Friday, July 31, 2009

Love Story


We all remember when we first fell in love. And we here at BOTM love movies. We may not have seen every movie. We may not know every line from Casablanca or every costume change from some obscure French new wave film. But we love movies. Here is my love story.
When I was 17 years old and while my friends were studying for final exams, I realised that school studies were unnecessary for me as I was never going to go to university because, well, lets face it, I’m better than everybody else and I don’t need to study. Actually, I knew that I was going to write music for a living and had planned my future already. So I decided that in the allocated month off to ‘study’, I would study movies. A lot of movies. I watched at least two movies every day and I’m being absolutely serious when I say that I was learning more about life through these amazing journeys into worlds and characters than in all of my time at school.
The first important movies to me were from the 1970’s. Something happened to cinema during that wonderful decade, where artists realised that part of being an artist means you have a voice. And the youth was speaking. Directors like Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola took control of their projects and made movies that were straight from their heart. Movies like Easy Rider, Kramer vs Kramer and the Godfather blew my mind.
Also, I would make sure to find movies that I’d never heard of, and some of my favourites are because of that decision. A film from 2002 named Love Liza moved me to no end, and it helped me realise that as an artist and a human being, I could say and do whatever I wanted but there are always consequences to every action.
But the most impressive collection of movies came from not a director but an actor. Dustin Hoffman is not just an actor. He brings things to life. Not even just the characters he is playing. He brings to life feelings of loss, love, and a passion for life. Hoffman is one of the rare actors that can, through his performance, make us realise things about ourselves. Things that we want and things that we already have. Throughout this blog I will be profiling some of his unbelievable performances.
Oh yeh, we also love music. That’s more of a freaky nasty lust though.
Lee

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Roy Story

I guess this story all started in Bogota, the capital of Colombia. I was in a hostel talking to a German guy called Peter, who had come up through South America and was nearing the end of his trip. I myself had only just recently entered the continent and was about to set off further south. I mentioned to Peter that I was going to Bolivia.
“How long will you be there?” he asked with some added enthusiasm in his voice.
“Uhh, not sure, anything between a week and two months I guess. I haven’t planned anything after the Inca Trail,” I replied.
“Perfect!” he exclaimed. “You have to go to this animal refuge near Cochabamba.”
“Yeah?” I asked with only mild interest. At this point I had never heard of Cochabamba and I had other countries lined up before Bolivia anyway, which were dominating my thoughts.
“Yeah man, I was there for a month and I got to walk a puma!” he said without a hint of sarcasm.
“Wait, what?!” I asked, thinking I misheard him as the words slowly sank in.
“At this animal refuge I got to walk a puma!” he continued, “It was the most amazing experience of my life”. I was clearly not the first person he told this strange and amazing tale to, but just the chance to reminisce on his experience one more time seemed to light him up and give a charge of energy like he had only just arrived a week ago on the amazing continent.
“Like on a leash?” I continued in bewilderment.
“Look I’ll show you,” he left the room and returned a few moments later with his camera. “This is Roy,” he explained as he showed me a series of photos. He was a beautiful cat, with golden fur. In some photos he was standing and looking into the distance, sometimes rolling in long grass and in others he was sitting in a pond with a pensive look in his eyes. Peter also had a video of him connected to the animal by a rope or leash of some sort. They were walking for a short time before the cat started to run, giving Peter no choice but to chase, dodging obstacles as he ran. He narrated softly to his slideshow, with a nostalgic smile of admiration constantly on his face. Looking back I was playing the part of the listener perfectly. The expression on my own face could be a mirror image of the faces of the countless others who I told my own story to after leaving Bolivia.
It was clear now that he wasn’t joking, so right before I left to see the north coast of Colombia he gave me some details for the park and reinforced his recommendation that I had to go. Coincidentally, in Santa Marta, I met another traveller who gave me a recount of his own experience at the same park with the same cat, with the same passion and admiration. At this point I couldn’t remember the name of the puma they worked with, but I felt compelled to go to this park, and when I did, it lived up to its reputation.

