Bellingen and the ‘Promised Lands’

21st October 2015: Bellingen, New South Wales, Australia

Today, a moment occurred today whereby a thought came upon me, and has since stayed with me till the time of writing. I was at the ‘Promised Lands’, a place known for freshwater swimming pools existing in the area. My intention was to complete yoga on the banks before cooling off in the majestic natural baths. So, a secluded place was located, and in a typical manner I commenced preparing for some yoga, however, a feeling swept across me. A feeling only described as a sense in my body of a reluctance to proceed with the range of planned poses. On other occasions, I usually push through, and always reap the benefits of the practice, however, an overwhelming sense that my intentions were incorrect could not pass from my consciousness. Thankfully, I listened to my body, and ultimately stopped any further attempts. Instead, I simply sat and looked at the scenery. Honestly, it was a moment whereby the natural surroundings evoked total appreciation for my life, and the next two hours were spent interchanging between swimming in the freshwater and sitting on the rocks eating fresh fruit. On reflection, it was a necessary reminder of not always needing to rush or adhere to plans. Rather, the need to be connected with my body to at times have the capacity to just stop. Consequently, I passed on a yoga session on the banks of the water, but experienced complete and utter joy in my surrounding environment whilst returning to a childlike version of myself exploring the water and rocks.

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How to define me as an Australian?

26th September 2015: Sydney, Australia
A quote I have recently been able to connect with stated, “Australians are modern day Aztecs who worship the sun”. Admittedly, it is a fairly superficial and individualistic means of expressing my connection with my current of origin, however, it perfectly summarises the attraction to the powers of the sun. Furthermore, the specific focus shows some disconnection with mainstream attitudes and beliefs seemingly predominant within Australia. If refocusing on the sun, there is honestly a significant disparity in my overall outlook and energy when the sun is shining compared to consecutive days where it is cold, wet and dire. The pull towards direct sunlight makes me revise my thinking about this insatiable appetite, and I believe this desire stems from past readings about the proposed healing benefits of receiving natural Vitamin D.

The topic also leads to a questioning of whether living in London for almost four years influenced this longing for the sun. I definitely recall times when I missed the sun, however, the novelty of the experience, combined with the many cultural and social activities kept me occupied. The emerging point from a rather trivial topic is how my priorities have changed over the course of the past 20 months. Furthermore, the chain of thoughts leave me in a place doubtful about my capacity of adapting to such an environment again, even if that means loosing the opportunity of living in one of the most interesting and vibrant cities in the world. In conclusion, it is known that life does not exist without the sun, obviously I am stretching the application of this belief, however, my life seems to depend on the sun, ocean, family and friends. I life definitely wished to live for many years to come.

How best to heal

7th August 2015: Sydney, Australia

The idea of weening myself off pain-medication seems like an achievable goal, however, leave the thought with me for a little longer, and my intentions become skewed. Consequently, the wound starts to throb, and I end up taking pills.

One intriguing point regarding the pain-relief medication occurred at the farm yesterday, adding weight to my position of the place being seen as a retreat. For instance, bearing in mind I have taken three tablets today, the amount consumed yesterday only totalled one. Many factors could contribute to the drop in usage, including the fresh country air, tranquil surroundings, reduced bodily output due to continual support from friends or simply a case of my mind being distracted from the pain due to constant company or the captivating natural environment. The disparity in usage could be categorised as a normal fluctuating phenomenon associated with pain. Alternatively, attention can be directed to the supposed health and healing benefits found in nature, and this very concept has further aroused my interest in spending the period of October and November basked in the far northern NSW sunlight whilst encapsulated by the neighbouring mountain range and ocean. I am unable to think of a better plan conducive to my recovery and healing.

Hello Asia!

29th May 2015: Bali, Indonesia

The first day has come to a close, and to say I am pleased with the decision to proceed with the trip is an understatement. I am so content, happy and relaxed it actually astounds me to consider I have a Cancerous tumour residing within my body. I am writing this now in the surrounds of a peaceful backdrop, with sounds of the ocean playing joyfully with the black sand as it flows with the pace of the tide. Interestingly, I went out dancing last night, stayed up late, and although it goes against everything I said yesterday, I had such a fun time with a good friend from London that only feelings of happiness are experienced.

At one period in the day, I found myself surfing with no other people in the water. I felt completely isolated from the world, and as usual my mind started ticking over. Interestingly, it wasn’t a destructive chatter. Rather, positive feelings seemed to be flowing throughout my mind, and I see this resulting from the decision made to compartmentalise certain periods in my day to only think about my future. I see it as more beneficial than constantly blocking out thoughts about my Cancer. The moment of solitude in the water was also heightened by the actual contents of my thoughts. I recognise the disapproval of some may follow, however, the platform is designed to share, so I feel it is a point to be discussed. The idea stems from the entry yesterday about the percentage of my body that is healthy compared to the tumour growing inside of me. For some reason, I have felt the need to draw on sensations from the environment to support my strength and well-being. I achieved this today by taking a moment to simply breathe whilst attempting to seek power from the ocean, sun and trees to heal my body. It is agreed that maybe the levels of desperation are showing, however, I am seeing the attempt as another tool that will possibly result in my survival. Therefore, it may sound naive and laughable, but if I survival, then anything attempted definitely outweighs my death.

