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You Don’t Speak for Me!

Two WolvesUPDATE: “Suburb Wakes In Fright”, the piece to which I was objecting in this blog post, was for some reason removed from the linked page mere hours after this post was published. However I am sure there is no causal connection …  :) … and as I write this, the original article, including that piece can still be found here.

Like most people I am deeply appalled by the stabbing and shooting incident at the police station in Endeavour Hills today. My heart goes out to the police officers and their families, and I am not in any way, shape or form, condoning the actions of the young man who was shot. [Read more…]

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The Storyteller

Unshaved, unkempt,
black nails, black teeth
and an old, tattered coat.
You’d dismiss him as derelict
and walk straight past.
Yet when he spoke
eagles soared,
mountains talked
and I glimpsed infinity.
“I’m a storyteller”
he said.
His stories wove spells
of dreaming and meaning.
The universe expanded,
and I felt for a moment
that I touched its limits.
Derelict,
Storyteller,
Spellbinder …
The essence of truth
lies perhaps in all three.

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Hit and Myth

Today I left something undone that I wish I had done – though perhaps others may say I’m foolish to think so.

I was driving into the Dandenongs (a local mountain range) and had turned into a road that winds its way for about 10 minutes by car up the mountainside towards the town of Sassafras.

Just around the corner, before this road begins to twist and climb in earnest, I saw three young lads trying to hitch a ride.  Probably in their late teens or early twenties, all with short hair and casually dressed in t-shirts and jeans. That’s all I could tell from the quick glimpse I caught of them as, even while my foot hesitated over the brake pedal, I drove on by.

And basically that’s the end of my story.

I can hear you all now:

“But of course!”
“Sensible woman!”
“You did the right thing.”
“Three young men? You’d have been stupid to stop.”

A chorus of reason and common sense? Yes, that’s true.

But what if I’d hit the brake instead of the accelerator? A different story plays in my head … [Read more…]

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Thankless Thinking

I’ve become aware recently there’s a phenomenon in our society that I call “thankless thinking”.

A couple of weeks back I’d been browsing through a shop and on impulse, as I was about to leave, I walked to the counter behind which the shop owner was sitting.

“Thank you!”, I said to her. “I’ve enjoyed looking around and love your window display.”

She looked up, apparently startled. There was a pause before she grinned broadly and said, “You know, I’ve had several people wander in today to look around but you’re the first person who has thanked me – for anything!”

We ended up chatting for a short time – passing from the strangeness of folk to the foibles of some customers, then through the story of her grand-daughter’s 21st birthday party to her plans for retirement.

As I left I found myself reflecting on how a simple thank you had led me into a warm conversation and a small piece of someone’s life story.

And I was reminded of an ‘experiment’ I conducted for myself many years ago, when I was travelling to and from school on a bus.

For several days in a row I counted how many people alighted from the bus during the trip – and the number of those who actually thanked the bus driver as they left. Fom memory the thankers were only 20% or so of the whole!

For that shopkeeper, a ‘thank you’ is probably the usual response (with some rare exceptions) when a transaction takes place and a customer actually buys something. And maybe bus drivers are thanked more often by passengers these days – at least I hope so.

But I’ve found myself wondering … [Read more…]

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Dialogue as Art

This evening, thanks to my friend and colleague Natalie Shell, I learned the story of two Irish artists who have created an unusual work of art …

Here is the story in their own words:

In April 2009, we sent a personal, handwritten letter to each of the 467 households in the small Irish village of Cushendall. We hoped these unsolicited letters would prompt neighbourly discussion, spreading across the town, promoting community curiosity.

The art work consists solely of the discussion between the recipients about what on Earth these letters are, who sent them and why, etc.

Lenka Clayton & Michael Crowe

Owritingn their blog website, Mysterious Letters, you can watch a video news story about their venture and also see a number of the letters – in themselves also a work of art. :) You’ll need to be patient, because it’s a long page and will take some time to load – but it’s worth the wait!

A fascinating story that left me with many thoughts whirling around in my head tonight.

Encouraging folk to talk to one another as a form of art. I love that idea.

I imagined folk who previously hadn’t exchanged more than a word or two with one another finding themselves in longer conversations – connecting, speculating and wondering. I imagined a buzz of conversation filling the air across the village, helping folks make connection and find synergies with one another beyond their shared experience of the letters.  Like an electric current of energy travelling through a grid and lighting up the atmosphere.

But isn’t it kind of sad to hear some folk were ‘scared’ to receive a friendly letter because it was from someone they didn’t know?

I also find myself wondering how many of us actually know enough about our neighbours to personalise a letter to them – let alone to do so for over 400 people in our neighbourhood.

And how many of us take the time and trouble to hand-write anything these days?

But … creating curiosity, wonderment and conversation. From where I sit, that is indeed art.

How would you have reacted to such a letter?