Walking the past in the present

Time is a culturally bound construct. We may, based on what culture we are born into, think we move chronologically, but in many cultures we carry the memory and ancestors with us in stories, songs and myths and a belief in the presence of spirits.

The past walks with present and the present with the future.

We can use our memory, past, wisdom to assist the present if only we pay attention to it.

In writing of lands I have lived and traveled through in an organic and intuitive process I find connections that make a spiral, even a circle, rather than a straight line.

Whilst we physically can’t change the past our understanding of it can dramatically change based on the patterns we find there.

I like the idea of spirals more than circles because in a spiral you can progress even as you seem to circle back to where you once were, but you are still moving forward.

**

My Papua New Guinea is not a physical memory of a landscape or extended family members, but is carried in the life and story of my mother and precious photographs from an anthropologist.

It is walking beside my brother in a grass skirt with a shell necklace; it is in the culture dance groups my mother starts for her nearby grandchildren and other Pacific friends.  They combine forces as there are not many from any of their cultures living in Tasmania.

I think of my mother listening to the songs of Papua New Guinea, of the Maipa Fakai, and Maipa Angapu, whilst learning the new songs of Tasmania.  I wonder if she has PNG soul bones or Tasmanian ones now and would she only discover how she truly felt if she left Tasmania to live in another space.

**

What is it to be Tasmanian raised? What is it to have her soul bones? I am proud that my generation is the one that saved her wild rivers and saw her become more than the apple (orchard) isle.

She has come to embrace herself as a tourist destination and yet still struggles with the highest unemployment in the country and is still making peace with her Indigenous inhabitants.

She is a place of beauty, but which many young people leave for opportunity, but which others feel they can never leave.  She reminds me of the Cassowary Coast.  She reminds me of the struggles of people on the Sunshine and Gold Coast, who are also trying to stop development that affects the natural beauty of their areas.

Why can’t we have opportunity and soulful nature’s  beauty in one package – is it at all possible to have the package together?

(c) June Perkins, word and images

More paper please

paper

It was so Dickension – the moment I headed off to the paper supply office at my school.

I had gone back into the public system after being in a small alternative school and this was my journey back into the mainstream system.

I was on what was called the ‘free list’ which meant our family was now so poor I was eligible for free paper.

The office shop lady gave me her usual once over disdainful look and said ‘And why do you need more paper so soon? Weren’t you here a short while ago’

After causing her usual amount of discomfort through a quick draw ‘you sure you need this paper’ stare.  She handed it to me anyway, but I went away wondering how to write smaller and squeeze more into less space.

It wasn’t my fault I had so much to write for my assignments.

I was doing well with my book reports, social science and English projects and poetry.  ‘More paper please,’ was all I could say.

I just kept going back for paper and writing more stories.

Our year 6 teacher was a former football coach and he believed in applying all his footy coaching tricks to his students. He liked to coach us in life. We ran laps of the school every day to stimulate our intellect by having our bodies fit. I remember doing ten laps I was that keen to have my brain work well.

He was imaginative, and had us deck our whole classroom out as an Egyptian scene, complete with pyramid to read in. I wrote poetry about Egypt as we were studying Ancient history and performed it at the school assembly.  This was one of my highlights of year 6.

He encouraged us to make our assignments well presented in terms of how they looked, as well as the content.  This was the year I learnt how to use pencil shavings to colour my paper.  It was the year I mastered my cod cursive handwriting and went up  4 years in spelling age.  As a treat if we did well  in class or finished work early we could go and collect a mind puzzle from the school office and then solve it for the rest of class.

I collected many fun puzzle times.

One of my proudest moments was winning a big maths puzzle, that was set for the upper grades.  It was a number find I think.  I won a Rubics cube, back when they first came out.

Year 6 was an amazing school year, and although that office lady and I never saw eye to eye, I began to realise that there was a power in being able to write, speak and present words.

I had many opportunities, but was unable to afford school camp.  Instead my memory is of two other girls from that year staying back from camp also, and we had to plan an interstate trip we would make with travel brochures.  We had to do all the costings and list the places we would visit.  I miscalculated some of my travel time, and was told I would be booked for speeding, but apart from that my assignment was sound.

At the time I had never been across the Tasman, to what Tasmanians call the mainland.  Yet my Mum came from a far away land, Papua New Guinea and I had come out from PNG when I was under two.  I didn’t know about travelling anywhere but Tasmania.

There were many other adventures and wisdoms learnt in year 6, but most important of all it was definitely a time I came to see the power of the written and spoken word.

I didn’t know that the future would hold many travels and I would make some the journeys in that assignment.  Yet, even though I adore the power of the written word I often wonder –

How much of the eternal spirit can we capture on mortal paper?

 (c) June Perkins

Firelight Sing-a-long

A memory triggered by a photograph of music by the firelight.

Following the Crow Song

2012-08-18 2012-09-08 001 113 (2) Firelight Singer – By June Perkins

By the firelight we singalong.  We’ve asked eldest to bring out his guitar and he’s become our karoke machine.  He knows so many songs.  But he doesn’t sing aloud with us yet.

