Archive for the ‘meaning’ Category

When I returned home to the farm between uni and finding a job, I began walking the couple of miles down to the front gate each afternoon. It was a hot and dry walk; another big dry had our family farm firmly in its grip.

Undeterred by the heat, and with John Mellancamp Jnr blasting in my ears, I strode out across the paddocks with my eye firmly on the horizon, at the place where an orange sunset met the red earth.

Black crows circled overhead and, despite their caws, there was a stillness and a peace about the land. Somehow the big dry was as natural as the green paddocks that had rolled into a blue horizon only a few years before.

On those hot, burnished afternoons, I loved that land. It spoke to me with a sense of place and of belonging. It was a belonging that drove away all fear; that somehow, if I were to die there and then, its peace and stillness would wash over me and I would become part of it.

I never forgot that feeling or the way a sense of place and belonging can drive away all insecurities; all fears.

I travelled overseas in my youth and across Australia for work. I’ve lived in a city and in other rural communities but I’ve never found a place like my childhood home. It’s not with regret that I look back at that home that was eventually sold, but with gratitude that I was able to experience a childhood in the country.

As I grew into adulthood, I made the deliberate decision not to live in the cities. My spirit craves nature; I need to look at the horizon and everything in between.

Today I live in the country and I’m happy with that decision. I walk out of my front door to trees and birds, snakes and lizards. Every now and then, there is an orange sunset and that sense of belonging stirs. When I get that feeling I know that time is endless, and that our spirits are a part of something much bigger, yet the same, as ourselves.

Every morning multitudes of people wake up and reach for their phone to check their facebook newsfeeds. On their specially crafted reel of favourites, they’ll scroll through and maybe like or share content with other users. Instead of going to websites, perhaps even newspapers now, people open facebook for connection to society and the world.

It’s the portal to end all portals; one that sucks us in and keeps us there. There are quizzes and tests to take on facebook that predict everything from which movie star you look like, to the year you are going to die. It’s both infotainment and a humongous time waster.

I took one of the tests once – the one about which celebrity you look like. I got the ‘grumpy cat’ – a facebook famous identity. Yes, it’s a real cat who looks grumpy and has more than 8,000,000 followers.

Are we stupid to devote so much time to an artificial and I would say influential learning environment? As of the third quarter of 2015, Facebook had 1.55 billion monthly active users. While the grumpy cat mightn’t have much to teach us, the news, lifestyle and new age sites might. Just about everyone – artists, authors, the Dalai Lama – is on facebook.

I remember when I first started out on facebook. I liked Oxfam and the RSPCA, spiritual sites and the New York Post. As newspapers realised the news distribution had entered a new era, they too began to build their facebook platforms but the twist for them is they don’t control the advertising dollars. Facebook does.

And it is attempting to control our memories now too. Aside from the greeting facebook gives you when you logon in the morning, it is now providing you with ‘anniversary’ posts for you to share – so you and your friends can reminisce.

What’s next? Hopefully it won’t attempt political influence though I’m sure there are subtle signs there if you looked.

I would really ‘like’ to take a break from facebook for a week. It would take real discipline, as I’m one of those people who reach for their phone and newsfeed each morning upon waking. Someone once likened that to reaching for a glass of whiskey. They might be right.

At the beginning of this year I was diagnosed with early stage Bowel Cancer.

It sent me into shock for months and I told very few people. I wanted privacy and time to deal with my own emotions rather than worrying about what other people were feeling. The other reason for privacy was my fear of my looming, major bowel surgery.

I was right to be fearful. It was a huge and dreadful surgery that my surgeon likened to open heart surgery in its invasive-ness. What a relief I felt when it was over, even though the road to rehabilitation was long and hard with a post operative wound infection and other complications.

For the first time in my life, I experienced total and utter physical helplessness. I could hardly move, except to go from the bed to the chair. The pain levels were acute, and I have a reasonably high pain threshold.

It was a good milestone to get out of the road. Then as soon as I was feeling a little bit better, it was time to get back on the chemotherapy treadmill (I had 5.5 weeks of radiation and chemo in March/April).

Cancer teaches you many things. It has been the single, most defining moment in my life – aside from bringing children into this world. It has changed me beyond what I thought would be possible. It has changed me for the better.

That’s shocked you hasn’t it. How could getting cancer change you for the better? It’s hard to explain but I’ll try because it’s hard to understand for people who have lived without a serious disease or illness that could take their lives.

The easiest way to describe it is that I no longer live my life on some sort of invisible auto pilot. I now make the most of each and every day and I am joyful to see a sunrise. I take great pleasure in downloadthe smallest things, in living a simple life – in a sunny day dotted with yellow daisies and brilliant green earth and trees that are responding to the Spring, right before my eyes.

I have a heightened sense of awareness now, perhaps because I live in the moment; in the now.

I have a strengthened belief in God or Buddha or the Divine Presence…whatever it is that you want to call divinity. Names don’t matter much really.

It sounds cliched but I see the sheer power of love to change everything in the universe. At the end of the day, it is all that matters.

If something or someone bothers me now, I simply turn away. Time is precious and I don’t want to waste it on people or situations that are not doing me any good. I value happiness and that simple joy I feel most days.

That ability to decide and act in my own best interests has finally lifted my self esteem which has been a lifelong struggle. It feels good to be free.

I was lucky. I had early stage bowel cancer and for most people, if it is caught early, it is curable. I hope I’m cured.

