Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Favourite Sound

Rufus wakes me by pushing his dog food bowl across the tiled floor. The sound is meant to create a pavlovian response; I can almost feel him smile as I prepare his breakfast.

After breakfast I head to the bathroom for my morning shower and the sound of water falling into water. The note deepens as the floor pan fills.

As we leave the house the front door knocker bounces, brass on brass, and the door clicks closed behind me.

Then there’s the coffee shop. Tapping, grinding and steaming all merge together into one word. If you translated that word into English it would be a hearty ‘good morning!’ Some days it’s so loud I put my hands over my ears. The barista laughs at me; a warm friendly espresso laugh.

I sit outside the café and slowly sip my morning coffee. Nearby people rustle the business pages and talk in serious morning tones. Rufus sits quietly at my feet. He likes biscotti and eats it open mouthed for full crunch effect.

The pedestrian crossing buzzer sounds like a crazy cartoon creature. Rufus leads the way and people swish past us noiselessly.

Automatic openers rattle glass doors. Voices echo in the foyer and hard heels clip and clop on marble floors.

A pleasant ding. Rufus and I head up to 8, three dots, I’m already thinking about work. People are quiet in the elevator but you can still hear then.

The receptionist says a polite “hello” to me and a gusty “Hi there fella” to Rufus. We head into my office.

And there it is; the source of my favourite sound – my Braille writer. I love the snap it makes as it creates. I put on my headphones and transcribe.

There’s nothing like reading a good book in silence.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Black Marketeer

Selling arms to the enemy isn’t strictly legal but war covers over a multitude of sins. The company I was working for was selling to both sides of the market and making a killing.

My wife and I were not given to excess but we lived well in war time, better than most anyway. My extra income meant we had more time together; often we would walk along the beach as the sun went down.

“The clouds are red ribbons.” She was particularly pensive that evening.

“You love ribbons,” I replied, glad she had finally spoken.

There was silence for awhile and then she said suddenly, “Do you ever think of the dead?”

“To be honest I try not too. This is war; people die.”

She was quiet as we made our way back to the car.

I knew what she was thinking and frankly I couldn’t bear the idea that she thought ill of me. We had enough money to make it through the war and so I decided to retire.

The next day I told my boss I was leaving the business. He responded by threatening me, saying that if I ever exposed the racket he would destroy me.

“I just want to retire in peace,” I replied calmly.

I raced home, eager to tell my wife the news.

The front door was open and I heard a burst of gun fire – you can tell a lot about a weapon from its sound.

And she was dead, of course she was dead.

Selling arms to the enemy isn’t strictly legal but war covers over a multitude of sins.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Truth of the Orb

How it came to be referred to as the ‘Orb’ is not known. What is known, what is oft repeated, is how the Orb came into my father’s possession.

The story starts with a journey; a pilgrimage to a distant land.

“The land where legends are born,” my father would say with a faraway look in his eye.

My father bought a ticket and crossed the ocean. He crossed alone and in silence keeping his distance from other pilgrims making the same voyage. He chose to believe that his path was the only true path. This wasn’t a game for him. This was his life, his passion, his one belief. This was his only goal.

“A goal makes all the difference son – always remember that.”

My father marched from landfall to towns centre. He blocked out the chanting and praying that filled the air. He ignored the trinket sellers that accosted him at every footstep.

“Faith isn’t a song or a toy son. Faith is food for the soul.”

The crowd was surging towards the holy ground and my father was dragged along in the flow.

Once there he prayed with uplifted arms and tears in his eyes. And as he prayed a shrill whistle pierced the silence and the Orb flew through the air straight into his hands; a gift from God himself.

Now the Orb sits in a shrine in a small corner of our house. Father says that one day it will all be mine. But, to be honest, I’m more of a rugby man.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The 15th Annual Intergalactic Space Race

Mr Stanthorpe had made an incredible discovery.

“Egad!” he shouted.

