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50 Years.

50 Years I’ve been here now.

First Birthday

First Birthday

50 years, 18,250 days, the same number of mornings and evenings the same number of nights asleep bar a dozen or so all-nighters. 5o years of experiences good and tough.

Yes, I would say tough but I wouldn’t say bad, although there have been some challanging times. Like when I was out of sync in my last year at school because I couldn’t do my precious wood work. That was the time to leave, just before and fortunatly as I got my apprenticeship. Or the frustration of dealing with the end of my marriage and the subsequent crash and burn that came from that. These times were tough but I wouldn’t say bad, not real bad, like some people have, some people don’t have tough lives, they have real bad lives. My life has been just challenging, requiring me to, well, suck it up and get on with it. And sometimes I’ve had the help of some wonderful people to help me through. To all of you… thanks.

So far it’s been a good life anyway I look at it. I have very good health both mental and physical and I’ve managed to do some interesting, even wonderful things. The highlights would have to be doing my apprenticeship, skydiving, building a house, my marriage to Gail,  my daughter Sabina, the many wonderful relationships that I have had, the skills that I’ve gained, working on the Matrix 2&3 films, my podcast and associated travels and learnings and in recent years, the joy of tango.

If you asked me to reflect on the tough times, I’m genuinelly, mentally challenged to remember. I can remember the events but there is no emotion connected to them. I don’t feel as distressed from them that I felt at the time. It must just be my psychology but I seem to remember the good, with a joy that is hard to express and the bad times seem to fade away like a dream in the morning. [click to continue…]

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Farewell Mal.

Most people don’t think of funerals as being pleasant but on Saturday I had the good fortune to go to a great memorial service for a cousin. Malcolm Kath, just four years my senior passed away from cancer about 10 days earlier and we were under strict instructions not to not wear any suits but loud shirts, roll at least one bowl down the green at the Canungra Bowls Club and have a drink, his shout.

Mal was one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the good fortune to know. He was kind and wanted little from others but his simple life reminded me that sometimes it’s the quite ones that have an impact far wider than the people who make all the noise. A bachelor until 50, he finally married his childhood sweetheart Marcia in 2006. At the service I saw school photos of the eight year old Mal and Marcia in the same class at school.

I remember catching up with Mal a couple of years ago and in his style he was holding his right hand out in a claw, complaining that there was something wrong with it. I asked what was the problem, to which he replied “I don’t have a beer in it”.  A simple dry wit was his style but sadly his desire for beer was a life long issue and the addiction to it eventually lead him, in the last few years to loose his short term memory to the alcohol abuse condition of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. This had the side benefit in his last days, which although full of pain and with difficult palliative care, he was unable to remember any of it, so he was constantly discovering how dire his circumstances were inso only living in each new moment.

I suppose this is the point of this post and what I learnt from Mal on Saturday. Things are not always as they may seem.

He was content with his life fully aware that he made the decisions that lead to all events. He lived in his moment to moment life and he accepted the consequences of those decisions and he earned great respect from his community for that and the decent person that he was. [click to continue…]

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The Eight Irresistable Principles Of Fun

Have you ever noticed how people mask who they really are so they can seem more professional. Sure we do a variety of roll playing in all areas of life, partner, parent, employer or Christmas party clown but some people change profoundly from what they are in their personal life to their professional life, it’s almost like a split personality disorder.

I recently heard the when Oprah was a television news reader she modeled herself on Barbara Walters only to one day loose the persona while news reading, became her true self and the rest is history. This is the first thing that I noticed when I started watching this video but there are a lot more good ideas in this little gem that I found over at Please Feed The Animals. Enjoy 🙂

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Eckhart Tolle, An Intoroduction.

If you’ve been following this blog I’ve mentioned Eckhart Tolle several times.

To me he seems to explain in terms that we in the West understand, some of the long held wisdom of the ages. Nothing he says is new, it’s all simply a rehash of what all the great spiritual teachers have been saying for ages and I don’t think that he is anything special other than at present he is the one who has captured the minds of people who are searching. After all it’s not the messenger but the message that is important. It’s just that he is using the modern, Western  systems of understanding to get the message out and he is using the modern Western mindset to explain the things that defy that very Western mindset. A very challenging task. That’s why it’s probably taken him 20 years before he published his first book, The Power of Now,  as he mentions that he didn’t understand what happened to him for a long time and as he realised it he was able to then explain it, in the terms of his culture, to the advantage of we, who also live in it.