***

I eventually arrived at Villa Tunari, the small town adjacent to the park that the refuge rented to run its organisation, a little over a month later. It was a humid place that offered almost opposite conditions to the altitudes of La Paz, the city situated 3500m above sea level, from which I had just come. In Villa Tunari the weather was either scorching hot tropical heat, or torrential rain. The organisation itself is called Inti Wara Yassi. Generally it is a refuge for mistreated or disadvantaged animals. The majority of these are monkeys, with many birds, small animals and of course the cats. There were about eight pumas and two ocelots. It is run by a small group of dedicated Bolivians and a steady flow of volunteering tourists from all over the world. While I was there I met people from Israel, Australia, USA, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Holland, Colombia, Brasil, Mexico and Germany.
I knew when I arrived that fitness would be a great asset if I was going to work with a puma, and my preparations and efforts on the Inca Trail were meant to help me here. However, the three weeks or so between the Trail and the park were laden with coke and rum and coke, as well as some generous tours that served ample amounts of food and a poor diet of fried chicken, rice and chips. Needless to say, I had put on some extra kilos of travel fat, and the few times I exercised (lugging my backpack to the next bus station or hostel) wasn’t going to burn those extra calories.
It was because of this that I wasn’t too peeved to learn that I would be working with the colony of Spider Monkeys that resided in the park. I had learned after some months of travel that any disappointment or forced change in plans was much easier to deal with by simply accepting the reality of it all and moving on. Much better than dwelling in my own self pity.
The volunteers stayed in one of three hostels on the edge of the town. Sticking to my budget I chose the cheap option. To say that hygiene was a problem in this place was an understatement. There were around 25 people in that hostel, all working long hard days at the park, in blaring heat or heavy rain. We had two bathrooms to share which needed about five minutes between each flush if it was going to successfully send the contents into the sewerage system. Combine this with the fact that at some point we were all drinking some of the tap water (not recommended!), meaning that it was common place to have diarrhoea. The showers weren’t much better. Usually rations of two minutes of hot water per person meant the cold shower practice I had undertaken before going on this trip, had started to pay dividends.
My first night I made a few friends with the volunteers while watching a game of poker that started before I finished unpacking. I went to bed relatively early, tired from the 15hr bus trip the night before, and slept on a very thin mattress, constantly aware of the wooden frame of the bed pushing into my hip bone.

