Monika Schott

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A life of 'oh wells' are greater than a life of 'what ifs'. I write to express life in all its glory, to spark thinking … I love to swim outside, practise hot yoga and hit the boxing studio. I'm currently undertaking a PhD research to capture the social history of the community that lived on Melbourne's first sewerage farm. I've had several short stories published, my latest being 'The Teacher' in 'These winter months'. I was short-listed in the Ada Cambridge Prize, won the inaugural Wyndham Rotary Arts Small Business Award and have a Masters of Communication where I looked at boys and reading and what it is they like to read.

Regeneration

b2ap3_thumbnail_Sea_cucumber_20150329-061827_1.jpgA leathery-skinned sea cucumber can twist its middle like a liquorice stick and split into two, then grow new backs and fronts to become two separate and whole sea cucumbers. It can contract its muscles and excrete internal organs through its anus, and regenerate missing parts within weeks. The starfish can lose a point and restore that limb within months.

Much can regenerate. Humans included.

On a physical level, tissues and fibres can grow back; hair, nails and the liver organ too. Mostly they can. Regeneration of that essence of us humans, our soul that can dive by a cog or two in its ability to function, can occur too. Must occur.

Just as a sea turtle hatchling digs its way to daylight to scamper across warmed sand under the sharp eye of preying egrets, and into waters where sharks wait ready to snap, navigating that regeneration can be a treacherous, swirling surf. The sea turtle goes on instinct, without question. It’s the same for us.

A panging soul means riding all manner of waves, with and without a surfboard or life buoy, to navigate seas that are normally no concern. We tumble and turn and gasp for air through night and day. We can be meek and brave all in one, tentative as a hermit crab emerging from its shell or as tough as an old shark scared of nothing. Such extremes of mite can be exhausting, the noise so loud that it’s full of sound where nothing can be heard.

And yet in that struggle emerges a depth of strength we’re often unaware of that helps us grow and repair. We somehow find our own way to stable waters, whatever that level of comfort means to each of us. Our energy rejuvenates through its natural healing as a nurturing and survival that the human spirit just knows how to do.

We manage those wildest waves, even if it’s sometimes teetering precariously on the tip of a mountainous wave about to crash from one hundred stories high. At that moment, we feel our hearts skip in that balance of tentativeness and bravado … until a glimmer ignites like a hot air balloon being given a shot of heat, and we know we’re commanding once again. Allowing that time to regenerate, and the patience of time to do so, is key.

Time can mend. Mostly. Usually.

Sometimes, a human spirit cannot manage that mega-surf of extremes. It attempts to steady and becomes agitated, making regeneration a mighty challenge. That soul knows the importance of regeneration and that it could take a short time or a long time. It can lurch in sea-sawing surf and lose its grip to fall in crashing, rapturous roar at any time. And when that happens, that human spirit does not resurface. In a sea so vast, it is lost. Gone. Good-bye to a soul that does not renew in this world.

I wonder if the sea cucumber has a one hundred per cent regeneration rate. I salute it and those with a pang too great to regenerate, and those that can navigate those waters to do so.

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Entwining soul fibres

 

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He perches on a stool at a table that abuts a ceiling-to-floor window, sipping a dark latte in a double insulated glass. He hunches over his newspaper, his grey T-shirt rising to reveal his lower back and a slip of red from under lightly fraying and faded jeans. He glances over the top of his newspaper, through the window onto the passing city foot traffic in the lane way. He fixes on the occasional woman in red or man in blue that speed by. His gaze stops at the door of the café. He wills it open and when it does open, his knee bounces and his heel jitters on the foot rest beneath the stool. A new customer approaches the counter requesting coffee and a toasted focaccia on the run. Baristas move in speedy hustle sending coffee machines to grind and hiss in steam. He relaxes back into his reading.

A couple at a corner table wearing black suits chat in dynamic pitch. Hands wave and heads nod. One has a bubble-glassed coffee while the other has a cup of tea stained in milk. They’re oblivious to anyone or anything but one another, immersed in their conversation.

After the umpteenth willing of the door open, his expression changes.

He leaps from his stool in eyes of gaping gawk at the door that’s opened. His hunch has disappeared and he’s much taller and leaner than his slouch disclosed. He smiles deep in lines of happy as he fixates on her.

She gazes around, and smiles in the sparkle of a star when she spots him. She walks toward him as a beaming light, her step quickening and extending in stride that makes her toned legs skinned by jeans, long and slender. Her unruly locks part to the sides. Each stride beams in more light.

They have not yet touched but they’re already connected by invisible soul fibres that entwine and draw them to one another. Their pull of power is unwavering. The couple at the corner table and baristas stop in gob-smacked jaw.

