Reflexive narrative to inner adolescent from my 40 year old gay self.

This piece of writing acts in congruity with the interactive a/r/tographical website http://www.creativemusings.com.au.

During this study which looked back and recreated the self by looking over a life, I very fortunately found a letter I had written to my future self from when I was just fifteen years old. In this section, I have the chance opportunity to give comfort and nurture my inner adolescent through his many worries and encourage his ideas in a way that gives birth to an important dialogue. It has been unexpectedly central to the nature and structure of this study.

15 year-old Rich: ‘PRIVATE’ 7.8.1989 To Rich (or RIK!) ha Age 24

As a 40 year old at present: I’m sorry 15 year old Rich, (Yes, it is Rich still!), I know this letter was intended for you when you were 24, I can remember how you thought that was so far into the future. I’m grateful you wrote me this little time capsule; but I have to tell you I’m 40 years old now when I’m replying to your letter. Whats more I think I’m being brave in that I’m publishing the response to a complex life you have lived, as I study a Masters of Education at Victoria University, Footscray. Bet you did not think you would be doing that! Actually, I don’t even think you could have imagined yourself as a 40 year old-but here I am!

15 year-old Rich: I’m 16 tomorrow. Wow. Will I get a guitar, or a jacket? I s’pose you know. I’d like to smash a guitar right now. (The following is my fifteen year old interpretation of my father): “You want ta — He wants ta learn the guitar. It’s no use havin’ it in his room by himself. He’s got to get out and play in a band!’ KERIST!’

As a 40 year old at present: I can’t remember what it was like for you on this day, but your letter gives me an idea. My memory is not clear, but I’m pretty sure you received an electric blue guitar from Mum and Dad. You used to play it all the time and I still have it, with its many decorations, stickers and graffiti placed on it over the years. You have bought and sold lots of guitars through hard financial times, yet the blue guitar is worthless and you hang onto it for sentimental reasons, maybe to remember the time spent as a very young adult. Guitars became a vehicle for your expression in later life.

You used to hide dope in the battery compartment later on when you were at art school (Yes, you went to a prestigious Art School-bet you didn’t expect that after wanting to leave school as a surly teenager in year 10!).

As a 40 year old at present: I can sense your anger, and know the anger that was much internalised for you, and seemingly from parental expectations… I know Dad used to say you needed to play with other people, and that frustrated the hell out of you — that’s because you were quite isolated in a way-he only wanted the best for you. In many ways you are similar to your Dad, in many ways, different. In actual fact, you did get out there and play in bands-you were the lead singer and guitarist-right up until you were about 28.

As a 40 year old at present: You played lots of clubs and band venues around Melbourne and even in Canberra. You did studio recordings with various bands in a few different incarnations, with your friend Greg Kirby, whom you had not met yet-but I remember you remembering the name ‘Greg Kirby’ at the year 7 roll call-as if were fated you would meet him. You even recorded a CD with your brother, before he moved overseas to Ireland to live for some years. You also, were fortunate enough to travel quite extensively, and made drawings along the way.

As a 40 year old at present: The music you played was punk rock / pop, and as expressed in your letter, you were a young existentialist that liked to record where you are at in art, music and writing. There was some success with your band, or at least personal gratification, and it seemed to be a method in which you could channel your frustrations about sexuality and your struggles with mental illness, for unfortunately for you, you would develop a full blown psychosis and a diagnosis of schizophrenia by the time you were 20, and have reoccurring psychosis for the next 20 years. Despite this, you have been an extraordinary survivor with great resilience, and contributed to society in many ways, even writing a book ‘Recovered, Not Cured, a journey through schizophrenia’ about your journey to comparative wellness through your illness and struggles (McLean, 2003).

As a 40 year old at present: You were and are a complex person, but you have found many friends and much more peace in your life despite some massive obstacles. Your life has never been dull in terms of creativity, although it has been questionable in terms of its inward existentialism that was driven by some bad choices. Nevertheless, your art is collected in galleries, and institutions. You just received a call today at age 40-with a gallery offering a space to exhibit in next month. Your life and art was celebrated in a documentary that has been used to reduce stigmas and misconceptions about mental illness, and you have been generally fortunate in your life. You still consider yourself one of the luckies people you know. At the present time-you have never been happier.

15 year-old Rich: Where are you? In a zoo? A mental institution? Possibly a mansion, Nah you’ve got no go. Maybe you’re in the tip, making mechanical hands out of coat hangers. Hey, are you on another planet? Maybe you’ll never read this. Maybe you’ve been abducted by aliens, or killed in a nuc bomb. That means I’d be wasting my time right now, but that doesn’t matter, I do it all the time.

