How to be an Empath, or Do You See What I Feel?

Well here we are, 2019, Trump’s POTUS, Morrison’s the Australian PM and the world seems a little colder, even as the climate heats up. Whatever you believe, chances are you see things that’re wrong in the society in which you live, and it probably stirs an emotional response. Be it sadness or anger, fear or helplessness, your feelings will, at least in part, govern your actions and inactions. So let’s talk about this.

This is not a post for those who get angry and fill their hearts with hate… or maybe it is. This is a blog post about that much ignored malady, Empathy, and if you Hate, then something’s obviously fried your Empathy circuit. That will make this hard to comprehend. Sociopaths and Psychopaths may also struggle to understand.

For the rest of us, overwhelmed by the emotions found at the depression end of the “Scale of Feels,” or Fear that’s spawned by a world that values love so little, this post is for you. I know what it’s like to be lost in the darkness, “lonely though surrounded.”

But I also know what it’s like to have love, to have good friends, to laugh and see the madness in this crazy, beautiful world. Holding onto that stuff will keep you living, but to really break on through to the lighter side for good, you need to find other people. You need to see they feel the same things as you. Find like minded souls, without hiding in an echo chamber of confirmation bias. If fear threatens to drown you in hopelessness, hone your empathy.

Empathy, for those playing along at home, is the ability to not just sympathise with another person, but to share their feelings, hurt when they hurt, laugh when they laugh. Truly, to experience such things, has been the highlight of my life. There is a oneness you forge with another person in that moment, and all anger, fear and doubt fades away like a fart in a cool breeze.

There is a cost though, and it can be very draining. Essentially you’re receiving understanding from them while giving them your strength.  Empathy can be scary too. You can only use it when your own heart is wide open. This leaves you vulnerable, so don’t do this with someone abusive. You do not want them inside your head and you can do without their shit.

As for the draining part, I find it helps if you look at the world through eyes trained to see hope and wonder. Find somewhere you can recover, somewhere safe and peaceful. I try to go somewhere each day with just trees and wildlife for company. It’s easy to find wonder in the Australian bush.

Even with the downsides, Empathy is a worthwhile part of the things I use to cope with a society in which people are separated into boxes. If we start seeing people as individuals not groups, not race nor religion nor gender identity, we might finally be able to get some shit done. What I’ve learned in 54 years of life is that everyone has a story and most are worth listening to.

Generalizations are anathema to empathy. No two people are the same, regardless of the wrapping they are in. Look people in the eyes when you talk to them, but not in a creepy way. Eyes are connected directly to a person’s brain, and it’s the closest thing to a direct link to their mind that we have. They weren’t kidding when they dubbed them the mirrors of the soul.

So now you’ve locked eyes with someone, what then?

Listen, talk, ask. Words are the magic catalyst, that and the telltale expression in the eyes. We’ve all seen sadness behind a smile. Here’s the thing. Empathy will show you what that person needs from you. With a little practice it becomes obvious within seconds. In time you learn to glimpse behind the mask that everyone wears, but only when you’ve shared that moment of openness. Don’t be afraid to cry with them, in joy or sorrow, to laugh, to sing, if that’s what the moment needs. For that time, you are not there for you. Be there FOR that person. Forget about the world for those precious seconds and let someone in. It’ll rock your world.

I believe that what is missing from the leaders of this world is Empathy. The population’s grown too many to be living in isolation any more. The idea of race should no longer apply when we can fly round the world in a day. I like to think of Australia as an ark, we have people living here from every nation on Earth. If we can’t learn to get along, what hope has the world got.

So for those of you who’ve made it this far in the post, I thank you. We Empaths have got to stick together. Go into the world, understand the hearts of others and change the world.

Now go and share the love,(and this post 🙂  and fill the world with peace.

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Nationalism Is Death

IMG_3059Hi my faithful readers.

I’ve been away from blogging for a while,  fighting the occasional bouts of crippling anxiety and the ever present Black Dog while trying to keep all the plates of life spinning. I’m not quite sure if it’s classic depression I’ve got, or a perfectly reasonable emotional reaction to the rise of the Alt-Right political movement, (I mean Trump???? Really????  USA what were you thinking? You can’t polish a turd, but you can give it a spraytan and a combover, and apparently it becomes the POTUS.)