They embrace as those soul fibres bolt into golden padlocks set deep in hearts. They fuse as the one mass to become their own shooting star, where no other realm exists. And even when they draw back their heads to gaze at one another, they’re still emitting their impenetrable sparkle.

Then comes the kiss … deep in longing; lingering and locked in effervescence. They kiss without restrain as a glowing sentinel in the café. Their arms and hands fit in perfect place over one another, chests and thighs fuse to become one body and they radiate in multi-dimension to the extremities of the Universe.

They release. He pulls a stool for her and takes her hand to guide her to sit. They chat but the conversation doesn’t matter. It’s more about the way she relaxes one hand over his knee while the other grips his bicep as she leans in to chat. He gazes at her in wait while resting his hand over hers.

A waiter brings her a coffee in a long glass topped with whipped cream, and a slice of Linzer tart on a plate with two forks. She breaks off a piece with her fingers and feeds it into his mouth, then kisses him to catch the crumbs falling from his lips.

She sips her coffee and scoops at her cream; he chats and strokes her hair behind her ear. They sometimes giggle, but always touch. He cuts some tart onto the fork and eases it to her mouth. She savours it, then his lips. They embrace.

One after another that passes by the window look in to catch their sparks.

He and she don’t notice. They see nothing but her and him. Nothing more matters.

 

 

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Powerful piece, Moni! Oh, those hormones...! :-)
Sunday, 08 March 2015 13:41
Monika Schott
Thanks Rosy. Lovely to watch people be so openly warm.
Sunday, 08 March 2015 21:58
Katherine Gregor
What a beautiful piece, Monika. The chemistry is palpable.
Monday, 09 March 2015 13:46
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Purging minions

b2ap3_thumbnail_23c365f6af44dd8272a6b5fd1d1f9938.jpgScurrying to hide and go, and move and do, flying and jumping in erratic motion of crazy ... manic minions fighting for attention like spoilt children vying for the last sweet on Earth without knowing where it is.

They clash and scrap within a mess of scattered matter, bullying if they must in their desperation for validation and prime position. The frenzy becomes a bubbling cauldron of emotional prod and pull, too big for the heart to contain. It erupts, overflowing to the brain. 

That’s when true plumbing havoc begins with blockages of activated sludge and leaks into cracks of permeability. Crusts of tar form to smother reason and logic, fear grips to suffocate what’s right and best and nurture the growth of trepidation and uncertainty. Manic minions have now become tribes of egos that squabble amongst their own.

Where to look and what to do ...

A stroke of unexpected softness from innocence, a touch that says, ‘It’s okay.’ The stroke becomes a hold that stops your breath and grounds you to the earth in shuddering reality, sending those manic minions scurrying.

Their withdrawal is short-lived however, and those minions return revived and more frenzied than ever. But you’ve had a glimpse now, a reminder from your heart.

The minions come and go, like and dislike, take a sneaky peak. They want but don’t know how to want and send mixed up messages. They’re greedy and self-satisfying with egos that thump and demand.

Each minion has its own agenda that changes by the minute, sometimes repeating to never end or begin, as the chicken and the egg. All are urgent, yesterday urgent ... the wheel spins faster and faster until a centrifugal force kicks in.

Then, in the momentary flick of a switch, everything stops. Everything falls to nowhere.

A life is gone.

All that remains are memories and grief, and people with minions yesterday, bound together today. Nothing is the same again. What mattered yesterday, matters nix today.

Instead, spending an hour having dinner together, savouring the conversation more than the food, takes centre stage. And when that stage moves to the kitchen to clean those dishes, the chatter moves with it, as an oozing luscious centre from a warm chocolate pudding. Yesterday’s minions are floundering as they wash down the eternal emotional drain, until the minions are gone.

You remember what’s important to you and not what’s important to anyone else, what makes you happy and your heart sing as the most exquisite sound on Earth. You remember the power of love and that when fear knocks at the door and love answers, there’s never anyone there.

 

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Powerful, truthful and brilliant rendering of an interior landscape. Thanks, Moni! :-)
Saturday, 21 February 2015 11:58
Monika Schott
Thanks Rosy. Love your description of the rendering of an interior landscape! ... Read More
Sunday, 22 February 2015 02:47
Katherine Gregor
So vivid and heart-rendering, Moni. All the very best to you.
Sunday, 22 February 2015 11:10
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The little flat-head that swam away

b2ap3_thumbnail_20150123_085203_resized.jpgWhat beauty surrounds me, even while sitting under an overcast sky wearing a jumper over my summer dress and a strong westerly spitting rain onto my laptop. My bare legs catch the breeze, sending my feet into a gritty quick-step against the ribbed decking under the table. No matter how many times I dip my feet into the bucket of water by the door, my feet are never truly sand free with grains collecting in between my toes and up my shins and calves. Not that I mind.

