“A Bag of Secrets”

I find that every now and then, I will discover a piece of music or song that really resonates with me. Sometimes the reason is obvious, but sometimes it just seems to be the melodic flow of the instruments. My imagination can always be “fired up” with particular musical phrasing, and of course by a certain lyric line, so when listening to music or a song (or even reading a book), I am often “directed” into a space where I can let go of the real world for a few moments. I go into my “other world”!

Back in 1973 (when I was a 27 years old father of two), Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” was released. I was one of the few in my social circle that fell in love with it, and I cannot even guess at how many times I have listened to it.  For anybody not familiar with it, the original (he also recorded an orchestrated version and also a more modern electronic version), is a 50 minute musical adventure!

The other day I was searching YouTube for some specific music and quite by chance noticed a “Tubular Bells” video. It was of a live performance by Mike Oldfield however, it was timed at just over 8 minutes. How can one present a 50 minute piece of music in 8 minutes? I had no idea but decided to find out!

Not surprisingly (in retrospect), he used the main “Tubular Bells” theme to gently caress other melodies. This Post was not, however, written to focus on Mike Oldfield, or his “Tubular Bells” piece. Remember the first paragraph?

As the 8 minute YouTube video performance was almost at its end, a voice of a very young boy with an English accent said:

And the man in the rain picked up his bag of secrets, and journeyed up the mountainside, far above the clouds, and nothing was ever heard from him again.”

So why don’t you join me as I go through the doorway into my “other world” and contemplate that single sentence. It raises so many questions such as:

Is it an old man? I associate the activity as being that of an old man, but that is nothing more than my perspective.

Why is he out in the rain? Obviously an unfortunate set of circumstances, but perhaps his mission was very important to him.

How was he travelling? I can visualize so easily an old man walking with great effort up a mountain path and disappearing into the clouds, although he apparently went “far above the clouds” … and has not been heard from since, so I wonder where he went?

Those of you  who are very detail oriented, may be aware that I have not mentioned the “bag of secrets”! That “bag of secrets” was the phrase that got my initial attention and locked in my interest to the point where I had to Google the piece to get the exact wording. So what exactly was in his bag of secrets? Well of course, being secrets, we will likely never know but what an adventure in one sentence 29 words long! Here we have an old man going out in the rain to pick up his bag of secrets. We don’t know whether they were his secrets in the bag, or those of somebody very special to him, but his mission was important enough to be out in the rain.

Then there is the “mountainside”. Not only does that conjure up images of a quite steep and winding trail, but that trail went right through (“far above”) a layer of clouds and “nothing was ever heard from him again”.

So what is it all about? I have no idea what Mike Oldfield had in mind for either the “Tubular Bells” musical saga, or for the little English boy’s spoken words at the end of the live performance. When in my “other world” however:

The old man has lived a long and eventful life and feels that his end is near. He knows that if some of his knowledge learned over his many years were to become known by others, then those dear to him could suffer as a result. He therefore decided that, rather than risk his secrets becoming known upon his passing, he would put them all in a bag and take them to a place where nobody would ever find them.

What happened “above the clouds” provides a couple of possibilities. I think that his work on earth was recognized by one or more of the deities who watch from above, and a reward was offered to him, being eternal life nearer to them … and he could bring his bag of secrets with him to ensure their safety. So it is my belief that he walked up the trail, carrying his bag of secrets, right through the clouds and to the very top of the mountain, at which point he was gently taken from the mountain and carried to a place some of us might call Heaven where he still lives.

An alternative thought is that he carried his bag of secrets to the top of the mountain where he then buried them. His mission completed, and knowing his time was imminent, he lay down and awaited his final breath.

In summary, an intriguing three word phrase (“bag of secrets”) and 26 additional words, can really create the basis for quite a story!