Image result for Stock photos Trump

Revolving door anyone?

Here in the land of Aus. we have our own problems with our own government. Remind me again, who’s the PM this week? Despite popular concensus, the LNP seem determined to follow the path right one Prime Minister at a time. (What lasts longer an Aussie PM or an toffee apple?)

Next year there will be an Election and  we’ll see how that goes when the dust settles. While there’s a chance the Government will pull something out of the bag, but with the polls telling a different story, it looks like the Right have gone about as Alt as they can.

I have hope that we might just be at the tipping point, having swung about as far right as most Aussies can stomach. The far right of politics seem bent on marching their coal fired climate bus, complete with the Nationalism flag and God at the wheel to within spitting distance of a fascist state. We’ve  all heard of WWII, right, something about Nationalism and skin colour.

It took about two generations to begin to clear the leftover war baggage in Australian Government. Political leaders stopped searching for Reds under the bed to be able to think about a bigger picture. The process wasn’t quick. Fear remained policy in Canberra until the late 60’s/early 70’s. Vietnam put a stop to that.

It was a gradual awakening, a realisation that maybe there were better ways to solve disputes than shooting at each other. Maybe there were things to do for those they governed, like universal Health Care, Free University, all of which the current crop of pollies took advantage when they were younger.

Gough Whitlam got us out of Vietnam. He tried to swing the debate to the left, trying to meet the basic needs we Aussies take for granted today. Government for the many.   To the sound of tv pop stars singing It’s Time arose a movement towards understanding we are all human beings, irrespective of the amount of melanin in our skin.

We made huge gains under Gough in the realms of equality, social equity, Justice, arts, etc, not to mention having a red hot go at saying no to the US, Re:Vietnam. And as we all know, between US fears Gough was a commie, and the GG John Kerr, Gough didn’t survive in ’75.

Luckily his legacy was a noticeable swing left, away from conservative rule, which kept stability but stifled social progress.

In the vast wide open areas that fill the guts of Australia, the land of strange and deadly animals, people were just getting on with their lives. They were trying to beat the hail, droughts, bushfires, floods and flies to eek out a living from the ground. The Labor Government was never a great friend to the people of the bush nor (at that time) big business. So it was inevitable a collective of 1950’s thinkers in Lowes’ suits would always keep a stranglehold on the purse strings.

Gough’s Labor Government moved hard and fast to change the way the country was run. They supported the idea of government for the Majority of people. In the Whitlam Labor years, we saw introductions such as Medical Healthcare put in place, social welfare improvements, a film industry, the seeds of Indigenous reconciliation and lifting everyone in Australia to live above the poverty line. But it was too much too fast. Change is Hard!

At this point the Fraser Coalition Government stepped in and Malcolm (Fraser not Turnbull, we have a thing for Mal’s in Australia,) with a little help from the Governor General and the CIA, (because the US just had to stop them Commies,) orchestrated the dismissal. Of course Old Money and Old men had a hand in it all. They wanted to hold onto the power they’d controlled for more than 30 years

Using fear and promises, stick and carrot, the Old Farts in the background pulled strings and set this whole mess in motion.  It seemed that we’d gone about as far left as they’d let us get. Th old money and old white men had won. The Political Pendulum slowed, stopped and began to swing back towards the centre. Fraser wasn’t a bad guy, though I thought so at the time. I was a pretty incensed 11 year old.

By the time the dust settled on our Aussie version of Julius Ceasar, things were actually not that bad. The Liberal party had curbed the worst of the financial bleed that trying to change everything at once puts on an economy, but he didn’t see the pendulum gaining momentum in the backswing. His comments in later life would suggest he disagreed with the pendulum upswing on the right side.

The Hawke Keating Labour years followed and they continued to strengthen the social, societal side of things, and they solidified the finances because they approached the changes at a slower place, soothing the Center by playing the Right and Left. They didn’t see the Pendulum picking up speed.

