Caress / Ache

Yesterday my wife and I went to Sydney to see a play by the Australian playwright Suzie Miller, “Caress / Ache”.

We like those little outings as they give us the opportunity to see the “Big Smoke” and leave our humdrum existence in the outer reaches of New South Wales behind. We take the train as we would have trouble parking the car in the city.

The train is a modern double-decker one. The trip is comfortable and provides us with a view of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the towering escarpment on the other. Later, before we reach the outer suburbs of the Metropolitan area, the train is snaking its way through a dense forest. It is always a pleasurable  trip up the coast. Nature is touching us!

Train departing Thirroul on the way to Sydney

Train departing Thirroul on the way to Sydney

Tucked away in  an alley behind busy Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, is the Griffin Theatre, a small theatre which has  the development and staging of Australian plays as its objective.

The "Griffin"

The “Griffin”

The auditorium seats only 104 and being there gives the audience that special  feeling of intimacy with the performers. We are being touched by the closeness of the actors and the events on the stage.

After a beautiful lunch with our daughter Caroline we had a few minutes to relax, in the smallest of all possible parks, before the beginning of the play.

Uta and Caroline

Uta and Caroline

One tree park

One tree park

Nearby houses  from a bygone area

Nearby houses from a bygone area

This small corner of Sydney is on a more human scale than the big, brush city generally is. There is  a village-like atmosphere, seemingly untouched by modernity. Without the cars, you would think to be in the nineteenth century. This “being touched” brings me to the leitmotif of the play: Touch!

Touch feels good as a caress. We exchange touches during  intimacy. There is  the  painful touch; we can yearn for a touch and  we can reject it. Music can touch us in a big way. The spoken word  and the written word can touch us, circumstances can touch us in a negative, as well in a positive way. “Touch” probably evolved in primeval time and has survival value.  It became part of our human consciousness.   A touch refused is as bad as one not allowed to a mother for her doomed child.

Miller writes:   “We forget that human touch is life-giving. We do not remember that for millions of years we have received comfort, support, warmth and compassion through touch.”

All the actors gave great, polished performances. Some scenes were confronting and since each played two roles it was sometimes difficult to know who was who.

Indeed,  our very existence depended  upon someone touching another. Therefore,  a great theme was brought to the stage. We could see in the faces of some of the  enthralled audience that they realised something they had not thought about before. I bet, many went home,  feeling they had been touched by a new thought and then touched someone they had not touched for  a long time.

The creation Adam

                     The creation  of Adam

Tempelhof Airport

Today I found an article on the internet about the former Tempelhof Airport.

The former airfield

The former airfield

Tempelhof Airport  used to be the mother of all airports. It has not been abandoned by the people. They love the big open space and they have beaten the developers and make full use of the mother of all open, urban spaces in the world.

The Wright brothers used the field for a longest flight ever at the time.

I grew up there, only meters away. My Dad took us kids on an inspection tour of the building site in 1939.

During the war, it was protected by the Allied Airforces. They did not bomb it.

During the Airlift in 1948/49.I watched the incoming planes and counted them as they came in for the landing, only  90 seconds apart.

Read the article it is full of information. I will be in Berlin next year and so will be members of my family and I will take them out there and guide them, like a mother duck, and show them around. It is a holy ground for me as my mother went with her parents and brothers for walks there, long before anybody thought of aeroplanes. The “Tempelhofer Feld” is actually my birthplace.

An Airbus 380 over Neutempelhof during a flyover over the former Tempelhof Airport.

An Airbus 380, paying homage, over Neutempelhof during a flyover over the former Tempelhof Airport. The building with the green tower is the hospital, St Joseph’s,  where I was born.

After the war friends and I were chased by Red Army soldiers as they found us playing in a former Luftwaffe plane(Ju 88). Later when it opened again for civilian airlines, during the fifties, I flew a few times out from there to West-Germany.

It is good that the people can use the field as a common  park for all. It came full circle.

Malcolm Fraser

Malcolm Fraser was our Prime Minister from 1975 to 1983.

He  passed away suddenly (it is said, after a short illness) last Friday.

When he came to power after the dismissal of the Whitlam government I hated him.