His latest book A New Earth and some of his talks get a little deep and could be somewhat overwhelming in the first instance but recently I found these three CBC interviews which I feel are a great introduction into what he is about. I’ve also recorded the audio if you just want to listen to that, the links are below each embedded YouTube clip.

Here is the Audio from Eckhart Tolle Part One

Play

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Ego = Fail

Just now I was reflecting on how Eckhart Tolle mentions about how his ego doesn’t interfere with his daily events as they would cause identification with the events around him. This identification would interfere with him doing things in the moment and cause stress and anxiety. This reminded me of the numerous times when I’ve been in fear before an event and how when I’m in the flow it always works without fear. How this stress is always ego related and how without the expectations of a new beginning I do well and if I allow my ego to get involved I always seem to screw it up.Ego=Fail

Does this mean that if I am fearful or anxious I’m identifying with the event with my ego? I think so.

I’ve always said that I have “Beginners Luck”. The number of times that I’ve done something for the first time and done it initially with ease is staggering. I remember when I started skydiving at 17 years of age. I went to the drop zone the first weekend and did my training and the following weekend I went to do my first jumps. That weekend I did four static line jumps, each and every one was copy book perfect. Everyone praised me, paying complements as to my natural abilities. Then the following week end I returned to continue and failed monumentally, moving onto free fall and tumbling out of control eventually returning to static line descendants and doing 13 instead of the usual five until I eventually moved onto free-fall again. It was even recommended that I should give it away. Ultimately I amassed 2000 skydives and became an instructor at 19. By then I was humbled by by initiation into the sport.

For a short time when I was about 30 I had a sales job using a style of sales similar to encyclopaedia selling where I had to present to people in their homes from a script and eventually close the deal. After the initial training I went out on my first day to present, not expecting any results as I was such a raw recruit and managed to sell four out of five presentations blowing everyones expectations, including mine, out of the water. The following six weeks were harrowing as I slowly started to stress and didn’t sell one programme until eventually I decided to give it away and on my last presentation I sold two unexpectedly to the client and her friend who just happened to be sitting in. I’m sure I sold on the last day because I no longer had an attachment to the outcome, the stress of achieving was removed and my ego was now out of the picture.

This has happened in all the fields that I have ventured into where the first time I do something, I do well as I have no expectations, my ego is subdued as I’m only starting and I don’t expect any results. Because I’m completely with the experience and not at all in my ego I allow anything to happen and it resolves in ways far better than I would have expected. It’s even happened with the first time I played lotto and won $35 because there is no chance to win on my first attempt and I’ve never won anything since.

The problem is that once I have the initial success, I then buy into others and my own expectations based on the past experience and extrapolate it out into the future, then naturally expect the evolvement of the good fortune into something grand. Then when it doesn’t materialise I become demoralised, think of it as a failure and it all falls apart. If I do keep at it in the long term and persevere through the negative period as I did with skydiving and my trade skill I notice that I eventually return to the level of success that I originally had but now I’ve been humbled by the experience of doing so poorly during the intervening period. I then don’t think of what I do as being anything special but think of it as something that anyone can do, as is really the case. If I can do something anyone can and often times anyone has, so why should I think that I’m anything special. This is what I find so interesting.

I seem to be blessed with some innate natural talents which enable me to do well initially but if I allow my ego to rise up even at the most basic level I come unstuck then my ego feels blighted by the failure and stress develops and a downward cycle begins. What if I don’t allow my ego into the picture? What if I simply say “this person which is me is doing this thing and it will be as it will be”? If the goal of the day is achieved or not is irrelevant. It’s only important to do the task as seems appropriate with no judgement of whether it is good or bad, which is a judgement in itself. Just let it be and not to identify with the event in anyway as being something personal.

That’s the take home, “not to identify with the event in anyway as being something personal” which has to exclude any form of ego.

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2010 – The Year Ahead

Picking up from yesterdays post about 2009 and how good a year I had, I thought that it was also appropriate to consider what is ahead for 2010.