***

My first day with Los Negros (the nickname of the Spider monkeys) was tough because I hadn’t worked for over three months. Basically, along with three other volunteers, I fed, babysat and cleaned the shit of about thirty spiders three times a day. The most interesting part would have to have been the chance to watch the community that they had formed. It was complete with an alpha male, alpha female and a line of respect that left the smallest and most injured monkey at the bottom. His name was Ignacio or as I liked to call him Iggy Stardust. Iggy was my favourite.
After a few days of fitting in, the group started to accept me (I think I had officially become one of them when Iggy pissed on my face as I looked up to the branch he was sitting on). Tomasita (in photo), the alpha female (and leader since the alpha male had been attacked by big, wild neighbouring spider monkeys and was in the clinic recovering), had taken a special fondness to me. She loved to be in the company of male volunteers. And more than anything she loved a good grooming. She would often walk over and push away the other monkeys who were sitting with me, then place her outstretched hand on my shoulder, scratch her arm to make sure I hadn’t forgotten how to do it, and put her head down waiting for me to begin grooming her.
This was probably my favourite part. At around 2pm each day I would lie down and fall asleep with one or two monkeys resting on my chest or at my feet. I really did care for the monkeys and appreciated the bonds we had formed, but they were starting to drive me crazy. I was starting to see spider monkeys everywhere. Any shadow in the corner of my eye I would think was one of the Negros about to steal my iPod. My hygiene had reached new lows. I had lowered my standards to that of my new friends. Instead of buying more shampoo when I ran out I just let the monkeys to groom me. I sometimes ate the fruit they had for lunch out of their food bowls while they were eating. And to top it off I started pooing in my hand and throwing it at people.
On that topic, cleaning up the monkey poo is about as glamorous as it sounds, and even more fun when that poo is on my shirt. The cuteness factor had worn thin by now and been replaced by annoyance. Like a small child playing an innocent game of Uno and laughing, who then suddenly throws a tantrum and demands we play another game, caring for the monkeys had become more work than pleasure (obviously I’m not ready for kids).
On top of all this was the fact that Ramona, one of the anti social females, had sexually molested me. The first time it happened I was alone with the monkeys. I was watching one of them playing on some ropes when I felt small but strong little hands wrap around my leg (luckily I was wearing Wellington boots). I looked down to see Ramona looking up at me doing the ‘sexy face’, a look she often gave me from afar with pouted lips followed by baring her teeth. I tried to pull away but she screamed and held on tight threatening to bite me. When I stopped struggling she held eye contact with me while slowly moving her lower body towards my leg. She began to rub herself against me, with a rhythmic and sensual sincerity that no horny dog could ever match. After the initial shock, I tried to release myself again but she persisted and renewed her threats to bite me. I looked around for help, and continued trying to edge away as her wildest fantasies came true. The strange inter species dance continued for about five traumatising minutes before I eventually freed myself. She screamed at me and ran off to hide in a tree watching me and biding her time. I felt dirty, and part of me wanted to go cry in the shower ala Tobias F√ľnke.
OK, maybe that’s a bit far, but then when I was half asleep one day and woke to find Ramona humping the bare skin of my stomach, it was starting to get a bit much. I had decided to stay for 25 days all up and by day 6 I had realised that in 20 more days I was going to be fairly crazy and very filthy. I always intended to honour my commitment (especially since I had paid in advance); I was just in the process of adapting to a new state of mind – mild insanity. Besides, the parties and people at the park made it more than worth it.

***

It was on day 7 at the park where this all took a huge change. It was 7am and I was eating breakfast in a zombie like state. Beni, the volunteer coordinator came up to me.
“Hey Eden, how would you feel about working with one of the cats?” he asked. I could read a little concern in his tone, like he feared I may say no, but he was offering a Whopper value meal to a starving Somalian kid at this point.
“Yeah!” I replied with all the enthusiasm I could muster. Unbeknownst to this Somalian kid, that value meal was supersized and had to be eaten all at once.
“Great! You will be working with Roy today,” there was a mild emphasis on the name ‘Roy’ as he said it, and he left a small pause worried at my possible reaction to the statement.
I had no knowledge of the reputations of any of the cats at this stage so I simply replied, “Sweet, Thanks man!”
Beni let a weight lift off his shoulders as he exhaled and smiled, “OK, just see Dave when he gets here at eight. Thanks for doing this.”
“No worries.”
I was going to meet Roy that day. I had no idea what I was in for.

- Eden

Roy Story II

Monday, July 27, 2009

Don't Worry, Just Laugh


We spend too much of our time each day feeling stressed out or unhappy, I believe that laughter – a key ingredient to a happy day, is very much lacking. I certainly don’t laugh enough, even if it’s on the inside. Here is the first line of the Wikipedia article on laugher:

“Laughter is an audible expression or appearance of happiness, or an inward feeling of joy (laughing on the inside).”

Not only does laughter make you feel happiness and joy (two essential emotions or states of mind), it has physical benefits – lowers your blood pressure, helps strengthen your immune system and releases endorphins.*

Children laugh a lot, much more than adults. Probably why they’re generally happier, something that seems to fade away with the years. But it need not be that way, we can learn to laugh more just like we used to (perhaps not as often) and enjoy the benefits. Essential to this is to stop taking everything so seriously, stop taking work so seriously in particular. Do you really think you’re going to care about the work that’s due today (and causing you grief!) in a months time? Of course not, take a moment breath deeply and relax. You should spend some time with your friends, I’ve never probably spent more than 10 minutes with my friends without laughing and I believe this is the case for all friends around the world.

