Humble. A poem.

The essence of humility
Is all I ever need of be
Humble is as humble does
The other side of piety.

I am forever in Your debt,
my honour long impugned, you see.
You paved the road with grace for me
to be remade from aimless sin.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

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Tonight. A poem.

Am I mad and destitute
on this anxious road to success?
Or am I lost and found again
in artless vanity and regret?

Is this path I walk alone
of the living and the dead?
Or a marathon that leads me on
far from a shameful mess?

Do you hear my silken cries
or feel my sullen tears?
Do you smile all the while
or simply laugh at me?

Am I selfish or justified
to think and feel this way?
Or is it just another cross
I think I bear, today?

Will you pray for me again
as I walk the quivering wire?
Trying not to glance below
into the waiting fire.

No, You will hold me subtly
each and every time I tire.
You will always ease my pain:
right here, right now, in time.

The All or the Nothing

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first book, available at most online book sellers in print or e-book formats.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Want to support Steve with a donation? Click on the donate link at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

Nothing Less. A poem.

I left myself in such a mess,
recovery mode and nothing less.
Drowned my sorrows in emptiness,
succumbed to my own thoughtlessness.

But now I see the road ahead.
You light my way to more than this.
I guess this all was just a test,
Your way of saying “Just do your best”.

Now, I rise above the rest
to face the world, my sins addressed.
I’ve become, I must confess,
a better man and nothing less.

For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book, available at most online book sellers.

Click here to find out how to get your copy.

Your Road. A poem.

Before me is asphalt,
an active metaphor.
My journey’s just begun,
never ending or undone,
upon this path I’ll drive,
forever sanctified.
On the eternal road of life
Your cross will be my guide.

I write a lot of poems, some from my head, some from my heart. Many don’t appear on this website. For more of my poetry, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to find out how to purchase a copy

Eternal Grace. A poem.

Upon the cross, through time inured
You gave Your life, so pure and true.
For mankind’s untold sins and strife,
You left this world when time was nigh.
Beyond the pale of man’s disgrace,
bequeathed the world eternal grace.


I write a lot of poetry, some of which comes from my head, some from my heart. Many don’t appear on this website. For more poems, check out The All or the Nothing, my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers.
Click here to find out how to purchase a copy to treasure forever, or at least until some other e-book takes your fancy 😉

Anew. A poem.

All my dreams

returned to dust
whence they sprang,
embittered and tweeted
into the ionosphere.

I am guilty

of a life lived lost,
of times counted down
but launched anew,
in an empyrean embrace.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Consequence. A poem.

If I had my chance again,
would I change the things I did?
I am so invested in this pain,
and have lost, yet gained so much,
it was surely
meant to be.

And if I had my chance again,
would it truly set me free?
We only learn from hurt, it seems,
from bitter consequence
and suffering.

God found me there,
alone in my electric chair,
death’s certainty suddenly
uncertain.
I reached out in return
and embraced the grace
that He did bring,
acceptance,
the consequence of things.

Do I need my chance again?
It seems not, for this humbler life
accedes to the betterment
of consequence.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Back to Life. A poem.

The sun shone through,
my hope returned,
and I drifted on rays
of sutured miracles that
stitched the dark and light
together. And like the
Creator Himself, brought
me shining back to life.

The All or the Nothing is my first book of poetry, and at just $5.99 for 62 poems, that’s less than 10 cents a poem! To find out how to get a copy, click here.
Support starving poets everywhere!

Night, Again. A poem.

Night, again
and here I am,
pondering the specificity
of my unctuous requests,
enraptured and Heaven-sent
on the backs of clasped palms,
no random incidental
tests of charm.

Every night
I thank Him there,
for faith and hope and grace,
every single day I share.
all part, this humble life
under His long
forgiving stare.

Every night
I ask for love,
that this be finally done,
because without her this life
is lost and never won.
Without her
I am nothing
and no one.

And then
I turn again
to sleep, and join billions
of patient souls who pray
for all their souls to keep.
I dream of love and subtlety,
with those who wonder when
their prayers will bring them
long and
sweet
relief.

The All or the Nothing is my first book of poetry, and if you like what you’ve been reading then you’ll love it! To find out how to get a copy, click here.
Support starving poets everywhere!

Focus. A poem.

You are my focus.
Without you I am a blur,
a hazy remnant lurking
on the periphery of this
sun-scorched existence.

You are the prism
through which I shine.
You are my multiplicity of light,
an enchanted, technicolour spectrum,
illuminating my darkness,
and showing me the way.

The All or the Nothing is my first book of poetry, and if you like what you’ve been reading then you’ll love it! To find out how to get a copy, click here.
Support starving poets everywhere!

Christmas. A poem.

The lights shining on the tree,
the streets filled with gaiety,
presents, goodwill; how it’s meant to be,
not always reflecting reality.