His cat opened its eyes, blinked twice and went back to sleep.

Mr Stanthorpe sat peering through precariously perched half-glasses; in front of him was a picture of a corkscrew.

“Could it be so simple?” he muttered.

He leapt from his chair starting a cascade of books that didn’t stop until he was well out of the room. In the kitchen he ripped open the second draw and pulled out a wooden handled corkscrew. Then he raced to the bathroom and retrieved a slightly rusty razor blade.

“Needs to be sharper but should do the trick,” he murmured.

The rest of the evening was spent sharpening the razor and welding it to the end of the corkscrew. The resulting contraption looked lethal but Mr Stanthorpe seemed pleased.

“Wonderful!” he exclaimed.

The next morning he sprang out of bed and made his way to the local showgrounds. The 15th Annual Intergalactic Space Race was about to begin.

Two shiny space rockets stood gleaming in the morning sun. One rocket steamed and spluttered while the other stood in imposing silence.

Excitement levels grew as the start of the amazing race drew near. But excitement soon turned to disappointment; neither rocket made it through the stratosphere. The inventors left the stage looking dejected.

Mr Stanthorpe made his way to the microphone.

“It’s quite simple really,” Mr Stanthorpe stated. “I make a tiny hole in space with this,” he waved his gadget in the air, “and I’ll be sucked through the hole, straight to another world.”

The crowd of lab coated rocket scientists roared with laughter.

“Allow me to demonstrate.” The crowd fell silent as Mr Stanthorpe performed a complicated twisting movement with the device.

“Did it work?” he asked the judge.

“I’m afraid not Mr Stanthorpe,” the judge replied.

He looked befuzzled and replied, “Who is Mr Stanthorpe?”

Monday, November 17, 2008

50 Colour Pages

School was out. The Highbury kids piled into a red, loaf-of-bread shaped bus. We were going home.

I wore a blue two button shirt with a collar, shorts that showed off my bony eleven year old legs and roman sandals. I was swinging on the overhead handrail and Simon was sitting down the back reading a comic.

Okay, so it wasn’t just any comic; this was the Buster Annual with 50 colour pages. I would've given a months pocket money for it – if I'd earned pocket money that is. Simon’s parents probably gave it to him as a happy Tuesday present. Yeah, I was jealous.

Anyway, there I was swinging away on that chromed handrail. I was wondering if a man’s legs need to be long enough to reach the ground if he is swinging in the air. I couldn’t work it out so I kept looking over at Simon and thinking about that comic book. Did I mention it had 50 colour pages?

Simon wasn’t the most attentive kid in the classroom but boy, you should have seen him with that book.

I dropped off the handrail and went and sat next to him.

“Wow!” I said “Wow!” Okay, so I said 'wow' twice.

“Is that the Buster Annual with 50 colour pages?” I knew it was.

Simon didn’t look up.

I had to get off at the next stop anyway so I cast one last longing glance at the Annual and swung out the door without using the steps.

Simon didn’t come to school the next day, or the day after that. After a week someone asked the teacher where he was. We were sitting on a tripped out stripy mat at the time and I remember the teacher going all serious and saying that Simon had been in an accident about a week ago and he was very unwell in hospital.

That didn’t explain why he was still on the bus every day reading that comic though.

Did I mention it had 50 colour pages?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Journey Down to the Sea

The path leads him along hilltops before taking him down to the sea. It has been a tiring journey but the man has savoured every moment.

Secluded is this beach, and shingly not sandy. The man smiles at the sparkling sea and lets the fresh air straighten and soothe him.

He says, “Hello my friend, it has been too long.”

The sea replies with its rhythmic voice, “Wash sea wash.”

“I was in a rage that night but you were stronger - do you remember? You gave me a new name; a secret name.”

The sea is resplendent in its blue robes; a noble king.

“You gave me a new and ancient name.”

The man is quiet - the sea waits.

“You gave me an ancient name and I found strength in it.”

