Vasilios Theodorakis – An Online Author is a digital repository of all my written work (in text and podcast formats)…

July 17, 2017

Time After Time…

Filed under: Culture And Society,General — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 2:12 pm

“If you fall, I will catch you, I will be waiting, time after time.”

In 1984, this line from Cindy Lauper’s song – “Time After Time” had a huge impact on me. So much so, that my life ran like a video loop of a dancing fool, who climbs onto life’s stage then throws himself backwards into a mosh pit, hoping the audience will catch and lower him safely to the ground. Instead, the crowd steps aside and let’s him fall, no matter how many times he makes that leap of faith. The fool, continues to do this most of his life, never learning that people rarely step forward to help in times of need. (Interestingly, I do have people who step forward these days and do help, but that’s another story, for another time. ;) )

For five years, from 1979 to 1983, I was fortunate/unfortunate enough to have teachers who nurtured the idea that people should encourage and support each other in fulfilling each other’s dreams. I did this for everyone around me, and genuinely thought everyone would do the same for me. What I didn’t understand, was how unique my situation was in my high school years. For that brief period of time, I had people who I looked up to, who did everything they could to help me reach my goals and who ensured I rose to their levels of expectation.

In my naivety, it never dawned on me that I lived with parents who had no interest in supporting and encouraging their own children to fulfil their own dreams. Like most of my species’ offspring, I was hardwired to believe that your parents would do you no harm, and I did not have the wherewithal to get out of that context or insight to understand that some parents, like mine, paid the notion of support lip service. They only supported their children publicly, if it made the parents look good. The reality of our situation, was that as soon as the house doors were closed the degradation, humiliation and abuse began. Such parents were never going to follow through and standby their children or do whatever it took to help them fulfil their dreams. Both parents were only interested in how their children could serve them. They had no idea, that one of the key duties of being a parent, is to do what ever it takes to ensure your children have a better life than you did. In their minds, the child was a means to ensure their self centred existence was the best it could be. In fact, I recall an extended session of verbal abuse, where my father repeatedly yelled “…Who do you think you are? Aiming to get a higher education and have a better life than me!”. At best, my life was to be like his life – menial, mundane and mindless. What he required in order to feel good about himself, was to appear “better than everyone else”, including his own children. Anything that allowed the children to look better than the parents had to be sabotaged, and so my sister’s future and my future was trashed before it ever began. Neither of us was aware of this at the time.

With this as my context, I didn’t realise that I had accomplished my academic excellence all by myself, having done so, in less than favourable conditions. With only the encouragement and support of my high school teachers, and working twice as hard as my fellow students (in order to counteract the daily assaults on self esteem), I “burnt out” long before the end of 1984 – my senior year of high school.

In spite of my school having one of the lowest ASAT test scores in Queensland, I managed to graduate in the top 1.5% of all students in that year. What happened next inevitably set me on the “road to nowhere”. Over the years, I’ve rerun my experience countless times, but no matter how often I replay the events, the outcome is always the same as the variables impacting on my life couldn’t be altered.

By 1985 a whole series of things were working against me. One – that I began my first year of uni, enrolled in one of the hardest courses on offer (a bachelor of science in the honours stream of the maths/physics faculty) while physically, emotionally and mentally burnt out. Two – that I had no support or encouragement from my tertiary academic environment. The high school teachers who saw my potential, and did everything in their power to encourage its development, weren’t there to prop me up any more. And three – I didn’t understand nor did I believe that the support and encouragement to fulfil my dreams, had never come from my home environment – i.e. my parents. It had only ever come from the good will of strangers – i.e. my high school teachers.

Back in the mid 1980s, lecturers and tutors at my university did not have the time or the inclination to personally encourage or support students to reach their goals. You were on your own and if you didn’t understand that, that was too bad. The only academic that tried to help, was an ageing German Pure Mathematics professor who encouraged me to “factor in life”, as “life’s unexpected events” could derail the best of students. This scholar, was an insightful man who realised I was struggling, and tried his best to warn me about the storms ahead. Sadly, I was too blinkered at the time and ignored his advice.

