forest. It’s my choice, my journey, my life, my destiny. My genius. I have left my home, taken employment. Left my country, travelled, experienced depression aka melancholy. I have spent time alone fighting demons. Writing despairing letter to my Mother. Continuing on my path. On reflection I smile at my teenage angst. I inherited a healthy work ethic, that saved my arse. Big time :)
Life is a remarkable mystery to be embraced and enjoyed, there are no answers, simply more questions. It has taken me years, decades, seven score :) years almost and I am still enthralled by not having any answers. I am merely, one of many. The curiosity, the questions, the doubt keep me alive.
My journey has taken me places I never thought it would. Each and every path on that journey has held it’s own mystery and own lessons. At times I thought I was mistaken. No, I was being guided to new experiences. I may have thought I was being willful but now, I can see and accept that the hand on my tiller was a constant and steadying guardian. My destiny revealing itself. Bravo Dickey. Well lived. Fear has played it’s part. Fear has prevented me from harming myself more than I have already. The sense of uplift, joy, love of life that comes with my acceptance is profound. A glow emanates within me. Rapture I guess. Life!
Sitting here in my recliner dreaming of the exploits yet to come. Dreaming of sharing time outdoors with muy Emily. Visiting friends and neighbors. Cruising around our village community, camera in hand. The great out doors, nature. This has nurtured me ever since I could crawl. My adventures have been many and varied. Now, today, I get to reflect and my day is richer for it. At times, when not paying attention or when I am not loving of my self, I look back and critique aspects of my life. That I did not appreciate, enjoy, embrace, or go as deep into the moment as I would now wish. Bullshit Dickey! You did a grand job of experiencing the experiences. Who am I to say otherwise. No judge, no jury, simply Gratitude. As my friend Don was known to say, often :) An attitude of gratitude! It has stuck with me and served me well. Much healthier than my own stinking thinking :)
Gratitude is Heaven already” . . . Blake.
I agree. An attitude of gratitude, and here I am, heaven here on earth. Whew! What more can I say? Amen.