He was born on Earth, a miracle being.
He lived and died, for us, you see.
His loving grace, it set us free,
so rejoice in Him, on this day of peace.

Faith, Hope, Love: is all we need.
Faith, Hope, Love: will always be.

.
Merry Christmas, everyone! May your Christmas and new year be filled with life and love.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Would you like to read more poetry and prevent Steve from starving at the same time?

Steve’s first book of poetry, The All or the Nothing, is available now as an e-book from most online distributors. For more information, click here.

Crowd Pleasers. A poem.

We all, a crescendo
of broken hearts,
slivered by degrees,
like fractured performance art,
played out in front
of voyeuristic crowds
for residual affirmation
and a single denarius.

Come join me in the circus round
so that we may hug and huddle
and consider matrices of
dulled theatricality:
that every cheering onlooker
should feel as rent and succinct
as the saddest Mozart note.

And we will shine, despite
the shattered dignity we carry
like crosses through the throng
to our private Golgothas.

Abraxas. A poem.

Abraxas, find me
sullen and
scathed.

Take thy mighty vengeance
and bury my
soul
with all the rest,
deep below whence it
won’t be
found.
And bellow my name
from your golden walls,
cast my pain in chromium steel
upon pilaster
seeds.

Curse me forevermore.
And here I will
sleep
In misery.

The King Spoke. A poem.

The King spoke upon
the mount
to thousands who’d come far.
His words would
change
the world.

Did he know how much?
Yes, he did.

The same way he knew
He would be
betrayed,
and on his cross on Golgotha,
His Father would
forsake him,
then raise Him from the dead.

Did He know His
words and actions
would mean so much?

Yes, He did.

And He would do it all
again,

to save us with His
Grace.

Invincible. A poem.

I’m alone against the storm,
wearing custom-fitted armour,
courtesy of the Lord.

I’m a lone wanderer in form,
but my way is assured,
courtesy of the Lord.

I’m a fighter on the boards,
wearing gloves of solid steel,
courtesy of the Lord.

And I’m invincible,
a man of principles.
Courtesy of the Lord.

.
I haven’t written a Christian poem in a while. It’s about time I did. 

Here’s one for the big guy upstairs.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

A Question of Purpose

How do you define yourself? When you have nothing to define yourself with? When your past has been forcibly ejected and you’re holding on for dear life as your plane flies headlong into the ground? When you run out of reasonable and unreasonable metaphors to express yourself?

I hear a lot about purpose. About predestination. As a Christian I’m a believer. But at the same time I find myself purposeless. And I have to ask the question: I’m on God’s path, so what and where is my purpose? (I’m a Christian. I didn’t say I was a patient Christian.)

It’s a simple question, and one that I’m sure has vexed many of you as well. Many people define themselves by their jobs, or their upbringing, or by their education or money. Some by their friendships or achievements. But when you don’t have any of that, what do you do? (Live with your parents, I guess. Question answered? Nope.)

Now, I’m an intelligent man (or so I like to think). I’ve been around. I had a successful career. I’m well educated. I had a loving family. I had the respect of my peers. I did great (and not so great) things. I had purpose. I was fulfilled.

And I lost it all. One day I tripped, fell, and by the time I got back on my feet they were all gone. Like pristine white linen blown from the emotional clothes line during a raging storm. Hmm, that was a terrible simile. How about ‘like a paper boat whirlpooling down life’s storm drain’. No? Okay, I’m out*.

Now, here I am, a creative writing student with no job, no money, no family. Now, I am essentially purposeless**.

I’m searching for the woman of my dreams (is there such a thing?) in the vain hope that with her I’ll regain that missing purpose. But that search has turned out to be more complicated than expected. It seems most women nowadays value men with jobs and money***.

So my question of purpose goes unanswered. I continue to ask everyday. And I wait (less than patiently) for an answer. 

Three years and counting…

Steve 🙂

* I’m not demeaning or making light of my situation. Okay, I am. But if you can’t learn to laugh about your trials and tribulations, you end up going crazy. Maybe I’m there already.

** Except for this blog, I guess. And yes, I do have some family who I love very much, but it sounds far more dramatic and the alliteration works better saying ‘no family’. Stop criticising my creative liberties! Oh, you’re not, that’s me. Sorry.

*** My apologies to any women who think I have summed them up as a cliche–I’m aware I’m generalising. It’s true though ;p

The Call. A poem.

Ask and you shall receive
Perhaps it’s meant to be
Only God can say
And His phone’s currently engaged
But I’ll keep ringing
In the hope I get through
Because the answer
Is everything

Risen. A poem.

The stone moved
The bonds broken
The body gone
All their fears unspoken

They trembled
The light shined
Son of Man arisen
Sin forever broken

Grave. A poem.