The naivety and stubbornness of my younger self, ensured, that I refused to accept how people didn’t wish for and didn’t do whatever it took to encourage the fulfilment of another human being’s potential. This social ignorance led to my undoing. What child ever imagines, that their parents will not only cease to support the fulfilment of their children’s dreams, but pro actively discourage those dreams from happening. Add to this cauldron, the extreme violence and abuse perpetrated by a father who had frontal lobe brain damage, and a mother with a narcissistic personality disorder, and you have a scenario that could only ever end the same way – the destruction of children trapped in such an environment.

But here I am today, still alive thanks to the many kindnesses of strangers whose paths I’ve crossed in the last 34 years. These personal traumas and tragedies were played out on life’s stage a very long time ago. Such a long time ago, that the only people who truly remember what happened are the abusers, who’ve gone on to lead quite comfortable lives, and the abused, whose lives were destroyed by a violent cognitively limited father and a psychiatrically self centred mother. Those who do remember and still have to deal with the fall out of 1985-1992 include myself, my sister and the people closest to us who’ve had to witness first hand, how no one ever recovers from trauma, they just learn how to manage it. Both of us suffer from shattered trust, caused by the very people who were supposed to fulfil a duty of care and follow through on an obligation to nurture. No one should have to carry such a burden around their whole lives, but many people do.

It is therefore a credit to both my sister and myself that we continue “to be there” for others, in spite of us not having healthy role models. It is also a small miracle, that we have not replicated the dysfunction of our parents in our own lives.

April 18, 2016

Personal Salvation

Filed under: Culture And Society,General,Religion And Theology — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 9:09 am

Most people can’t be saved from themselves. Their lives are intertwined, and seldom separated from mechanisms of personal destruction. Whether those mechanisms are generated by the environment and their experiences, generated by genetics and inherited, or passed on by a previous generation that didn’t take the time to excise them – whatever the source of the problem, people rarely develop the insight or find the courage to face their demons and save themselves. Natural cowardice and/or self preservation of the ego, prevents most individuals from accepting the challenge created by taking a good hard look at themselves in the mirror.

The source of these demons is less important than finding the courage to deal with them. And the absence of courage, is the reason why many avoid the task altogether, or, try to get someone or something else to do the work for them. It’s not surprising then, that theological and religious notions of salvation often boil down to this – in terms of personal evolution, it is up to the individual to save themselves from their own demons, irrespective of the source of those demons.

If every human being took the time to address their own issues, not only would they save themselves, but collectively, they would save society. Sadly, this is not the case. People project the need for salvation onto others rather than themselves – i.e. if I save this person, I too will be saved. It is far easier to focus on another’s problems, than to acknowledge and work on one’s own shortcomings. Or, and this happens far too often, people hand over responsibility for personal salvation to a deity, rather than accepting and doing the hard work required to clear out the skeletons in their own closet.

For those, who do do the hard work – I salute you, but realise, you are the exception not the norm!

February 26, 2016

Three Years One Month

Filed under: Culture And Society,General — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 3:46 pm

Is he dead?
– Almost. Does turning 49 mean I’ve got one foot in the grave?

Where did he go?
– I had to finish clearing away the sins of the father, and the mother!

Is he done?
– As much as is humanly possible, and as much as anyone is able to address the demons inflicted upon oneself, by the previous generation. So yes, I’m done!

Where to from here?
– Those close to me, know that I’ve been working on publicly releasing my poetry anthologies, as well as, the first volume of my science fiction trilogy. More on these releases in the coming weeks.

And this blog?
– As before, it will continue to be a vehicle for my creative writing.

– If you are one of the few people who have waited out the three years one month of silence, I thank you for your patience, and hope the material that starts appearing on the blog makes up for the wait.
– If on the other hand, you are new to this blog – I bid you a warm welcome.


January 26, 2013

Invasion Day – The 225 Year War Continues.

Filed under: Culture And Society,General,Indigenous — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 5:00 pm

Each year on “Australia Day”, my wife and I visit the location of local Aboriginal midden grounds and pay our respects to the original people who lived on the land that we now live on. In 2009 I wrote the following piece for us to read each and every year until this country acknowledges and begins to respect its Aboriginal people and its Aboriginal past. Health permitting I intend to keep reading this out loud under the figs, next to the mangroves (in the park) every 26th of January, or at least until a more appropriate date for Australia Day is chosen.

“Paying Our Respects – 26th January 2013″

Today we remember our Indigenous brothers and sisters who have been murdered, beaten, raped, diseased, displaced, ignored and forgotten for 225 years.