So tonight, I finished Round 2 of chemo. That’s 2 down and 4 to go. I’m whittling it away and looking forward to the day when I don’t have to poison my body any more and cope with the resultant side effects.

I would urge anyone with any symptoms no matter how slight, to get them checked out. Don’t ignore what your body might be trying to tell you.

Yes s**t does happen in life but it’s entirely possible to recover and emerge stronger and better than before.

Namaste.

Driving home from Sydney today the lightening arced downwards to a point in the landscape I was glad I was still far enough away from. The skies opened up and the rain came down hard. It reminded me of a storm I struck on the way back from my Canberra daily commute about seven years ago. That storm was equally, perhaps more ferocious, and hammered my car to the point where I had to pull over and stop.

The storm was directly over Lake George, an eerie and mysterious place, full of myth and legends and considered a sacred place to Aboriginal people in Australia. After the lightening and rain, came the hail and only after it abated did I consider driving on. The funny, well actually it was quite a spooky thing, was that once I negotiated the length of the lake, the storm abruptly ended and I drove into sunshine.

Some time before that I had an unnerving dream about an old Aboriginal man and Lake George. He was walking across the lake landscape and there were felled trees all around us (Lake George was turned from a natural setting into Soldier Settlement blocks – small farms – in the 1950’s or thereabouts). I got the impression that this man was very powerful because I knew instinctively that I wasn’t allowed to look into his eyes. Nevertheless, he motioned that I come with him and we negotiated the scarred landscape, walking toward the water in the distance. I also knew, instinctively, that his message for me was that the landscape needed to be traversed, even though it was difficult terrain, and that once I reached the water I would be OK.

Such is the power of a dream that this has stayed with me over the years, ready to be conjured at the memory of an afternoon storm.

I have often wondered why I had this dream at that time but my best reasoning is that it was a portend of the future. There are times in life when a hard-edged challenge threatens to derail you but you just keep walking, one foot in front of the other. You keep walking until you reach the water where life begins again.

If you would like to visit my author page on Amazon, head to¬†http://www.amazon.com/Maryann-Weston/e/B00HSH0OXQ. There you’ll find books from young adult fantasy/paranormal, to women’s fiction, and my latest collection of horror/paranormal short stories, Evil Imminent.

I’m back from holidays to a rainy, overcast summer’s day. Everywhere is green and teeming with life; one minute the sun is struggling through clouds, the next, slight sprinkles remind me of the vagaries of the weather. My herb garden has strawberries in it, and lots of mint. For once the basil is looking like it will ‘get off the ground’ and the oregano has sprouted flowers. Everything is growing, reminding me that things rarely stay the same.

We arrived back a day early from our beachside holidays, mainly to avoid facing high winds and heavy rain while we decamped. A monsoonal trough off the south east coast of Australia meant that we had few fine days, so instead we went exploring, walking and taking in the sights and sounds of the area. Coming back a day early meant I was around for the phone call that informed me a very old friend had passed away on Sunday night. I should have known the number when the phone rang. He used to joke that he had 666 in it, the number, of course, of the devil.

My friend had been diagnosed with cancer a little over two months ago. Inoperable, he didn’t fight but rather chose to ease himself into his passing with dignity and grace. I can’t imagine the courage it must take to do this. Of course, I have spent the last 24 hours recalling almost 15 years of close friendship and meaningful times. I remember his determination to be different from others, to take on society with irreverence and make us all think. He was a ‘bridesmaid’ at my wedding, arguing that as a close mate of mine he had the right to stand beside me on my wedding day. Touche Charles, I gave into your request and you stood there in a tuxedo that perfectly matched that of my bridesmaid’s dresses.

In my 20’s and 30’s, he was a prominent part of my life. He introduced me to my husband and as a result I have settled in a town I barely glanced at as I used to travel through, for 25 years. Three sons followed and he is godfather to my second.

We met as journalists in a newsroom and together we pursued the stories of substance. Good news’ values, the old ways, meant we were breaking stories long before our metropolitan counterparts. We believed in getting the real story others would want hidden. My friend always had a lot to say and he began a column called ‘Mindscape’. It encouraged people to go within for meaning, to explore the deep realms of spirituality and to trust themselves to step off a conventional track and find the ‘more’ in life. He was considered quite radical in a regional country town that boasted the finest Merino wool in Australia and is variously known as Australia’s ‘FIrst Inland City’.

Through many afternoons and into the evenings, we yarned about all sorts of things. He was a writer like me and together we explored our ambitions to write novels. His partner told me yesterday he had almost finished another edit of his first book. He had remarked to her only weeks ago that it was finally ready for publishing. I hope this work is published. I read an early draft years ago and was riveted to it, as you get when a good book finds its way to you.

In the early hours of this morning, I lay awake remembering my friend. I was both perplexed and saddened that yet another friend had gone too early in the past six months, people I expected to be around for the rest of my life. I wondered about the lessons and I decided this: Life is a beautiful gift that can be taken away prematurely. Every moment is to be savoured and lived as best we can, with joy and gratitude, peace and compassion. The other thought that was uppermost is the value of friendships; that friends help make the meaning in life. They are there for the discoveries, the victories and the losses. If you’re lucky they are there on a good deal of your exploration journey.

Friendship should never be taken for granted because a good friend is irreplaceable.

RIP Charles. Fondly and gratefully remembered.