Friday, 28 December 2018
Rather a lot has happened since the beginning of this year. I started working on a play up on the Central Coast, where I was an evil Italian puppeteer (aka Stromboli). I worked as the Assistant Director for the first time on another play down here, Of Mice and Men. I met Thalia, and we started dating! I submitted an application to direct The Crucible, which was accepted. I did another couple of Cru camps. I came up with a new idea for a board game, Discovery. I ended up needing to be on stage for Of Mice and Men, as Whit, the wit-less! I've come over to Perth for Christmas with my Dad's side of the family, where I'm writing this now. And me and Thalia have now been dating for eight months. Which is both ages, and no time at all....
Oh, and work was in there too.
It's been a busy year, but a good year. A really good year. It's been four years now since I did Impart back in 2014, which was previously my best year. A year of spring; new beginnings. Since then, I had some harder years, though there were certainly good things in there as well. But it's been difficult.
This year was another spring year. And it was amazing. It's hard to tell if it was better than 2014 - but it sure gives it a run for its money! There are a lot of incredible things that have been happening this year; dreams being fulfilled, impossible things starting, and adventures beginning.
And as the year comes to an end, I'm just so thankful for everything that's happened. And the vast majority of it has very little to do with my own efforts, or things I've done. Really, it's been thanks to God. He's been very generous to me this year, and it's been incredible seeing what he's been doing over the past twelve months. It hasn't been perfect, no - and I know that my relationship with Thalia has distracted me from my relationship with God at points. Which isn't good. But he keeps sticking with us - for some reason - and it's been amazing seeing that happen.
I have a few ideas about what's ahead for next year. Both in terms of what I know is happening, and also what I want to happen. But I might leave that for another post....
Saturday, 15 December 2018
No, not a Personal Digital Assistant. (And yes, for those wondering, that's what the other PDA stood for! I had to look it up.) We're talking Public Displays of Affection here. Particularly of the Personal and Physical variety, rather than the General or Verbal.....though usually that's what it's taken to mean. But it doesn't specify in the wording! So it's good to be specific.
The other week, me and Thalia were at a party where a friend of Thalia's approached her afterwards and said that we had made her uncomfortable with the level of physical affection that we were showing to each other. She had noted it in a joking fashion quite early on, and so we had pulled back - but evidently not to a level where she felt comfortable. (I have run this post past the friend first, she's okay for me to post it!)
Before I continue, I want to note that this is not me just going, this is wrong, this isn't, etc, dadadada. Things are always subtle and complex, people are people, your situation is unique. Be smart and such.
But it got me thinking. Because for me, being able to show my affection for someone publicly is actually something very significant and important. It's showing them that I don't just love them and treat them well when it's just us; I act the same around their friends, around my friends, around family. I'm not saying I act exactly the same in all those circumstances - but in all of them, I endeavour to show my love and affection in a way that is visible to her, and to others.
It's also important to me because, growing up, I didn't do that so much. I was much more inward-focussed, and tended to not show my emotion as much as some. Which is probably fairly typical for a guy. But that's not want to be any more, and not what I've wanted to be for quite a while.
So that's on my level. On an us level; both me and Thalia have physical touch quite high as love languages. For her, it's her primary love language. It's about my second or third - I'm not sure which it is in a relationship. I think quality time is still my primary one, though. But physical touch is still very high. And so it's important to both of us that we don't ignore that.
But going beyond us - as you probably know, many people find PDAs uncomfortable. You might be one of those people. You may turn away from the couple kissing in public, or the partners getting a little too close, or other similar displays. But why is this? Why do people find it uncomfortable? Arguably, showing love for each other is a good thing, whether public or private. Demonstrating that in a visible way is a good thing. That shouldn't change depending on where we are. So where does this uncomfortability come from?
Well, I have a theory. I haven't looked it up or anything - perhaps someone else can do that - it's just a thought that I've had. But I think it comes primarily from the generations before us.
Many people have grown up with parents or grandparents that didn't really show much affection, or not in a physical way. They weren't really huggers. My dad wasn't one until more recently! Some, or even many, may have discouraged this type of affection among their children, either directly or indirectly. And so physical affection became an uncomfortable thing to see and do, rather than a good and wholesome thing. And if you didn't grow up that way, you could easily be brought into it by others that were. Convinced that it was the norm - or the way things should be.
But I want to argue that this is not the case. Or, at least, it should not be. I'm not saying that people should be on top of each other in public. But showing your affection in a physical way - hugging, kissing, holding hands, arms around each other, stroking hair - these and other gestures like them are natural and good ways to show love for each other, and that shouldn't be constrained to just times when you're alone with somebody.
Yes, you will find people that are sensitive. Guaranteed. There are times and places that it will be awkward. Uncomfortable. And unfortunately, as people, we tend to avoid awkward and uncomfortable - but these are the places where we are challenged. Grown. Where we learn more about ourselves, and other people. And this is so important.
I'm not saying this as a blanket statement, as mentioned earlier. But, in general - public displays of affection? Let's make them uncomfortable and awkward no more. Let's teach other people, and particularly the next generation, that showing affection for each other in a visible way, in a physical way, is a good, healthy, and natural thing to do. :) <3
Wednesday, 21 November 2018
It seems like the more I work, the less I want to. Perhaps this isn't a particularly radical thing, and is just "normal" for many people. I realise that a rather large percentage of people do jobs that they don't enjoy, or that they aren't passionate about, and that I should be grateful to even have a job, and all that sort of thing. And the jobs that I have actually are pretty great. I mean, I work at one of the most recognisable Christian companies in Sydney; and my other job is getting paid to do music. But it's still - work. (I do want to reinforce, I'm not complaining about my jobs specifically! Please don't hear that. Not the intention of this post.)
I'm not really built for work, I think. Part of it's just in terms of what I'm good at/not good at. For instance, I'm very much not good at anything that involves physical labour, or going fast. I'm not good at doing the same thing over and over again. I'm not good at selling things.
But it's also just - I can't handle full-time work. I just can't. I've been doing full-time (and a bit more) hours the past couple of weeks, and it's been killing me. I'm only 26, so you wouldn't think it would affect me that much, but it does.