I am promised eternal life
But am I worthy?
I have His grace
And for this I am thankful
But I still carry guilt
For sins forgiven
Something I
Can’t forget or forgive
And so I thank Him for His grace
But I will carry this pain
To my grave

Beacon. A poem.

My light and my guide
Through deep waters wide
Your beacon a warning
Rocks and shoals in the night
If I’m caught in the storm
And blown far off course
May your lighthouse deliver me
For better or worse

Puzzle Piece. A poem.

You are the final piece
Of this eternal puzzle

The final piece
To intersect
And combine
To make the parts
Into the whole

Bringing purpose
And new life

Complete

Perspective.

So, what are the rules of life?

I guess, when it comes down to brass tacks (that’s an old-fashioned saying, youngsters, cause, I’m, like, a bit old and stuff), there aren’t really any. Or are there? I’m sounding suspiciously ambiguous and much less wise than I originally thought I would, but bear with me…  

Now I know there are moral and ethical guidelines that we should (but often don’t) apply, and, for those of us who are religious, there are rules for that, too. There are rules established by our upbringing, familial environment, school (don’t run in the halls!), our friends (NOT your Facebook friends, the actual, real ones who don’t talk to you, and never seem to ”like” your Fb posts), our workplaces, the government (you will pay tax and then die, but not necessarily in that order), the local gym we may or may not attend (it feels good to be a member of a gym, even if you don’t use it: “Hey, I just joined the gym.” “You look fantastic.” “I haven’t gone yet.” “Well, it’s obviously working for you.”), the shopping mall (must…buy…more…DVDs of series I won’t have time to watch, but which will look good on my DVD shelf), the label on that opened jar of pickled gherkins you were planning to eat that have been in the fridge for at least three years—the list goes on. All overlayed on each other and forming some sort of reasonable and realistic basis for us to live by (or unreasonable and unrealistic basis, depending on which side of the fence you sit).

Maybe that’s a bit simplistic (but don’t call me simple!). But, then, I’m a simple guy (I said don’t call me simple! What are use-by dates, anyway? They’re suggestive, not obligatory. I wonder why I keep running to the toilet all the time? Can’t have been those gherkins, they were in the fridge…) 

Are there really rules for life, though? I mean, it’s easy to say there are lots of rules that we have to adhere to (paying tax, for instance, for those of us unfortunate enough to. There was a time when I did, but now that I’m a student layabout, I cruise through tax time. Much like I cruise through every other time). But who’s to say that everyone does (for instance, the guy who is arrested for tax evasion at the airport, after the airport fuzz see through his poor attempts to explain the great wads of cash in his overnight bag and his failure to pay tax for the last ten years). 

Those are just rules for playing the game of life (remember the Game of Life? I used to play it with my family as a kid. You almost always ended up as a millionaire. How does that work, exactly? How come I’m not a millionaire in real life? The Game of Life said it would be so….Damn you, Hasbro!!!!!). What are the rules for being alive, for living as good a life as you possibly can? For being counted as a good and valued human being, when all is said and done (rather than being counted as a census statistic, which is usually what we are. Unless you’re homeless–then you’re an estimate).

I suppose only you can know that. Only you can really know if you have done the right thing, led the right life and done right by yourself and others. Everyone has their own moral compass, established by a lifetime of learning and challenges. So, when you get to the end, and you’re knocking on that big white door, hopefully you’ll know if you’ve satisfied life’s rules, or not. And if not, the Big Guy might give you the thumbs down (if he’s feeling so inclined). Or not (that’s what Grace is all about, after all).

It’s all just a matter of perspective.

The Yoke. A Poem.

The yoke weighed heavily
I toiled the fields of my responsibilities
I saw others dance and play all day and night
And I was filled with envy
And I longed to cast it aside
So that I too could be free

And one day I did
I cast the yoke unto the dirt
And my load was lightened
And I joined the dancers in their revelry
But while I danced into the cloying darkness
By the empty light of a sullen moon
My fields grew fallow
And my crops failed
And the subtle pangs of hunger
Slowly turned to starvation

So I picked up the yoke again
It was much heavier now
With the added weight of my failings
On top of my responsibilities
And I toiled once more
Long through the day and deep into the night
Where before I had danced with reckless abandon
Underneath a cold and sullen moon
But my fields remained parched and fallow
And my stomach remained empty and my tongue dry
And as I wasted away, a mere shadow of the man I was
I realised my mistake

Because you cannot always pick up where you left off

And there is always
A price to be paid

The Question. A poem.

It’s a question
One we all ask ourselves
When no one else is there to ask
When we think God is no longer listening

When we feel low
When we feel empty
When we feel betrayed
When we are hurt and in pain

Why?
Why me?
Why is this happening?
Why are you doing this?