As a 40 year old at present: Where am I you ask? I am in Footscray in the west of Melbourne in a big old house typing on a computer, which has revolutionised modern society, like your sketch suggested from university when you were twenty years old was extremely intuitive about. It looks like the concept of an iPad and your intuition with ideas is strong. In your time up until now, you have struggled a lot and moved a lot, but it is fair to say that you have grown in many ways through these processes.

In actual fact you just got off the phone to your Dad and Mum, who bought a new dog from a lady they said I would be so ‘in tune’ with-they offered her number. She says there is no such thing as schizophrenia (a concept which you have identified with for a long time), -and you are likely to call her! Your Mum and Dad accept you as different, spiritual and somehow in touch with something they are not. In the present tense, you are very appreciative of this fact. They understand by not understanding, and have done the best they can to raise you with the knowledge they had despite you feeling misunderstood and neglected sometimes.

To date, after you left home in Keysborough at age about twenty-one where you lived with Mum, Dad, Jodie and Brad, you have lived in the following places:

Mordialloc, with Steven Teitjens, who is still a close friend of yours today, and for whom you were best man at his wedding,

Back at Keysborough again with your parents,

Then you moved into a run down property, (that really needed demolishing), in Edithvale with your associate friend through Karen, whom you dated for a short time, Dee, and another girl, Tory. Here, you recorded music with your band ‘Less’, a self depreciating name of which you have mastered in your life-stop it!

After that you moved home again for a while, and shortly after, needing help with feeling comfortable in your own skin in terms of sexuality, you moved out with your cousin Duncan in Preston who was outwardly gay.

From Preston, you more accepted your sexuality, and moved in with a new friend Shannon to Clifton Hill. (That’s where you recorded the CD for the band ‘Welcome to Tuesday’ with your brother and Kirbs). Shannon moved out shortly after and you stayed there for a number of years whilst you worked as an illustrator first for ‘The Herald Sun’ and then for ‘The Age’ (Yes, you got to do your dream job!).

From Clifton Hill, you moved to the western suburbs where you live now, although first stop was West Footscray with Paul. Paul has since passed away.

From there, you bought a golden retriever that you have adored for nearly ten years. You named him after Saul Steinberg the illustrator from The New Yorker, ‘Steinberg’ of whose work you were blown away with at university. By then you were working in a psychiatric service advocating for those people who utilised the service. You were busted with the dog at the rental and you were forced to move out to Seddon, where you lived with a cross dresser, and you fell away from society and into a life of bad choices with drugs. Your art suffered.

From here, you were destitute. It was fortunate you had written a book about schizophrenia, and befriended Roscoe at the book launch- who came to your house one day and moved you to country Eildon.

After Rossco became unwell, you fled back to your Mum and Dad’s place, and collected your things over time. You are still great friends with Ross.

Living with your parents again was hard for you, and you had met a younger fellow, Shane. You cashed in your super, (you had been unemployed for quite some time), and you moved to Phillip Island, which you loved so much growing up. Shane went with you, and you both lasted about a year. It’s clear to me that you dated a younger guy so you could exist in that space which was ‘out and proud’, as he was, to compensate for your ‘lost youth’. It was another big learning curve, and you ended up-you guessed it-at your Mum and Dad’s.

After a time you moved to Mordialloc, which is where your Mum grew up. While you were there, you met the most wonderful man, Steve. Although you were doubtful at the start, he moved in after six months, a time in Buddhist philosophy that recommends you know someone for that time before you live together. You both moved to Footscray where you have a studio and have been accepted with a scholarship to study a Masters in Education, which is the auspice under why I am writing this to you, my inner adolescent.

Interestingly enough-you ask if I am in a mental institution, how your young mind was intuitively tuned to the life you would play out. You had become an advocate for mental health after writing a book on your experience with schizophrenia. You had some very tough years, but-you are well and you seem to have overcome extraordinary odds, including overdoses, (which you have hardly mentioned to anyone as a great shame), to turn your life around. You have helped many and although you have not changed the world, you have indeed contributed to it changing. You have spoken internationally and on Australian television and a lot of radio, and your book has been available for 10 years and sold over 11,000 copies-even translated to Japanese. You spoke in Australian Parliament and also overseas in revered institutions. Although your future intuition on ‘madness’ was accurate, you cope, and you do well. You have little in the bank, although is that what’s important?

Much of the happiness of the last few years has been attributed to you making conscious decisions about changing your life, learning personally, and accepting the love and teachings that your partner Steve had to offer. Steve seemed to be sent at the right time in a fatalistic sense. He has taught you so much, and the rebellion of meaningless sex no longer applies to your life, I’m happy to say. At the age of 40, you are more together and have never been closer to anyone in your life. He is a blessing and the muse for your work ‘The Universal Embrace’.