Footnote: It is remarkable how a short collection of words can make such an impact. Now imagine what a larger number of words could do! Well of course, a larger number of words can be called a book, and I am sure that most of you have read at least one book which held your attention, and may even have created lasting memories. A “Bag of Secrets” and the “Power of Words”, are both doorways which invite us through. Anybody ready for more adventures?

A New Direction perhaps?

This Blog was started quite a few years ago, and was predominantly going to be a vehicle for sharing my experiences with Ray … our (then) new family member. Ray may longer be with us, but he is missed terribly. However,  the world must keep turning and, in that context, some decisions are going to have to be made about this Blog. What to write about? How to redesign it to reflect a new direction? What will be the new direction and, in fact, will there be a new direction?

Stay tuned, and don’t be surprised to see some decor changes around here!

The Day After.

I hear little footsteps coming into my bedroom, but I know he will never enter again.
 I get a nudge on my elbow as I sit at the computer, but I know he is not here.
I hear his footsteps overhead as I sit in the basement, but I know it cannot be Ray.
I found a roll of poop bags in my jacket pocket, and later we will probably go for a walk. It will be quite different now.
I look at his food bowls, knowing that we have no reason to put food in them.
The following was  written quite a few years ago now, and is more poignant now than it ever was.

A Man, a Dog, and the Sky

Laying on the grass

On a summer afternoon,

And watching clouds caress the blue sky.

Listening to birds, as they sing their songs,

But I’m thinking of… just you and I.


Leaves gently dancing

To the tune of the wind,

With their branches swaying in time.

Insects are buzzing their own harmonies,

While I’m thinking of… just you and I.


And even at night,

When stars fill the sky,

It’s so easy to lose track of time.

There’s much to see but… so easy to dream

About… just you and I.


And on rainy days;

We both look outside,

And wish that the weather was fine.

But soon it will stop and then… we’ll both go

To play in the garden… you and I.


You wanted to be friends.

I was rather surprised.

A nose touch… yours to mine

Was all it took to melt my heart.

A nose touch… and a moment of time.


Perhaps our souls indeed did touch.

The inner me perhaps was found.

Perhaps it was just your big brown eyes

Saying so much… yet with no sound.

But that’s history… to you and I.


So where do we go

From here my dear friend?

Where do we go and why?

To journey together; to laugh and to cry,

And to enjoy every moment of our time.


A man and his best friend.

What more could there possibly be?

I ask myself with a sigh.

Such unconditional love… just for me.

I shall never question why.


Here we both are anyway,

And on the same road.

Who knows of the reason or rhyme?

But we can love and play; celebrate each day

And enjoy what remains of our time.


Who would ever have thought?

Both of us… just laying here,

On the grass. Just you and I.

Just you and I… together… and alone.

A man… a dog… and the sky!

My Buddy Ray!

It is with great sadness that I write to advise of Ray’s passing. He had developed a tumour on his left hind leg. Surgery would have meant leg removal, and it was believed that lumps in other parts of his body were likely also cancerous. Ray went from a happy, ears flapping dog, to one who was clearly in pain, could barely walk and need to be lifted up steps, in a matter of a few weeks.

Fortunately, we had a vet come out to our home (Ray had been curled up in the garden for the previous 3 hours or so), and she very gently put him to sleep. Once he was asleep, she administered the final injection. Ray was around 12 years old.

Farewell Ray. Wherever you are now, I hope we will meet again some day. You were the best!


Really going to miss you Buddy!


‘Tis that time again!

Wishing everybody a wonderful time over the holiday period, and a peaceful new year.

A new year where we display and witness compassion towards others.

A new year where we endeavor to understand that each of us is a product of our upbringing and of our life experiences.

A new year in which each of us can celebrate our own uniqueness, and acknowledge that attribute in those we meet.

A new year in which we can celebrate our differences, rather than isolate one another because of them.

A new year that we can together make truly wonderful.

Aspiration … or Inspiration?

(This is a copy of a much earlier posting, but it is still relevant today.)

“Treat others as I would like them to treat me.”