But while all questions deserve answers
Answers are not always forthcoming
Because life is not a Q and A session
Life is not a simple straight line
Life veers and sways like a fraying rope bridge over a bottomless chasm
Life gives and life takes away
But whether you believe in God or not
Life is what it is

You can answer the question
And you can make the decision

To move on

Forty. A poem.

Forty days and forty nights
A season in the abyss
That will pass in time
Bringing light to your dark
An end to this injustice
And a guiltless mind

Absolution. A Poem.

The sum of all regrets
Like dew drops in my hand
Drying in the morning sun
And leaving nothing left
But the air I breathed
That filled me up
Was good enough

Good enough

Saved. A poem.

I walk in the light
Justified
I walk in the Word
Sanctified
I, by His Grace
Forgiven
I, the sinner saved
Forever

As a Christian I find I don’t write enough poetry about my God. Time to rectify that.

Strike Three – I’m out!

I’m taking a break from online dating. It’s just too depressing. Awkward, tiring and depressing. Big sigh.

Aside from all the women I meet not looking at all like their photos (does everyone put their Dorian Gray pictures online?), I’m just tired of the cycle: excitement at the thought of meeting someone, then the big letdown. I end up feeling like a flat tire that’s been beaten with a dead horse (at least I can still mix metaphors, very badly).

Maybe my conversational standards are too high. Maybe my expectations about lonely, 40-something women on the internet, are unreasonable. Sometimes the woman’s standards are too high, or they’re just downright crazy. My last phone conversation ended with me not being a ‘good fit’, because she received messages from the universe which she recorded in an exercise book, and I mentioned earlier I’d met a medium who ripped off sad people who missed their dead relatives. She felt I wasn’t open minded enough (probably a fair call on that one). Oh, and her ex-partner was still in her life, helping out with the garden. What?! Wow, saved by the bell that time.

So I’ve closed off my online profile and waved goodbye, possibly forever (although nothing lasts forever, as divorced acquaintances are fond of reminding me). That leaves the problem of how to to meet someone (refer here for my issues with that).

I guess I’ll just have to be patient and know that the big guy upstairs has it all worked out (we’ve talked about it a few times, but as you know, he’s not in the habit of answering immediately. Big universe to run, y’know).

I’m hoping I don’t run out of hope along the way.

But that’s another story.

Bored, or annoyed, by Steve’s incessantly despondent ramblings? Try some excessively depressing poetry instead – click here.

Dietary Disaster

I have loved pancakes for many years. Although I make no great claims regarding my epicurean knowledge or experiences, I like to think I’m a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to pancakes. I’ve had all types of strange and exotic mixes, with sides too varied and eccentric to list here. During my previous working career, I travelled a lot, and would eke out pancake specialists in every new city to sample the local gastronomic efforts. To ensure pancakes remained special, I made sure I limited the number of times per month I had them. But when I did have them, I tended to take the “all or nothing/Geronimo” approach, which would leave me a sweating, sugar-infused, hyperglycaemic beach ball by evening’s end.

Today, I met with a mate for lunch, and I ordered pancakes for the first time in several years. My financial status as a student precludes me from eating out that often (and when I do it’s generally takeout or bits of cardboard from the local bin). So, today was a treat.

They arrived, an ebulliently fluffy triple-stack, adorned with golden reams of banana and radiant and succulent strawberries, sickly-sweet ice cream and lashings of golden maple syrup. Without a second to lose, I buried myself headfirst in them. They were delightful – sweetly incriminating, melting in my mouth and exploding in my mind like a closeted sugar-gasm. For a moment, I was in pancake heaven, complete with angelic chorus and shining sunbeam illumination.

Within a few minutes, though, I found the whole experience turning sour. My stomach was churning, and I found the taste overly sweet and distasteful. I sombrely left half of the last pancake, claiming I was full.

What had happened? Why was I rejecting what had previously been my all-time favourite delicacy? The ingredients were fine. The pancakes were cooked to perfection – just the right consistency, depth and taste. The maple syrup was real and there was lots of it. The fruit was fresh. Everything was right. So, what was wrong?

It wasn’t until I was walking back to the car, that I realised. For the past few years I had been living an overly healthy life (just check out my training blog posts, for evidence of that). I had been steering clear of fatty and sugary foods and treating my body like a church (literally). I realised that during that time I’d gone off pancakes.

WHAT?! GONE OFF PANCAKES!!!! How could God be so cruel as to deny the one secret, sugary need that I had left in my life?! As my post-modern culinary world collapsed around me (yes, at that moment, I had forgotten that 50% of the world was starving and living in poverty), I fell to my knees with my hands raised to the heavens. “Father, why have you forsaken me?” I quoted (although in hindsight, the context was probably somewhat sacrilegious). Pedestrians gave wide berth to the kneeling, wild-eyed monk with the smeared syrup and light frosting of castor sugar adorning his t-shirt.

