This was previously published on Basic Goodness.
Budrim, Queensland, Australia.
Ok, this didn’t happen very often: I feel kinda writer’s blocked. I have sat down already twice yesterday to produce a post and not much came out. This is rare. What is going on?
My journey through Australia is going well, really well. After having been driving for 3 days and sleeping on scenic spots along beaches and once in a foresty environment I have slept the last two nights in a real Australian house. My hosts are very friendly and the family consists of a daughter and a mum and a dad (and a son that works and lives elsewhere). It is very nice to sit at a family table and to eat home cooked meals. We had roasted lamb last night.
Life is good here. The climate is friendly, the soil is fertile, fruits and vegetables are tasty and abundant. The earth feels very rich, the neighborhood feels honest and traffic is disciplined and patient. I don’t know if the people are religious (I haven’t asked but I will) but I think I could say that it feels quite Christian here but then in the good way.
Ok, I know what is going on. There are things that are present in my awareness that I don’t want to talk about. One of them is that I promised the person who invited me into her family’s house that she would not be featured in this blog: she feels uncomfortable with the idea. The other thing is that I feel I should not say anything any more about my previous relationship, out of respect to my ex-girlfriend and because I do not want to contaminate the beautiful closure we had.
But the truth is that there is a lot going on in that area. And what I am learning today is how strong the effect is of self-imposed unfreedom. I only gave myself a couple of restrictions and it was enough to choke me for a day. Without the restrictions I might have written about the auspicious changes of the weather that happened during a walk along the beach: it seemed to interplay with nature of the conversation I was having. Or I could have written about the musicians that I saw on the streets of Byron Bay and their magical talent. But just the simple fact that I took on a few quite innocent restrictions led me into a place where it became very difficult to maneuver. It is not so much about the specific content of the restriction, it is about the act of restricting. No matter how beautiful I might have written about something that was still ‘free game’ it would have been the product of a restricted heart.
In the last couple of days I made two connections with honest, hard-working Australian men. The first one is a car mechanic from Sydney, the second a brick layer from Brisbane. Their stories are similar: both spend 25 years building up their business, earned a solid reputation, are happily married and raised a family. I asked both of them what the secret to their success was and both of them gave me the same answer: keep your word.
The similarity in their stories and my experience is that honesty is the key. Sometimes honesty manifests in a very simple form: when I make a promise to be there at 08.00 on Monday morning I should just be there. When I live my life in such a way I become reliable and trustworthy and I will be appreciated for being a stable factor. At the same time I have to be honest about the fact that there is something very fluid about my being. Making myself belief I am solid is in itself not very honest and forcing rigidity upon myself is quite violent even. Being a man of your word is a good thing but the word should come from the heart: from a place of serving the development of our humanity and of others.
There are so many things inside us that we feel are ‘difficult to talk about’, we are ‘not supposed to’ say, think or feel, that we deny out of embarrassment, guilt or fear of our vulnerability. Just imagine the effects your holding back has on your life after having heard of the effects of my trying to hold back just two elements in my current experience.
Being honest is all about cutting through the bullshit really. And when we do that from an old fashioned masculine perspective we might find that what we previously considered to be sensitive, irrelevant bullshit like paying attention to our feelings, needs and deep wishes is actually not the bullshit. And that the real bullshit is to stay attached to all the rules we have created to keep ourselves confined in the daily patterns of life and interaction.
I wish to thank John the car mechanic and Peter the brick layer for helping me see through my bullshit today.
Finally, I would like to conclude with guitar player Brian Dingle. I hope to contribute to his fame. His talent will cheer you up.
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Read more on Ethics & Values.
Image courtesy of Atalwin Pilon