Fraser was pretty progressive, with more center political values. This was late cold war era remember, and we had a lot of 30 year old war babies with families and the Nuke of Damocles hanging over there head. He saw no need to slow the pendulum as it raced through the lowpoint of the arc in the direction of Alt-Right hell.

Then little Johnny Howard got rolled out by the old money/old whiteguys, (OM/OWG) of business and politics. Riding high on the wave of prosperity that comes from digging up and selling the dirt from under us, Howard’s Lib/Nat Coalition spent up big. Johnny used the mining money to keep most people happy most of the time, which was not such a bad thing, though 18% loan interest was killing us. On the fringes of financial ruin, most people were hanging on. But Howard didn’t even see the pendulm rising in its arc and heading for the aforementioned Nazi Horror Sequel.

Anyway, as the  millennium closed, we discovered that the big wide world we’d been selling our dirt to was in trouble. The disaffected, (those that the rich and powerful folk had screwed over for the last umpteen years by bombing and stealing their ancestral resources), put the fear of religious extremists into everyone and airplanes became missiles. While we on the fringes suggested talking, little Johnny Howard was a child of WWII and he reacted as would be expected. He sent troops, because blah blah blah US interests.

War affected us personally again, as we learned you can’t be in this world without being involved, for better or worse. The OM/OWGs of the world saw their opportunity. Do we really not know that these wars are making the the OWGs billionaires. War baby Howard used the Middle East as propagnada, along with the ever present US of A’s assistance, and distracted everyone from the oncoming pendulum.

Then came Rudd/Gillard/Rudd, a half hearted attempt from the left of politics to prove they could be just as right wing as the Lib/Nats. I honestly miss Juila Gillard, who achieved much despite needing the constant support of the crossbench. Rudd not so much.

Their biggest error was to meet cruelty with cruelty regarding refugees. The Alt-right’s screeching about invasion and sovereign borders had an impact, and the rest of us were silent when we should have spoken out. Evil flourishes when good people do nothing. Too many of us are afraid of headscarves and beards, and the alt-right know how to push the xenophobic buttons. Thus Labor raised the cruelty levels to appease the Alt-right. It failed of course, the Alt Right do not play well with others and the heartland of Labor’s support could see they’d lost there way.

So began the Current Coalition Government’s turn in office, on a promise that they’d never play PM musical chairs. And so began the turmoil. Nobodies happy except big buissness and foreign interests as our debt has ballooned and confidence in the future has collapsed.

As for the refugees, the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government have continued to up the cruelty ante, both on refugees in offshore detention, (Read concentration camps,) and the disadvantaged at home. This government has spent the years lining their pockets and trickling on the rest of us. Of course, metaphorically, it’s been a bloodbath.

Aussies love their country, but we’re realistic enough to see we’re a part of this world, and hiding behind the flag and Advance Australia Fair, calling anyone who says, look you’ve gone too far, UnAustralian. All I can say is they obviously live in a very different universe to the rest of us.

The time has come to see that unquestioning Nationalism is a recipe for social and political suicide. Most Aussies don’t like Nazis, and we’re not real found of those who want to stand in the alt-right wasteland, blaming everyone but themselves.

So as the new elections loom on the horizon like a roadside Macca’s after a long drive, we have a chance to change things. To slow the pendulum,and get it heading back towards the middle ground. Use your vote carefully, distribute your own preferences and know who you’re voting for.

Think about the future, and get involved.

Oh, and don’t vote for nazis.

 

What the Walrus said.

 

The time has come. It’s been seven years since my first two YA Fantasy, Parallel and The Immortal Darkness were released. Book two has floundered though book one did well. I have received some great reviews. My favourite, mostly because I don’t know the person, was from someone called S Newton.

5.0 out of 5 starsOut of this world

December 16, 2012

I’ve read hundreds of free books through my kindle and found many terrible books. This is not one of those books. I was surprised and pleased with how well this book is written. The characters are well developed and the story is excellent. I don’t write reviews often, but this book deserves my time to sing its praises. A lot of writers are afraid to show teenagers that have real, believable romance between them. It’s usually a lot of unromantic crap. When I was a teen, my relationships were very mature and I’m glad to see someone write some feeling into a novel that doesn’t seem like kindergarten trash. Fantastic read, the second one is just as good if not better. I can’t wait to see Mark get serious with his power in the third book.”