I felt sick for the rest of the day, and it served me right.

No, the food wasn’t off. I hadn’t picked up a bad case of streptococcus (although, that may have been preferable. Then I would still be able to eat pancakes). My body just wasn’t used to that concentration of fat and sugar in one hit. I had left the amazingly fun pancake zone and entered the bleary and subdued health zone (not a place I prefer to be, but probably better for me in the long run).

And so, humbled by the experience, I resigned myself to a carrot, vegies and some quiche for dinner. Perhaps one day I’ll have pancakes again. Maybe a little less, next time…

Hmmmmm…Pancakes…

Pedestrian. A poem.

I’m a pedestrian
Story of my life
Knocked down
By rushing cars
At the crossing
And crossroads

Standing, watching
Waiting for impact
Knowing how much
It will hurt
But not moving
Out of the way
I am a deer
Staring down
Interminable
Inevitability

I fall down
Blood on pavement
Get up, rise again
Slowly to my feet
Dust myself off
Wait for the next one

I’m afraid
To cross this road
I always stop
In the middle
The chicken
Who never gets
To the other side
Forgets why
He wanted to cross
In the first place

Time to trust
Faith, hope, love
To hold my hand
Like the baby
That I am
Develop some
Real road sense
And better metaphors

Good luck with that

 

Some of us run wildly through life, without care or concern for the consequences. Some of us tread cautiously, looking both ways, weighing the odds.

Some of us let our fears overcome us, and before we know it, we’re approaching middle age and still don’t know how to avoid life’s oncoming cars.

Waiting for a sign…

So, just what is my purpose in the grand scheme of things? I have to admit, most of the time I’m not sure. Does this make me a bad Christian? No. At the very least, it makes me human.

When I became a Christian two years ago, I truly believed God had a purpose for me, and that he would enlighten me as time went by. I had to be patient, wait for the seasons to change, endure, hope. I’ve done that every day. Some days my faith is stronger than others. But it never fails me. My commitment is rock steady.

I thought, perhaps I have a purpose in my music and writing – I compose songs devoted to my God, and I have found my true self in my stories, poems and other writings. But even with these, I’m still not sure if I have my purpose. Being a full time student, I haven’t got a real job, and while I don’t believe that a job means purpose by any means, my previous working existence strongly equated purpose with contributing in a meaningful way through work. I’ve been feeling guilty because I’m not working. But then, I feel guilty about a lot of things.

My pastor spoke at church yesterday about fear preventing us from walking more closely with God (the process of sanctification). And I do let fear control my life. I suffer from depression and anxiety and I have all sorts of fears controlling me. With regular therapy I’m learning to let them go. But not having a purpose, a real meaning to my life, is perhaps one of my greatest fears.

Am I crazy to think this? Probably not. I’m sure I’m not the only Christian to wonder about their role in the big picture.

I guess I’m waiting for a sign from the big guy upstairs. The problem is that I don’t know what the sign will be, or even if there will be one. And if there is one, will I recognise it (sounds familiar – I have the same problem with women).

I believe in faith, love, and ever-enduring hope. Maybe I’ll discover my purpose soon. I sincerely hope so.

That’s an Online Dating Fail! (Or, Strike One)

I joined a Christian online dating service a week or so back (get the lowdown on why, here). I was contacted by a lovely lady; we emailed back and forth, then texted, then spoke on the phone, and texted some more. We set up our first face-to-face meeting, to have coffee and see a movie together.

Then she went away for the weekend and went silent. I thought I had done something wrong and so I sent an apologetic text (I had no idea what I was apologising for), and she replied with a very nice “it’s not you it’s me” text, advising that she was going through a lot of heavy issues and didn’t want to bother me with them. See you round, and good luck with your ongoing search. I’m trusting she was telling the truth, but maybe I‘m just naïve. We never even got to meet.

 

(“Hah!” says Alpha Girl. “I knew you would bomb! Can I say ‘I told you so’?”

Beta Max shrugs. “Don’t worry, man. There’s plenty more fish in the online sea.”)

 

I’ve read a bit about online dating. I know that on apps like Tinder and sites like Match, some people play the field. I chose a Christian dating site because I’m Christian, and hopefully would avoid that sort of thing.

Being a nest of buzzing insecurities, I can’t help but wonder what went wrong. I was charming, funny, and honest. I’m a fit, late forties student with no job, a blog, and a dream that I can one day write for a living (okay, now I’m starting to see what’s not so appealing about me…). Maybe the age thing and the lack of employment made a difference. I’d like to think that my potential future dream girl would be honest enough to tell me if that were it.