It seems that if I don't have some space to create, to work on my own projects a bit, to just play around here and there - I kinda die a little. I already found this out on the extreme end back in 2013, but that was over a full year, with a lot of other junk happening as well. But I didn't think that would happen if I didn't have all that junk. Turns out it still does - but I'm able to tell early enough, so I can keep myself healthy. Work tires me out more than it probably does most people. Or at least, it does when I haven't gotten enough sleep, and I'm working 9 to 5. I manage, and I pull through. Part of it's probably just me staying up too late too often. I'm catching myself falling into microsleeps at my desk now and then, which isn't good. I used to have those back at the warehouse, too.
The thing is, if money wasn't an issue, I know exactly what I'd be doing. Not lounging around, or watching Netflix, or playing computer games all the time. There would probably be some of that - but not heaps.
I have so many projects, that I'm super-passionate about. So many. A good number are ones that I feel that God has given to me to do. But, often, I can't do them - or can't do them to the level that I want to. Crux; Son, Brother, Bride; the Creative Space; sharing my stories and songs - and that's just the ones that I've felt God moving in specifically, not even mentioning things like board games, the musical I've written, the language I'm making....
But that's not how the world works. At least, not yet. They're just crazy dreams, right? They can never sustain you, never get you anywhere.... that's all you hear. One day, perhaps, the world might change. Might understand that if everyone is actually doing what they're passionate about, the world would be a much better place. That things could still get done, because there are people passionate about everything. We've got a lot of people in this world.
I don't know how I'm going to go in this world. I know I'm not really made for it, and that's kinda the point. But it's still....rather difficult to figure out what I should be doing, sometimes. You know that God can do amazing things, and can make anything happen. There are people that make a living out of doing some of those things that I mentioned. But not that many. And there's a difference between what God can do, and what he does do. And it's hard to know sometimes which way he's prodding.
And more and more, I know it's going to be tempting to make the stable choice. The responsible choice. Because more and more, I'm heading towards living a co-dependent life, rather than an independent one. Where other people actually rely on me, and I rely on them, to help get through the day-to-day. And if I run off and do something crazy - well, that's not particularly reliable, is it? But I also know that God does his best work in the uncomfortable places, on the edges of cliffs and at the bottom of trenches.
I don't really know where I'm going with all of this. But I needed to get it down. To help me get through another day of work.
Tuesday, 20 November 2018
Yesterday, as you may or may not have known, was International Men's Day. I didn't know until I saw a post about it on my Facebook feed. Today, I heard that an old male friend of mine passed away last night. As in, he was actually both an old friend and an old male. And a good man.
We hear a lot about the negative men in our society these days. They get plastered over the news, slammed through the courts and criminal systems, and get talked about a lot online. But you don't hear much about good men - about gentlemen.
Now, I am not meaning gentlemen in the sense of, "Oh, I do say dear fellow, won't you join me in a spot of tea? Let's open the door for the madam, shall we?" I'm not meaning British and Victorian, or like a knight or something. The thing is, people often don't understand the meaning of the word gentle; or use it to mean something different these days. We tend to think of it as meaning not strong, or delicate, and very feminine. But that's not what I'm meaning here at all; and that's not what it means when you're reading about it in the Bible. For instance, when it's talking about gentleness being one of the fruits of the Spirit, or saying that the meek - the gentle - shall inherit the earth.
No. It's talking about strength under control. And that's not just referring to physical strength. It's also in reference to mental strength, emotional strength, spiritual strength. Each of these are very real things, that can be used as weapons just as much as physical strength can, if not used in a good way; if not kept under control. You probably know all too many examples of that. Men that shout and argue to get their way. Men that manipulate people emotionally, and then hurt them deeply. Men that dominate discussions with their intellect, and use it as an excuse to shut others out. Men that claim the moral high ground, because they've been to that fancy Bible college, or even because they have a position at a church.
These aren't gentle men. And they aren't what men are supposed to be like. Instead, these are examples of the brokenness of this world at work - and how sin has corrupted and tainted our perceptions of what men should be like. We think that this is normal, that men are supposed to be dominating and strong, that they should take charge and get their way. Sin has taken truth and twisted it to its own ends; because that is what sin does. It cannot construct something new. It just twists and taints what is already there. Science tells us that men are, on average, physically stronger. But this is not because they are meant to dominate over others. Rather, they are meant to use this strength to serve and protect those around them. To help, not to hurt. Strength under control; gentleness.
I have had the good fortune of knowing some gentlemen in my time. Some were strong physically, some in other ways; but each knew how and when to use that strength, rather than it controlling them. And through them, I hope that I have learned a little of how to be a gentleman too.
Men - stop letting yourselves be characterised by people's perceptions. Let's redefine manhood, redefine masculinity. Let's make it gentle. Let's make it amazing. Let's make it fantastic.
Wednesday, 3 October 2018
Something else that I think has stretched a bit over the last while, and which it might be good to talk about, has been my own ideas about a relationship. As many of you probably know, before this, I hadn't been in a relationship at any point. A few times here and there where I thought something might be happening, but no dice. Even so, I still built up plenty of ideas about what being in a relationship would be like; what I thought it might feel like, things I wanted to do or say when I got there, things I thought might happen, or what would be difficult, all this sort of thing. This won't be news to those that are in or have been in relationships - but a lot of that gets challenged, stretched, or even chucked out the window when you actually go into a relationship. Because this is a unique person, with a particular personality, needs, and desires. And that's going to mean that your relationship will look a little bit different from every other relationship that you see, any other relationship you've had, and certainly any ideas that you've had in your head about it.
I'm still learning. We're still learning - it's her first time as well! We make quite a few mistakes, but we're pretty honest with each other about those, and forgiving of each other. We're good at keeping each other in check when that needs to happen, or challenging each other when that needs to happen. Or taking care of each other when that needs to happen. Hugs are good :)
For all the stretching - life is pretty good at the moment. I'm on a rather incredible journey, and I haven't often had time to stop and talk about it over the past months, which I've missed being able to do. But I'm enjoying myself. Living life! It's a good thing. Hopefully it's not as long before you hear from me again. Until next time - keep being awesome.
Wednesday, 6 June 2018
You will start wanting to spend a lot more time with each other. Like, a lot. Pretty much all the time you have. "Free time"? What is this strange phrase? But yeah. After you get over that initial excitement - you're going to need to figure out a way to balance out the time you have with each other with the other commitments that you have. And sleep. That's important too. Do that.