Over the years, he changed very much and I came to admire him.

He and Whitlam became good friends and if they could become friends then, at least I, could accept him too.

In the article below Barry Jones, a former, very much  loved Labor minister, writes about Fraser and the change he went through.

https://theconversation.com/the-evolution-of-malcolm-fraser-was-a-wonderful-thing-to-behold-39175

Fraser pursued humanitarian issues right to his end. He  warned  Australia of being too close to the United States, as it could involve us in a confrontation  even war, with China.

He was still very active and it emerged that he was planning to start a new  political party with the objective of a more independent foreign policy and a more humane refugee program.

He was bitterly disappointed  in his party and resigned from it. He was against everything the Abbott government stands for.

It was quite comical how his former party colleagues praised him in parliament today. They  must see him as a traitor.

I see him as a person who became wiser with age.

RIP Malcolm

Coffee Break

Tom stepped out of the taxi and wiped the sweat of his forehead. He checked his watch and found that he had time to spare before his next appointment. What better idea then to use the time to have a cool refreshment and to take in some of scenery of the great city he had started to enjoy.

He looked around and saw at the next corner a garden restaurant under the shade of a giant chestnut tree. That will do, he thought. It was early afternoon and there were plenty of empty tables. He sat down and it did not take long for a waiter to attend him.

Tom had taken a liking to a particular local brew, which was colourful, to say the least, and was refreshing. So he ordered the wheat beer with a nip of raspberry syrup. The obliging waiter took the order without fuss and disappeared inside to get the beer.

Tom looked around, taking everything in: well dressed women on the wide side walk and the not too heavy traffic on the road. He could not miss the big double decker buses that where so attractive. While in London he had seen the ‘Big Reds’, here they were a bright yellow.

Berlin bus

As his eyes followed such a bus he caught sight of a middle aged women, clad in a floral dress and wearing a large colourful hat, coming into the restaurant and taking a seat nearby. She had a self assured attitude. She placed a shopping bag on another chair, tugged, here and there, at her dress and started to look around for a waiter.

Just then the waiter came out the door with Tom’s ‘Weisse’, placed the giant glass in front of him and turned to attend to the woman who was the only other customer outside.

images

Tom thought he was pretty happy as his lips dipped into the reddish foam of his beer. The waiter had even given him a straw in a wrapper. Just in case. Because of the closeness to the other table, Tom could not help overhearing that the woman ordered a pot of coffee.

‘Nothing else, thank you,’ she said to the waiter and continued to peruse a fashion magazine.

Tom just looked around taking in all he was able to see. The beer he drunk was refreshing and he wondered whether it would sell in Australia. Probably not and he could hear his friends dismissing it as a beer for sheilas.. But here, in Berlin, he had seen people of all ages and both sexes enjoying it, especially in the heat of the summer. While in his thoughts he became aware that the waiter brought out a tray with the pot of coffee and a small creamer with cream as was customary. The woman took her nose to the creamer and with a slight wrinkle put it down. She called out to the waiter and with a raised voice pronounced, ‘the cream is OFF!’

“Sorry, Madam, it can’t be. The cream came straight out of the fridge and the bottle has been opened only a short while ago.’

‘Please take the cream back,’ demanded the woman,’and bring me fresh cream, PLEASE.’

The waiter shrugged his shoulders, took the creamer and disappeared inside.

‘This is interesting’, Tom thought and took another sip of his beautiful refreshment.

It did not take long and the waiter came back and placed a creamer on the woman’s table. ‘I hope it is to your liking, Madam’ he said and waited at the table for the woman’s reaction. She smelled it and then poured some into her coffee. She took a sip and said, ‘This is much better, thank you.’

What now happened, Tom had not seen anywhere he had been. This was sheer spectacle.

The waiter, shuffling around could not contain himself any longer, ‘Now I got you, this is the same cream as before. I just carried it back out again. You see how silly you are, there was nothing wrong with the cream in the first place. Enjoy!’

Tom looked at the woman, it seemed her face was a shade more red than it was before.’You are a shameless character. I want to see the head waiter,’ she demanded.

‘There is no head waiter here, I’m the only one,’ the waiter answered with a smirk.