Last year I sat down with some serious consideration to goal setting and planning out my year ahead.What I hoped to have for my podcast, income, home and social life. Then as the year wore on I realised that despite my good intentions many other things were being thrown up in my path creating situations that prevented or changed the direction of things that I had set out to achieve. Some improvements some challengers but things that changed where I thought I was travelling, thereby creating a feeling in me that I didn’t have control on my life and frustration that I wasn’t able to make the goals realised as I was told would be achieved if I followed the rules of goal setting. Basically what I’m saying is that the classic western goal setting model doesn’t seem to work for this little black duck.

So as I mentioned in the last post, as I started on this exercise in May to just opt out of what is expected and make my decisions based on what is appropriate in each moment and the relative ease at which my life now seems to be evolving I’ve decided on some new goals for this new year.

  • Goal 1 – I intend to be fully engaged with every activity and make any decisions that need to be taken in that moment.
  • Goal 2 – Any time I fall into emotional considerations of the future or reminiscences of the past I’ll concentrate on Goal 1.

If you haven’t realised goal 2 is actually a variation on goal 1. It’s just that I’m still not brilliant at this and I sometimes have to remind myself to go to Goal 1.

Oh! and just in case you think this is not, or is a real goal, I don’t mind what happens anyway.

I’m just here Now.

Life is a Game
A Game to be Played
You can never Lose
You can only Win
So long as You Play. ’91

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End of 2009 – Brilliant

Another year wraps up and I’ve been reflecting on it lately.

Back when I came up with the idea and started Your Story I commented on how the years were all the same and the disappointment that there wasn’t any real change from year to year, of my desire to shake that up. Now it’s now been nearly 3 years.

I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing when I started on this path those few years ago but I knew that I needed to start and see where it would go. The first 15 years of my adult life were wonderful years with a great marriage, adventure and achievements but after that it was particularly tough. Now I can say that of the last 15 years since my marriage went south these last 3 years have been the best, most rewarding and enlightening years.

When my daughter was little I used to say that I was running a one off, 18 year experiment in parenting and I’d get back with the results on whether I achieved anything when she is 18. Now that she is I think that experiment has been very successful but that is another story. Just the same as parenting, this last year I’ve been running another experiment in not planning, not goal setting but

Ian in Buenos AIres

simply going where the moment takes me. It started way back in May when I decided, just for one week to have a Societyfast. What could go wrong for one week of not buying into all the stuff of society?

As it turns out after that week I decided not to reconnect with the system and that’s the way it’s been all year since then. Now I’ve always done things somewhat my own way but this was really ramping it up. I have for the majority of the year slept, worked, danced and travelled as it’s seemed right in the moment. I’ve done my best not to project into the future and reminisce on the past. I have at times been far from perfect from achieving this and I have sometimes bought into fear and sentimentality but generally I’ve been able to reconnect after a time and just enjoy the moment. And what wonderful moments I’ve had.

In the last year I’ve only worked about 10 weeks which has caused me to live very lean but my life is wonderful and rich with friends old and new. I have a wonderful social life thanks to my dancing and all that Tango has given me. I’ve travelled yet again, this time to Buenos Aires. I’ve worked for a time with an artist and on Narnia – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader where I made some wonderful things. The podcast is evolving and I’ve managed to meet and get a whole new level of guests to come onto the show. My skills have continued to improve both with audio and video while some people, though only a few, seem to like what I’m producing and keep coming back.

But most importantly I’ve discovered that if I take the time, to take no time, to just be in the moment and make decisions on what needs to be done now and follow that quiet feeling inside me that says that I should do … right now it all seems to work out. Leave my petty ego out of it and be content with whatever happens whether it’s others or my doing doesn’t matter. Instead of worrying I’m starting to have an attitude that something will happen, it’s just that I don’t know what it is. This is creating a new state of wonder, where I don’t know what is going to happen but like watching a film I’m curious and wonder what will evolve. Amazingly it’s working out different and much better than I could imagine.

Yes, what will come of the New Year. I wonder because I have no idea.