For Christian couples - setting physical boundaries before you start playing around too much with physical touch is a very good idea. Being respectful to each other - and to God - should be important for each of you. So honour that.
All the hugs. All the hugs. Okay, maybe not all of you have the love language of physical touch, or aren't as huggy. You're just missing out. ;)
Be prepared to have most of your pre-conceived ideas changed fairly quickly. Then go back to them later, and figure out why they were important to you. Because there's probably a reason.
First times for most things are going to be at least a little bit awkward. And that's totally okay.
Mutual trust is built by honest sharing, of things that are difficult to share. By not having secrets from each other. And that takes time, and can be really challenging. But it's also incredibly rewarding.
"I love you" won't ever feel like enough.
Family matters. Where you can, build bridges, make connections, find common ground. But still be yourself.
Talk about the important things. But sometimes, it's okay to just be together silently for a time, enjoying that feeling of being together.
When you're out in public, people are going to notice that you're together. That's okay. People do that.
You're going to want to bring each other along to pretty much everything, but that won't always be appropriate. Figure out ways of doing that without feeling like you're letting each other down - because you're not. Sometimes circumstances are like that.
You won't ever be enough for each other in and of yourselves. And you can't solve all of each other's problems. But that doesn't mean you can't help. And you'll certainly want to!
Love is rather crazy sometimes. Okay, most of the time.
That's....probably enough for now. I'm sure there are many that I've missed, and many that I could add in a few weeks' time. But hopefully that is helpful, or interesting, or amusing, or all three. Until next time :)
Friday, 18 May 2018
And....I may have someone to introduce to you all as well :) Her name is Thalia. We've been dating for....about five weeks now. Yeah, it's a little bit crazy! I'm still regularly wondering whether I'm dreaming or not. But I'm fairly certain that I couldn't have made her up. Or at least, that if I had, she would have been very different. I think. Anyway! She's rather awesome (but also rather crazy, because she likes me), and we're - well, a bit keen on each other. Probably putting it rather mildly. But you get the picture ;)
Quick points out of the way - we met at church, she asked me out (told you she was crazy), our first date was a movie, and we've both met each other's parents (and it went fairly well!). But that's not so much what I want to talk about. I mean, I do want to talk about her, don't get me wrong, I could probably talk your ear off about her - but I had something in particular that I've noticed recently that I wanted to comment on.
I feel like Thalia has given so much to me, just in herself, and of herself. And that's very much a constant thing, which makes me rather grateful for her. But more than that, it makes me want to do something to give back. So I get her tickets to an event, or I give her flowers, and I plan these ahead of time. I start thinking about the different things that I could do for her, to give back a little of what she continually gives to me. (I can't say too much about the things I'm thinking of, or she'll read this and it won't be a surprise!)
But then I thought - hang on. What God gives me, and has given me (and knowing Thalia, she would completely agree with me here) completely surpasses anything that Thalia gives me, or anything that she could give me. And yet, I don't have this same attitude of giving back that I do with Thalia. And I think a lot of us don't.
We may know what God has done - we may be reminded of it regularly at church - but how do we show our thankfulness, our gratitude towards him for that? Do we think of ways that we can please him, give back to him? Do we invest our time, invest our skill, into doing something for him? Or do we just sing the songs on Sunday, and that's about it?
This is something that has really challenged me, and I hope it challenges you as well. At the same time, though, not trying to earn God's love through what we do - because that's not how he works - but wanting to do things to make him happy. I think. It's a bit confusing still for me, I think! Need to spend some more time thinking on it. But hopefully people can get something out of that reflection.
Monday, 2 April 2018
For those that aren't familiar with the story, I'll give a brief run-down of the setting here. I'll try not to be too spoilery as yet.
We're about thirty years in the future, and there's excessive overcrowding and an energy crisis to boot. Many places just plain aren't safe, though this isn't mentioned so much in the movie. Into this, we have a virtual reality world, called the Oasis. More popular than Facebook, with a bigger explorable universe than you've seen in any game - it has pretty much anything you can imagine. And if you can't find it, you can make it yourself. The best thing is, it's super-cheap to access. Items and such in the game aren't free, though - you can buy them with real-world or in-game currency. It's at the point where the vast majority of the world uses Oasis.
The creator of the Oasis, James Halliday, dies. And at his death, he sets up a quest of sorts - he says that he has hidden an easter egg somewhere in the Oasis. And that whoever finds it will inherit his shares in the company, and gain control of the Oasis. He gives people a few clues, and tells them that they'll need to find three keys to get the egg. And suddenly, the whole world is hunting for Halliday's egg. And because he was obsessed with 80s pop culture - so is everyone else. Just in case there's a clue somewhere, or in case it becomes important along the line. But nobody has found anything for years.
Stepping into this is our protagonist, Wade Watts, or Parzival, as he's called in-game. He's a kid who has basically nothing, but he has time - and so he puts all of it into the hunt. The story basically follows him as he tries to find the keys, and interacts with various people along the way.
If you've read the book, there are certainly references in the film that you'll appreciate; like the Cataclysm, or Mecha-Godzilla, or the sixers, or the quarter, and Aech, each of which is done quite well. But you'll also notice quite a few differences. Some of these are probably because of trying to shorten it down to a manageable length - others because of what the movie was able to get the rights to use. As such, the challenges associated with the three keys are different to what you have in the book, but what you have instead is still good. Warning - for those that get scared easily or don't like horror, you may not like bits of the second key. It's not too bad, but certainly more intense than the rest of the movie. Also, you have a bit more interaction with the real world - and Og doesn't show up quite as much, which I thought was a pity! He was one of my favourite characters. But when he's there he's done well. Also, they never actually explained the "Ready Player One"! For those who haven't read the book - those are supposed to be the first words you see when you go into the Oasis, reminiscent of old arcade games.
For those who haven't read the book - it's a quite well-done story, particularly for those that will appreciate the references back to pop culture that's a bit older. It's a little cheesy at times, and it moves at quite a fast pace - but the visuals are great, and the characters are enjoyable. It's not the best out there, but it's a good movie that I certainly enjoyed watching, and I'd happily recommend it.
Monday, 19 March 2018
For myself, though, I instantly realised that you could remove the blank, and it was already a complete sentence. Jesus is. And that works in two ways, as well!