Tom finished his drink, paid the waiter and got up, still wondering whether the waiter was fair dinkum or not.

Reminiscences of an aged Person

Solitary Tree by Caspar David Friedrich

Solitary Tree by Caspar David Friedrich

I’m an aged person. I say this deliberately, as I do not consider myself an old person. In a couple of months, I’ll hit eighty. One would think a person of my age would know where he or she, comes from. I’m not so sure this applies to me. I’m still trying to find my way in an uncertain world. It is the journey that counts and the way we behave on that journey.

The other day on the radio (yes, I’m that old fashioned) I heard someone say she had to disappear for a year, to find herself. It struck me then, that I had never done this. My life always depended on others. Everything I ever did was with someone else in mind.

If I disappear for a year now, my loved ones will say, I’m selfish or even stupid. What would I achieve? Find myself? More likely I will lose myself. It is myself whom I stare at, every morning, in the mirror. Warts and all, as the saying goes.

With having made only a few real decisions I was formed, mainly, by circumstances and became the person I am today Still, I am happy with my life as it turned out to be.

More drifting than steering, and like an old boat, I have collected a few barnacles of personal history I can’t get rid off. Neither should I. Those barnacles are part of me now, they are part of my skin. So to speak.

With my eightieth birthday comes the seventieth anniversary of the end of WW II. Anybody who lived through that catastrophe is a marked person. I can’t see any “free will” at work anywhere. Kurt Vonnegut wrote in his novel “Slaughterhouse Five” that the universe is structured such, that every moment is a “structured moment”. Meaning of course that nothing could have been done to alter a certain outcome. We act, or do not act, as we must.

Buddhist urge us to be more accepting, but some of us are structured that way, that we can’t be accepting. The struggle against fate is stressful. Leaders try to change fate and sometimes seem to be successful. But I want to suggest, that they are better in coming to grips with the underlying structure. They see light, where we see only shadows.

When I turn eighty, I will publish a post about my tenth birthday, That day is more vivid in my mind than what happened to me last week.

In the meantime, I will do a bit more aging. Luckily, my wife and I are able to age together.

ZEN_12_600

Our Being is not in Question

People are often astounded that they are alive and they assume, that it is an accident of fate, that they are here at all. They assume further, that they could have missed being alive. Too many coincidences are seemingly necessary to have us as an outcome.

But think of it and start dividing people into two categories:

Cat. A = All beings either have been alive, are alive or will be alive one day.

Cat. B = All beings either not have been alive, are not alive nor will they ever be alive.

One can easily see at once, that beings of Cat. B are not really possible (only as a theoretical assumption).

Therefore, all beings of Cat. A must be alive at one stage and every person ever being alive could not even contemplate the possibility of not being alive.

One can not escape from being alive.

Only this morning I learnt, that Muslims believe that all souls were created at the same time and are waiting to be placed into their allocated time of being. This comes very close to my argument. Is this a coincidence?

Every being is preordained and has to be, even to a particular point in time. I can not be me in another century. I could only be possible at the time I am alive now.

The Universe has reached the present stage in its evolution of causality. The cause of something had an effect on something else. The Big Bang was not a cause but an effect. Something, unknown to us, caused the Big Bang. What happened then, occupies the great minds of mankind. What was before the Big Bang is still a mystery to us.

It is assumed that we arrived at the world, as it is today through the interactions of random events, caused by tiny imperfections in the laws of nature.

This can ever be only a believe!

How can this be? Imperfections in the laws of nature? What is imperfect, is our understanding of the universal laws of nature.

We have a lot to learn.

I think our universe is more like the “clockwork” universe some philosophers were talking about. I know this challenges our idea of “free will”. Perhaps we should be more accepting instead of constantly interfering in nature. We are challenging nature. Nature has a knack for balancing things out to bring everything back on the track of evolution.

Pierre Simon Laplace said in his “A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities”:

 


“We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of the past and the cause of the future. An intellect which at any given moment knew all of the forces that animate nature and the mutual positions of the beings that compose it, if this intellect were vast enough to submit the data to analysis, could condense into a single formula the movement of the greatest bodies of the universe and that of the lightest 
atom; for such an intellect nothing could be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.”