Lets find out…

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Episode 1 of my European Holiday in 2008

It’s taken a long time and I’m doing it mainly for myself so there is no real hurry but in case there is anyone who is interested in my European Holiday that I had in 2008 I’ve finally managed to put together the video of the first part of the trip.

I initially flew to London with an 8 hour stopover at Heathrow then I went to Tübingin to stay briefly with Claudia then onto Potsdam to stay with Eve. Episode 2 will be about Berlin which I’m working on at the moment.

It was a task of joy to relive the memories as I put this together and a total self indulgence but hey it’s my holiday, my video and it’s primarily for my memories. If anyone else gets something from it, that’s a bonus but at the same time I have attempted to make it as interesting as possible to you if you are interested in having a look.

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Pablo and Valeria, Tango Teachers and Performers

For the last couple of weeks visiting tango performers and teachers Pablo Nievas & Valeria Zunino have been in South Queensland running workshops and conducting private tango lessons as guests of Friends of Tango.

While I was in Buenos Aires in July I was able to have several group lessons with Pablo and Valeria and found them to be amongst the best teachers of the now approximately eight different teachers that I’ve had lessons with. Tango is a specific skill in itself but so is teaching and like many skilled practitioners it’s a rare person who can both perform and teach. This is their greatest strength in that they have the teaching skill to benefit from their technical excellence as tango performers. The single most impressive thing that I saw them both do was to explain the good and poor technique while the partner would act out what was being explained without having to be told what was coming next. It was as though they were reading each others minds. I suppose when you live and breath tango with a person you can’t help but know how each of you think.

And to show you how they can relate to each in the dance, here is the performance of the three dances they did at the Friends of Tango, Pequeno Nino Bien, Milonga on 21 November 2009 in Brisbane.

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Work – Is it an addiction?

I’ve finished work a while back on the Narnia movie again. I was initially on for a month, which is where I wrote the previous post, then off for a month, then back on for 2.5 weeks and now yet again I’ve not worked for a few weeks. Since I finished up I’ve been thinking about

Book Stands for the Movie

Book Stands for the Movie

this crazy life of mine and how it flies in the face of the Western method of work, whether it’s valid or irresponsible of me, if I’m burning my bridges for my future or if maybe I may actually have something here.

When I finished I knew I had to do the whole readjust again back into the mental head-space of just hanging out doing my thing again. It’s very easy to plug into work, as once I’m on a Job there is a first morning where I get up and head off to another first day and from then on it’s routine. The longer I work in that one place the more ingrained the routine becomes and the more comfortable it all is. That is until the routine becomes boredom. Then another type of stress starts where I question my existence and waste of life in that environment and yet again I have to leave to find myself.

That is very much the way it is for most of the permanent work that I’ve done and the great advantage of working contract is that normally I can stick it out long enough until the project is complete which hopefully isn’t too long and then I get the change that I need. So film work often suits me well in this regard.

Finishing and readjusting to no work is not as easy as compared to starting as I don’t have the distractions that work gives me from what I call the “Void” or “Nothing”. However there are two ways to approach this.

  1. Get another Job is what everyone asks and expects. In a lot of ways that is the easiest option. But for me after all these years of doing the variations on this lifestyle I know that it will go the way that I’ve outlined above. Normally six months and I’m a spent force, bored and ready to move on. It even tends to manifest in physical disturbances in my body brought on by the low but permanent levels of stress.
  2. Embrace the Void. Now it’s not exactly Nothing. It’s not as though I wake up sit down and do nothing until I go back to sleep that night as I have my personal projects and day to day order to keep functioning so there is a whole range of activities and a constant supply of new and interesting opportunities turning up daily to keep me active. However compared to the 40 hour week, 48 week year work model it appears to be a void that requires filling.

The challenges with embracing the Void is that there is no order projected onto the future, no planning and no surety. It’s very much living in the moment and taking the opportunities as they arrive on a moment by moment time frame. That flies in the face of the Western model of how to get things done. I’m supposed to have lists, goals, plans for what I want to achieve and a step by step approach to achieving them. I’ve read the books on goal setting and that’s the way they say to achieve what your after. Sure that’s the model and if you have a specific goal that is what you do to achieve it, I get that.

But what if you haven’t the goal at the moment?

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