What I Reckon: Churches

The thing about travelling Europe is that the biggest sightseeing attractions are usually churches. Well I haven’t even made it to Rome yet and I am sick of fucking churches. Don’t get me wrong, they are some of the most incredible examples of architecture in the world however my issues lie more with what it is that the churches represent. And again I am not talking about the ideal of God. I am talking about the largest and richest organisations in the world (the Catholic religion) hanging about with their hands out everywhere you go. Ten euro to get in here, donate money to us there… you know what? I’d rather donate my euros to the homeless person sitting in your doorstep with no food. And in fact I have done this out of spite to church workers getting pissy with me for not donating.

The other day I was in Porto, Portugal. I went inside of the Santa Clara church. That place is mind blowing. And the reason it is so mind blowing is because it has over 500kg of gold, a ‘gift’ from Brazil back in the days when they were a colony, gilded all over the walls, the roof, everywhere. The place is literally lit up with gold to the current tune of 18 million euros in a country that is facing financial crisis. For interests sake, there is another church there in Porto with over 600kg of gold gilded on the walls of that one. The thing that bothers me most about this is the hypocrisy.

“Love thy neighbour”. But not enough to feed them with 40 million euros of gold we just acquired into our possession that we could use to feed homeless people and ensure that everyone has enough to be comfortable. Instead we shall take the gold, slather it on the walls of our institutions to make them look pretty while the hungry and poor look on and get told that it is perfectly acceptable because God is above them and he needs gold walls. That life is suffering and as such the Bishops can sit on their pedestals with their full bellies and dole out supposedly comforting ideals of how this is God’s plan. I’m sorry. But I’m pretty sure that God would not agree with greed and gluttony…. another of the commandments? Right? And yet gluttony is what is written all over the walls of majority of the churches I enter. It’s perfectly acceptable as long as it’s the Catholic Church doing so, but anyone else needs to haul their arse to confession for being a bad human.

I know this is probably hugely controversial, especially to those who are religious, but right now the good human in me wants to go back there and scrape all the fucking walls and give the poor family of refugees or the father of two who lost his job a shot at having some dignity and food on the table and in their childrens’ bellies. Surely kindness and sharing are far more important ideals than making everything look excessively pretty and over the top in a building that people go to to pay their respects. In actuality, all it is, is a power play. The Catholic Church flexing their muscle over the general population to show how much bigger and better they are than you. So that you can stand in awe at how much they have and be scared of their power then do exactly as they say. Do watch yourself. You better toe the line, confess all your gluttonous sins to the hypocrites and then put 10 percent of your wages into the box on your way out the gold plated front door. Otherwise God will think less of you for not being a good charitable human. End rant.

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What I Reckon: Globalism vs Nationalism

It is a hard pill to swallow. The truth is I feel like I have been choking on it for a while now and there is nothing to do but continue choking on it.

As someone who has travelled the world and been welcomed with open arms to so many places, I consider myself a global citizen. I consider myself a person of the human race before I consider myself Australian. And I know that this particular sentiment may be seen as unpatriotic and I’m sure that writing this will also lead to someone telling me to fuck off to wherever I think is better than the “lucky country”. Because that is the glorious kind of inclusive country I come from where all ideas of others are respected and considered. As long as those ideas fit within the realm of closed-minded, social expectations.

The truth is, the more I read in the news, the more I start to resent nationalistic ideas as a whole. They are human constructions that allowed us in the past to have common ground for co-operation but now, it appears to be a construct used to discriminate against those who are believed to be “lesser” humans. A person cannot actively choose where they are born, their colour, their gender, their sexual persuasion, or how much money mummy and daddy have in the bank. And yet these days unless you’re born a straight, white male in a well off country with a fucking silver spoon in your mouth, you’re a lesser human than everyone else with little to nothing to contribute.

The rise of fascist white supremacy groups throughout the United States, Australia and the UK disgusts me. It shows that, if anything, we have forgotten what happened when one particular fascist leader got it into his brain that all those of Aryan blood were better than everyone else and the others must die for it. 8 million of them. And while we are all well and good to sit there and say how terrible World War 2 was and how awful these crimes against humanity are, in the same breath we are spouting racist, Islamaphobic bullshit that comes from a place of fear, lack of critical thinking and misinformation. We clearly as a species have learned nothing from the past. And as clearly as that screams, my biggest fear is that we are bound to repeat them.

The reality of the current terrorist movement is that a very small amount die to create a mass movement of fear within others. And if you add all of the people that have died in acts of terror across Westernised countries over the last few decades, it is only a fraction of a percentage to those killed by heart disease or diabetes, or car accidents… what is more, it is substantially less than the number of other Muslims killed within their own countries by fellow Muslims. But again, this isn’t reported on the news because it isn’t considered worthy of our time or knowledge. These lives matter less.