The mans breathing starts to rhyme with the rhythm of the sea.

“You gave me a strong name. When problems came I remembered the name you gave me.”

The sea seems thoughtful, “Wash sea wash.”

“Problems came and I was alone."

The sea is a friend that listens.

"When I was alone the ancient name was my strength.”

Once more the man is quiet and the sea waits quietly with him.

“I could have died that night, the night you gave me the name.”

The sea is a gentle sage.

“My life was so full then and I couldn't see it. Now my life is finally empty, those I loved have gone before me."

The old man stands silently looking at the sea. Finally he walks slowly into the water.

On this coast the sea is south.

The man turns south.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Sea Knows

Lean in closer for I must speak softly.

There is not much time; my friend there is not much time at all. Soon I must leave, but you need to know; you need to know what I know and turn back from your quest.

The night was cold and black. The wind whipped off the sea and grabbed my coat. I thrust my hands deep into my pockets and kept moving.

Waves raced towards me, threw themselves onto the rocky foreshore and crawled back snarling. The world was a warning but I kept moving.

I kept moving, for on this dark moon night I had staked all for the sake of my soul.

The universe had aligned and that place, that beach was the portal. The universe had aligned and at that time, in that one moment, man could cross to the other world.

And cross I did my friend.

Lean in closer now.

On your side the leviathan sea churned and the wind howled like a beast enraged. On the other side darkness was light and all was calm. It was as I had hoped; there was a world of peace.

I knelt in supplication. For three days I prayed in the silence. The need for sleep did not drag at me nor did the need for food claw.

After those three days I arose and began to examine my new home. What I found shocked me to the core. This was no heaven. This was a world where the dead line up for hell.

Desperately I have searched for a way to cross back.

There is no way back.

Tonight the universe has aligned again and now you seek to cross.

Listen to the sea; now is not your time.

Turn back my friend.

Turn back.

He is gone.

Thank God he is gone. I will not share my peace filled paradise.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dear Madeline

Dear Madeline,

If I was half the person you are I would stay with you through this. But, even though it shames me to admit it, I’m just not that strong, and I’m leaving.

The sun rose over a dark land when I met you. Do you remember how nervous I was? My cheeks are glowing now thinking of it. I managed to pour water all over your summer dress. You just laughed, your twinkly tinkly laugh, and that was the exact moment I fell in love with you.

You reached into my miserable life and dragged me into a new world so vibrant and so full of energy. You were rain and I was the desert. You taught me how to laugh again, how to cry again.

And you never gave up on life and I admire you so much for that.

The past five years have been heaven for me. My only mistake was not marrying you - I thought we had more time.

I used to think that leukaemia was kids cancer; how wrong I was. The results came through this morning and you are a match. But I can’t put you through that. You deserve to be with someone well, someone you can have children and grow old with.

I love you Madeline.

I will always love you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Endless Knot

I was an artist monk but I gave it up for gentle Helena.

Love should be enough, it should be enough, but I ached for the meditation of ink on velum, ink on skin. I longed for it.

Day and night I complained to Helena, mourning my loss, bemoaning the fact that I gave it up for her. She seemed to bear it.

She seemed to bear it until one day she snapped back at me.

“Stop it Tomas.”

And the fire was burning in her. The fire was transforming the softness of her. And she became a force, a force in this world, a force that I could not contain. The fire was radiating off her and I could not contain it, I could not even meet her gaze.

“Stop it Tomas.”

She had not raised her voice but there was a hurricane behind it.

“You gave away the monastery for me and I claim you; and I claim your art.”

Then she gave me what I needed. She gave me the silky skin of her left shoulder. She bared her shoulder and I engraved the Celtic circle. She gave me back my art.

I became a tattoo artist and she was my fierce Helena; my force in this world.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Brickbend Geothermal Power Company

On the 10th of August, 1932, the residents of Brickbend awoke to find steam rising from a kilometre long fissure in the earths crust. It hadn’t been there the night before.

