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Out. wondering for treasures

‘When you go out into your world tomorrow, choose a piece of it to really look at. …There will be nowhere out there in the universe that is the same’. Brian Cox. Wonders of life.

This one is ode to kids and like minded adults who pick up sticks.

Yesterday I watched as a grandfather came into a cafe with his two grandchildren, one who carried a stick. Not just any stick mind you, but the longest stick you’ve ever seen.

The boy was perched atop his grandfathers shoulders, a mighty king armed with sword that was, rather hilariously  (erhm, I mean ferociously) thwacking people as they passed. No one seemed to mind though, many in fact giggled (erhm, I mean cowered in the shadow of this great king!).

As they passed me I wondered what the child, as much as every adult in that room, would think if I told them about my stick collection? My house is full of bottles wielding twigs, branches from trees, feathers, dried flowers and pods; and bowls of pebbles can be found on benches, beside the televisions and books. Even the dashboard of my brand new car that boasts talking technology I can’t ever fathom I’ll use, has been described as a terrarium.

I can honestly add to this that one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given was a ‘found object’, a white rock from a mountain in New Zealand that my best friend gave me on her return. It was free, it was found in the dirt, but also from ‘another world’ that my friend had adventured through. This small piece of ‘other’ now sits on one of said benches in my home and it is a gift I still marvel at, as wide-eyed as a child in the throws of wonderment. Did I mention I was 33 years old?

Found treasures are indeed the greatest of simple pleasures because they are simply that – found, unexpected, on the path of your journey. Whether an overseas adventure or simply your daily walk to work, the surprise you feel when you come upon a treasure (or perhaps when it comes upon you…) can catapult you into a state of what David Byrne describes as ‘time delay fireworks’. Further to this, connecting with the object, seeing and choosing it beyond and amongst anything else on your path, the object becomes imbued with life. The stick does indeed become a sword.

My pebbles for instance, the particular ones I come across that fill me with delight, are always smooth, round and heavy. The simultaneous weight and softness of my little treasures ground me, sink me into a body, my body, that is sometimes caught in the throws of a busy day.

My feathers? A lightness of being when I feel a little ‘weighed down’ and a sense of possibility, of what’s out there if I take flight.

The pods? God damn they’re sexy. Each one of them a cavern of hidden wonders ready to birth. I connect immediately to the most womanly parts of myself here (and maybe keep my eyes open at the same time for a man wielding a stick. Erhm).

The gnarled twigs and sticks are my favorite though. There is something in the way they reach up and out, clumsily, that I love. Trying they are to grow, to stick (if you pardon the pun) their feelers out into the world, but they just look so awkward doing it, particularly in winter, bare and vulnerable, that I am reminded of how clumsy I can be tripping about my day and how we are all a little awkward in our process of growth.

The personalities or life I give these treasures aside, each one of course also becomes a memento of the adventure I’ve been on. The  treasure proves to myself and others that I went out into the world and still lived to tell the tale.

Watching Brian Cox’s ‘Wonders of Life’ last night and considering the fact that it is often things born of nature that bring me the most pleasure, the greatest sense of wonderment when I come upon them, I’m reminded how little pleasure things I’ve bought on overseas or daily adventures have brought me, how quickly their shine fades.

The intricacies and complexities of earths designs however never seem to lose there shine. Even though we now know so much now about our planet and even a little beyond, awe and wonder can still be inspired if we indeed look at the environment we traverse through on a daily basis with the knowledge that people like Brian Cox impart.

When you consider that not one part of the earth you travel through daily, not one natural treasure you might see or gather along the way, is the same, your ‘everyday’ becomes a lot more spectacular and the earth the most wonder-full of playgrounds.

I can’t not get a little excited by this thought. A sort of puppy-like energy takes over. But a word of caution here though: don’t ever try and put me on a leash if you see me in this state, don’t hold me back when I go to sniff out these treasures.  I’ll tell you why.

The intricacies and design of nature that inspire the sense of wonderment in me, that gives me that puppy like energy some people feel so ready to deflect or squash, is actually what gives me fuel. On days I’ve found hard to get out of bed, it’s always been a beautiful sunrise that’s breathed energy into my body. Outside in the world some days falling over, those poor branches lying broken on the ground have made me laugh; and those pods tickle in me a desire for new life when I may need it. These things inspire wonderment in me and that wonder inspires me to keep adventuring, to keep looking and keep marveling at the honor and privilege I have being on this planet.