Yes, key to laugher is people. They don’t have to be friends, just other people, a funny movie is more funny if the cinema is full as opposed to empty. Laughter is contagious, laughter is beautiful. A laughing face is a beautiful thing, I’ve never seen an ugly “laugh-face”, it’s the physical manifestation of pure joy.

To close this off I’d like you to watch this short movie if you please, I don’t plan on finishing off with a youtube video on every post by the way. Enjoy…




- Dogman

*This info is from Wikipedia.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Art Of Rebellion

"I stopped caring so much about what people might think if I sung about love and humanity." - Wayne Coyne

Rebellion is change. It is not just breaking rules for the sake of it. True rebellion is moving forward. Rebellion is one of the most crucial elements of the human will.

We experienced unparalleled artistry in the last century and i hope that is a trend that continues. Politicians are apparently the ones making the rules, but the most important figures of recent times were the ones breaking them. We will remember John Lennon much longer than we will remember any politician of the last century. He helped millions of people. He created real hope, not the false sense of security that many politicians seem to fetishize. John Lennon created love, from scratch, through his inner change. And he was a rebel. His first album, Plastic Ono Band, is an absolute unleashing of his own soul. Every song deals head on with events in his life and he shows that he wants to change. As this brutal honesty unfolds, we can feel a sense of change in him. He had never sounded so simply honest. On that album, Lennon was rebelling against the music he had previously made.

To act on rebellion is to be human, to push boundaries. Rebellion is different for each person, whether it is the homosexual coming out in a hateful society or the soldier deciding that they are fighting in an unjust war. But at the heart of rebellion lies the excitement of something new, of change, a sense of danger. A rebel understands that being true to yourself and defending happiness are the ingredients needed for the change to take effect.

My own rebellion came through challenging what i had been taught, finding my self, then throwing it away. We NEED to ask if our leaders and teachers are telling us the right things for us. Staying curious and even skeptical can be rewarding for the person wanting to find truth.

Take music for example. When I listen to music that challenges me, dares me to find it easy to listen to, I am rebelling against my own preconceived notions of what I enjoy, I am losing ego and gaining experience. I have now found a new truth.

Rebellion is not worrying what others think of you. Rebellion is diving headfirst into a passion, a dream. It is knowing that things may not turn out right, but not worrying about it.

At the end of the day, life is fun, and how much fun is up to us. Let's scare ourselves. Lets do things we never thought we could do. Lets find things we never knew existed.

Be yourself. Now forget yourself. That is excitement, danger, experience, happiness. That is rebellion.

- Lee

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Change Starts Within

“Try to realise it’s all within yourself, noone else can make you change” – George Harrison

As this site’s philosophy is about creating your own utopia, I figured I would start by outlining some of my own ideas that I’ve been pondering over the last year or so. I spent almost nine months travelling around South America using my spare time to develop the makings of a philosophy. It’s a bit muddled at the moment and I’m hoping this blog can help me iron out the creases, but to get started here’s a taste.

When it comes to the state of our world, there are a lot of problems like war, poverty, food supplies, global warming, etc. Many of us look to our political structures and world leaders to make the decisions that will benefit us all. A lot of hope is placed with people like Barack Obama to solve the problems of the world with the power entrusted upon him, and there is no doubt that he is a great leader. However, it’s simply not enough to choose a leader and expect them to fix everything (the existence of leaders is a vital component in life and worth discussion).