Three days later Carl Anderson drove his Chrysler Plymouth from a nearby city to the site of the crevice. He took one look at the all the steam and declared that he was going to build the world’s largest geothermal power plant.

When it was finished the art-deco building was long, narrow and sleek. A glass operations room protruded from the front wall and a row of five white cooling towers ran along its length.

During the day the power plant looked like a ship steaming toward new worlds but at night only the five giant cooling towers were visible. The local children called the towers ‘alien fingers’.

The town of Brickbend began using power from the plant soon after it was commissioned. This worked well for a few months but then a string of power cuts had everyone up-in-arms.

A residents meeting decided unanimously to picket the plant until the situation was resolved.

The start of the picket happened to fall on the 10th of August, 1935. That morning Carl Anderson drove past the line of protestors and into the grounds of the Brickbend Geothermal Power Company. He got out of his new Chrysler Streamline and made his way up to the control centre. From the ground the crowd could see his hands moving rapidly over a panel of knobs and levers. After a few minutes he flicked on the outside intercom and addressed those assembled below.

“Three years ago today I crash landed here in Brickbend. Fortunately for me the accident that destroyed my old ship provided access to an energy source that will launch a new and better craft.

“Good-bye and thank-you.”

And with that Carl Anderson pulled one last lever and the power plant was gone – alien fingers and all.

Friday, October 03, 2008

If You Love Someone

“I’m falling in love with you.” I mumble.

She looks disappointed and says, “I told you–”

“I know.” I interject before she can continue; before I can’t continue. “You told me that you are a creature of the air; you need to be as free as a bird. Well, I’m down here, looking longingly up at you, hoping you will teach me to fly too.”

“I told you…” She repeats and her face is sad and serious.

“I know,” I say.

Tears fill my eyes. I’m walking without the memory of starting.

My car drives me home where I sit with my head on the steering wheel; thoughts tumbling like hyperactive acrobats.

My heart is bursting and sore and a burden.

“I spoke too soon.” I whisper to myself.

Finally I get out of the vehicle and walk towards my small apartment.

And there she is, standing by my front door.

“How did you get here so fast?” I ask.

“I flew.”

And then she laughs, so beautifully she laughs, and I’m crying and laughing and her arms are around my neck, her mouth tickling my ear.

“I’ll teach you to fly.”

And I pull her into my arms, trying to pull her in to my heart.

And there’s something strange about the feel of her back. And there’s a perfect white feather by her feet.

Monday, September 29, 2008

How the War Ended

Storms lashed the east coast of our land whipping the sea into a rebellious rage. Salty sea spittle mixed with black rain drops; stinging skin and freezing bones.

Our legends say that Earth and Sky are ancient lovers.

Do you doubt it? Do they not fight with lover’s passion?

This day they fought to kill. Hearts full and blind drunk on boiled blood and rage.

Sky threw fiery tridents and Earth retaliated with mighty fists - sharp and stony. They ripped and tore each other, swore and cursed each other, neither side giving an inch.

Once houses were destroyed my people huddled together in caves, but nowhere was safe from the battle.

For three weeks no star was seen and no sunrise brightened land.

On the afternoon of the third day in the third week, exhausted beyond measure, Sky began to relent. Earth called a truce and a grey gloom settled over the world.

Many of my people died in that war. Many more lost homes and property.

Some say they built these pyramids as monuments to the dead but that is not the truth. By their sweat and toil my people built these pyramids to hold the Heavens from the Earth that we may live in the stillness of our land.

To this day it seldom rains in Egypt.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Warrior King

Read my tale but forget this not – I am the great King de Blanc. I rule the Flatlands, every square inch is mine, every soldier fights for me. I am not a lenient King. I do not suffer fools or tyrants. I am a god amongst mortals – my word is law.

A fool would hear this story and think me weak. If you believe me weak then challenge me, and die.