Firstly, it works as a parallel of God's "I AM," which is the name that he gives to Moses, and is generally written as LORD in the Old Testament. In the Hebrew, that's the YHWH, tetragrammaton, or Yahweh, as you might know. Some people write it as JHVH and Jehovah instead. But the idea is that God exists, that Jesus exists, not because of anything else. We are here because of our parents, who are here because of their parents, etc etc. But the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit - God just is. Irrespective of what happens in the world, irrespective of what people believe or think; he doesn't require your belief in him to exist, or have power, or have form, or anything. God was around for - well, negative infinity, I guess, before anyone else or anything else was. It's pretty crazy stuff.
The other reason it works, though, is in contrast to how some people might put it. Some people might say, "Jesus was...." That Jesus was this or that, way back when, two thousand years ago. But that's the thing. And that's one of the most exciting things about Christianity, and about Jesus. That Jesus is alive. It's not Jesus was - it's Jesus is! Jesus has defeated death, and lives once more. And that's where there's rather a point of difference between Jesus and - well, anyone else. There aren't many that can claim to still be alive that lived a couple of thousand years ago on Earth...
But this is why we have hope. Because death has been defeated, and Jesus is alive. Jesus is still here. Not as a human person walking among us, but rather, his Spirit is with us. And because he has defeated death - death has no power over us either. That's pretty awesome. :)
Anyway. Thought I'd just reflect on that. Let me know what you'd put in the blank!
Thursday, 8 March 2018
Now, I very much realise that I am a guy, talking about IWD. Which seems a bit topsy-turvy. And that's fair enough! But I think it's important that us guys are part of the movement to speak out for women, and to support them and their rights. It shouldn't be solely their responsibility. Why? Because stronger women means a stronger humanity. And a more united humanity. We can be very divided, and divisive, as a species. But when we encourage and support each other - that makes all of us stronger, not just some of us. We all share in that. As such, I'd like to take the opportunity to talk about some of the strong women in my life.
I've had some exceptional female role models over the years, and I know many women that are strong in different ways. (I mean, I have one friend who's in the army - certainly much stronger and braver than me!) There are many different examples that I could give; but for now, I'm going to stick with one. My sister.
For those who don't know, I'm the eldest of four. It went boy-girl-boy-girl. I'm going to be talking about the one that came directly after me, rather than my youngest sister. (Though she's strong in her own way as well.) Firstly in her favour, my sister had to put up with me growing up. And my brother. Though we didn't know it at the time, we bot had Asperger's happening. Then our youngest sister had Down's Syndrome. My sister was the one that stepped up to the plate. People are often surprised when I say that I'm her older brother, because she acts more like an older sister, like she was the first-born. And for good reason! I was off with the fairies most of the time as a kid. I wasn't much of a leader - so she was instead. I wasn't competitive - she was. She was always striving to be the best that she could be, in whatever she pursued - whether it was horse riding, music, Tae Kwon Do (she happens to be a black belt), or at uni. And she really was the best.
My sister was always a doer. Very smart as well, and can talk to you about things just fine - but she's about action, more than talking about it. But that doesn't mean that she doesn't care. Probably the way that I've seen her love most has been in that for her husband - yes, she's now married! - they were together for something like eight years before being engaged. I think that's about right. Maybe nine. Somewhere around there. A long time. Seeing them get married was pretty awesome, just seeing the incredible love that they had for each other, and the excitement around the day. (She'd had some things planned for a while....)
And she's been through some hard times, and difficult things. Some of those I've seen, because we've gone through them together - but most, I haven't. But I see her pushing on, regardless. Maybe I gave her a bit of my stubbornness. Or maybe I got it from her! Who knows.
My sister is one of the strongest people that I know, and I still look up to her so much. Not that I want to be like her, because we're very different people. But I have an immense respect for her, and for what she's done in life, and where she is now. At the same time, though, I could've easily done a similar story for a number of other women in my life - my mum (who is easily the other strongest person I know), many of the women that I know from church, Bible college, family friends, and many others - people who have gone through so much, and done so much, and who are so much. And I don't really have good words for that. But thank you, all of you. You have helped me incredibly in my life, in so many ways that you can't even imagine.
I find it strange that there are places where women are considered less than men, in any sense. They'll often work harder, putting in more of their own time. They care more. They often put more time and energy into their families. They have to go through more insults, more rubbish, more - everything that they just shouldn't have to go through. That really shouldn't happen in today's world, but it still does. And they stand up for themselves, and are a voice of reason, often so much more. By any logic that I can come up with, that means that they should be worth...er....oh, that's it, more! Not less. That's just absurd. Let's change the dynamic. Let's #PressforProgress. Moving towards a world and a time where women are celebrated, and treated with the respect, love, care, and admiration that they deserve. And the pay, folks.
Sunday, 4 March 2018
I realised an interesting thing the other day, in talking to myself. So thought I'd share that on here.
Generally speaking, whenever you see me, I'm not actually doing as well as you'll think/as I appear. If you think that I'm doing about an 8 out of 10, it's probably a 6. A 5 will be more like a 3. Just take away two and you'll be about right.
And that's because of a couple of things. Firstly, I tend to just perk up around people in general, because I enjoy being around people. Unless I don't have the energy to. That's when I'm really not doing well. (Today is one of those days.) But typically, even if I'm not doing that great in general, if I'm catching up with people - I'll feel a lot better. Because I really enjoy that time. So people generally think I'm doing quite well, when I might be struggling when I get home, or when I'm alone.
But the other reason links back more to when I was growing up.
From when I was quite young, I was the smart kid. I was reading and writing really early (reading before I went to school - thanks mum!), and I just picked up things really quickly. That continued throughout primary school, where I skipped a year (year 2, because I did all of it in year 1), and went into Opportunity Class; and then went to a private high school with a scholarship, where I did most of the sciences, plus history. And I was pretty good at maths as well (they wanted me to do Extension 1, and then 2 - I ended up just doing Advanced).
It was towards the latter end of high school that I started being the creative kid as well. I started writing music, and I had been writing stories for a while. I got more involved with drama, and acting - and that all really took off after school, with me doing a Bachelor of Music at uni, being involved with plays and musicals at Campbelltown Theatre, writing a book, making a language, writing so many songs (running count is over 250, probably closer to 270 or even 300).