Waves roll in and crash to the shore as I sip on a glass of local Riesling. I’m embarrassed to say that it’s not quite two thirty in the afternoon, but I I’m on holidays and savouring a glass of wine at this time of day is okay I think.

Two of the boys are fishing from kayaks and the other is fishing off the rocks. The beach belongs to us as the only house perched into the bottom of the hill with the beach at our front door step.

‘Mum!’ comes a deep call. I look up to one son waving me over.

I stride from the deck down a few steps onto the sand.

‘I caught a flat-head,’ says one of the boys. ‘But it’s too small and I can’t take the hook out. Can you?’

I take his rubber thong and rest it over the poisonous spines of the fish to protect myself as well as steady the fish so I can ease the hook from its mouth. Poor fish. The hook barely moves. After some gentle tugging though, the hook loosens to release. The flat-head doesn’t move to begin with and I hope with all my might that it soon will. And it does. Albeit a little dazed, the fish swims out to sea with all my encouragement coaxing it from behind.

After twenty years, my brother’s hook was finally released this week. It’s been edging off for a while now and sometimes, it’s been yanked at with no movement at all. That’s typical of mental illness though, it’s unpredictability to improve or deteriorate. He has been cared for at home all those years and it has been only the last few months where he has steadily improved. This week saw one last tug that released him from that hooked grip. He secured a bed in a transition house where he will be supported to learn to live independently. He’s probably floundering in his own sea at the moment as the little flat-head did when it was first unhooked, as he tries to find his way. Unlike the little flat-head though, he has support all around him to help him and it’s that support that will be the difference between sinking or swimming.

A bite at a piece of softened chocolate and sip at my wine brings me back to the water. I gaze across the bay to the distant mountains sitting quietly in various hues of grey while savouring the sweetness of the chocolate and crispness of the wine that complement one another perfectly. Being on a deserted beach adds another dimension of deliciousness.

A few days at this place by the beach is a stark contrast to our visit to Queenstown days earlier. Queenstown is a struggling mining town that boomed in the late 1800s and early 1900s with gold, silver and copper unearthed from the surrounding hills and mountains. In 1896, Mount Lyell was touted as the greatest copper mine in the world. Investors, led by BHP, became very rich.

The key to the huge mining success at Mount Lyell back then was pyritic smelting, a process that utilised the heat generated by burning sulphur and iron in the pyrite, which was used in place of coke to fuel the furnaces. The first time the furnace was lit, the workers could hardly keep up with the flow! The image of billowing smokestacks became a symbol of pride and progress.

Fast-forward a quarter of a century and that hook of greed had snared tight. The smoke from those smoke stacks released toxic sulphur dioxide that clogged the air and left the surrounding landscape covered with a poisonous yellow dust. A blanket of yellow fog could be seen from miles away and workers needed to carry hurricane lamps in daylight hours to see. Work horses too suffered, as they bled from their noses. The sulphur killed what hadn’t been chopped down from the surrounding forests and the slopes of Mount Lyell and Mount Owen became devoid of vegetation. Instead of grass, the football oval was covered in gravel and those investors, they left with pockets bulging.

Today, almost one hundred years since the pyritic process ceased, those hills still lay bare. Some mining occurs but the town struggles, caught in a tangle of the huge legacy of what was. Seeing that was saddening and I felt angry at the greed of humanity. Having breakfast in a local café one morning though, amongst wonderful, open and chatty locals, gave me a glimpse into a community that breathed an air of resilience that only diversity can give. People seemed to exude as an aureolic halo as they went about their day. If reports are true that the Tasmanian government has plans to explore a range of opportunities that will bring life back to the town, then Queenstown could have a second chance at life. They too have all my encouragement gently supporting them.

Second chances are wonderful things, especially when they involve an underlying strength that stems from the polarisation of life – beauty and devastation, strength and vulnerability, care and indifference, greed and generosity.

Just as sunshine beamed down this morning and an overcast sky adds a tinge of grey to everything around me, baby flathead will always be set free. The greed for more will always be, as will the resilience in all of us grow. It’s what makes the world go around.

 

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
A complex, vivid and inspiring post - full of information. Beautifully painted chiaroscuro. Thanks so much, Moni.
Friday, 23 January 2015 11:36
Monika Schott
Thanks, Rosy. Always appreciate your feedback. ... Read More
Friday, 23 January 2015 21:01
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