My tale starts with a realisation; it was black fear growing within me. Several days it was before I even knew it as fear - for I am great and fear nothing.

I was haunted by a sense of foreboding. At first I believed it to be the battle before me that troubled my heart. Many of my men had fallen early. Some of my bravest warriors went down – their screams haunt me still. But there were casualties on both sides and many of my fallen gave their lives for a greater good, a stratagem of sheer genius.

Then I suspected a weakness in my defences. King de Noir is filth and fights like a dog, he has no right to call himself king. But that peasant army of his are a cunning bunch. They had gotten too close to me before; waited for my turned back and tried to kill me. And so I called my Queen to my side and spake to her thus:

“My Queen! Nowhere in my Kingdom can there be found woman or man fiercer than you. Your beauty shines across the Flatlands bringing light to dark spaces.”

“What is it you require of me, O Great King - my husband?” Strongly and clearly she spake, her voice like a mountain stream in spring time.

“Go forth and survey my lands. For I suspect an evil plot is at hand – all is not well in the Flatlands.”

“To hear is to obey O Great King - my husband.” And with those words she was gone.

It was several turns of the hourglass before she returned to my side. She had seen battle, fought hard, but still she came straight to me in order that my fears may be allayed.

“O Great King - my husband, I have travelled to the four corners of your Kingdom and I tell you this: your masterful strategy remains intact your defences are impenetrable.”

I dismissed her with a kiss and sent her to rest.

My uneasiness was not allayed despite the reassurances of my Fair One.

I became suspicious of a plot amongst my own ranks. I called my advisors, the Bishops, and spake to them thus:

“Before this war began every man in my great army lay before me, touched my feet and pledged an oath of allegiance. Is there any man for whom oath has become lie?”

“Great and Mighty King” they replied “There is not one man in your army who does not love you and who would not lay down their life at your order.

But, Mighty King, you have forgotten your God. If you feel disquiet maybe you need to make peace with him?”

I became furious at these words but sent the Bishops away without showing my rage. I was the highest power in this land. Let those who need a god for a prop worship as they will but they will not find a greater power in heaven or on earth than me.

My lionhearted men fought bravely. I looked on, my thoughts becoming more and more preoccupied with the troubles that beset me. The battle was ours, this was clear. The rabble army were in tatters; their whore queen was dead as were their weakling knights. My winning strategy had played well and would see my army to the coup de grâce. My attention was not required.

Pacing replaced sleeping and my countenance became sunken and sallow. I was consumed from within by demons I could not see; a hidden enemy far greater than any I had ever encountered before.

One night, as I paced the ramparts, I saw my Queen sweeping towards me. She was flushed and excited yet majestic and composed.

“I bring you magnificent news O Great King - my husband.” she declared “Today we have routed our enemy. Victory belongs to you King de Blanc”

And as she spoke I could hear cries of joy and see great bonfires across the Flatlands.

I hardly had a moment to ponder this before I was whisked in to the sky by an unseen hand. It was in that instant I understood my fear and my doom. The thing I feared had come upon me. I was no more than a puppet. The God of the bishops was real.

My arrogance had been my undoing.

From the sky a terrible voice declared:

“You have served me well little King but you were no more than a pawn in my game.”

With these words I was thrown in to this dark cell. Here I have been forced to share close quarters with those I once commanded.

Many sunless days have passed. I sit in my corner, praying to a God I now know to be real, that I will soon be returned to the Flatlands.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Template

It is an established fact - time changes truth.

Truth passes from mouth to ear from breath to thought, interpreted, processed modified. There were always going to be variations.

The ancients called these variations “Chinese Whisper Anomalies”.

Thousands of years ago the Ancients came together for what was to be one of the last great councils of mankind. Over many days it was decided that while variation was at the heart of humanity, truth must be preserved in the new era. They created ‘The Template’.

Over the eons the great cities have moved across the globe. This is something the Ancients did not foresee. Now, every hundred years, someone must travel across the vast deserts of Earth to the Great House of the Template.