We remember that they met here peacefully on this midden mound whose name we no longer know.

We remember that here they rested, discussed and resolved problems that the different clans of Quandamooka (Moreton Bay) encountered for thousands of years.

We remember that we are standing on land which they believed could not be owned by any one person but only looked after by the clan / their people – i.e. entrusted in guardianship for all time.

We remember that people belonged to the land but that the land did not belong to all people.

We remember that as a many Nationed peoples, they were invaded and the land was never lawfully settled by the non-Indigenous peoples, as no treaties were ever signed with the original inhabitants, as no attempts were made to protect the original languages and culture, and that the original people’s presence was never acknowledged in any meaningful way.

Today we remember that choosing this day as the national day of the country is an insult to the surviving Indigenous Australians and disrespects the Indigenous people who died and suffered over the last 225 years. We look forward to a time when this county’s national day is inclusive of all Australians, when its flag represents all Australians and its Head Of State is answerable only to Australians.

Yet again we had the whole park to ourselves as we read this out loud and reflected on the day. None of the current locals care to remember that the park is the burial ground of the Indigenous people’s sea shell middens.

Regards – Vasilios Theodorakis – January 2013

December 21, 2012

Accountability and Consequences…

Filed under: General — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 10:07 am

I believe in social justice. Call me old fashioned, but in spite of our society being overly orientated towards an interpretation of Adam Smith‘s thinking and despite people’s natural orientation to not give a dam about anyone other than themselves (see previous post), the structure of society should have mechanisms in place to protect the vulnerable and the weak. The economic rationalists who currently control all dialogue in Western countries like Australia will of course disagree, after all, their prophet – Smith (in The Wealth Of Nations), set us on a dogmatic path where by individuals are expected to look after themselves, focus on their own acquisition of capital/labour and by so doing, unconsciously build a stronger society. (They conveniently ignore that Smith also says, in this same book, that the division of labour will ultimately destroy human beings and make them ignorant and stupid.) Unfortunately, it’s hard to argue with economists at this point in history as their social theory (which appeals to our basic instincts) appears to have worked for over 250 years whereas the supposedly “moral” socialist systems have fallen apart.

Smith’s earlier work (The Theory Of Moral Sentiments) however also pointed out that it is in our nature to empathise with our fellow human being – this work is also ignored by these same economists. Going one step further, what continues to define us as human and separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, is that we have a conscience and that irrespective of the reasons why people turn their backs on their fellow human beings, that same conscience continues to haunt and trouble our thoughts and emotions. If this facet of human nature continues to burden an individual long enough, the individual breaks and that break can take many different forms – psychological, emotional, physical, social or financial. As a social worker I saw this happen again and again especially to people who “appeared” to have the perfect life. Notice, I’m not even touching on metaphysics here, just our physical existence. The simple fact of human nature is this – to ignore one’s own conscience, is to bring down destruction on one’s own head. It may not happen today, tomorrow, a month from now or even 10 years from now, but it will happen. The burden of social and emotional guilt is just like the hot coals we hear about in certain monotheistic traditions. ;)

So don’t be like me and lose site of this human reality. Though society may “currently” allow all manner of self centred psychopaths to get away with what (on the surface) appears (to the lay) as criminal activity – i.e. the traumatising and robbing of the innocent; though society is no longer carrying its share of the burden and protecting the weak and the vulnerable, and though it may appear that some people are not accountable and no consequences are brought against them by the legal system, you need to trust that their internal burden of guilt will ultimately destroy their lives. The sad part is that the victims of the self centred, sometimes don’t live to see the consequences of what the the perpetrator’s internal conscience can do. The fortunate thing for society (as a whole) however, is that we continue to have the “observers” amongst us, and their documentation of the internal consequences on the self centred and evil will always give us hope. As long as we take the time to read what the scribes, prophets and poets have written, not all is lost for social justice nor for humanity.

Cheers – Vasilios Theodorakis – December 2012
First Draft – 9am 12/12/2012

November 23, 2012

Don’t Be Dumped On…

Filed under: General — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 8:55 am

As an Orthodox Christian, I am obligated to love – or at the very least like my own species. But the older I get, the more despicable I find people. The only saving grace is the knowing, that all the human leeches I have had the misfortune of encountering, are mortal, and their questionable ways of life will fade away, just as surely as their wrinkling bags of skin and bone will turn to dust. It’s just a matter of time, and for once, I am truly grateful that time is part of this existence.

