Two Worlds


I was meditating.

There are two worlds, I thought. One the physical world of interacting matter driven by energy – the world of the big bang the astronomers talk about and all that followed. But the other world, the real world, is the ‘being’ within, the intangible, the essence of things, the essence of me. The big bang world goes on and on recycling all that ever was and ever will be. Even the energy that drives it is recycled –- just matter coming together, particles mixing in the ether, combining, changing, parting; reservoirs and flows, nothing gained, nothing lost. But my real world is the world of my knowing; what I see, hear, think, feel, dream. And when my brain cells die I suppose this miracle will be all gone …. like a film on the screen, it has a life of its own that is absorbing at the time, but then it’s over and that’s it. Someday, when my angel decides, it will be over and this, my real world, will cease. Death is not nothingness, but the void of not ‘being’.
How, when the void comes, can I leave behind an invisible balloon full of experience for a child to grab with joy – a kite flying forever? Maybe a Hawkesbury River swan? An osprey on the wing? Can I receive a legacy from a great artist? A Renoir, a Michelangelo? Out from their voids will some aura wash around and into me? Am I then their ideas, their ways, their dreams? Do they bequeath me, in their wisdom, with some unfinished task? Am I needed? Do I have a purpose outside the recycling of matter?

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Robin renewed v 2

Since my bone cancer was identified in September I have been on a brain activity high. There is a new stimulus that has allowed me to produce Blog Posts, a series of Letters to Dorothy, revision work on two unpublished novels, and a large submission to RGSQ on a Long Distance Trail in the Carnarvon Ranges. This includes Inspiration during the night when sleep is disturbed and i get up to jot down notes or write a small article or poem.

The reading about Iranian which I did over Christmas and January, and the understanding I developed about the effects of the Muslim Revolution has had on society in my new daughter-in-law’s country of birth, has given me great insights into memoir writing. While Azar Nafisi’s work on understanding the themes, voice and structure of challenging novels from Pride and Prejudice to The Great Gatsby has allowed me to determine how I can change and improve the approach to my own writing.

Physically, although restricted in strength and having to give up Golf, Tennis and cycling, I have remained active doing walks in Toohey Forest, putting time in in the Brookland Gym and swimming in Feb in the Brookland pool. In this I have stayed positive about my health and gone ahead and booked a cruise from Broome to Darwin in April.

What is more remarkable is how things magically work out at just the right time, such as catching my bus, and timing of activities to fit other commitments, thus meeting my own deadlines. An example last Tuesday was when taken to lunch by Frank Spranklin at the Corner Cafe and by surprise environmental friends, Beryl Roberts and Bernise Voltz, walked in. Both deserved an update on my cancer — having not seen either for over a year. So we lunched together and shared updates on our interests. Another example was getting home from the forest just in time for the cleaner I had organised but wasn’t expecting that day and who was about to leave because she was locked out.
Now just today I am offered a contract on my new novel with a top publisher. This is serendipity in the extreme since I was ready to scrap that project all together and have been concentrating on an earlier unpublished work.

These will seem to be trivial examples, but as the number of them build up, coincidences almost every day, I can’t help thinking my sub-conscious is in the driving seat and life as it now is under my palliative care regime will continue to bring me joy.



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Fiona and Tim

Fiona and Tim

Yesterday I received a surprise Email from Mathieu McGuire in the UK. Mathieu was one of the young junior orienteers about the same time as my grandson, Aaron. He was a member of the Mini Cyclones Squad, competed in the annual Queensland Schools Orienteering Championships and was selected in the Queensland Schools team. He came to our sport as one of Helen Sherriff’s St. Edmunds Orienteering Club, always excited about participating no matter what his result. He had stumbled across my Writer’s Blog, and having been absorbed by the enlightened mindfulness written into some of the blog posts, he had felt compelled to be in touch.

The compliments he said about me brought a lot more than one tear to my eyes, but it also made we realise how much Fiona Calabro would have deserved even more praise. Till she died of a brain tumour and the complications of a stroke in 2014, she was the State Junior Coach and organiser of the Mini Cyclones training camps, amongst making many other contribution at State and National Orienteering level. There is rarely a day goes by without me thinking about her enthusiasm for our sport and her friendship.

The other person I so miss from our Toohey Forest Orienteers is Tim Apelt, for three years our club president. Like Fiona, Tim died of incurable cancer not that long after Fiona’s departure. He was truely a best mate — close bushwalking and orienteering friend with, like me, a passionate love of Toohey Forest where his ashes have been scattered. He died in dignity after 18 months of palliative care. Now I am on the same journey. Three for our club in six years is hardly fair, but we have to accept that we all die someday, it is part of the gift of living, and I’m sure none of us wanted our lives to being dragged out when the writing is ‘on the wall’, or the massage for me clear to see in my blog posts.

Yes readers go on visiting my blog. Rob’s Write will be cactus too by 2020.


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The Great Ecologists

White Australians have tended to think of our First Nation peoples as intellectually inferior, and culturally backward. Well yes, they didn’t have written languages but nor did many tribes in Africa New Guinea and the Pacific when white men arrived from Europe or Asians arrived from SE Asia. What they did have and still retain is a methodology for passing on information to the young via song, dance, story telling and hand-on field experience.