We have developed and tweaked our political structures for centuries now, and the result in our most developed countries is democracy. But to say this is a perfect system is a blatant lie. At best, it is the best system we have to deal with the insecurities and greed of humans. Socialism promises equality and to include everyone; yet it is historically laden with corruption that leads to stagnate if not worsening standards of living and increased poverty. Democracy deals with the corruption better (despite corporate donations and lobbying); however, to say I am empowered by my vote doesn’t fill me with much confidence. In Australia I am forced to vote from a range of parties with only two candidates having any realistic hope of winning. And often these parties offer almost identical policies. And if one does choose a policy that will benefit society as a whole it usually faces resistance from those who are set to lose a little wealth or power. Also, by definition, the majority vote will always win and leave minorities who feel hard done by and alienated.

All this left me dismayed for a time, so I began looking outside the proposed structures and saw the problem was the way in which change is always approached as a top-down process. The solution lies with the individual in society. The only way we can achieve a world that truly allows everyone to be happy and free is if we can eliminate the fear and greed that exists within us all; the same feelings that make us guard our borders with weapons and vote with our wallets. The only way to eliminate these feelings is when each individual is inspired to find peace of mind from within, and we begin to open up to each other and share our happiness.

Whatever happiness is derived from within, it always seems magnified when it shared. The relationships we form with friends and families, all our loved ones are so important and help us to discover much more joy and love than we would find alone. The phenomenon of community is so natural in many living things, especially humans, and it has the potential of being a worldwide community founded on the love and compassion of each individual. Imagine the whole world where each individual has developed an inner happiness that they feel compelled to share (even those in charge of powerful corporations and countries!!), and through this act of sharing we continue to evolve.

I know this seems far off and is very difficult to imagine when you consider the state of third world countries and the evils that have always existed, but the reality is that it must all start with each person undertaking their own journey. And don’t get me wrong, I myself am far from enlightened, but I have recognised the need for change and that the only way it can happen is if I actively seek it. We hope to use this site to inspire ways that each of us can find the strength and courage to unlock the infinite love within us. Bit by bit we can discover the energy we have and project it from the inside out, and others can feed off that energy and use it to inspire their own inner light and shine that light towards others!

- Eden (while listening to Perfect from Now On by Built to Spill)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Expand Your Mind Into The Cosmos

"The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be" - Carl Sagan

The universe is something that has always fascinated me, ever since I was a child I’ve eaten up information like a black hole (sorry, I won’t do that again). Not only is the cosmos full of interesting concepts to learn about, it’s also a good way to expand your mind and lose your sense of importance. This might seem like a bad thing to “lose your sense of importance”, it might even seem counterproductive in terms of keeping yourself alive if you look into it that deeply. But it isn’t, next time you’re outside at night (preferably alone) – stop. Look up at the sky, focus on the clear black and look at the stars. Each stars in bigger than we can possibly imagine yet appears to be as tiny as a grain of sand. These stars are many light years away from us, and each star is many light years away from all other stars. It’s a humbling thought, that we’re just one of 8 planets orbiting around a grain of sand.

Whenever I look up at the sky and stare at the stars and the moon it’s a therapeutic experience, I often lose my feelings of importance, that the stresses of work and home mean nothing – I gain a new perspective.

Here is the late Carl Sagan putting it in perspective:


- Dogman

Aufedersein

Hello and welcome to the third and final post at BOTM. This site was the brainchild of both Eden and Hamish, which is why it never worked out the way it should have. Farewell, lovely Mooniacs, it's been a wonderful ride..... Actually, this site was the brainchild of me, Lee, along with my friends Hamish and Eden. I'm one of three people who will be contributing blogs (I hope there won't be others) about anything, everything and nothing.

- Lee

Bienvenidos

Hello and welcome to the second and hopefully not the last post at BOTM.
This site was actually the brain child of me - Eden. I'm one of three people who will be contributing blogs (I'm sure there will be others) about anything, everything and nothing. I should point out I did think this up, I'm pretty smart right?

- Eden

Welcome

Hello and welcome to the first and hopefully not the last post at BOTM.
This site was the brain child of me - The Dogman. I'm one of three people who will be contributing blogs (I'm sure there will be others) about anything, everything and nothing. I should point out I didn't think this up, I'm not that stupid.

- Dogman