15 year-old Rich: I bet you’re really cut you haven’t done anything in your childhood. What a waste. Have you still got mates like Grant Jacobs? You God damn bore. I’ve got heaps of homework tonight, BIO, CHEM, MAT A, ENG etc.

As a 40 year old at present: You did what you could-you are hard on yourself, and for the most part-you still are. You could be wise even now to give yourself a break from time to time. This does not mean work less-it means to be satisfied with your accomplishments. You have not changed the world in a massive way, but rest assured you have changed the people around you, mostly for the better. You have been an inspiration to many, and helped a lot of people too.

You don’t still have friends like him, either. In actual fact there are few people from high school you chat with. You are blessed with many friends. Your beloved lifetime friend, Wez, whom you met in grade one, passed away last November 2012 after a life of alcoholism and also, coincidently enough, schizophrenia. You were a great support for one another, and he came to say goodbye one night to you before you knew he had passed over-this made sense later that week in retrospect when your parents drove from Keysborough to Footscray to tell you of his passing. You organised his wake-

and you remarked how those people who were so mean to you in your adolescent life had not changed at all. Even now, in this moment, the crystallisation of what your life experiences have been have made you quietly proud, and very grateful.

Your Mum gave you a drawing you did from when you were a child at your 40th. I remember doing this, and if I was asked, would say I’ve felt that I’m an old soul in a new place. I have always felt this. I reflect on the length of the horns on the goat indicating age, alone and looking over the landscape, drawn when quite young, but relating to an entity that is old and happily isolated.

I noticed you changed the subject quickly to homework-its true, you were good at adapting to school and you excelled in your Bachelor of Fine Art. You continue to push yourself and it has enriched your life.

15 year-old Rich: I hope now that you’re a success in life. You can’t change me now, but I can change u can’t I? You’re at my mercy, Under my power. Are you an enigmatic presence packing red death now? Maybe I’ll feel your feelings when I’m 24 at this moment. 25! Gee! half way to 50! I remember when I thought I was old at 10!!

As a 40 year old at present: Oh Rich of 15, success is a long winding road-but you have had your achievements in your life. You have done and experienced a lot more than others can say. You have been overseas, by yourself and with others, about seven times… Artistically, your life has always been a meandering journey of expression and reflection, and this continues in the current time. You were a risk taker though, and you are grateful for your health and the people in your life. If I could have reassured you then when you were fifteen, I know it would have given you great comfort.

15 year-old Rich: I want you to read this to your wife or best buddy. If you’re laughing, best wife or buddy, or rather, best buddy or wife, I give permission for RICHARD WILLIAM MCLEAN to either bash you, or hmmm!

As a 40 year old at present: Oh young Rich, you were so aware of fluctuating sexuality, but you felt the need to use the term ‘best buddy’, if you had a male partner! I remember you writing this, and I know what you meant. In that time, in that space, in that environment, in that age, there was no room for you to confidently express your sexuality. Things in society have changed since then, and peoples attitudes have changed. You are very aware of yourself sexually these days, and comfortable. It sounds like you in yourself were comfortable back then, at 15, and I remember being a child attracted to both boys and girls at primary school. Such is the untarnished and unfettered self reflexivity of a frustrated 15 year old-that you had to write it in code.

This would be a recurring theme in your art, doing things in code, and deluding yourself about the facts. While this was certain, your intuitiveness with creativity often led to great insights.

15 year-old Rich: How’s the world looking now? Overcrowded, polluted, overused, exhausted? Or have the extra terr’s taken over to control we numbskulls? I bet there’s smog everywhere. All those poor species deceased.

As a 40 year old at present: Poor 15 year old Rich, your pessimism about the world has held you back through your life. Even to now. You do venture into positiveness, but you still feel a great responsibility for the world, carrying it on your shoulders, which has been to your detriment, but also fired some creative processes.

Your intuition speaks well. Yes the world has problems, but you knew that already. I’m sad that growing up in a cold war era, and knowing about the end of WW2 led you to an uneasy fear of nuclear war. I understand that as a child you could not really grasp why the people and leaders you are supposed to look up to would have these devastating devices. These kind of negative thoughts almost certainly led to your unravelling, in your pessimism.

For the record, there have been no nukes used in wartime since the two you knew about at the end of WW2, but there have been two devastating nuclear accidents, one in Chernobyl, in Russia, (which has now dismantled), and one in Fukushima, in Japan, after a devastating earthquake that triggered a tsunami that killed many people. The devastating legacy of that pollution is slowly being made public.

You really could have used a sign of the lords prayer on your wall when you were young-as you do now-which of course is — ‘Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference’.