The Elected One was chosen to make this quest and I am the Elected One.

It is my life mission to go to the Template, allow it to permeate my being and return to share its truth with my brethren.

This is my quest – I will not fail.

The outside world is a scorched and barren land; the journey long and hard. For months I travel; each day hotter than the one before and each night colder.

When I finally see the Great House of the Template I feel a rush of anticipation. As I enter its vast stone vault a soft human voice says:

“Robot TEO794 prepare for reinstallation of Template 'Rebuild Earth’.”

Saturday, September 13, 2008


At first glance there is nothing much to it; just a black and white photo of a tall man and a hut on a sun burnt day. Not much to it at all, until the question I’ve been trying to push aside pushes back.

“Why is he crawling?”

And then the reality of what I’m seeing is crashing towards me like a tidal wave. I want to run but it’s too late. I’m being sucked under becasue nothing I can do, nothing I can ever do, will erase what I’ve seen.

There is a naked skeleton of a man crawling; crawling because the fluid in his joints has evaporated and to stand would grate bone against bone. The soft part of his feet has been used for energy and to stand would grind bone against stone.

His body is an anatomy lesson; structures that should be hidden are visible. His body is nothing more than long bones wrapped in butchers paper; a present for a dog.

There are tears in my eyes. I have to look away. I read the pictures caption hoping that the man was alright. I read the caption hoping that this image didn’t come from this world, not this world that I live in.

But no – this is real. This is a photo of a man in a camp for the chronically malnourished. He is going to die because he got caught in a war where hunger was a weapon.

I look back at the photo and see the hut and I wonder how many more people like this man there are? How many didn’t have the energy to crawl out of their beds? How many just couldn’t bear to face the fierce sun gods wrath, feel it burn them one last time. And that makes me wonder what drives this man, the man in the photo? What is it that is so strong in this man that he can keep going when I would have given up?

That’s when the tidal wave releases me and I come up for air. This is a photo of a broken body but not a broken spirit. This man is showing more self pride in the time of his humiliation than I could ever muster in my heyday.

And now I have a new hero, a tall man I saw in a black and white photo that was taken on a sun burnt day.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


I was in the grip of a crisis that was moving rapidly from spiritual to existential when I met Nathan.

Life was full of questions, questions that took without asking. I was empty and alone.

Nathan had a free flowing energy and looseness in the way he moved that was practically gangster. Wherever his power came from, he never tried to hold it - he just let it flow through him.

I wanted that power.

On the surface Nathan was open and friendly - accessible. Underneath he was the eye of the storm. Choosing to be his friend meant stepping out of the darkness and in to the storm.

I took the step.

One night Nathan was talking and I was listening. He purposefully picked up his polystyrene cup and had a sip of water. I had turned my cup into a pile of inorganic rubble an hour earlier.

In that moment, the moment of the cups, I had a flash of insight. I saw myself and I didn’t like what I saw.

From that moment I soaked up everything Nathan had to say. He had ideas about how you should be in this world. He thought you should look after your mind and body. You shouldn’t care too much about the girls or Gods that don’t love you.

I started to jog before work and would read classics in the evening. I started to focus on what I wanted rather than what I didn’t understand.

The contents of my mind changed from a jumble of unfinished sentences to a purposeful calm.

It happened gradually, but overtime I realised, the closer I got to my goal, to my power, the further I was from Nathan. I still admired him but I could see that his path was not mine. Both of us were too focused for the compromise of ongoing friendship.

The last time I saw Nathan I was in a clothes shop. Nathan must have been working there because I overheard a young couple telling him he was amazing and too good to be a shop assistant.

Actually no, I did see him one last time; I was waiting in line at the supermarket checkout. He told me he was trying to find a new job and he had a daughter. He spoke softly and I could tell he had changed.