Wonder. Meant …that any battle can be fought when there’s a stick lying around.

x Kate

Ps. Wasn’t lying. Welcome to my home …a land of treasures. And check out the photography of Karl Blossfeldt. He knew to wonder at natural treasures : )

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Ever wondered how to ride a rollercoaster?

‘You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. …Up down. Up down. Oh! What a ride. I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it’. Grandma. Parenthood.

When I was little my mum took my brother and I to Disneyland. A sort of a ‘once in a life opportunity’ for us at the time to travel overseas, I remember thinking how much I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity because I may not get it again. I was 9 years old.

It was the roller-coasters at Disneyland that challenged this thought. My beautiful and rather clever mother seeing my simultaneous fear and wonderment each time my tiny frame stood beneath the roller-coasters, timed each of the ‘scary’ rides and said, ‘You know darling if you get on and you really hate it, it’ll only last 3 minutes’.

And so I got on the roller-coaster. I got on all of them. They were fabulous and fun and exciting. And when they weren’t? I knew that they would only last three minutes.

The wisdom that this experience gave me at the time was that in order to have an adventurous life you have to ‘answer the call to adventure’ as mythologist Joseph Campbell would state. You have to, not only see the door but you have to make the choice to actively step through it. If I’ve been wary or frightened? Good. My fear is a way of protecting me, making sure I carry the tools I’ve gathered with me along the way before I step through the threshold.

But of course as we grow older we learn more things and I have learned through recent experiences that actively NOT making the choice to step through is just as valuable, particularly if you take a look at why you are saying yes to the call.

Since Disneyland for instance I have carried with me a little saying I use when faced with the prospect of adventure. ‘What would I like to tell my grandchildren I did?’ Usually I wish to tell them I said YES, envisioning my future, wrinkly self glimmering with cheeky eyes toward my grandchildren telling them of all the adventures this once not so frail body went on.

In this vision they also stare straight back at me in awe of my achievements. Interesting no? Are some of my choices to say yes based on gratifying what I believe people have come to perceive of me or even trying to have some control over what I want other people to believe I am?

In this way, when I look at the story of my life, how much no was yes and vice versa?

In tarot the first card is ‘the fool’. He or she is represented as a jester and in numerology as zero, the number of unlimited potential. Though I don’t prescribe to tarot per say, the stories, like the above mentioned myths, were designed at the time to reveal something to us of the stories of our own lives, our journeys and the possible choices we can make on our way. The fool always intrigued me probably because he is all of us, a character thrown into this thing called life, full of potential yes, but also vulnerable to making mistakes, to being ‘fool-ish’. The naivety, innocence and child like qualities the character of the fool possessed was designed to teach us to be curious, to have adventures but that we may also fall over on our way and that those falls would help us learn and grow.

I’ve been quite the fool of late. And given myself quite the bad wrap in turn. To quote another line from the film Parenthood ‘He likes to butt things with his head’; I seem to have a default position in one or two areas of my life where I forget my tools, forget what I’ve learned and jump on the roller coaster butting my head over and over again in the process. You see at the time these particular ‘calls to adventure’ present themselves, I forget another something I’ve learned, that adult roller-coasters can last a hell of a lot longer than 3 minutes.

During these times I know I hang on for dear life. With gritted teeth and teary eyes I choose to hate every minute of it. I wonder if I made another choice, to throw my hands into the air if I’m on the ride and can do nothing about it. Doing this means I would give less of my energy away. It might also mean I have a little fun or at the very least, allow myself to see the ride out and know its truly done when I arrive back at the conductor.

Ever since Disneyland I’ve said to friends ‘I’d rather ride the roller-coaster’. That whether good or bad I’d rather have an adventure filled life where I learn and experience a tonne more than a life filled with monotony and ‘safe’ would give me. But recent events have also told me that there are certain roller-coasters that aren’t for me anymore and that I don’t have to choose them.

Wonder. Meant …told me that riding a roller-coaster is a choice and if you’re gunna get on, make sure you let go. It’ll be a lot more fun that way.

x Kate

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