Outdoor gallery swells minds and hearts

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 He held her like a seashell, and listened to her heart.
And kissed her for eternity–nevermore apart.
Author unknown

Exposure to the elements, works of art, water and sand aren’t a typical combination. Except at Currumbin Beach. Each September the Swell Festival brings these elements together.  Lovers of  sculpture, the curious and the unsuspecting descend on the beach as the cold grip of winter gives way to the effervescence of spring. 

Many make the trip because of the sheer delight it brings to squelch through the sand from exhibit to exhibit, some come to the beach and are treated to a marvellous surprise and some, unfazed, go about the business of surfing, building sand castles or jogging along the shore, seemingly heedless of the display.  It all makes for a fascinating spectacle.  The human factor enhances the quirkiness of the art itself and the location.

This is a must see festival with works by both local and international artists. I have made the short drive the last two years to revel and delight in the extravaganza.  There is something very Daliesque about the beach being transformed by an  array of sculptures all  individually unique and interesting and collectively satisfying. The varied works appeal to my sense of play and fun.  What do you think?

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Courage is a mindset

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“Courage is found in unlikely places.”
                                                       J.R.R. Tolkien

Throughout history courage has been considered a vital attribute or virtue in many circles.  It’s been written about by  great philosophers and been a requirement of adherents to various traditions including those following the Samauri Bushido Code and the Knightly code of Chivalry.  It is a key virtue in almost every military tradition;  eastern or western, present day or in the past.  But what is this thing called courage? What place does it have in society today? What does it mean to be courageous in everyday life?

When I think about courage I don’t instantly think of those who go out to achieve great feats of strength or daring or to conquer world records.  That sort of courage, that risk taking sort of courage isn’t where I go first.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely appreciate the intrepidness of thrill seekers and the fortitude it takes to conquer mind and body while surmounting physical hurdles, be they mountains, giant waves, marathons, ocean crossings.  When I think of courage I think of the Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Emmeline Pankhurst, Aung SanSuu Kyi type of courage. Despite all the meanings and interpretations of courage my immediate definition of courage is that which describes those who sacrifice their own sense of comfort or freedom to stand up for principles they hold dear, for principles they believe are a basic human right.  That sort of courage captivates me.  It’s the sort of courage we see played out in many popular novels, and plays and movies.  We all love a hero.  Ethics scholar Scott LaBarge believes we define our ideals on the heroes we choose and as a result, our ideals define us.  But what does that mean? For me? Today?

I wouldn’t consider myself self-sacrificing.  I don’t play on a large scale; locally or internationally.  I’m certainly not an intrepid adventurer or world record beater. Am I then devoid of courage? Is the average person today without courage? I think not. Perhaps then this thing called courage can take many forms. Perhaps there are degrees of courage. Perhaps courage  can be  subtle and understated. What do you think?

Wouldn’t it be marvellous to collect stories of courage, an anthology of everyday courage of the men and women we know? Whose story would you share?

Life unfiltered – looking through different lenses

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The lens we look through will determine what we see.
Renee Swope

I often encourage people to intentionally focus on a particular perspective by having them consider an idea or a topic through a framework, paradigm, theory or viewpoint.  I’ll say – “let’s look through the lens of a …”, “we’ll explore this through the lens of …”.

This idea of exploring the world through different lenses is interesting  and has been quite pertinent to me this last week.  When I reflect, my first encounter of looking through a different lens came, oddly enough, in my childhood through the cartoon character Mr Magoo, a near-sighted retiree who bumbles from one comical escapade to another. This was the first time I realised (and no doubt, I couldn’t actually articulate it back then) that I could see things others may not or that I could view events differently from my own vantage point. Kaleidoscopes, a type of lens, with their colourful and varying patterns composing and recomposing themselves as reflected in tiny mirrors, enchanted and transfixed me. The world looked different through a kaleidoscope.  I suppose the camera lens was next.  My father had an avid interest in photography and the idea of freezing a moment to be viewed at another time drew my attention. How bewitching to view an image with the benefit of hindsight, with distance, from outside the situation looking in.  To capture a moment to help strengthen a memory is so compelling.