Natural bliss…

17th February 2015: Depot Beach (New South Wales East Coast)

I met a friend two days ago approximately four hours south of Sydney and will be staying for another two days before returning home. A brief recap of the circumstances preceding this entry provide an overview of the past two days. We are staying in a little shack within a national park, and have each taken temporary residence on the balcony. My friend has decided a single mattress should accompany him to provide complete satisfaction whilst I sit slightly tilted in a chair with my feet resting on the railings. A rather apt situation, bearing in mind the setting of our current existence. A constant chirping of native birds mixed with a breaking of waves dominate all auditory senses, and our eyes can easily become fixated on the array of flora and fauna resembling the outer layer of an oil painting set upon a canvass showing the Australian environment. Moreover, a bright blue skyline seems to complete with the striking crystallised water in the foreground that captures all other available space.

My friend had the intention of reading, however, is now resting in foetal position, leaving me to enjoy the slight breeze gently pushing onto the balcony whilst I sporadically shift my gaze according to the noises coming from the choir of birds singing from the tress overlooking the short row of empty holiday houses. The breeze oddly brings to surface memories of sitting in an office whereby the room temperature is controlled by an ever-antagonising air conditioning system. The contrast is almost unbearable, when considering the fact of my nasal passages are the means of transporting fresh air throughout my respiratory system, and for so many years there subject to constant abuse form a controlled devise. A factor definitely not resonating with a goal to ensuring my body is in the optimum state for enjoyment, peace and healing.

A twitching of my friend at the presence of a mosquito passing by is a reminder of need to add further details to the events of the past two days. The day commences with the rays of the sun calling my eyes to open. Surprisingly, I rise with no effort and directly walk towards the balcony to commence a morning yoga routine. A wholesome breakfast has followed fuelling my body with the necessary energy to enjoy the conditions of surf, and although the waves were virtually unridable today, the scenery, lack of people and weather still made the task a pursuit worth undertaking.

How environments shape our behaviours

6th November 2915: Sydney Australia

I am writing this from the pharmacy reception, and feeling fortunate of only needing to spend a fraction of my time in this place when seeing my doctor due to the hostile, unfriendly and overall negative atmosphere that always seems present. I was feeling extremely positive about my entry today till being placed within this place. My intentions shifted from a positive mind-state, highlighting a new addition to my daily routine to a negative experience examining an idea on the correlation between an environment and the behaviours of existing occupants. Recollections of all visits to this department never elicit a positive experience. Instead, the points coming to mind is the encountered unnecessary difficulty and an extremely unhelpful team of rude staff. Factors not needed when already processing the information of the task ahead.

A number of examples can be draw upon when thinking about the correlations between an environment and the behaviours of the particular population. For instance, there is research detailing the significant crime drops noted in varying cities where police have taken a more proactive approach to working with the community rather than an approach deemed ‘over policing’ or other examples, such as decisions made by governments to improve social cohesion and safety within sections of a city where a diverse range of housing options are available, opposed to historic clustering of public housing with poor lighting, unsuitable street design and limited commercial development within the area. The introduction of classical music in malls to decrease the likelihood of anti-social behaviours by young people is another example of the power of the environment influencing the behaviours of those who occupy it. An experiment I would like to trial would be located within a men’s toilet of all places. My reasoning derives from a recent visit to a notable Sydney venue with impeccable water views. Since my last visit, attention had been placed on taking advantage of the spectacular position of the establishment, thus, a wide spreading beer garden overlooked the water, a DJ was playing summer tunes in a makeshift garden and overall a really fantastic environment had been created. The interesting observation was that any renovations that occurred failed to take into account the men’s toilet. Consequently, a quick walk lead me into this completely different world, and unsurprisingly the men’s toilet resembled what people would think a male’s toilets would look like. One could not imagine the same mental output was put towards creating a fun summer scene outside was leaving the toilet in such a state. The question I pose is whether people behaved in such a way (I don’t think details are required) because the poor environment they found themselves within. Would the behaviours of the people who use the bathroom be the same if they were using bright, well-designed and hygienic facilities rather than a dark, cold and unclean toilet?

If the above hypothesis is correct and we were the experience above as an example, then what could be the reason for the pharmacy acting as the equivalent as the males toilet, and why does it differ to the usual department visited when seeing my doctor? The response I pose was highlighted in the comments made by another person waiting to collect their medication. The guy said, ‘they don’t care about us waiting as they have the drugs and they know we all want the drugs’. The comment explicitly shows a complete similarity between the actions of the employees of pharmacy department and actual drug dealers selling illicit substances. In each case, an imbalance of power exists with the person wanting or needing the drugs from a supplier, and the supplier regardless of whether selling cocaine or chemotherapy is aware of the persons want/need. Therefore, it appears the environment has created context for the employees to abuse their power, be casual with their timeframes and speak rudely to people seeking their support. A final thought, and maybe an exaggeration, however, the Stanford Prison Experiment comes to mind when writing the entry, so if you are unfamiliar with the experiment, then I highly suggest reading it if not known. It is a clear indication of the profound influence of the environment on those whom occupy it.