Thursday, 29 December 2016

2.0 - Heart Cross Buns - Too Good to Fail

If you prefer you can listen to this here otherwise read on!

Greetings One and All

What a year, what a life… many are berating 2016 for its rude and rough handling of us. Yes it contained some the most horrific and unpleasant surprises globally and personally but it also contained some of the brightest moments of growth illuminating the path ahead.

My year began with a rash of fun missives about things such as Leap Year and Indonesian Eclipses then the writing if not the living faded off as I was overwhelmed by events… I experienced an inexplicable marriage of heaven and hell in relationship form. Encountered death with a stranger on a beach. Returned to transformative festivals like Burning Man. Finished one major film, started another straight away while still making time for a low-budget Indie. Love was lost. Death claimed my father via the limbo of neurological ICU. I donned the mantle and crown of responsibility and finally had a healing Christmas with my family. Per ardua ad astra (through adversity to the stars). The lesson of accepting loss forever played out in full. I did the work and immediately found that what could be returned to me was. Not my dear departed father but version 2.0 of the relationship with Miss Rabbit.

During the year I behaved in ways admirable and abominable. Proud of how I handled many adversities I was equally shamed at my reaction to perceived challenges. When someone powerful storms into your life in the name of love the opportunity for change can be mistaken as attack on sovereignty. One's old un-serving patterns are not one’s identity, no matter how long one has come to identify with them, they are just a shell. It might protect from external harm but it can also constrain and contain. Growth can seem painful but after lobster-like shedding I am glad of this years extraordinary lessons. I feel the freedom to shift, expand and take the brave steps towards a bright future. One filled with more hope and promise than I have ever felt. Not the least because I feel met and Isadora and I have shared the same journey through a crucible of fire emerging with a strong, respectful, loving bond and beautiful vision for the future. It necessarily took complete loss to find our way back to each other. Our recovery mantra’s, the personal "Locked open in Love at Convict Lake.” and the public paradigm shifting parody "Too good to fail.” Like this astonishing world we live in.

One regret I can rectify was the failure to post one of my two ‘compulsory’ annual blog articles - around Hot Cross Buns … While I might not have written about it - I did not miss out on the occasion…

Rewind to late March and for the very first time I feasted upon Easter buns kneaded by my own hands under the auspices of Miss Rabbit in Gothenburg. It was a first excursion to her home city to meet friends and family. I am nothing if not romantic so a couple of these buns were crested not with crosses but with hearts instead. I was very surprised by the amount of effort it takes to make these bread like things - far more effort than a cake yet a wonderfully soul-nourishing thing to do. As they baked and filled the house with the aroma of yeasty Easter yumminess we celebrated, via a yoga kria, gratitude at the wealth of abundance we enjoy.

I believe in the restorative nature of forest fires and that the phoenix can only rise from the ashes but the healing balm of recognition and reconciliation is required to balance things. I do not Iive to tread the simplest path of a happy pig, nor am I a fair weather friend. Why run at trouble and strife when to remain might enable depth of connection and release from deeply blocked pain and suffering. Why run when learning so much about myself. Learning about me, the maker of my jokes and exporter of my laugh, crier of my tears, dreamer of my dreams and author of my life. And for sure I learned how large and small an alpha I can be and how that was at times quite horrid for my previous loves and teachers. Yum Yum, Mouse, Crab, Red and Pudding please accept my apologies for being so goddamn stubborn. Thank you so much for being with me, for the amazing experiences and for all the valuable lessons gained from you. Lessons that have made me who I am and enabled me to live this life. Your love was always an amazing gift and prepared me for this one I now worship at the altar of. All that I am I offer at the altar of love in sweet surrender.

But then again perhaps it has been this stubborness (Obby the … ) that has enabled me to remain in place and follow this lupine alpha on alpha mating policy...
Good Wolf, Evil Wolf fighting for your soul… which one will win. The one you choose to feed. This is in general taken to mean that one should feed the good wolf not the bad one. However if you don’t pay the bad one any attention at all you are going to have a ferocious, desperate and starving wolf tearing at your soul as its very existence is threatened. That sounds none too wise. Perhaps feeding it and giving it loving kindness might change its ways… for the most part things react well to compassion and sympathy and badly to favouritism and neglect. It is important to find the alternative narrative that encompasses the whole and provides a positive outcome for all involved in the story. It can contain a hero’s journey and yet redeem the villain. For we contain both and both are part of us. Like Tantra is often misunderstood in the West as being only of the light… it is not, it contains all, the whole spectrum from light to dark and back again around the other side where the filters don’t make it quite so clear whose brighter anyway… light, dark, left, right, up, down, in, out, man, woman, mountain, valley, peak, trough, right, wrong, concave, convex, they are all descriptions just of opposites, of abstractions such as directions that cannot exist without each other. None of it is absolute; all can be quantitative and relational rather than judgemental. So invite your dark side in, offer it a nice cup of tea and a sit down, thank it for its efforts to protect you from something it itself is terrified of, reassure it that all is going to be ok, that it is welcome to enjoy the warmth but only for as long as it does not cause trouble. And if it does … flush it down the toilet saying it can only come back once it’s improved its attitude again.

