Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pictures in books

I can't remember how the conversation started. We were driving home from spending the day dressed as Ninjas, I think the place was called Iga-shi but I'm also equally suspicious of being completely wrong about that. At some point though, he asked "don't you believe in god?"

Misaki and I exchanged glances. I employed an extreme amount of mental effort to carefully time and calculate my responses, a rare occurrence for once as myself who usually lacks so much as an inner monologue. I said "Why, do you?". The exact words of our exchange have lost me, but it was something along these lines. "Yes, of course", he said. "Why?". "Because I've seen pictures in books". An interesting response for a six year-old who has never been to church, seen a bible, or been to scripture class. At least not in my presence...

"Grandma and Grandpa told me about Jesus, and God. They had a book with pictures". Another calculated pause... "Can you remember any of the pictures?" He couldn't. When asked if he believed them, he said he loves learning because it makes him smarter. Not what I asked, but an excellent answer. He instinctively trusts knowledge passed on to him from people he trusts and admires.

"Don't you believe in god?". What could I say, isn't it about ten years too soon for this conversation? "Which one?" I reply. Learning what I believe is of less importance than discovering the ability to discern right from wrong independently. The concept of multiple gods was new and intriguing... you mean there's more than one?

It depends who you ask, I explain. There are many people in the world, some people believe in Jesus, some in Muhammad, some follow the teachings of Buddha, while many once worshipped Amon-ra. Most of them believe that their beliefs are right however, while everyone else's are wrong. "I just go one step further - maybe we're all wrong. The important thing to remember is: don't believe everything you read in books".

I don't want to influence my son's religious views one way or another. Actually, that's not true, I do truly want to protect him from being blinded, but I have to trust that he'll open his own eyes in time and see, see whatever he chooses to see. I hope he never looses his child-like sense of wonder though, his empathy and compassion for all living things, and his joy and humor. If he has to learn from pictures in books, may they be photos that are true to life without any bias or opinion, that invite him to explore and discover for himself.

I don't fear answers, only that we forget to ask the right questions.

love, peace

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

East of Everything

It's rare that I switch our large LCD TV over to the digital tuner and actually watch terrestrial broadcasts, as opposed to watching DVDs or browsing the web with our Wii, but a couple of weeks ago I did. On such rare occasions I'll gravitate straight to the ABC or SBS, emulating the way your eyes are drawn the the center, advertisement-free section of a web page to avoid the banner ads while it loads. I don't even see them anymore, just like the commercial channels 7, 9, and 10 don't exist in my world.

The reward this time was a new show on ABC called East of Everything. Set in Broken Bay, it follows the stories of two brothers acting as the executors of their recently deceased mother's estate, once a tropical resort which has since degenerated into disuse. It really strikes a chord with me somehow, and I'm really enjoying it.

A couple of quotes:

East of Everything reminds us that whatever our past, for most people there is the opportunity to recognise something good in it, which we can take and move on

It's a show about characters in large spaces. People are trapped by circumstance rather than geography.

Ultimately, we wanted to create a series that was very hopeful, which recognises that there is a melancholy sadness about life, but there is also a fantastic joy.

The last quote means the most to me. Fortunately, it's available as a podcast which suits my viewing habbits.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Nan, dearly departed

My name is Mark. I'm Marjory's grandson from her son Barry. To her was I was always called 'Beet', and to me she was, and always will be "Nan".

We Four grandsons, David, Matthew, Philip and I are no strangers to loss, even from a very early age, but that has made Nan's passing no easier to endure. Now we grieve a source of joy, humour, compassion, and understanding that we've depended on thru-ought our lives.

It's hard to comprehend living on without her, but I know that what Nan shared with us so openly, lives on as part of us today. I'm also honored that my wife Misaki, and our son Tyler who is one of Nan's three great-grandchildren along with Amy and Ace, were able to share some of their lives with her too. We each will hold a part of her in our hearts always.

Nan once observed while Tyler was just little: "I'm ninety years older than you - you're two, I'm ninety two!". She went on to live to ninety six, giving selflessly to those around her, and will be missed by many. We will miss her good natured humor and wit, and her many stories from our youth. In many ways, she knew us better than we know ourselves, and could impersonate any one of us perfectly - when the one being impersonated was not in the room of course.

To live on without her, we can try to honor her memory though celebrating the love and joy the she gave, by making the most of what time that is now left to us. I'm proud and honored to have shared my life, my wife Misaki, and my son Tyler with Nan until now. We will think of her always with love.

Thank you.