Their understanding of their local ecology to me represents a science that is shared culturally. They did not need peer-group reviewed scientific papers to endorse their authority. It was just accepted at elder’s wisdom. Wisdom is the key word here, the wisdom pervading their approach to environmental stability, their moving around with the seasonal changes, the way to find tucker and water in the long dry periods. The sense of small clan groups being mobile.

We limit our understanding of Aboriginal science by our fixed view of what is science. We don’t engage enough. We think we know better but have made so many mistakes in opening up the Australian land to grazing and farming without understanding the environmental consequences it should be embarrassing. The Aboriginal approach has been to ‘live with nature’ not fight against. Our Ecologists and Agronomist are improving the field practices of farmers, but we have a long way to go, and by blending our approach with Aboriginal knowledge must surely bring even more benefits.

On the eve of 2018 Australia this is a very important message that needs to be spread — that our First Nation Peoples were great Ecologists! And educating them further through our modern systems of schooling and University must be of highest priority. Then we win and they win!

Robin Simson 25/1/18

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Dreaming with Dementia

Dreaming with Dementia

This week I listened to an ABC podcast from All In The Mind that dealt with sleep disorders and sleep depredation and I began wonder if my wife who is in a nursing home with advanced dementia still dreams while she lies there on her back alone during the night.

Throughout our married life I would often wake from a dream and capture its content in my mind, but the details would soon be lost unless I talked about it. Dorothy would not be interested saying she didn’t dream or didn’t remember a dream, and if it was a dream about the future she would totally rubbish me. So now I have these questions for All In The Mind:

Do patients with advanced dementia still dream?
Would such dreams take them back to their earlier active life and be a comfort for them?
Is it possible that a person who never remembers that they dream is very likely to develop dementia because the same area of the brain is being affected?
And therefore, is this non-dreaming-non-dream-remembering syndrome a diagnostic test — a predictor of the likelihood of dementia later in life?

I am hoping for answers on another All In The Mind podcast from the ABC.

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Australia Day date


It would seem that some of the heat could be taken out of the Australia Day date debate by suggesting a definitive alternative that has positive connotations for both the indigenous peoples and those humans who arrival of settlers from Europe with the so called First Fleet on 26 January 1788.

The proposal put forward here is for the date of the winter solstice in Australia, variable between 21 June or 22 June dependant on the year — a specific date, not tied to a weekend. Whether the 26 January is retained by the Indigenous Australians as their Invasion Day should have little bearing on a decision to adopt Solstice Day — or better still, call it Capricorn Uniting Day. It should be a day of celebrating the unity of all Australians, the First Nation peoples, European, Asian, American and African people coming together to “Call Australia Home”.

And with this the original Homos who arrived from 60,000 years ago must also understand the the drifting Australian continent was then without the Great Apes or any other Hominoid species, and that they were not long into modifying the environment to  suit their life style, including being responsible, in part, for many species extinction such as the megafauna species.

Here are some points in favour of the Solstice date and tying it accordingly to the 23.30° S. latitude of the Tropic of Capricorn are:

1.The Tropic of Cancer is situated across the centre of the Great South Land not separating, but tying tropical Northern Australia and sub-tropical and temperate Southern Australia.

2.It crosses close by or through Emerald, Longreach, the Channel Country, Alice Springs, the Larapinta area in the spectacular West MacDonnell Ranges, Hermannsberg with its Aboriginal Art history, and the Ningaloo Reefs on the West Coast, away from the major cities, with all sites of historical significance.

3. 17th century Dutch sailers came to grief on the Ningaloo coral reefs and the indigenous peoples suffered terrible loss in the frontier wars as graziers occupied the the Central Australian Brigalow lands near Emerald. It is the struggle of history uniting us through time with by all parties acknowledging the difficulties of the environment and insensitivities of invasion.

4. It highlights the importance of the sun as the fuel of life on Earth and the significance of the seasons in understanding ecological relationships, an aspect of knowledge for living successfully and sustainably in our Island continent. We should recognise the Science told in dance and song in the Aboriginal relationships with their land, and what our short-term White Australians have been loath to understand.

We don’t have to call it Australia Day to be our national day. Neither should it be Sorry Day, currently held on 26 May. However, whatever date and whatever the name, indigenous Australian must be part of the dialogue around the decision with a target to make the change when Australia declares itself the Great South Land Republic or The Australian Republic.

Robin Simson BA. MSc. OAM

Posted 26 Jan 2018


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Am I the Universe?


Today I ask myself am I my universe, am I all that is? I know this sounds absurd, but everything that is happening to me makes me feel this way. There are all the coincidences in my favour, all the care and love coming from family, friends and my Palliative Care team, my prostate cancer and recent trip to Canberra in December all satisfying experiences in their own way, and the books and podcasts that mysteriously arrive at the best time for me to appreciate their messages, the philosophy involved.

So is there a theory for this — my Theory of Everything?

Version 1
I am indeed the cosmos, there is nothing else but my mind. It is a dream. It has no origin, no God creating it. No super power behind in the wings. Just nebulous me. Dream time me.

Version 2
I am not exactly the cosmos but the conscious extent of it. The experience that gives it identity and memory. Everything else wraps around in an ecology of interacting events and thoughts.

Version 3
I am duped. This is all fake news. My thoughts, and indeed all my ‘life’ is being manipulated by some other power, what many will say is God and I will rather say is mystery, like an unfathomable cosmic Black Hole has been to scientists.

Perhaps all this will become clear when I am snuffed out? I doubt it.

Robin Simson 16 Jan 2018


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