Saturday, 5 December 2015

everything can be fixed. remember that.

Last night my mid-life crisis racing car red couch broke. I’m not going to go into details. A leg gave way.

I love this couch. It represents a breaking away and a new start and it has served me well since 2007. That’s not to say its time has come because it is now somewhat lame. I’m just acknowledging its goodness. Although, it is just a couch. And, as I was reminded, everything can be fixed.

This is becoming a theme, this idea that I don’t need to catastrophise, as is my wont, and that there is a calmer way of acceptance and solution and moving on.

Imagine that.

I recently heard a definition of parkour that took my fancy. Parkour is that crazy movement which quite often gets mashed up with free running. You may have seen it in such films as District B13 and Casino Royale. It’s all that running up sides of walls and scaffolding and jumping from building to building with seeming fluid ease in order to get away or escape danger.

According to the strictest definition, parkour is the act of moving from point “a” to point “b” using the obstacles in your path to increase your efficiency.

It’s has a lot to do with thinking positively, with the idea that practitioners of freerunning will sometimes fall—largely because they think they might. If they keep propelling themselves forward, using their environment and the aforementioned obstacles as assistance, they will succeed.

For me, it’s about perspective. The way we, or let’s not beat about the bush, I see obstacles or situations that arise and how I then deal with them. I can stand on one spot and allow my mind to race away on it’s own less than sweet path until my head explodes. Which hasn’t really ever proved helpful as far back as I can remember.


I can identify the feelings, appreciate the moment, Parisian shrug it and move forward, sliding that particular lesson into my little Crumpler shoulder bag of life experiences and acknowledging the strength it gives me.

Friday, 13 November 2015

tight spots

Sometimes other people come out with things and I just have to nod my head and smile. That sounds condescending and that’s far from what I want to sound like. I’m in a state of admiration. These things they say are gold. And they just say them. Perfectly. At the perfect time. And it’s as though a whole new way of looking at things has opened up before me, debunking some of the ideas I previously had.

This one appeals to me because I have, I’m embarrassed to say, spent a long time fixated on my body shape. I do find it slightly hilarious that I’m a food writer these days, given my adolescent and early twenties’ relationship with anorexia. Perhaps it’s not so hilarious. I’m fairly certain that my family and friends found nothing hilarious about the skeletal version of myself I clung to for those years.

And perhaps it’s not such a stretch to be constantly thinking and writing about food as a food writer. Those with eating disorders expend a large amount of energy and time thinking about food; how to avoid it, how to get rid of it and what it says about them as a person if they give in to any sort of desire to eat what they perceive as bad food.

The difference for me now is that I enjoy food. It’s not the enemy. Well, for the most part. There are always days where that ugly creature guilt creeps up behind me unexpectedly and shames me. But mostly I love cooking and eating and sharing food-related experiences with friends and family. It’s good and it’s soul filling.

On one of those days where I was slightly wavering, I mentioned to a friend that I often wished I was thinner. It’s a stupid thing to say and an unfair thought to share. Really. What good can come from these statements? What I loved though, was, quick as a flash, he replied that, “the only reason you need to get thinner is if you are in a tight spot you need to get out of.”

And there it was. Brilliance.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

time is like a river

“Time is like a river made up of the events which happen, and a violent stream; for as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried away, and another comes in its place, and this will be carried away too.” Marcus Aurelius

I like it when people remind me of a goodness I knew was there, but had temporarily overlooked.

Life is busy. There are challenges to rise to, people to see, places to go.  I live by a river. I appreciate that it’s there because of the greenery I look out onto from my window. Sometimes I walk or cycle along the path by the river to get somewhere. It’s lovely. But I hadn’t really stopped and thought about the river and really appreciated it for a while.

Last night I spent an hour by the river fishing. We didn’t catch anything but as I was reminded, it’s not always about catching fish. Being by the river in a city isn’t quite being away from it all, with the soothing sounds of the passing trams and cars and the occasional siren as background noise. But somehow at night, these seem more muffled. And down on the jetty, it was a little bit like being away from it all.

The Yarra is teeming with life. There are fish sliding by and insects dancing on the surface. A mother duck watched seemingly unconcerned as one of her 10 ducklings fell from under her wing and rolled down the bank into the river and then tried a few different ways of climbing back up the bank before reaching safety. A stealthy swimmer plopped in the water and torpedoed itself across the river. I wanted it to be a platypus. I’m fairly certain it was a rat. There were bats flying overhead, frogs croaking.

For the aborigines of the Wurundjeri tribe (part of the Kulin nation that had occupied the lands around Port Phillip Bay for at least 30,000 years) the Yarra River was a life-source that had been etched into the landscape by the ancestral creator spirit Bunjil - the wedge tailed eagle.

They called the river Birrarrung - "Place of Mists and Shadows" and it was the dreaming path they followed and camped beside through the calendar of countless seasons.

When white explorers arrived, they naturally saw the river as a means for getting what they needed, and not at all in the same way as the aboriginals saw it. For the white people, it was what made the land an eligible place to settle. They used it for drinking water, washing water, and a place to get rid of waste. It eventually provided them with gold during the gold rush years.

When John Batman met a group of aboriginals on the banks of the Yarra in June, 1835, he gave them scissors, shirts, tomahawks, knives, blankets and handkerchiefs, and in return, secured the signature marks of the chiefs on a grant of land.

As is often the case in such situations, there was a disconnect between parties in terms of language and cultural understanding. While Batman believed he was now the greatest landowner in the world because the grant of land gave him possession of 500,000 acres of land, including the Yarra River, the aboriginals believed they had taken part in a friendship ceremony that would allow Mr Batman temporary rights to cross through their country.

This riverside transaction signalled the beginning of the end of the traditional tribal life of the Wurundjeri.

I don’t know what we can do to change the many things that have gone wrong since then. I wish I did.

No river can return to its source, yet all rivers must have a beginning.

In a small way, and I understand, perhaps in a patronizingly white way, although that’s not how I mean it, stopping to appreciate the river and all that’s in it, fishing out an empty bottle to put in the bin and spending more time with it, might be a step in the right direction.

"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love... and then we return home. "


Down by the river