What I would like to see is the walls of religious and national identity break down. I would love for nothing more than to live in a world where everyone can look at each other as fellow humans and accept that person for the joys and things they have to offer. But unfortunately I don’t see and end to this “them and us” mentality that plagues the world right now. As far as the ideas of humanism have progressed, there is a regression seen in the likes of Brexit and Mexican-US border walls. The politicians leading our countries are more than ever being congratulated on their spouting of racist, homophobic ideas instead of those that are inclusive to everybody that lives here. The message is becoming abundantly clear. Toe the line. Either get on board with the movement or fuck off. Well I think I’d rather fuck off than accept this thanks. My conscience is too strong to allow it.

 

Sledgehammers and Slow-burners

The dating world is a brutal place. Most of the time you will find yourself meeting up with people that just aren’t a good fit for you. Disrespect, lack of things in common, complete indifference to anything going on in your life to the point where they can’t even formulate a question, all manner of faux pas. But when you do find those people where there is an attraction and you have things in common, I find things go generally one of two ways. You’re either smacked with the love/hormone sledgehammer and fall so hard and fast that it doesn’t even make sense to you. It is so intense you can’t think straight. Or you wind up with what I like to call a slow-burner, someone that just creeps up on you slowly and continues to surprise you and pull you in little by little each time.

In the game of attraction, sledgehammers are definitely more exciting. It is like you can’t even breathe the air that they occupy without feeling completely drugged up and intoxicated. You hang on their every word, feel like this is it and everything that you have ever wanted after a week. The sex is amazing and all you want to do is be around them all the time. It is dangerous, exciting and total lust at its finest.

But in my experience, the sledgehammers stop you thinking and seeing straight. And before you know it, you miss all of the deal breakers, the manipulation, the games. They invade any rational thought that you have and replace it with the excuses you make for yourself because you don’t want to let go, it feels that good. Before you know it, you’re so far gone that you’re acting like a crazy person, constantly checking for messages, phone calls, any kind of gratification you can get because you’ve developed an addiction. This isn’t love. This isn’t even healthy. And once you recognise it, it is then time to put the hard yards of rehab into place and ween yourself off to avoid the ultimate heartbreak that will ensue.

The slow-burners, however, those are the ones you want. Those are the men that you actually see for who they are warts and all and choose them because of the small quirks that give you that tweak of nerves in your stomach. The ones that work to give you that confidence in them, little by little each time. That impress you with something new that makes you want them just that little bit more. They are the ones that you’re not obsessing about because deep down somewhere you know at some point you will hear from them. They are respectful like that. That you can trust where they are and what they are doing. Because there are no games. You get to know and respect each other and things develop out of a place of friendship and then one day you wake up and realise you made it there without even knowing. This is your person.

It’s not crazy and intense, it is sane and solid. It isn’t a rollercoaster that takes you on extreme highs and lows, it’s a scenic drive through the most stunning of landscapes. It isn’t the situation that ultimately turns toxic and winds up in the most erratic of screaming matches, it is the situation that holds you confidently high with who you are and supports you along the way. It is not the one that fizzles and dies in three weeks, but the one that lasts a lifetime.

So the next time you find  yourself standing in a situation with a sledgehammer, take the time to slow down and seriously look at what you have in front of you. As easy as it is to get caught up in the awesomeness of the moment, you are most likely missing some of the biggest red flags that you can find in relationships. Try and divert yourself into the slow lane and open your eyes to what it is that you really have in front of you and whether this is the best thing for you. If not, start again and maybe next time you meet a guy, try and do away with the hammer and pull out a candle. Who knows? Maybe this time you’ll be surprised by the outcome.

What I Reckon: Tindering

Ugh. That glorious world of online dating. You see, people these days are too lazy, too awkward, or have too little social skills to be able to actually go out and have a real and proper conversation with someone else. Instead we resort to sitting on our couches at 9pm, being judgemental wankers and swiping left and right to people based on the very small information they give you in their bios or through their photos. Myself included.

And let’s be real, some of them can be real wankers. There are an array of apparently headless men on here, one with who my friend jokingly matched with that she calls “Torso Tom” because she was unaware of whether or not he has an actual head. Then there are those who write down all manner of  weird shit in their bio… some fine examples of this would be:

“I think the only thing lower than my dopamine levels are my standards”

“Have my own teeth and my own home”

“Married. Is there a beautiful woman out there looking for company? Interests include gym, tai chi, massaging and meeting nymphos”

“Ethically non-monogamous”

I also love looking at guys take fifteen selfies of themselves sitting on a weights bench in the gym and posting them all up. Which of course is city fare. If you are ever in the countryside expect a million photos of men with fish and cars.