It’s a wonderful basis for living, and I adopted it many years ago. Of course, how effective I have been is open to debate, but I like to think that my “compliance percentage” is quite high. The problem though is that it is often misunderstood. I know that because, when I broach the concept with some people, they respond with “Aren’t you disappointed though when they don’t behave accordingly, or when you go out of your way to help somebody, but they never reciprocate … don’t you wonder why you bothered?”

It is so important to understand that the quote was not “Treat others as I would expect them to treat me”, but rather “as I would like them to treat me.” Understanding the significant difference is important if one intends adopting that concept. An “expectation” that is not achieved can be really disappointing … but a “like” that does not follow through is just a part of living. There are a number of areas which are important to understand if we are to role model effectively.

We have to understand that each of us is a product of so many factors – parental influences, childhood experiences, teen experiences, location, lifestyle, traumatic experiences, success and failures etc. etc.

Romantics will often stress our uniqueness; our individuality. They are quite correct. Because we are all exposed to so many (and varied) influences as we proceed through life, we are indeed absolutely unique individuals. This means that I need never be disappointed at how “you” behave. I could of course not like how you handle a specific situation, but I just need to remember that your life influences are different from mine. If I can always remember that, then I can accept what you do/don’t do. I may not like your actions in a specific situation, but I can accept that your life has taken you in that direction.

I am reminded of a lesson I learned many years ago when my two teenagers were being particularly challenging – “There is no reason why you cannot always love your children. You may not love what they do, but you can always love them for who they are.” – My issue with that was learning to separate the person from the action. I did not find that easy to do, but it makes so much sense when you think about it. Why should we stop loving anybody simply because of what they did, when all they did was behave in accordance with their life experiences?

We should perhaps each spend a little time to understand who we are … what/who were our biggest influences … who we admired, and why, as we grew up … what made us happy, and what brought us to tears … our emotional highs and lows …. our successes, and our failures.

If each of us was a cake recipe, it would indeed be a very complicated recipe, and each cake would be unique. Once we have grasped that perspective, it is so much easier to accept others simply for who they are.

“Treat as others as I would like them to treat me.”

Does this provide a goal for you to aspire to, or does it simply inspire more thought? Regardless of your answer, somebody once said “Role model how you would like the world to be.” There are more of us than there are politicians so, rather than wait for our leaders to move in this direction, we should simply take charge and demonstrate our desire for a better world. There are millions of us, so can you just imagine what such a common perspective could achieve?

Judith Durham ………..

gave me so much listening pleasure as the lead singer of the Australian group The Seekers but, sadly, she has passed on. “It’s Hard to Leave” was apparently written many years ago, and in the context of her leaving her family and friends in order to go on tour with the band. This was a new song to me which I recently came across by accident … but what an accident! Enjoy.

Before you vote……………..

Many of us have imminent elections, and the rest of us are likely to have them in the not too distant future, so here is an interesting read (author unknown):

Butch the Rooster

Sarah was in the fertilized egg business.  She had several hundred young pullets and ten roosters to fertilize the eggs.  She kept records and any rooster not performing went into the soup pot and was replaced.
This took a lot of time, so she bought some tiny bells and attached them to her roosters.  Each bell had a different tone, so she could tell from a distance which rooster was performing.  Now, she could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report by just listening to the bells.
Sarah’s favorite rooster, old Butch, was a very fine specimen but, this morning she noticed old Butch’s bell hadn’t rung at all!  When she went to investigate, she saw the other roosters were busy chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing, but the pullets hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover.
To Sarah’s amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn’t ring.
 He’d sneak up on a pullet, do his job, and walk on to the next one.
Sarah was so proud of old Butch, she entered him in a Show and he became an overnight sensation among the judges.
The result was the judges not only awarded old Butch the “No Bell Peace Prize” they also awarded him the “Pulletsurprise” as well.
Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making.
Who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the unsuspecting populace and screwing them when they weren’t paying attention?
Vote carefully in the next election. You can’t always hear the bells.