 

(“I’ll tell you,” says Alpha Girl. “People don’t like you because you’re a boring, know-it-all, nerd. I don’t like you. You must have picked up on that by now.”

“Beta Max likes me,” I say.

“He’s an idiot, like you,” says Alpha Girl, smiling.

“Thanks a lot,” says Beta Max, slumping dejectedly.)

 

The Christian dating site I’ve joined is “slim pickings”, to say the least. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of Christian women, in my age range, in my area. I don’t want to join multiple sites as that may make me no better than a serial Tinder dater (no offense to anyone using Tinder, I’m sure you’re a wonderful person who doesn’t fit the stereotypical serial hook up mould).

Maybe I’m worrying as little too much. It is, admittedly, my first failure (possibly, of many). I just have to get back in the saddle and keep trying.

I’ve been told by several of my previous partners that “I’m easy to love”. I don’t know what that means, but I assume it’s positive. I just need an opportunity to demonstrate it. And maybe then I’ll understand it as well.

 

(“So much for your blog not being about picking up women,” says Alpha Girl.

“I’m too depressed to argue with you,” I reply.

“Good. That’s the way it should be,” she says.)

 

I live in Australia, where we use English spelling. I’m proud of my spelling. It’s not American spelling. And that’s okay.

A Song a Day…

Today was Australia Day. And despite the inclement weather, most people were out celebrating (or protesting) and having fun (or protesting). I, however, stayed home and recorded music (which is my way of having fun).

I haven’t been able to record any music on account of my recording gear being stowed in several boxes (stored under numerous other boxes). Today I decided to drag my piecemeal studio out and set it up, so I could record a song and then put it all away.

Yes, it would be nice to leave my gear set up, however I have a tiny room and no spare space. Think of a broom closet, then halve it, and that’s my room. A bit like Harry Potter under the stairs, but without the stairs, and smaller.

It took me about two hours to unpack and set up (cables, cords and more cables). Once I had everything ready to go, I plugged in my guitar and noodled for an hour or so (as you do). Then it was time for lunch. I didn’t get anything started until well after 1:00pm.

I chose a song I wrote for church, that I’ve played to the congregation a few times recently. Why? I don’t know, it just took my fancy. I have about a hundred other tunes I could record, but I’ve decided I’m going to record Christian music for the next few months, until I have an album’s worth. Maybe I’ll release it.

Recording is a lot of work. Aside from the manual labouring to set up, there’s also the recording and multi-tracking of parts. I use a program called Samplitude that I’ve used for years. It’s not the latest thing, but it supports 24-bit digital recording. I also use a Yamaha USB Audio Interface to carry instrument signals to my laptop. I use Tannoy 60 watt nearfield monitors for mixing and mastering. Guitars and bass run through a Pod Line XT foot pedal unit I’ve had for years. For microphones, I use trusty Shure SM58s (I have a proper condenser mic but no space to set it up).

So, I smashed out a song called “Pray” and layed down some vocals. It sounds pretty good. I do tend to be a bit lazy with my recordings – it it’s okay, it’s good enough. Makes my tracks sound alternative, not so polished.

By 9:00pm I’m finished packing everything away again (why do they never fit in the boxes when you try to put them back? Grrrr…). I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to record again; lots of commitments with study, reading, assignments and the like.

But it’s nice to know that I can. Even if it takes forever to get set up.

It’s been a long road back. But it’s a start.

The Music of Hope

(“Will you stop that racket,” cries Alpha Girl.

“Nah, turn it up, bro,” says Beta Max. He is quickly silenced by a sharp look from Alpha Girl.

I kick the door to my room shut and keep playing my Telecaster. The distorted notes flicker, whine, twist and turn, each fingering and bend, precise and emotion-filled. I am in heaven.)

 

I love my music.

I’ve been playing guitar for around 25 years, and not long ago I gave my original old Aria acoustic to a friend and updated to a Takemine. It sounds wonderful and I’ve written about twenty songs on it since I got it.

I play guitar every day. Most of the time I just noodle (jam with myself on chords and scales), but often that noodling will develop into a full-fledged song, so nothing goes to waste.

I originally had eight guitars, but after my breakup I got rid of everything bar an acoustic, my Fender Telecaster and a Jackson Bass. I figure, you only keep what you need; excess for the point of excess is wasteful. I also got rid of two guitar amps and kept one, my 100 watt Peavey Transtube twin-cone.

Sometimes I wonder why I used to hang on to all the gear I did. I guess I was a bit of a hoarder.

I did the same with my CD collection. I had around 2000 CDs. When I moved out I got rid of most of them (I had them on iTunes, anyway) and only kept the ones I felt I would listen to regularly in future – I kept less than a hundred. I also went through and deleted a fair few albums from my iTunes to free up hard drive space.