Then there are words,  another set of lenses through which I’ve experienced the world.  Books and poetry, letters and essays. I’ve seen the world through the lens of many an artist too – their paintings and photographs, their sculpture and film have intrigued, moved and delighted me. They have taught me many lessons, sent me off on journeys of discovery and more.

I’ve looked through the lenses of different theories and notions, of different ideologies and standpoints. I’ve tried to employ the lens of empathy to inform my actions, thoughts and beliefs.

I have viewed life and explored its many wonders, trials and events through the lens of a  curious though private child, a complex, self-conscious teenager, a grieving granddaughter, an unyielding and misunderstood young woman, a loving and loyal wife, a vigilant and watchful mother. And it’s this chronology, this moving from maiden through matron and heaven forbid I say it – to crone that I now find I look through a different set of lenses.  Yes, alas, this new type of optical through which I will now view the world, only part-time mind you, are a full framed, clear lensed set of pretty little goggles.

Looking glass, drinking glass? Reading glass!
An affront.
My age, you say, crept up on me
I can no longer compensate.

Glasses.
The reading kind for you today, you see.
It’s your age.
Harrumph

Hush. Hush.
Time to look at the world differently.

It should be a trial, and yet, it’s not.
It simply is.
You see.
It just, bloody well, is.

In and out. Test this, test that.
Look up, look down.
Read this, read that.
Look near, look far.
It’s time for glasses you see.

Tsk Tsk.
Drinking glass?
The looking glass?
Venetian glass?
No, no a reading glass.

Hmm,
I see.
Ho hum,
So dumb.
I’m numb.
What a bum.

Itch! Witch!
Through the looking glass, a grandma I see.
Grey hair.
Crinkles and wrinkles.
The clearer I see, the more damned I be.

Nature is kind, my aunt once said.
Your eyesight goes and with it the wrinkles and crinkles, the greys and the years.

Blink, blink.
Such a to do.
There’s really no fuss.
I’m settled and calm, surprisingly.
Rally and rant – oh, no, not me.

It’s a change.
It’s flow.
New optics,
Silver shot locks
Different look. Different outlook.
No longer a maiden. Alas, a crone.

Wait, wait.
It’s an interesting life.
This cycle of things.
It’s simply a new lens, or two,
through which to filter the world around and beyond you.

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Stuck on the loop?

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Get off the treadmill of consumption, replication, and mediocrity. Begin lifting the weights of creativity, originality, and success. ― Ryan Lilly

But by taking the time away, getting myself off the treadmill, and just slowing down and learning, I felt I had so much more to give back. And maybe that was something that needed to happen for all of us. ―Lindsey Buckingham

In computer programming a loop is a sequence of instructions that is continually repeated until a certain condition is reached. Codes are written so that when the desired condition isn’t reached the next step is to loop back to the beginning, without diverting, and begin again. I will simply call these codes zero loops (some are zero overhead loops others zero delay loops etc).  Basically, such code is put in a hardware loop and would be repeated a fixed number of times. The software is not required to make decisions when a hardware loop is in place. There is no branching off if a hardware loop is used.

Are we on a zero loop program I wonder?   Is there so much white noise, distraction and stimulation that we find ourselves on a zero loop where we only access data and input that fits with our hardware paradigm?.  Are we beginning to select options without considering other ideas because they are on the circuit, in easy reach, because we are conditioned to? When we constantly see the same results is it because we’ve chosen the same input over and over?

If it is true, that we are on a zero loop, we  need to slow down, create space around ourselves and allow our busy minds to branch off the loop and make considered decisions, from a variety of inputs. Modern researchers tell us that this zero loop phenomenon  stems from our compliance behaviour. It’s funny, because in some ways I don’t see society today as compliant and yet, when I look again, I can see there are those among us jumping up and down, making massive, large-scale and in some cases frightening statements to jar the majority out of the  status quo. In considering if this zero loop phenomenon is a widespread reality, do each of us then need to be a little more disruptive, in a good way, and less risk averse?  Do we need to jump off the roundabout and diverge, choose a different path, make a small change, try a different approach, buy a different brand, say no, say yes, do the opposite, take time out to decide rather than lunge at the ‘obvious’ choice?

Zero loops and compliance behaviour. White noise and distraction. What does this mean in my life? How does it play out for you? Fascinating topics. Interesting questions to explore.