Much love wonderful friends

Doctor Lobster

In the meantime I’d like you to know that I have been befriending Aeschylus, a most wonderful if slightly cranky 30-year-old tortoise here in South Africa at my father’s house.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Cross-planetary Shadow-bathing

A much abbreviated account of Cross-planetary Shadow-bathing... read on or listen here.

A while back I was well known as a Total Solar Eclipse Chaser… but nigh on 8 years passed without such an excursion. So quite excitedly the inimitable Brooke Lyndon-Stanford (there’s an explorer’s name) and myself undertook a ‘smash and grab’ eclipse pilgrimage.

Halfway around the world in 80 hours we went… Four planes, a long cab ride, a long boat ride across the equator, another longer baking hot boat ride and a few walking adventures transported us from London Soho office to Desert Island hammock in the Gulf of Tomini, Sulawesi, Indonesia. 

Rather than plot my own course this time, I passengered the last leg aboard a spaceship of the imagination commandeered by the indefatigable Simon and Elsa, salt of the earth friends of Brooke to reach this uncharted ‘Pleasure Island’ in an azure to turquoise sea. We were sixty-eight souls aboard that vessel and not a drop of drink was left by the end of it… though god knows we packed too much of that and too little of water for our tropical cruise*. For this was not your average amateur astronomer brigade, this was a motley-crue of pirate-like solar eclipse chasers. Most, captivated like me by their first experience, had now been on many such excursions, all excellent and all well-seasoned travellers.

As natural phenomena, Total Solar Eclipses are primeval yet highly inspirational experiences. They become these dramatic ‘hourglass’ moments. As if all things in your life have inexorably lead to THIS moment and THIS place, when you are THAT grain of sand in the hourglass, FALLING, in THAT moment, in GRACE… sublime. And after that the whole world opens up again, your life lies before you and you return to it.

Of course all ‘moments' are the same and poignancy frequently found in the mundane… but these eclipse moments grab you in a primordial way… they demand complete presence and attention to the celestial drama. All else disappears, gone is the bank balance, the girl or boy, office politics, family feuds, fear you left the stove on and so on. Not gone is the feeling of being alive on this Earth and in awe and wonder, lapping up the silvery corona, people delighting, an all-round sunset horizon, stars, a chill and the weird otherworldly light as the Moon sweeps across our one true light casting a lucky few in shadow for a precious minute or two.

And here’s the photographic loot acquired …

This eclipse trip was all about the journey and while not restful it was restorative in terms of the need to have adventure. This world is not so small. There are many distant places not in cellphone or Internet coverage. Yet beautiful and friendly people live there and many more were met along the way. One cannot see the size of the mountain until one is far away so I am returned to English shores basking in the afterglow of an adventure well-had and affirmed that this is one hell of an amazing planet to be living this incredible life upon. 

Much Love

Doctor Lobster

A huge thank you to the legend that is Simon and also to Brownie, Hendra, Nuir and Elsa. Arch-organisers!

Sunset the day after the eclipse, Moon Island...  photo by Brooke
The Beautiful Things
selected to keep the
Eclipse Crystal Magic going... 
* As much as a lot of alcohol was consumed it was not by me, I had decided to give up alcohol, wheat, sugar and chocolate for Lent - possibly a daft thing as I am in no way religious. I was caught up with the idea of Lent coinciding with the supposed period of Jesus going into the desert for 40 days and being tempted by the devil… the devil of course just being the thing within us that is hard to resist… and I managed except for a final sunset coffee while humouring some beach kids slingshotting targets in exchange for our remaining rupiah. The imperfect thread weaved into the tapestry.

How many Indonesians does it take to change a light bulb?

I didn’t get the photo of that happening but it was an encounter in a hotel that crystallized what an amazing time I had in Indonesia. There has been a high level of competence on display from everyone and every local I encountered was exceptionally friendly, nice, took the effort to try to understand whatever vague issue I had and then to help. Such a good and positive visit to such a lovely country. Bravo.

Final note:
The next … 21 August 2017… USA… see you there… 

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Leaping into Pupation


Its less common for me to put out a missive between the Chinese New Year and the Hot Cross Buns of Easter’s Good Friday but this year requires it as it is a LEAP year… and the 29th of February is a special moment of irregularity – if you have a hundred birthdays you will only have twenty-five 29th’s of February, a few of which you would not have noticed. Yet this rarity is almost never accorded much respect. Sure there’s the oddity that they’re known as the day on which the ladies are allowed to ask a man for his hand in marriage… How quaint… As if any self-respecting feminist (and I count myself amongst them) would settle for such old world tosh. So please accept this invitation to make something special out of the ordinary! It's a great day to think about the bizarre species we are and marvel at the wonders of this life.  

And here's a little something I wrote in partial relation to leap year in 2008... 