You may have guessed by now that I really love my music. I’ve been a muso for so long I don’t think I really thought of myself as anything else, even when my full time day job overtook the music side of things. Now I have time on my hands, and the music is at the forefront again. My recording gear and electronic drum kit are still in packing boxes, but eventually they will come out again, when I find my own place. Maybe sooner. I cut the recording gear back considerably when I moved out, as well.

 

(“Did you say you’re moving out?” says Alpha Girl, her grin as wide as can be.

“Nope,” I reply. She returns to grumpsville.)

 

There is a change in the air. I’ve been working my way through an emotionally draining season of ups and downs, highs and lows. But I think things are getting better. God gives me hope.

And hope, along with my music and my writing, is what keeps me going from day to day.

Lost in the Crowd

Have you ever been in a crowd of people and still felt lost?

I attend church regularly, every Sunday. I play songs for the congregation, listen to the week’s message, pray, socialise. It has become a highlight of my week.

But I always come away feeling sad, less downbeat then when I got there. This is not the fault of the service or the group; sometimes when you’re in a crowd of people you know, you can feel more isolated than ever, and the joy of the event can only serve to remind you of that.

A few years back, before I became Christian, I fell on very dark times and attempted to take my life. It’s not a story I’m proud of (although when I think about it, it is a somewhat black comedy of errors). Suicidal thoughts are something that many people with depression face every day.

Over the many years I’d been depressed, I’d contemplated suicide many times, but had never taken active steps to take my life. I think this is how it is with many people – it is certainly no small decision to make. Looking back, I’m so glad I failed, because it taught me how precious life was and how difficult it should be to try to throw it away.

Nowadays, when I am at my loneliest, I turn to God, to faith and hope and the love that exists in my life, even though I may sometimes be too deep in my dark thoughts to see.

I’m not going to preach to you about finding God. I believe that God finds us all, especially when we need Him most – that’s how He found me.

But if you’re alone, even if you’re in a crowd, and you feel there is no way out – talk to someone. Phone someone. Let them know how you feel. You’ll be surprised at just who will listen. And who will care. And just how many identify with how you feel.

Don’t get so lost in yourself, whether in a crowd or in your personal darkness, that you can’t find your way back to life.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44, with around 2,500 people dying by suicide every year. That’s an average of eight people every day. For every suicide, there are tragic ripple effects for friends, families, colleagues and the broader community. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/suicide-prevention

Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. https://www.lifeline.org.au/

Death by suicide is highest for men aged between 45 and 54, and those over 80, although attempted suicide is more common in women than men. https://www.sane.org/mental-health-and-illness/facts-and-guides/suicidal-behaviour

Feeling suicidal, or know someone who is thinking about ending their life? Sometimes it can feel like it’s too hard to go on, and you’re giving up hope. Remember that suicidal thoughts are just thoughts – you don’t need to act on them. You can get control back. There’s info here on how to do it, what to do when you feel this way, and how to help someone. http://au.reachout.com/tough-times/somethings-not-right/suicide

Dark Blue is not my Favourite Colour

Not every blog I post has to be funny, I reminded myself as I typed.

I went for a drive into town, then a seven kilometre walk, accompanied by my iPod. Through it all I was deeply melancholy – the wretchedness you feel when you fixate on your past and realise just how crappy you were. It was triggered by a conversation about my soon-to-be ex-wife, who I heard was very sad. “I never wanted her to be sad,” I said. “I just wanted her to move forward and find happiness with someone else.” The irony was not lost on me.

As I walked glumly from block to block, to a despondent soundtrack (why is it that when you’re down only unhappy songs play? My iPod appeared to be sensing my mood and saying “hey, this next one will make you feel even worse than the last”, like some sadistic, lonely hearts DJ). As I visited book shops and coffee houses on my own, I longed for company. One of my best mates lived nearby, but I didn’t want to lay my troubles at his door.

My despair was only reinforced by every couple I saw. I found myself missing my wife profoundly, knowing that I shouldn’t, that our break was irreconcilable. She hadn’t responded to my conciliatory email attempt. Some pain was too great to dismiss.

There was a time when I loved shopping (yes, you heard right – a guy who likes shopping) and I knew the only reason I enjoyed it so much was because of the people I shared the experience with. I liked to buy gifts for those I loved, not because I was trying to purchase their affection, but because making them happy made me happy.

When I got home I was relieved, because I knew I had people there, and if I stayed by myself much longer my thoughts would drift to “unpleasant personal endings” (been there, tried that, luckily didn’t succeed, let’s move on).

I’ve suffered from depression most of my life. I’ve done the anti-depressants thing, been to therapy (still in it, thanks), tried the self-help books. The Good Book always inspires. But the best solution for me was always having someone to care for, someone to share with, someone to love. I know God challenges us every day, and these trials are seasons we endure, seasons that eventually pass (even if they sometimes last years). Alas, that doesn’t make me feel better.

