Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Even in Australia, the inauguration of Barak Obama is saturating the media and conversation. It's exciting. It feels like the whole world has been waiting for this change.

Australian political life is different. Our politics are very centrist. We don't damn each other so hard and we don't get as hopeful, either. We like our politicians to be a bit geeky and boring. Our Prime Minister looks like Tin-Tin and talks like a bureaucrat. We just don't really do handsome, charismatic leaders who actually give inspiring speeches.

So watching the inauguration is quite fun and also genuinely hopeful.

At the same time, I'm uneasy, too. There is something wierdly messianic about the coverage. All those pictures of a lit-up Obama smiling compassionately - they remind me of the pictures of Jessus from my Sunday school. I hate to say this, but it's actually a little bit... creepy.

People want to have hope, and I want them to have hope. But hope in what? In the miraculous powers of one man? People want change, but one man can't change things alone. Real change is very, very hard to do. Barak Obama is the most inexperienced President so far, facing far worse circumstances than most, and the expectations seem stratospheric. How can he not end up being a disappointment?

This morning, as the Big Dude ranted about the new era before us, I made the mistake of saying, "You know he's a politician, right?"

It did not go over well. It was made very clear to me that I am a killjoy.

I must admit that I'm a little cranky in the mornings, ever since the Little Dude has taken to coming into my bed at night. I just can't sleep properly with him jumping around and kicking me in the face. So maybe I should just keep my crankiness to myself.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


I have been thinking about this flatness issue - how, even when life is actually going quite well, I feel flat. Not exactly unhappy - more like "nothing", not depressed but not excited about anything. I don't hate or love my life, I kind of "nothing" my life.

And I have a feeling that thinking like the post below may be part of the problem. It's an outline of what I hoped to achieve last year and how I did.

I have been reading a remarkable book: Marcus Borg's Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time. It is, quite honestly, the best and most helpful religious book I have read for a long time and possibly the most helpful I've ever read. A book which acknowledges modern theology and biblical criticism yet shows a deep faith and sense of relationship with God is surprisingly rare. Most Christian books, in my humble opinion, are either too naive about the Bible (taking the content and interpretations too much for granted) or rapidly become a dry-as-dust textual analysis. This one is truly unusual.

One of the points he makes is that Jesus' parables were generally subversive of both the common wisdom of his day and the common wisdom of our own day. Human beings are inclined to live according to a kind of "performance principle". Our culture values certain things - especially achievement, money and appearance. We base our self-worth and our satisfaction with life on how we measure up. Have I accomplished as much as other people of similar talent and background? Do I earn as much? Do I have a nice house? Am I considered attractive and sexy?

It's a world of endless comparisons. If I am not the prettiest girl in the room, but I am prettier than some, then I am "okay". I judge myself to be acceptable. Am I a good mother? Well, I'm not an alpha-mother who rules the playgroup, but I'm definitely not the worst - not that like that bad mother over there. Am I successful? Well, I'm not curing cancer or anything, but I'm not a failure, either.

Actually, I am quite hung up on the achievement thing. One of the reasons I hate doing IVF is that it fails the majority of the time and the reward is kind of random. It's not just the pain of infertilty and the sadness of lost embryos - it also feels demeaning to keep trying and failing. Like everyone else's body works great and mine is failing me.

Even faith can go this way. I can see God as someone whose requirements I must satisfy. I can ask myself if I believe enough, or correctly, and get all anxious and preoccupied about whether I am getting it right. God can become, instead of a liberator, a new kind of tyranny.

This life I live feels like a performance. Have I done enough? Have I achieved enough? I try very hard, but the results are often not what I hoped. I feel confronted by my own mediocrity. I judge myself harshly. And yet, when I do succeed, the whole thing is usually much less exciting ande fulfilling than I thought it would be. So much anxious striving, often for not much satisfaction.

Somehow, I need to break free of this performance thing. What I need is, not to accomplish more, but a kind of reorientation.

I would like to enjoy my life more. I have been thinking hard about this and,somehow, I feel like the answer lies in getting away from the performance - in focusing on enjoying the days as they unwind, appreciating the little things, the sunshine on my face, the cool breeze, the company of people I love.

I kind of get in my own way. For instance - my faith is so plagued by a feeling that I ought to be working harder at it. I know that what I really need is to view the whole thing as, not about believing or being good, but about a deepening relationship with God. Seeking and knowing God and allowing myself to be transformed by that relationship. But I just seem to go round and round. I wanted to be part of a church community, but I get hung up on what they think of me instead of taking the time involved in really listening to them and appreciating them as they are. I ask myself if I am a "good" mother, when actually I should just focus on enjoying my time with my son.

I need to stop trying so hard and being so obsessed with myself and start really listening to people. To slow down, not bustle around to accomplish things, but live mindfully, fully, knowing that all flesh is as grass.

Very little that I do or achieve will survive this short life of mine, but I can make the days I have more real to me. I can feel more alive - alive to God, alive to myself, and alive to other people.

So, where do I start?