Then once you get past the actual part of matching, you have to get them to actually write you back. Some start with the very boring “Hi” and then don’t really get much more interesting than that for the thirty minutes that you attempt to tease some kind of personality out of them. Here’s a thought….. I have asked you ten questions already. In case you didn’t realise, the question mark is to be found on the bottom row of the keyboard on your phone once you click that little button bottom left that indicates numbers and punctuation marks. You should really thing about using it sometime in conjunction with a little bit of initiative and taking an interest. If you can’t show a basic interest in getting to know who I am instead of spouting a whole bunch of unintelligible shit about yourself or nothing, I am done! “BYYYYEEEEE FELICIA!!”

Some are really entertaining to talk to online when they have some time to think about what they are writing and then they lose all of their shit completely when you meet them because they have no personality in real life. Some choose to message you at 11pm “The night is young! Let’s meet up now!” and when you tell them that real people with real jobs like to go to bed at 11pm on a weeknight and meet crazy types off Tinder in the day time in public places they disappear faster than you can say ‘booty call’. Some don’t even message back at all to be honest because they are just collecting matches for self validation.

With such a selection, it is a wonder we even bother at all to be honest. There are married men looking to screw around on their wives, angry psychos, guys who are completely full of themselves, guys that know exactly what to say to get you where they want you and then disappear when they do, doms looking for subs, couples looking for threesomes, some polyamorous folk and a whole load of boring. To be honest, where are the nice intelligent and funny men? Oh yeah, married and not on Tinder. Or maybe married and still on Tinder.

It has never been a sadder time to be single and trying to make a connection. The world has gone mad with too much choice and easy access. There is no working for anything anymore. Even when you do have a great conversation on the internet, it very rarely translates into anything more. People are poisoned by the idea that if they settle down and choose just one thing that they are going to be perpetually missing out on all of the other awesome options floating around out there that they could have. But I ask, what fucking options? Because I am not looking at any really great ones on Tinder right now.

Relationships and forging real connections with people is hard. Much harder than swiping left or right and because of this grand idea that there are always loads more to swipe on we become complacent and lazy in the efforts we make to show ourselves to others and to take an interest in them in return. Maybe it is time to go back to the more authentic way of meeting people. Maybe it is time to balls up, walk up to the hot person in the bar and strike up a conversation, and if they are boring, or there’s no spark, move on, it will take up five minutes of your life and will be far less than the actual amount of time you spend talking shit to someone on Tinder and then organizing to meet them only to discover that you are not compatible. Real spark happens in real life. So grab it by the proverbial balls and get offline and go and find it.

To Live, To Love and To Learn To Let Go

That age old saying. You have to learn to live, to love and to learn to let go. It’s a funny saying. Because so much of it is up to interpretation. These days the one of these things I find the easiest is the letting go. But I feel that maybe sometimes you can let go too much. And sometimes you can let go of the things you probably should be holding on to. At what point do we start to find ourselves in the position where we let go of things that are just too hard and walk away when we should probably stick it out?

My life in the last ten years has been so transient that everything comes and goes and learning to let go was a coping skill that you needed to develop to survive the heartbreak of constantly making new friends, only to have them leave, or meeting the most amazing guy and having a fling for a week and then having to leave. Of falling in love with a place and it’s people, and then having to leave. It has gotten to the point where I am so used to someone leaving or to me leaving something, I feel so comfortable with this trend. I now continue subconsciously choosing men, friends or situations that are leaving because it is the pattern that I know and can deal with. But what if I didn’t? What would happen if I chose things that were more permanent? Maybe it is time to let go of the notion of temporary. To let go of the belief that I need to protect myself from all of the impermanence. Maybe it is time to stick with something for a change? However, within reason.

The idea of starting everything a fresh is quite daunting. But as I sit looking at all of the things that I need to do to get my life on track I feel like I am sitting in front of a giant pile of Lego blocks. I get to choose which blocks I want to use to build my life and my story. If I don’t like the colour, or the block doesn’t fit, I toss it back in the pile and find another. I don’t have to pull down an entire house to get rid of one broken brick. I can cull those broken bricks as I go. It is an interesting situation to be in.

I have realised that once I choose my bricks, I also need to cement them in or the house will ultimately fall down. There is no letting go of things that are too hard this time and running away. It is time to make better choices from the start and that is hard. That is hand choosing every single brick that I believe will make the best house and placing it in the best position. Sometimes it might mean turfing out the pretty coloured brick for one that will be more structurally sound and it is always hard to get rid of those ones, because they are so pretty and alluring.  But game on! Let’s do this. It is time to make better choices. It is time to open myself up to the pain that comes with not walking away from anything and everything that might be good for me and clinging on to those things that aren’t.

The valuable life, the one that is full of real, deep love, the one where you feel content with every single day you live. It doesn’t come from a place of being afraid and letting go of everything that might hurt even a little. It is about facing that fear and saying ‘shove off’ and then choosing to stick it out no matter how scary it might get. No matter how afraid you are of the hurt. Because while the minor highs of minor commitment to anything will feed the entertainment meter for short periods of time, it will never permanently fuel the soul like something deeper that stems from actually having to stick it out and work for it. It all starts with a choice. So which block are you going to choose first?