Then I started doing things with Bible college, and preaching here and there, from which I drew on a background that I'd already had in public speaking. And I got fairly good at that as well, and started doing that a bit here and there.
The expectations of me have always been high. Super high. I can't remember a time when people weren't going, "Oh, I can't imagine what you're going to do with your life, it's going to be amazing!" Where people weren't pretty much expecting me to be the smartest person in the room, to know the answer before everyone else, to always be able to figure out the problem. That's a lot of expectation to live up to. And while I'm not saying that I'm terrible at everything - because I'm not, and I've been given many gifts - I often feel like I haven't lived up to people's expectations. Like I fall short just a little bit, in pretty much everything. Which is still somehow better than most people, but also somehow not as good as I could be.....
I'm human, folks. Might not seem like it sometimes, but I am. I make mistakes. Many of them. I can't do everything (though that may seem true at times). But I don't like to fall short of those expectations. I don't want to disappoint people - and I don't want to feel like everyone else (as much as I am). And so I tend to act like I'm doing a bit better than I am. Like I have more of an idea of what I'm doing than I do. Like I'm more sure of myself than I ever really have been.
Every now and then, someone manages to catch me on it, though not very often. Most of the time - people see what they want to see, what they expect to see. They don't really realise what I go through, or what I'm struggling with, pretty much every day. (Aside from you, of course, dear readers! For which I am very thankful.)
Most days, as my more regular readers will probably know, I struggle with loneliness, with emptiness, with self-confidence, with tiredness, with motivation, with feeling depressed, with temptation. Not all of them, each day; but most of them, most days. Probably a couple more into the bargain that I've forgotten.
I'm trying to understand it all better, so that I can move past it. Trying to feel more "okay" about being normal. Which feels weird. But there you go.
I think I connected relationships into all of this somehow as well when I was thinking about it before, but I really don't know how. Springboarding off things I struggle with? Maybe. Anyway. I talk about that often enough. That's enough to ramble about for now.
God is helping. He's good at that. But it's still quite hard. It's nice to know that people out there are supporting me, or even listening. So thank you. :)
Sunday, 25 February 2018
Being in a spring season (as I am), you tend to think a lot more about dreams. About all the things that you want to do, new things to try and start - it gets rather exciting. Because, you know, I don't have enough happening at the moment.....
Let me give you an idea of what I'm working on already.
I've got an album that I'm working on the recording for. Slowly getting a band together, but still looking for someone on cello and someone on sax (in case you know anyone). Doing the practice tracks in the little time that I have.
I've got Septimus, the board game that I made, that I'm working on improving. Looking at changing the system quite a bit, while keeping the key ideas of seven factions, and the encounters in a maze-type thing.
Then I also came up with a new idea for a game that I'm calling Squared, which I'm also working on.
Then I'm trying to do bits and pieces on my language, Aiyæthron, when I can.
Then I've got a play I'm involved in, with rehearsals about to start once a week.
Another play that I'm doing sound/lights for, which I need to start working on.
And a third play happening later in the year that I'm Assistant Director for.
Then I've got Youth Group with the Campbelltown Theatre on Thursday afternoons, and with church on Friday evenings.
And finally, I'm running a tabletop gaming night every week.
Oh, and work. XD
Needless to say, I have a lot on my plate. But my dreams - they're much bigger.
There's the musical that I've written with Mozart, The Narrator's Mad-Em, that I want to get out there. I think it has incredible potential - I want to see it opening one day at the Capitol Theatre, or the Opera House - heck, going overseas. Schools doing it as well.
I've got the book, Son, Brother, Bride, that I want to see helping men to understand themselves better - and helping to solve some of the massive struggles that men today face.
I want to start a creative space, where creative people can connect, inspire each other, and express themselves. Where there is freedom to collaborate, grow, and learn. To see that sprout up in other places as well, and grow well beyond me.
I want to build a community around the ideas of Crux - life, love, light, and truth - and see what flows from that. A community that wants to explore the ideas of identity more deeply, understand who they are, who others are, and who God is.
I want to start a songwriting ministry in a church - to the point where most of the songs that we sing have been written by those in the congregation. Not to be insular or exclusive about it - but rather recognising that the songs that we write are written out of what we are experiencing here and now, and therefore will be that much easier to connect to by those who are in the same here and now.
And I want to share my music with more people. I don't want to go travelling around the world with it or anything, getting to the stage where I'm doing shows day after day, or doing shows with thousands of people - but, say, regularly sitting down with a hundred or so people and sharing my songs, sharing my story.
Oh, and I want a family, of course. Wife and kids, that sort of thing. But that's a different sort of dream, that I've already waxed lyrical enough about before.
The difficulty is bi-fold. Firstly, if I even wanted to make one of these happen - the amount of time and effort required to get it happening would be more than I have to spare. I would probably need to finish up at one or both of my jobs to make it happen - and if I saw any return on the project (which is a massive if), it would take quite a while. And secondly - I couldn't do just one. That's not me, not how I work. I can't do just one thing. I need to be doing lots of different things at once. Which means, of course, that I can't really give anything the attention it needs to get to the stage I'm talking about above. At least, not while I have work.
And there's the rub. Because the cost of living these days, as I'm sure you're aware, is not fun. Many people find it difficult to get by. I'm quite fortunate in the work that I have - but even with what I have, I worry about finances. That worry would be rather exacerbated if, instead of having two regular jobs, I was trying to pick up bits and pieces from various creative endeavours. (Which, by the way, have insofar, throughout my life, earned me about as much as a few hours of work, maybe.) That's my struggle. It's also, by the way, why I'm rather keen on the idea of a UBI. (You can read my post about it here.) It would mean that I could actually do some of this - rather than having to choose between that and my job.
I've always been a big dreamer. But the world isn't very good at letting dreams happen. It's rather a heavy world that we live in, unfortunately. Flying is next to impossible. But maybe, one day....
Friday, 23 February 2018
There's been a phrase gathering a bit of traction these days, which is 'toxic masculinity'. Some people hate this phrase, some people love it, some people don't understand it. I love it, because it means that people are starting to get the picture of what masculinity actually is. For those who haven't seen it or who don't get it, let me try and explain. It might be by a somewhat circuitous route.
masculinity and femininity (it looks strange, but that's the right number of Ns) are often thought of as opposites that are slowly getting closer. You get the picture of the yin and yang, or the spectrum of gender where male and female are at opposing ends. There's a bit of overlap, and it's starting to overlap more, but it's not much. Traditionally, male and female are mostly separate.