I’ve made almost enough from Amazon to receive a check for a hundred dollars and the Smashwords version has added another fifty. That’s the reality of a writers life.

In those seven years, I’ve attended seminars, joined a writing group, *Waves at Vision Writers, read much, and written thousands and thousands of words. I have learned so much from the writing community, particularly over the last couple of years as I worked on a different project, Harmony. I’ve seen more of Australia than ever before and fallen in love with the country more and more. (The country, not the politicians.)

But like all good things when they get old, a good freshen up and relaunch will remind people I’m still around. I never completed the last book, too busy working, worrying and learning how to carve words into beautiful stories. Now, to quote Gough, It’s time.

Soon I will be relaunching the Kasdtien Cycle series as Novella’s, with refreshed content, taking account of seven years of feedback and learning, with brand new artwork, and some spit and polish.

There will be five novellas, because novellas are more popular for Young Adult right now. Each book will be approximately 40000 words, the last to be written December 9th 2018 is the as yet unreleased conclusion. It will be named One, (Because that’s how I roll.) The old books will be pulled down before hand, so if you want a copy of the old form get in quick here. The new set is called the Parallel Cycle, Book one Parallel will be relaunched among much fanfare, on Amazon, and there’ll be giveaways and fun stuff all along the way.

I am planning to release each one monthly, beginning with Parallel, 9th August 2018, mark it in your calendar.

Over the next couple of month’s I’m heading to a writers retreat, writing every chance I get, all while travelling the countryside and blogging about weird shit I see, and generally keeping my head above water. So if you’ve read Parallel before, help support a poor struggling author and download the new version in August to see what’s new, help get the word out, review it when released and give me a hug when the black dog bites..

I feel my writing gives an Australian voice to the Spec Fiction scene and the occasional, “I like it,” is always appreciated.

Release dates are as follows.

  1. Parallel                                         29th of August 2018

  2. Kasdt,                                            21st of September 2018

  3. The Immortal Darkness           19th of October 2018

  4. Kasdtien                                       12th of November 2018

  5. One                                                9th of December 2018, (Happy birthday to me.)

Stay tuned people, more info will come in the lead up to launch. Including cover reveals and prizes.

I’m in the Web-o-sphere, on Facebook, Twitter and My travel blog, (Travels With An Old Fart.), Subscribe for updates, and always up for a chat about anything writerly.

Chris K

 

Addendum read the next post for the official updates.

 

Black dogs, rejection and getting back on the publishing horse.

harmony-promo-picture-feel

Hi all, it’s been a while. This blog has suffered from a bit of neglect, as engaging with people can be tiring for an introvert with depression issues. When I’m not dancing with the black dog, I’ll be writing, editing or blogging on my travel adventure site Travels with an old fart. I’m currently searching for a publisher for my novel, Harmony. The beta readers loved it so, come on Publishers and Agents, where are you? Finding publishers for a novel in Australia is no easy feat. It has been rejected by an English publisher, Angry Robot, which was a long shot as it was up against hundreds of other manuscripts.

The characters are very Australian,  the Main character, Key, is a kickass female cop in a sleazy Kings Cross. Other players include an 18 year old Asperger tech whiz, a cross dressing leader of a bike gang, a pot smoking telepathic woman, and a young Koori man of the Guringai people from where I grew up.  I’ve crammed its pages with drama, intrigue, comedy, everything a reader could want. Set in Australia in a climate ravaged 2099 Sydney, it has a whole new lexicon of slang. I have high hopes for it, when I’m not dancing with the black dog.

I’ve begun work on the followup novel, tentatively called Destiny. Stay tuned for that.

IMG_2228.JPGAs for what else I’ve been doing since last year, taking a life changing and life affirming trip through the middle of the country. I’ve watched my daytime job’s hours dwindle away to nothing, and we battle on with the day to day struggles that I’m sure everyone goes through. Mostly my life is good.

So I hope to be more active again, now the fog has lifted. I’ve had a good think, and sorted out some of my shit, and now it’s time to get back into it.

PS. Any publishing suggestions or put in the good word with an Agent you know, feel free.