I did not always feel this way about humanity. I used to think that all people were basically good and that all people had an innate common decency within themselves. What I failed to realise is how much our nature is still based on self preservation and that when push comes to shove, most individuals, and I mean almost all, will prioritise saving their own skin over their fellow human being. It’s just nature (biology – the survival of the fittest) and we’re just animals, in spite of all our selfless philosophies and religions.

What counts is preserving one’s life – an end in itself, or using life to perpetuate one’s own genes. The unfortunate part of this equation is that the majority of humans who survived in the past and who prospered, did so because of their superior self preservation. The selfless amongst us, were and are the minority, and though they may have influenced human thinking and culture along the way – i.e. bringing stability to human groupings, it was the brut selfishness of the majority that has carried the species forward.

I can’t help but marvel at the irony however, i.e. that humanity has become this powerful, not because we’re concerned about our fellow human beings (or because we work well together), but because we’re so good at looking after ourselves. Think about it, if people weren’t so good at looking after themselves, how would our societies function. Societies are dependent on each cog looking after itself, in order for the machine to continue to work as a whole. If cogs stopped prioritising their own self maintenance, the mega mechanism of human society would crumble.

As a result, I can often rationalise to myself why I’ve had the ongoing misfortune of dealing with so many despicable self centred individuals – after all, according to this theory, they are the norm. Thinking otherwise is just a childhood delusion I’ve perpetuated well into my 40’s. And though we can’t prevent the selfish majority pursuing self preservation, the one thing we can do, is refuse to allow them to dump their emotional problems on us.

So I propose the following – for once, the unselfish should refuse to be dumped on, and for once the unselfish should sit back and watch the selfish implode under the weight of their own emotional baggage. Sadly, I know this won’t happen – by definition the unselfish won’t allow those around themselves to suffer. Maybe it’s just the way it has to be – i.e. the selfish majority will always be complimented by the selfless minority. Most people will continue to use other people and/or prioritise their needs above others as they always have – at least, until our species comes to an end. ;)

Cheers – Vasilios Theodorakis – November 2012

November 19, 2012

Crunch Time…

Filed under: General — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 10:40 am

It’s a strange thing to realise that out of 45 years of existence, only 5 years have been lived the way one would have chosen to live them.

Take this on board and one could get really depressed – scratch that – I’ve already been catatonically depressed because of this realisation.

The thing is, what do you do about such a situation? Staying depressed only loses more of a much shortened life. Correcting it, when variables are monumentally out of your control, is almost insurmountable, but the alternative is to continue living the life of the walking dead – and I wouldn’t recommend that sort of lifestyle to anyone!

So schedule your time well – lock in routine. Routine, routine, routine! Routine is the answer. Don’t think, just do. Do, until one day you wake up and your life is once again accomplishing something and you’re living the way you want to live, without effort and without thought.

As a close friend once said, set the outcome you want but don’t focus too much on the outcome – that will take care of itself. Instead, stick to your routine – schedule a little work each day towards that outcome and the cumulative results will give you the outcome you want.

There is no secret to success, most able bodied and able minded people, can reach any goal they set, as long as they focus on their daily work and don’t obsess on the goal/outcome. Obsessing on the outcome, is the greatest way to prevent oneself from reaching it.

So let your scheduled iPad alarms ring loud throughout all the working days of your life! :)

Cheers – Vasilios Theodorakis – November 2012

October 9, 2012

The Train Set

Filed under: Ungrouped — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 10:30 am

It sits so still,
Unwitnessed, unused, unloved.
And under a gifted Christmas tree,
The phantoms of children
That never were
Mill around,
Reaching and grabbing at the carriages,
Spinning the transformer controls
With little hands
That pass through the solidity
Of the set’s atomic lattice.
Perplexed, they step back and skip away,
Fading into their own perspective’s horizon.
Breathing in, all I can do to contain our sadness,
Is kneel down,
Reposition the locomotive,
And hope that it might travel
Around the track
Were someone to show up,
And claim the title of childhood.

    A title – still open.
    Staked to the floorboards of our home,
    Below the perpetual legacy
    Of Christmas times crafted,
    By both, me and my wife.

Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 2012

June 30, 2012

Drawing A Line In The Sand

Filed under: General — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 8:33 pm

I’d like to believe you can draw a line in the sand and quarantine the past and the present from contaminating the future. For human beings though – it’s never that simple. Depending on circumstances, temporal contamination of the future can take the form of physical, emotional, psychological, social or spiritual issues. If defined in this way, drawing a line in the sand, is an attempt to prevent personal history and current circumstances from further contaminating and wasting an already shortened life.

Though I’ve made regular attempts to implement this principle, i.e. taken a stick, drawn a line in the sand and begun moving forward in earnest, I almost always encounter a health issue that causes my past to stumble back across the line – wasting even more of my life. You might argue that chronic ill health is no one’s fault, but when you lose years, then decades of your life to medical conditions, it’s hard not to blame yourself for allowing life’s sacred essence to ebb away and rinse quietly down time’s infinite drain pipe!

So why continue to redraw a metaphorical line in the sand when I know my health will ignore my wishes, step over the line and contaminate/waste the present moment yet again? Even though I can’t regulate my health very well, I can prune all my other problems, forcing them back beyond the line and giving myself the best possible chance to move forward with the least amount of baggage. That is, maximising my chances to make a difference in the world and leave behind some sort of legacy. Unfortunately, this means working harder than most (which I know seems unfair) and “pedastooling” the underdog’s “don’t give up” attitude. Dealing with chronic illness as a separate variable to other self limiting issues needs to be internalised and needs to become ingrained in one’s constitution in order to get the most out of drawing a line in the sand.

So, if like me you can’t quarantine ill health, you can at least draw a line in the sand for a whole series of other things that limit life’s potential. For example, (quarantine and don’t allow the following back over the line or into your life) – 1. Don’t waste the little time that you do have on petty issues and petty interpersonal dynamics; 2. Don’t settle for being thrown resource/monetary crumbs off the table of the healthy and the wealthy! Demand to be paid what you’re worth and find smarter ways to make more cash using less time. 3. Never accept that you’re not worthy of living where you want to live! Find a way to live where you want and make sure your environment is bright, clean and hygienic – even if it’s just a room in a house! 4. Never self deprecate and dumb down your intelligence in order to make others feel smarter and better about themselves. Also, just because people around you think chronic ill health equates with being intellectually deficient, doesn’t make it so. People who patronise you in this fashion are just a couple of steps away from pure malevolence – so avoid them!

To sum up – no matter what your circumstances, make good use of whatever time you have at your disposal and pro-actively ignore anything and anyone that detracts from using time well! Though you may not be able to draw a line in the sand and hold back all derailing aspects of life, quarantining and leaving behind as much as possible will definitely make life more pleasant and successful. ;)

Cheers – Vasilios Theodorakis – June 2012

June 24, 2012

The Poet’s Online Dumbbell

Filed under: General — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 10:57 am

I’ve been writing poetry since 1983, so I figure that makes me a poet of sorts or at least gives me some credibility in terms of talking about poetry. My writing includes some good, bad and ugly verse but every poem has been an exercise in refining the skills of my craft.

Sadly, there are few online exercises (that I’d recommend) in order to help a budding poet with their poetry skills. One unexpected surprise however, is a unintentional piece of wordsmith “exercise equipment” called Twitter.

Poetry has always been about saying the most with the least amount of words and if you can do this eloquently, you’re on the road to success. Twitter, which limits your tweet/post to 140 characters, forces you to be very exact in your word selection.

I opened a Twitter Account on the 1st February 2012 in order to promote my own work, never realising, how useful it was as an exercise tool for poetry. And by this, I don’t mean using Twitter to write actual poetry like Haiku, etc. The simple act of forcing one to think about whether a word is necessary or not, or whether there’s a better word to convey one’s meaning is a fundamental skill that every poet needs to master and maintain.

Over 360 tweets later, and even though I haven’t used my Twitter account as intended, the act of tweeting has kept my word minimalist skills sharp and my enthusiasm for tackling more verse high.

In regards to Twitter verses Facebook, it’s no secret that I don’t think much of an organisation that openly collates dossiers on its users and makes money by selling that information. Even if I didn’t have this grievance, I can’t see the likes of Facebook ever doing anything as constructive in terms of wordsmith skills as Twitter does with its 140 character limitation. ;)

Cheers – Vasilios Theodorakis – June 2012

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