But this isn't the case at all. Instead, it's better to think of masculine and feminine as two mostly overlapping circles, that just have different centres. And unfortunately, our cultures have traditionally emphasised their extremes - the Rambo and the Barbie - when that's really not what masculine and feminine look like at all. (Thanks to Peter, one of the talkers on Impart, for that nugget of wisdom.)
In fact, this is where we get into that toxic masculinity. Because that's a big part of what it looks like. It's male behaviours that are toxic. And the problem is, these have often been encouraged or championed by Hollywood. To get an awesome understanding of this, I very heartily suggest The Pop Culture Detective Agency. He looks at this quite often, and in a really clever way, that's also quite in-depth. He also gives some great examples of what the opposite is. So I'm not going to go too much into examples of what toxic masculinity is, because he does that really well. But you don't have to have much imagination to find easy examples; like Weinstein, Trump, or our own Don Burke. They're the more extreme examples, though, and it's not always that obvious. For instance, PCDA lists many of Harrison Ford's characters (before you rage, have a look at the video for yourself); and James Bond is another common one mentioned.
Moving on, though - earlier, I said that I loved this. I do not mean that I love toxic masculinity! But I love that people are starting to call it out, and describe this. Because it means that people are starting to recognise that masculinity is bigger than just Rambo. That masculine doesn't have to mean macho.
For me, this is something that's so important. When I was younger, I had an extreme disassociation with traditional masculinity. Not all of a sudden, there wasn't anything that triggered it - just in who I was. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a particularly "guy"ey guy. And I very much knew that, growing up. I wasn't physically strong, and I certainly wasn't violent. I didn't get into fights, and I didn't want to. I didn't really get angry. I didn't want meat, meat, and more meat. I didn't like sports. I didn't like fast cars, or cars in general. And I didn't brag about girls. Admittedly, I had no girls to brag about, but still. I wouldn't have anyway.
Yet these felt like mandatory things to "be a man". That, because I preferred the library to the sports field, I was somehow less of a man. Or maybe even not a man! It didn't help that some of the things that I enjoyed or did were often seen as "feminine". Like music, or drama, or poetry, or skipping (not the rope kind). I didn't really mind, because to me that was better than being seen as like what a "man" seemed to be.
But now - that's no longer the case. Now, more and more, we're coming to understand that masculinity can look like many different things. Yes, it could be the strong man, or the sporty man; but it could also be the smart man, or the musical man, or the sensitive man, or the romantic man, or a million other things. And it's the same with femininity! There's just a bit of a spotlight on masculinity at the moment, because we tend to make bigger asses of ourselves, regardless of what type of men we are. I'd say it's a special talent, but I don't think it's particularly special....
Changing tacks for a moment to a related, but perhaps more controversial issue. At some points, I've sat down and reflected that if I had been born to a different family, brought up differently, I might well have decided to be a woman, because of some of what I've said above. That's the degree of separation I felt from the traditional masculinity. I sometimes wonder if that's what has happened with some other people - and if we were a bit better at letting people know it was okay for them to be a man or a woman in the way that they wanted that to look like, maybe people wouldn't feel the need to change. Not trying to say it's a bad thing! I think many have found it really helpful and freeing, and that's awesome. (Though not for me.) But I think we have made it hard for people.
However, I'm glad that that's not what I ended up doing. Not because I think being a woman would be bad, or anything! But because now I have an opportunity - to help define what masculinity should look like. And I think that's pretty cool. It's a big responsibility - but thankfully, it's not just up to me! :)
Sunday, 18 February 2018
There have been a fair few times in life now where I get to a particular goal along the way, and kinda sit back and relax. Nothing I can do about it now! Not up to me! I've done all I can do!.....but that's really not the case, of course. And it's not in the sense of passing the blame, or offloading chores and the like - though I'm sure I've done that now and then.
No, it's actually in regards to relationships. (It's me. Of course it's going to be that.) I feel like with every time - whether it's in telling someone how I feel, or meeting/catching up with them for the first time (with online dating and such) - once I do that, I almost palm it off to them. Okay, what now? I leave it up to them. As if people should know that sort of thing this early on, or have reached some sort of conclusion this quickly; because that makes sense....
And I just watch and wait. And hope. And then get all surprised when it doesn't work out again....
I think I need to get better at giving pots some space and time - but also being better at not needing an answer right now. Not having to ask where they're at so early, or where to from here, or however I want to put it. I don't know.
Still figuring all this out feels weird. I get that I didn't have much say in that - yay, Asperger's! - but it's annoying being so behind. Feel like I've got enough stacked against me without that as well.
Ah, well. We're getting there. Slowly.
Wednesday, 31 January 2018
I liked the idea of having these clear things that described you, shaped you, that you aimed towards - so with anything that you were doing, you could ask, "Is this helping me become more like this?" And if not, maybe asking why you're doing that.
I cam up with five pretty much right off the bat. I added a sixth, because I might not always feel comfortable sharing the fifth. Then I added a seventh, because I realised that though God was kinda in all of them, he wasn't specifically represented. And I thought was pretty darn important.
This is the list that I came up with.
- Present Son
- Caring Friend
- Dreaming Creator
- Discerning Thinker
- Devoted Lover
- Lasting Influencer
- Courageous Follower
I want to go into those a bit, unpack them. So sit down with me for a moment! This might take some time.
The first one there isn't just about being a son. It's about family. Whether that be being a son, a brother - and hopefully, one day, a husband and a father - all of that. But there wasn't really a word for that, so I just put in son, for now. And for me, present was the most important descriptor to have there. Because I think so many problems stem from people just not being there. Not all problems - but a lot of them. And so one of the things I really wanted to be was more present for my family, and in my family. That's still something that I want to do.
After family comes friends, of course! But what sort of friend do you want to be? A helpful friend? A kind friend? A generous friend? Certainly - but I think I found many of those, and more, summed up in the word caring. I want to be caring towards my friends. I want to be there for them, helping them when they're down, listening to them when they need an ear - I want them to know that they matter to me. That they matter a lot. So caring friend is the second one.
