Try a little kindness

It’s almost Christmas Day. The tree is up and glowing. The front yard is slathered in Christmas lights. The turkey is thawing and the chicken will arrive in the grocery order tomorrow. Mince pies are in the cupboard. Presents are ready to be wrapped. This is the time of year when people make an extra effort to prove they still have a few drops of human kindness flowing through their veins.  The homeless shelters are giving their clients special dinners. People are surprising the less fortunate amongst us with gifts of Christmas hampers, or money, or toys for the kids. Other people are inviting the relatives they usually avoid, to Christmas lunch with the family. All over the world, people are trying to be polite and kind (unless they’re Christmas shopping, and you pick up the thing they’ve pushed through crowds to reach; then things can get a bit snarly). It makes a nice change. In fact, it makes me wonder why we don’t try to see what it would be like if we kept it up for the rest of the year. I realise I sound a trifle “Pollyana-ish” but I still reckon it’s worth giving it a go. Yes, there’ll be some who’ll take advantage of your good nature. There’ll be some who’ll throw your kindness back in your face. There’ll be some who’ll judge you as being weak, because you forgive them. So what? If they want to be miserable mongrels, let ’em. However, you might shine a little bit of hope, or joy, or delight into someone’s darkened corner. You might make someone smile. You might even be the answer to a child’s prayer. You would be part of a “love revolution”. (There’s my inner hippy, making an appearance.) Heaven knows this world could use a bit of that. In the words of dear old Glen Campbell: You’ve got to try a little kindness, yes show a little kindness Shine your light for everyone to see And if you’ll try a little kindness, you’ll overlook the blindness Of the narrow minded people on the narrow minded streets Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, wishing you a warm winter solstice and felicitations for any other celebrations that may be taking place. I’m celebrating Jesus’s birthday but I realise that’s not true for all of you. Regardless of your belief system, I wish you all joy, love, hope and delight, now and in the year to...

Read More

Don’t be afraid.

I have recently attended two writers’ groups’ end of year gatherings. In the first group there were just under twenty people, which is pretty good considering we met at the uncivilised time of 9.30am. (I had to leave the house an hour before I usually get up!) At first we were polite, shy and reticent to share. But, once we’d all had a cuppa and had tucked into the morning tea, the tongues loosened up. By the end of the meeting there were a half dozen conversations going on at once and I had to tell people to go home. (I can hear you asking, “How did you do that tactfully?” It was easy. I walked up to them and said, “Go home!”) We were encouraged to share our year’s work. I thought, Hmmm. That’ll be short and sweet for me. There were at least a couple of people in the group that had had several books published this year. There were also several who had had at least one book published. I felt very inadequate. Then, one of the most successful authors in the group confessed to a frustrating year of very little writing. He had experienced a lot of mental and emotional struggle being a writer, being creative and being emotionally sensitive, as well as having some personal issues to work through. He’d made very little headway this year. A kindred spirit! Once he’d opened up, others also shared their struggles with fear; a sense of inadequacy; the frustrations involved with submitting manuscripts and being rejected; the horror of a blank page staring at you demanding to be filled with nothing going on in the brain; the need to generate an income, and the isolation that can often come hand in hand with the craft. The longer we spend on our own, the harder it is to venture out into the wider world once more. The second group of writers only has five members and there were four of us this time. We met in one of the members’ homes, eating lunch in a courtyard area with the view of hills, trees and other rural things. It was relaxed, civilised and most pleasant. Again we had a show and tell time. Once more I sat there feeling as though I’d let the team down. (Only one manuscript submitted this year; still waiting for an answer. And, I’m having trouble getting Dragon-friend written even though I have “fans” clamouring for it; a nice problem to have, I know, but even so…) Then one of our members told us how she had spent a lot of time sorting through old articles, clearing out past years’ work and generally finding a reason to procrastinate. Here it was the end of the year and she had run out of excuses. She would finally have to begin writing. While the other two members were in the kitchen, she and I had a little chat about why she had procrastinated for so long. The word “fear” popped up. So, what are we afraid of? Fear of not doing a good job. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of being consumed by the process. Fear of running out of ideas. Fear of being more of a success than we can handle. Fear of not having the talent we hope and wish we have. Fear of losing hope and running out of the factor x that has driven us thus far. So, how do we soldier on? How do we drown out that clamouring voice that continually mutters in our subconscious, “You really suck at this”? How do we avoid the temptation to give in and give up? We write. In every aspect of our lives we must find ways to ignore the voice of fear. We must take risks. We must make the effort to go out; to meet people; to make new friends; to create beautiful things; to dance in the rain; to voice our protest; to welcome the stranger; to fight for what is right; to protect children; to educate people; to live lives that are driven by love, mercy, kindness and justice even when the whole world is telling us to live lives driven by hate, fear, distrust and selfishness. If we give in to fear, nothing worthwhile is ever achieved and life becomes insular, narrow and dark....

Read More

Hero?

I’m baaaa-aaack! Did anyone miss me? Anyone notice I was gone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? SO, it’s 8.14 and I’ve got ten minutes to write a blog before going to a writers’ gathering an hour away from home. (Personally, I can’t understand these people who can function adequately before 10 am.) If things suddenly fall silent half way through this, it’s probably because I’ve fallen asleep. Here’s just a little gripe to brighten your day: on our TV there’s a new cooking program (yes, another one!). It’s called “Aussie Barbecue Heroes”. Apparently, it’s a competition to see who can cook the best barbecues. So far I’m well up with the cooking side of it. However, I’ve yet to see where the “hero” bit fits. I expected they’d be barbecuing on a beach and suddenly they all drop tongs and race into the water to save a kid from a shark attack. Or, they’re barbecuing in front of a building, which catches fire, and they race in and save the trapped residents. You know, that sort of thing. But, so far, the bravest thing I’ve seen is their devil-may-care attitude towards chillies and coriander. We’ve recently had a horrendous fire in my part of the world. 87 homes were lost, thousands of livestock gone and people died. The people who fought that fire, risking their own lives, were all volunteers. They saved people’s lives. They saved homes and animals, and some of them were seriously injured while they were doing that. That to me, is the definition of a hero. Perhaps, to fit with television’s idea of a hero, they should have barbecued some sausages and steak, while they were on the back of their truck....

Read More