Now - are you a caterpillar or a butterfly? Do you know how to tell the difference?
One way is ask yourself just how hungry you are? Another might be to note how thinly spread you are. Where is your level of satisfaction and what is your level of delight? Interpret all of that, as you will… 
I’ve certainly been munching on the buffet of life for my two score and more years on this wonderful nearly round world and have always felt I was a caterpillar even though I’ve had more than a fair share of flitting about. 
A caterpillar I truly loved in the Big Apple
But I have felt a yearning for metamorphosis, that it was time to shift from what I am to what I will be so that what I become will be entirely different from what I was. Well over a year ago I was offered the opportunity to work on Tim Burton’s next film, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and jumped at the chance despite it meaning moving back to London from New York City. I did and London welcomed me back like an old friend treating me like the prince it always has.

I arbitrarily concluded that the duration of this film shall be the period of my pupation and being whimsically prone to dramatic gestures I assigned the Leap Year day as my ‘due’ date for emergence into my new existence. Of course such plans mean nothing to the gods… and so with great luck, for this film experience is proving to be even more fun and extraordinary than I imagined it would be, I remain gainfully employed on it for several months still to come, well past this 'incubation date' and right now I can’t see any dramatic change occurring on the 29th… I’m guessing I’m going to be an overdue cocoon-baby.

Click on this image to reveal the creeping horror of Pupation Time!

It’s quite a challenge trying not to plan for this future as a butterfly, moth, fly or whatever it is I’m becoming… One simply wants to plan. But can a grub or caterpillar ever dream big enough to do grace to what she shall be when first she unfurls her wings and blinks her new beads to the sun’s cheering light after sleeping for what was going to be eternity? I remind myself gently just to rest easy, enjoy the comfort of the chrysalis* while it lasts… for to be sure it has not been as simple and restful as expected, it has been buffeted by many a gust, even surviving the storm known in Nordic parts as Mama Rabbit but that I call Love-monster Wronski… not the peace and calm required for simple transmogrification… but an excitement previously unknown. The intensity available after such a short period speaks volumes of connection as well as commitment to the cause of Adventure… tis true that Safety is Third… Love and Adventure being well ahead of it… Yet I do wonder if my pupation is something being cast aside, am I cut out from the cocoon too early or is it yet ongoing and consequently just the date of my metamorphosis postponed… or am I growing into an even stranger thing - larger perhaps than previously thought?

Which brings me to just remind you all the beauty in this phrase: “Just as the caterpillar thinks his whole life is coming to an end he turns into a butterfly"

And the delightful HP Lovecraft “That is not dead which can eternal lie and with strange eons even Death may die."

Much love and leap year mirth

Doctor Lobster

* I know there are differences but pupa, chrysalis, cocoon… they’re all the same to a white privileged mammal trying to impress his friends with a funny tale. 

Ps –Total Solar Eclipse in Indonesia 9 March… Sulawesi… just saying…

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Monkeying About

Phew friends, I don’t know about you but for me the last months of The Goat have seen some Herculean trials. Not the least of which was head butting up the slopes of Mount Relationship. But even though the way has been hard and steep, if Love beckons, you follow...* So it’s with great relief we welcome some light simian guile into our lives on Monday 8th Feb as the New Moon heralds in the Year of the Monkey...

However the respite is slightly leftfield as this year is that of the FIRE Monkey which rewards bold curiosity rather than indecisive caution even more than usual.

It is in adversity we will find our victories so go further than the normal expectation and risk failure. For Success is a shallow teacher providing but part of the lesson… rather boldly fail where you haven't failed before… it’s there you’ll grow the most… in short, fail up… challenge your edges… test your mettle… for this year is indeed a test… 

Jackie the Baboon
Space Monkey
Donate to Save the Chimps

But its a test designed for you to pass… the only real failure comes in not attempting… to sullenly sit, refusing to play will serve neither you nor the troop. Rather swing your way though the canopy of life, trusting instinct and knowing that failure is most likely just landing on your arse… everyone does… and everyone laughs… after all, do you mind when your fellow friendly fuzzies are a little foolish… hell no… whoop de woo you’ll show them how its done until just like them you too crash on your bum. And they’ll laugh and delight just as you did with them. And another and another will follow attempting the same providing further mirth. So learn to laugh with and at yourself. It’s such a gentle and mature thing to do and takes great care of the part of pride that knows only to hurt itself.

This year the thing you seek is not the thing you will find. What you find instead will lead you back to where you were when you wanted to be where you are now and that might be a place you’d prefer to be... either way like the epic journeys of legend that end back in the hero’s village you will be wiser. Most positive change felt painful in the beginning… and most courage is found unexpectedly. So don’t shy from the challenge rather shy a coconut at the baldhead of Seriousness and laugh while you scamper back to the jungle of Joy your life can be. 

And if you ever hear someone say ‘There’s nothing there’ about a place, be certain to go because then you have the chance to see something ‘that-isn’t-there’ and learn what can only be taught through a strange experience.

Much love 

Doctor Lobster (aka Hal Couzens)

* Apologies to Kahlil Gibran