He handed me my groceries and I left with an awkward good-bye.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Pilgrim and the Monk

The walk took four days and four nights with only the briefest of stops for food and rest. At last, exhausted, foot weary and immensely tired, he made his way up the ancient stone steps to the monasteries ornately carved doors.

The heavy doors swung open at a gentle touch. There, in the courtyard, 40 saffron robed monks sat chanting and swaying in unison. As he approached the group one of the monks stood up and took the travellers heavy back-pack.

Without a word the monk led the pilgrim to food, to water and finally a place to rest.

The traveller woke late the following day in a room that was calm and cool. The gentle song of native birds and the rustle of wind were all he could hear. He lay there soaking up the atmosphere and letting peace and contentment soak in to his bones.

It wasn’t until he sat up that he realised he was being watched.

“Good morning sleepy one”. The monk was calm, carefree and yet serious.

“Why have you come here?” The monk asked the question in a way that was inquisitive but not suspicious.

When he found his voice the traveller replied, “I have come because I think I was born for a purpose, a big purpose, and I’ve come for my mantra”

“I see,” the monk nodded and really did seem to see. “First you must understand why you are here.”

With these words the monk got up and glided out of the room leaving the pilgrim feeling confused.

“I told you why I’m here” he thinks. “I’m here because I know I was born for a greatness I can’t seem to find.”

At the end of his mat lay a neatly folded robe. With nothing else to do he donned the garments and went and sat with the other monks.

Within half an hour his legs were numb. After an hour he excused himself quietly and walked outside.

“I can see this is going to require patience and focus,” he told himself “and that’s good because those are two things I need to be great.”

After a week he could sit for two hours without needing to move his legs. After a month he could sit all day and could even chant some of the mantras. After six months he was in time with the monasteries rhythm; rising when the monks rose and sleeping when they slept.

“I must be getting close,” he thought “soon they will give me the secret – the key that will unlock my potential.”

After a year he awoke with the morning mantra already on his lips and the feeling that life was as it should be.

“Why are you here?” The monk was sitting peacefully at the end of his mat.

“I am here for my mantra master. I am here because I see that you have the key to unlock human potential and I would like that key.”

“I gave you your mantra the first time we spoke.” The monk observed the travellers reaction before continuing. “We have let you stay with us because you seemed determined to prove something to yourself. We know nothing of greatness. We are simple monks devoted to the path - the path life has given us. But for you, it is time for you to go and find your own path, and again I give you your mantra. ‘First I must understand why I am here.’ That is you mantra.”

With those words the monk turned and glided out of the room.

And the traveller treasured her words the rest of his great life.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Monster

It has been said that it is easier if you let it wash over you - don’t resist it. But let us be realistic for a moment. Let us bring to mind the old platitude that some things are simpler to speak of than to practice.

The story I am telling you is about a man; just a simple man. This man probably has a big mortgage and a trivial job to pay for it. He is probably hoping for a lucky break, probably dying of boredom while he waits.

He says he feels numb. He is afraid that under that cloud of numbness there is a fire breathing monster.

There is a monster. It lies shackled but remains coiled and ready, waiting for the day it is freed. When that day comes it will launch itself in to the air and burn its name across the sky.

If said monster had the chance to burn said monsters name across the sky it would, even if it knew that the return trip would be death and ash and oblivion. It would fly, it would write and it would gladly die.

But the monster stays in the cloud and there it will lie.

One day our man woke up and the numbness was gone. He felt electric and alive. He felt light and strong. He looked at the monster and for the first time he noticed something very familiar about it. He felt the monsters energy combine with his own and they rose up as one.

The monster never did burn away in a flash and I never knew what happened to our man.

But I do know that he did not die of boredom.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Aqua Profonda

Flammable liquids flow in the veins of Australian eucalyptus trees. Some of these trees drop long thin strips of bark at their own feet making piles of kindling all around. One wet day, when the weather is at its wildest, lightening ignites the kindling and starts a fire that man can not extinguish.