Then we get more into what I do - so creating! Obviously. And for me, the word that worked was dreaming. I don't want to be a creator that only works within the possible, or the realistic. Within what will probably work, or what's doable. I want to dream big, shoot for the stars. And probably miss most of the time - but hey, it's better than just shooting at the wall and getting bored because it's so easy to hit it every time.
I'm also an avid thinker. And quite a deep thinker. But that wasn't quite the right word for me, because it didn't really have a purpose. It's what it looks like, yes, but it doesn't answer the why. After a bit, I realised that it was discerning. Figuring out what is true, what is right, what is best. That's what I try to achieve through my thinking. Sifting through things to find the gold.
I couldn't go through this without putting this in - after all, I'm a Four! So, yes, lover, despite not having many opportunities to demonstrate that. When thinking on what sort of lover I would want to be (a question I rather enjoyed considering), I couldn't go past the word devoted. I want to be the sort of person that keeps coming back to someone, again and again, no matter what's happening. That keeps aiming to do best by them, and working to make their life amazing. But I'll stop waxing lyrical and move on.
When I tried to think of another one - I thought that I want to influence people. But not in the sense that I want to be a big name, or something like that. I don't want to be an Elon Musk, or a Steve Jobs. But I want to make an impact on the lives of people around me. And the kind of impact that I want to have? I want it to be lasting. I don't want it to be something that's just here and gone. I want to be impacting people in ways that makes a real difference, that lasts, that sticks, that passes on to other people. That old idea of each person you influence then influencing other people, etc etc.
And lastly, I want to be a follower of God. But not just any old follower. I want to be a courageous follower. This one is very much inspired by the movie by the same name. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favour. It's one of the better Christian movies out there, that isn't actually cheesy. But I want to be someone who follows God even when it's hard, even when it doesn't make sense, even when the world is against me. Even if it becomes illegal. Hopefully that doesn't happen - but I want to be someone who does stand in God's truth. (NB: For those that feel a little bit of bile right now, I'm not talking about hitting people in the face with God's truth, or cutting them down with it. That sword is meant to be used against the forces of darkness, not people.)
This is who I want to be. This is what I aim for. This is how I try and frame what I do, how I live my life. I hope you find this interesting - and perhaps helpful in thinking about the way that you live your own life as well.
Sunday, 21 January 2018
While he was quite jovial, wisecracking, etc.; many of his jokes were rather - tasteless. No, sorry, that's not the right word. They weren't okay. They were demeaning, disparaging, derogatory. He gets an overall 'D' for Dreadful.
One particular one I can recall was just after the opening act. The performer had been on the silks, and she was quite stunning. While I don't remember the exact words, it was something to the effect of - "You know the hardest thing about that performance? Me, actually." He sat on an elder patron's knee a couple of minutes later, and then commented, "Oh, you were hard too!"
It was rather....disgusting, bluntly. But the thing is, he - and people like him - aren't the problem. Which is why I haven't been calling him out here, or saying what the performance was. Because that's not really the focus of this post.
Because, despite everything that he was saying - everybody laughed. People were smiling. There were no boos. And that's the problem. "Oh, it's just a joke, so that makes it okay!" But no. No, it really doesn't.
We're still in a society that considers this acceptable. I was at the final performance that they had, after quite a number of shows, when they'd already been to many different places in other countries, and were going on to other places in Australia. I can pretty much guarantee you that his jokes would have been rather similar - or of a similar tone - in the other places he went to. But there hasn't been - as far as I know - any news or stories condemning the comedian, and in the program, it listed many influential people that commended him, or awards that he had.
This is the same problem we've had with #MeToo. People think it's not that big of an issue. It is. This isn't okay, and we need to change. We've got a long way to go, folks.
Monday, 15 January 2018
I have a little tradition with the New Year where I get up to watch the first sunrise of the year. I'll note that I do this instead of watching the fireworks and staying up until midnight. I don't really enjoy fireworks that much. Last year, I did this at Pulpit Rock Lookout, following a week-long retreat, on a morning that was super foggy/misty, and you really couldn't see the sunrise at all. It was rather a good indicator of that year - last year was a winter year for me. It was a time when things were stripped away, I went back to the basics, and it took me a while to get back into things. When I had a lot of time on my hands, was retreating and resting a lot, and I often felt a bit lost or broken (more so than usual). That's winter for you.
This year, though, it was a bit different. I drove up there on New Years' Eve, and just slept in the car. When I went up, it was super misty/foggy, terrible visibility. I set my alarm so that I would be up before the sun was visible, and it really wasn't illuminating the sky much at all. I think I ended up getting to the lookout about an hour before the sunrise proper. And it was super clear, absolutely beautiful. I got to watch the whole gradual lightening of the sky over the course of that time, and eventually seeing the first spots of the sun peeking over the horizon.
To me, that was a real indication of the difference between last year and this year. Last year was winter; this year is spring. New life, new beginnings, new growth. That's what I'm holding to, though it might take a while for me to see that coming to fruition. But spring has always been my favourite.
For most of the time, I was there by myself. Shortly before the sunrise proper, another guy came along - a photographer, who set up and started to take some photos. Another fifteen or twenty minutes later, when the sun was pretty much completely clear of the horizon and I was about to leave, another group arrived.
And I found that really interesting. Because evidently, they were there for the same reason as me - to see the sunrise. But they hadn't really seen it at all. They were just seeing the aftermath. And yeah, it looked pretty cool. But it was nothing compared to the slow and grand reveal of the sun over the horizon that I'd been watching for that hour.
For me, I guess, it's another demonstration that many people are only half-way in. They want to do something cool, see something great, make a difference - but not if it's too hard. Not if it means sacrifice, or difficulty, and certainly not if it means waiting!
I think one of the biggest things that this last year has taught me is patience. It's a long, and hard lesson to learn; but it's one of the most important. Particularly in today's world. And it's one that I'm very much still learning, and I'm still not very good at sometimes (read: when it comes to relationships) - but I'm getting there. Slowly.