I know my wife will never read this, never know just how sorry I am, how sad I am that I hurt her. Maybe it’s better that way.

In many ways, this blog is my catharsis. It’s a place where I can live a somewhat humorous alternative life, an escape from my pervasive dark blues.

But not every blog I post has to be funny.

(Three million Australians live with depression or anxiety every day. beyondblue provides information and support to help Australians achieve their best possible mental health. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/)

The Perils of Christian Dating (or “ask questions first and shoot after you’re married”)

(Alpha Girl reclines on the lounge and eyes me venomously. “So when are you going to get out and meet someone? I know it’s hard, you being a loser and all, but other people do it.”

Beta Max thumbs his Xbox controller and nods. “She’s right you know. You’ve been a hermit for too long, man.”

Through artful manipulation of multiple controller buttons I eliminate his on screen avatar, turn and smile at them both. “I’ll have you know that I’ve thought about that. I’m writing a blog about it later.”

Alpha Girl rolls her eyes. “Now you’ve started that blog you’re in the house even more than you were before. If you get out and meet a girl maybe you could move out. Or get a job. Or both.”

“Yeah,” says Beta Max. “Don’t forget to come over and play me on Xbox, though.”)

 

Two years ago I broke up with my wife. Around the same time I resigned my job of twenty plus years. It was more than a mid-life crisis – really a case of kicking myself in the balls for an extended period of time. Since then I’ve done a lot of soul searching, complemented by much self-loathing and despair. Aside from a good dose of psychological therapy, I also found comfort in God. I became a Christian, found a great church run by a good friend, and started getting my crappy life back together.

It’s been about ten years since I’ve been on a date with anyone other than my wife. I find that I’m struggling to work out how to do it, especially in light of my new found status.

I’ll lay it out for you: I’m mid-forties, fighting fit with a great gym bod (so I’m told), I’m reasonably good looking, reasonably smart, reasonably lovable, have no home, no possessions and little money (those last ones hurt), and have Christian values, so sex before marriage is off the table.

 

(“I thought your blog was to improve your writing,” cries Alpha Girl from the kitchen. “It’s just an excuse to meet women.”

“Whoa,” I reply. “That is not the reason – I’m providing context.”

Her head appears around the door. “And you thought I couldn’t get a rise out of you.”

Touche.)

 

So how do older Christians find someone to date? I guess I could meet someone at my local church. The ladies there are lovely, however all of them are either 1) too old, 2) too married or 3) both.

I spoke to a charming woman who told me a long story about meeting her husband via a Christian online dating service. Now I dabbled in online dating a few years back when my girlfriend (who later became my wife) and I split up briefly. It was a pretty depressing affair that sent me running back to her to propose (details? I went out with thirteen women in three months and none of them were a patch on her).

I can’t really hang out in clubs anymore because the average age of club goers appears to have dropped to that of teeny boppers, making me feel like a freaky old grandpa stuck in a literal twilight zone.

There’s another problem. Possibly the biggest (not that – get your mind out of the gutter).

I cannot read the signals that women give off. You know what I mean – when someone is interested in you they give you a few subtle signs and whammo, you know they like you. I am completely unable to spot these signals. Example: I remember a party some time ago where I sung an impromptu duet with a gorgeous girl. She told me how cute I was and I told her what a great singing voice she had. It wasn’t until after she split that I realised the error of my ways.

 

(“You pick up on my signals easily enough,” says Alpha Girl.

“Contemptuous disdain is one I can’t miss,” I reply. “Oh, a tautology. I’ll need to write that one down.”)

 

This has never really been a problem for me in the past. The women I’ve gone out with have expressed themselves in no uncertain terms (that is, hit me over the head with a pile driver and literally jumped me on the spot). This is what I like to call the “shoot first, ask questions later” approach.

Of course, being a Christian complicates things a bit. Since we’re going to get to know each other first (the “ask questions” component), and we’re not going to actually do the “shooting” bit, I have to learn how to interpret the signals to know if a woman likes me.

Having been blind to these signals for so long I’m concerned that I’m going to miss the love of my life unless she has a blazing neon sign attached to her head saying “It’s me!” In fact, I’m a bit worried I may have met her already and never recognised her because she didn’t have that aforementioned flashing sign on her.

So I’m praying for some pretty big signs. And a pair of big eyes so I can see properly.

And an eventual cure for my semi-patented disability.

And a woman who recognises the love in my heart. A woman who doesn’t care about a big bank account – and no, that is not a euphemism.

Here’s hoping.

 

(“I think I’m going to vomit,” says Alpha Girl.

“Didn’t like the sentimentality in that last line?” I say.

“No. I just don’t like you.”)

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