Hubby sings the loudest, to the beat of his own drum, daughter and youngest sing louder to help him sing with their tuning.

I sing if I know the lyrics to the songs they have chosen.

We sing to the moonlit cane.

Once we even see a horde of runaway rats in the trees once the cane provides no more shelter.  Perhaps they have come to hear us sing, and we need to employ eldest like a pied guitarist to take them back into the fields.

Eldest’s voice has been breaking, and he’s kept it a secret.  We have no idea what it sounds like yet.

Sometimes I think I hear him…

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Boys can be more, they can be heroes in a new way.’: Miracle Monday 6

first day
First Day at School – June Perkins

This week my Mum was sad because her niece lost her son and it brought many sad memories back for her of the loss of one of her son’s, one of my brothers.

It always saddens me to think of the lost potential, especially of young men who feel disenfranchised, lost and who start to do high risk things that ultimately lead to their death.

This week I am particularly thinking of young men who hurt themselves, and or hurt people close to them and who just don’t think through consequences. Add to this a mix of illegal and legal substances that further alter the capacity to make rational and reasoned decisions and you have a lethal road to nowhere fast.

These young men become the sad memories, the accused of crimes, the source of pain to their families and communities – and this week you see it clearly portrayed in the media.  It’s there in United Nations reports where men turn on their own communities and especially the women and children and subject them to violence. The fall out of their actions brings sorrow to victims of their decisions, and to their own families. What is the back story? How does it end up this way?

Is it being bullied, bullying, subjection to prejudice,  mental illness, lack of opportunity, racism, having to fight in wars, lack of employment,  being abused by others and never having justice or treatment, lack of spirituality?

As a mother of two sons I want to be someone whose sons never intentionally hurt others, who make decisions that empower their own lives, and their sons and daughters if they should have them. I want them to have a realisation of the miracle of their own existence, and a connection to people who care and empower them.

I want to balance protection, with giving them the opportunity to develop decision making powers of their own – to be able to fly into their futures.

I don’t blame mums for all the problems of their sons, some sons are just going to do what they will, whatever anyone says, but I also don’t think Mums are powerless. We can raise that next generation through our example and our expectations for them.

No more saying ‘boys will be boys,’ but ‘boys can be more, they can be heroes in a new way.’

Anyway back to my Mum, I felt for her sorrow and wanted to cheer her up. My youngest son rang her to let her know of his wonderful week at school, in music and mathematics. I hope that he cheered her up. There are boys we hope, pray, actively raise and dream up to be heroes in a new way.

Today I acknowledge the miracle of life, and honour the role of mothers and communities to raise sons/young men who will nurture the next generation and themselves.

I thank all of those people who have so far played a role in honouring and bringing out the spirituality of my sons, family, friends, teachers and community.  Keep on, keeping on, and let’s hope that there are better futures for our boys.

I dedicate the raising of my sons to my Mum and Dad.  I dedicate it also to their children and my community.

For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, check out Patrick Stewart’s Speech.  Now that’s inspirational!  We can stop the cycle.

max and reuben (medium sized brother)
Nurturing session for a young man – June Perkins

At the Oscars with the Perkins’s

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Feather on Water, by June Perkins

So it’s raining – and our wet season, which is deciding whether to arrive keeps threatening.  Just a moment ago we couldn’t see the canefields across the road.

I’ve spent the morning trying to fend off a cold.  As well as having all my kids at home sick with coughs that would drive their teachers mad and are consequently instead leading to Mum needing ear muffs.  Poor little mites.  Time to whip out that hot lemon.

They are settled in watching the Oscars, after eating some tinned spaghetti.

Wonder what they will be eating at the Oscars, Billy Crystal says there is a smorgasboard on offer.

So far we have been treated to some documentary and special effects awards.  The beauty of it is that all the results are live, no more waiting until the actual night when it’s all a repeat and you just know the results.  What’s the fun in an award night with no suspense, an awards day where results are unknown is much better if you can have it, which we can.  With all the internet coverage they are now screening it twice, and those of us at home for any reason can watch it live on tv.  I think they realise if they don’t we can and will watch it somewhere on the internet.

Billy  is a relaxed and genial host, who is funny but never upsets the establishment.  Yet Oscar humour always has a mixed history, sometimes the jokes only work on the audience, well if you are to believe their laughter;  around the world Oscar humour can fall embarrasingly flat, but does anyone tell the academy – only the savaging after the event critics.  Perhaps though it is because the jokes can be ‘in jokes’ that mainly the actors, directors and writers get.

How cool Christopher Plummer from Sound of Music fame, a movie he reportedly did not like, as well as a few other films just got an Oscar.  Now that’s brilliant. He’s only two years older than the actual Ocars themselves and after a life time of acting he finally makes it.  The audience so appreciate  his win it takes a while for them to let him speak.  I am enjoying his speech.  What a romantic ending, to thank his wife and give her the nobel peace prize for her patience and long suffering.  A little cliched of course.  Yet it’s so hearfelt and he seems to have been with her so long it’s not quite like the average celebrity marriage.  They probably deserve an oscar for that one too – although it is his third marriage so who knows.