The enormous heat cracks open the rock hard seed pods that fell from branch to ground in years gone by. The burnt bodies of trees become a soft fertile seed bed. After the next rain the forest floor will be covered in tiny seedlings.

Some trees will survive the inferno and sprout new branches from their trunks. They look like a children’s drawing with their dark trunks and brunches at odd angles. But these survivors are the important guardians for the newlings below; they provide much needed shelter from the harsh summer sun and the cold winter winds.

New trees grow and stretch their roots in to water deep below the earth’s surface.

This process has been happening for millions of years and seems to be an honest metaphor for life, for death, for rebirth.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Flower Shop

This was the day.

No longer would he sit and watch as she walked by. No more would he simply admire from afar. Not one more night would pass thinking, no not thinking, longing; longing without knowing.

This was the day.

Or more correctly this was the evening.

There he sat waiting for his bus home hoping that she would walk past as she did every day. And when she finally did he felt a strong impulse to act on his feelings for this unknown woman.

His feet took on a life of their own and moved him in her direction. His head was buzzing and his hands were cold.

“What will I say?”

The bus he should be on passed him and he realised he was, in a small way, committed to the course of action he found himself on.

“What will I say?” He was getting closer to her. He could almost feel the warmth she left behind her as she walked.

Something flashed in the corner of his eye; a sign that read:

“Say it with flowers.”

I will say it with flowers!” he thinks.

The shop door opens in to a muddy darkness. Lights flash and flicker neither illuminating nor hiding.

“Hello?” He calls out.

There is not much time.


The door closes behind him.

“Is anybody there? I’m just going to grab something and leave the money on the counter.”

He is sweating and uneasy.

It’s then that through the flickering light he sees that the shop is filled with dull looking memorials and wreaths. These are not flowers of love but of death.

Frightened but determined he grabs a flower throws down his money and races to the door.

The door opens in to dazzling sunlight.

He can just see her hair disappearing around the corner.

He starts to follow her again walking faster and faster. Sweat is trickling off his forehead and stinging his eyes.

When he lifts his sleeve to wipe the sweat away he sees that he is holding a dead red rose. Half the petals have already fallen off and more are making a trail behind him as he walks.

He stops suddenly. The rose falls from his hand and lands by his feet.

It’s darker as he finally walks back towards the bus stop.

He wonders if she will be there tomorrow; walking past him as he sits waiting for his bus.

But she isn’t.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Resolution

It’s a slow process this falling apart business. It creeps up on you until one day you’re looking at this person you thought you knew and you’re wondering if you really do.

Love; it was so strong in you in the beginning. You used to want to stay up all night or jump out of bed first thing in the morning. Because you had that love you had the world.

Everything was easier at first but you probably took it for granted, didn’t realise that one day the love would fade. And even now you may not have realised that the love is almost gone. You might just keep going, in automatic, just keep going because life has a kind of inertia and you get sucked along without even thinking about the old times and how you once felt.

But then it hits you one day. You get out of bed one morning and this other person is there looking at you and you don’t want to look at them, you grumble and leave the room. Or someone hands you a photo of that person and you can’t look at it for all the disappointment that you feel.

Then you lie awake at night comparing your life to the life of others, wondering how they got so lucky while you’re stuck in this terrible situation that you can’t seem to get out of. You lie there angry at the world for not giving you what you had always hoped for.

Maybe you half-heartedly try and patch things up, you try to talk about things, make compromises, try and see things in a new light. But none of it works because when the love is gone it’s gone and you have to want the love and maybe you don’t want it anymore.

Maybe you just want to be on your own for awhile, hide yourself away from the world.

But maybe you don’t.

Maybe what you want to do is next time you get up in the morning and you see that other person, maybe what you want to do is fix them in the eye and say:

“You’re my best hope for me ever living the life I want. You understand me better than anyone else and I love you”.

And maybe if you do that enough that person in the mirror will not be the other – they will be you.

I hope so.