Thursday, 4 January 2018
I've recently been chugging through 13 Reasons Why. The Netflix series, not the book. Sorry book fans, haven't quite gotten to it yet. I will one day. I'd known it was around for a while - but was put off watching it because I'd heard that the depictions of suicide and rape were pretty intense. (Which they are, especially the former. I couldn't watch that at all.) But the story drew me in - and the main character. Nice having an Aspie protagonist now and then. Though it is becoming more common, admittedly. And yes, I feel like me and Clay are rather similar in some ways. Feel a connection to Hannah as well - possibly because she's an Aussie actress (in case you didn't know that).
NB: This isn't a review of the show, but if you haven't seen it, I may mention things that are spoilery. We'll see.
I find the basic premise rather....interesting. That someone, before they die, records their story on to a series of tapes to be sent around to a list of people. I find it interesting because it's rather familiar. One of my big things is always about being able to tell my story, share my life. And one of my struggles is feeling like nobody really listens. No one's really there. I know that's not true. But it's hard when you put a massive amount of work into an album, tell everyone you're doing an album launch, and a couple of dozen people show up. Just - as an example. I guess I can understand the attraction of being able to tell your story so - completely, to a captive audience. I think that's one of the reasons that I long for a relationship, as well. Just being able to spend time together, sharing stories, learning about each other. I've never really been able to do that, not often.
There's a few things that I also really like about it. For instance, it makes a clear distinction between what consent should look like and what it isn't, twice for both. For those who are unsure: something as simple as asking "Is this okay?" early, and regularly as things get more heated. If the answer is anything but a clear "Yes!" - then you don't have consent. Simple as that.
It also really talks about everything being related, interconnected, chaining together. How everything affects everything else. Being rather Walter-ish (a la The Finder, for those who know it), I appreciate that. Think there's a lot of truth to it.
Oh, also, I really liked what they did with Jeff. It was only after he had gone that I realised he was only around in flashbacks. And the connections that the different characters had to him. Was really well done.
Having been a fair bit lower for the past - while, I also appreciate that it doesn't shy away from that sort of thing. It presents reality, without sugarcoating it. That it's alright to not be okay. And to say that, and to talk about it. Because even with the #RUOK day and the mental and emotional awareness that we have these days - there's still so much silence. There are still so many people that just disappear, and people don't know why. Because there wasn't anyone that was really there for them.
Argh. For those wandering, no, I'm not really okay. But I'm not the type to do drastic things. Enjoy life too much, even when I'm feeling shitty. And having a fear of pain means that I'm not one to be hurting myself. So I just get to.....sit with this for a while. Yay.
I'll probably feel better in the morning. I'm at my worst in the evenings. We'll see how tonight goes.
Monday, 1 January 2018
2017 was a lot of things for me. Here are just a few.
Launching into the year thinking I'd be doing something straight away, and moving out soon - then getting told by God I'd be sticking around for a while. Probably most of the year. Oh yay.
Starting from a clean slate. They're rather....empty, strangely enough. Guess that's kinda the point.
Leading/speaking on my first Cru camp - a dirtbike camp. I thought it meant mountain bikes until I got there. Hey, I didn't have to ride them during the camp! Thankfully....
Wondering where to go to church, and then remembering that I'd jogged past one just down the street a few times. Hey, I know people that go here! Music is pretty nice too. And some people around my age. Yeah, this will work, at least for now.
Getting a "job" from my parents helping my sister get ready in the mornings. I shouldn't put that in inverted commas. They paid me money. But it's still slightly weird getting a job from your parents.
Wondering what on earth God was doing. Didn't you want me to be doing something, God?
Having interview after interview that I thought went rather well - and that went nowhere.
Being part of another awesome production at the Campbelltown Theatre.
Getting involved with a great charity gig called Busk For A Cure.
Going to an amazing concert over at Hope with a small group of people.
Finding a job that just got put up at a church down the road from my old school, and then getting asked to come in and have a go with the band that Sunday. Then being told I've got the job, and I can start straight away. Oh, and two of the kids were at the dirtbike camp. In my group. God, you be trolling me....
My sister getting engaged!
Giving piano lessons for the first time. Not being too terrible at it.
Getting to do a series of talks at my old school chapel around my songs and story.
Doing Sydney Writers Festival again - and playing on the piano! Seem to meet new people each year.
Finally getting a job - that won't start for another few months. Yay, more waiting!
Joining a fortnightly men's group.
Preaching a fair few times.
Doing another Cru camp - and another one! These guys seem to like me.
Doing youth group again, after quite a while....
Feeling like starting off with a "clean slate" suddenly means I've set off on an island by myself....and I've now lost most of my support structure.
Eating my hat, and having a go at a Christian dating site.
And leading on camps again, after quite a while! Though somewhat different, this time.
Starting up with OPMG. Having a fair bit of fun there.
Feeling very overwhelmed and lost.
Doing MROP. Being in way over my head. That being.....okay.
Going back to that other church to visit, because I actually have a week off, after so long - people remembering me! :)
Getting a car! After about a year of not having one.
Struggling with loneliness so, so much. Thinking that I might be good a couple of times - no, wait, it's back.
Getting a job at Hope 103.2. At Hope 103.2. I still pinch myself a little, guys.
My sister getting married.....more pinching.
Launching my second album in The Crux Project, God's Love Song. Pinching continues....
Moving out! Pinching levels at max.
Seeing the music of La La Land performed live at the Opera House. With Justin Hurwitz conducting. Yes, it was amazingly awesome.
Wondering how I suddenly got so busy....
Still feeling empty, even though things seem to going so well.
Finishing the writing of my final album in the four-part cycle, True Story.
....I did say a few, but I think most of them are up there. Oh well. I did say it would be a longer post.
2017 was a hard year in many ways - but also a growing year. It was a year of winter, and waiting, and learning patience. But it was also a year where I started to see the spring thaw setting in. And I do rather love the spring.
2018 looks to be a year of spring. I have a job that seems to be rather stable, and a church that just keeps giving me more to do. (I should probably learn to say no at some point. Maybe when there's someone else who can actually say yes.) I'm going to be assistant directing a show later in the year. I'm starting up a weekly tabletop gaming group at my place. I'm already planning the next album recording and launch. And it just feels - good. I don't really know what it has in store, but I'm really looking forward to this year. I have a lot of hope around this year. (Heh.) But I guess we'll have to see how it unfolds. After all, if this year is spring, then next year is summer - which I'm historically terrible at. But one year at a time, hey?