The romance continues with another awardee thanking his wife, and begging for extra time to share the love and give the love!  I am remembering emotions more than names here but then if you want names just go to the Oscar Blog.

Now as well as the Oscars I am considering my blog and what it’s goal is. I am officially abandoning this month’s challenge, which was 8 interconnected story posts (I got to three) and considering  my writing identity.  Must be the rainy weather sending me on this writing identity quest.  Or maybe I am just sick of that pesky bird – who is gurgling and singing and inspired my writing quest and then left me high and dry, but today is wet so I am paddling out with my writing again!  But where it the bird.  The bird is a footnote!

I love to read and write in so many genres.  Where is my focus?  This question keeps cropping up the last few months and I am finally getting around to answer it.

I blog anything that moves me to write, especially our country life, art, creativity, photographty and events that I feel inspired by local and global (hence my lack of discussing at any great length the antics of our country’s leaders and the fact we still have a certain red head as our Prime Minister.  I’ll leave that to all the facebook forums.  My comment was to post a picture of Ghandi! On my facebook page and say we needed some more spiritual ethical leaders to run the place). Key word ‘inspired;’ so what inspires me today – Billy Crystal

Billy Crystal is now making me giggle with impersonations.  He is brilliant!  Just so natural, I don’t think anyone can host the Oscars like he does. No wonder they keep asking him back.

Now there’s another thankyou speech of someone indebted to his wife, but who also grew up to work with the legendary ‘Muppets.’  Maybe my daughter’s dream of growing up to meet a dragon might just come true, all she has to do is meet a puppet or a blue screen with dragon on a screen.

Now Angelina Jolie takes to the stage.  It’s the Scriptwriters turn to be acknowledged.  Anticlimax, no speech as Woody Allen is not there to accept his.

Now actors share their favourite movies – and they are talking about the power of stories

What makes you laugh? What makes you cry? What are the moments of dignity?

Sounds like the pathway of writers, not just in film but in so many genres.  The scriptwriters have actors to help them on their way, the writer of the story flat on the page, must transport the reader beyond the page into their imagination.  The writer’s friends are words, their collaborators are editors.  Writing about the art of writing, can lead to a maze. 

Are you writing entrapped in the art itself?  How are you going to climb out of that writing box?

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Australia Day Award – Cultural Medal June Perkins – Taken by David Perkins

At the Academy Awards they are now speaking about high speed digital cameras and I am thinking about the power of my Nikon to collect footage for family films.  I have entered a small film competition for the first time, with my movie about Pam and Joe.  I’d love to win some extra money to make some more short films.  Maybe I should aim for Tropfest, who knows?

What subject can I find in this rain, cane and spagetti afternoon with sick children who are looking for something to make them not feel blue?

So now the rain begins again, making the world outside invisible in shades of grey and the Perkins’s (minus one member) continue watching the Oscars punctuated by ads about consildating debt and so on.

Our town does not have  a cinema, but only projection screens and businesses or the highschool who put on films.  You have to journey more than an hour either direction to find a cinema.  People do that and make a night of it.

One cinema at Babinda, I’ve heard from friend, is like travelling back through time. The old style has been retained and the town prides itself on this. I think I better make a trip there one day as that sounds fun, although too far back and I would be dealing with colour bars depending on where I lived.  Not all of us want to live in the past where there was a lot of prejudice against migrants and those of ‘colour.’  I don’t like that term, the ‘coloured’ – aren’t we all full of some colour – and does that make others the ‘uncoloured.’

The challenges of country life – no cinema, no access to a gp for 6 weeks if you are sick (unless you head off to the hospital ringing it at 8.30am).  I wonder if any kids out there- at home sick, watching the academy awards will grow up and make movies. Or become doctors, head on home and stop these 6 week waits.

Will they talk about the country environments that inspired them?  Will they look back at history and critique it?  Will they find novels about country life to inspire scripts?  Maybe they will not look back at country life, but look forward – into the future?  Will there be any country life left when all the farmers sell up because their kids don’t want to come home and run the farms?  Larger farms, fewer owners, what does it all mean for the future?

Oprah Winfrey’s honorary Oscar for Humanitarian purposes brings a tear to my eye.  What an inspiring lady! And it’s a trip down memory lane through all the parts of James Earl Jones.  And now for the in memoriam section of the Oscars, farewells to all the buried actors, writers and producers…

Meryl  Streep is slightly embarrased to be up on stage for the third time,  best actress, for an invokation of Margaret Thatcher – but a deep breath and she’s away – beginning with thanking her partner, not ending with thanking him.  She is celebrating friendship, new and old and with those present and those now gone from this life.

Do they make movies in heaven?

What is the best movie of the year?  — The Artist, A silent and black and white movie takes it out, and it seems that movies travel back in time to achieve a dream for some film-makers.

So that’s the Oscars at home with the Perkins’s.  A space to watch the rain on cane, dream, think about the wonders of writing and care for the beloved treasure of this world children.  For a full list of winners if you are interested — read here. Now I end with a few questions.

Why do you go to the movies?  What is your favourite movie?  How far do you have to travel to the movies at a cinema?

(c) June Perkins, all rights reserved.