Funny you should mention extra terrestrials. For you, seeing beings in your room or sensing them was so real to you, even as a child. This became more real in adult life and adolescence when you have had profound experiences with beings and hearing other people’s experiences you relate to that have experienced similar phenomena.

You have egotistically looked into shamanism with your work, and you have been led by negative entities into dark corridors. You are a person blessed and cursed with seeing these types of occurrences, and in your adult life, have managed to rid yourself of negative presences, interestingly though prayer and shamanic processes you in present time don’t talk to many people about. You must know however, that metaphorically you have been told that you continue to shine light into dark places, acting as a spiritual guide somewhat, in a world that needs transformation. So yes, in actual fact, you had already been compromised with darkness in your life metaphysically, but out of that grew the light.

15 year-old Rich: Hey, have you seen an OILS concert yet? Or have you grown out of kids stuff like everyone else?

As a 40 year old at present: I remember with this question to my future self, that you as a 15 year old were dealing with a lot, maybe too much for a person so young. Metaphysics, sexuality, discordancy, nuclear war, etc. To have you ask if I have been to a concert reminds me of how young you were, like a normal kid, yet how you had been burdened with so much. The answer is YES! You have seen a few Midnight Oil concerts-the best one was where you went with Wez at the Palace. It was amazing and to date one of your favourite gigs!

I’m glad you experienced some normality in your adolescence, and in fact, in year 10, you convinced your Dad to purchase 27 tickets to one of their shows at Rod Laver Arena for all of your many friends at school. Your parents didn’t always understand-but they supported you in everything you did and do.

You did grow out of performing music however, and you are very nostalgic about the performances and recordings you have made…they were a part of your journey of self actualisation.

15 year-old Rich: If kids ran the world, we’d be right. PTO

As a 40 year old at present: I still agree with you there. There is something about being unconditioned that would lead the world to be a better place. Indeed, there is a saying, a Buddhist saying, that says something like ‘education is the sum of prejudices you acquire before turning twenty one’. You appreciate Buddhism.

15 year-old Rich: Maybe I should leave a sample of air for ya!

As a 40 year old at present: There is that quirky yet depreciating humour of the state of world events and circumstances. Perhaps you should have, the world, as you knew then, has been through horrendous tragedies and is a lot more polluted now than in the history of mankind. It is actually quite apocalyptic by some scientific measures, and whilst trying to support the good will of saving the environment, you are still pessimistic about the futility of the human race and prefer to focus on its survival, focus on the intentions of good will in a buddhist sense while you are here. Some might say that without discussing these themes when you were that age with others, you had a gift of intuition that would both burden and inspire you throughout your life.

15 year-old Rich: Do you still like 60’s music? I’m into it, man. I’d hate if someone reads this. I hope guilt looms over their heads until they tell me!!

As a 40 year old at present: Yes! You still like 60’s music. Its a funny thing-you were attracted to the homoeroticism and sadness of the program ‘Tour of Duty’, and had all the episodes on video, (videos don’t exist anymore!), and you knew through music the political landscape of the world that came before you, perhaps even more so than your own Mum and Dad, who had lived though it. You had an acute eye for transformation through art and music and this was also a help and a hindrance in your life.

You’d hate if someone reads this? Well, I’m happy to say you are so comfortable with who you are that the letter is going to be published as part of a narrative journey to your childhood and back to the present. You always have been an ‘over-sharer’, since coming out both in terms of sexuality and being honest about your experiences with mental illness. You both enjoy not having to hide anything anymore, yet somehow you also feel quite transparent-yet this is your choice as a creator-to make yourself vulnerable as an artist.

15 year-old Rich: (Points to a cartoon character) Is he a success? Maybe he is your only friend. If he is, do something about it.

As a 40 year old at present: You loved to draw the character ‘Heudo’ the metaphorical reptile. The main human in it I remember was called Rik, and had a haircut like me at the time. It was another stepping stone of discovery for you, and although in yourself you felt very alone for much of adolescence and through what you identified with as schizophrenia, you always had the capacity to attract many different types of people into your life. You were non-judgemental, and accepted goths, spiritual people, even satanists, musos, artists, and people whom you knew had not expanded their mind enough to let this happen. The lonely, so to speak, journey you went on was also, a curse and a blessing. You, in your life, if you needed it, were never without someone to talk to. If you were, you could quickly rectify that by having philosophical conversations with strangers and other people you would meet.

15 year-old Rich: I tried to invent a flying saucer today. By a gyroscope I copied, or magnetic powered. or a combination of both with a huge fan. Maybe you’ve got one!

For years and years, after you saw a program on free energy on the then futuristic but now kitsch television show ‘Beyond 2000’. Its now 2014 and those shows you longed to see are extremely dated!

You really wanted to save the world, and set your mind to it. Can I tell you, that as an adult, just before you started your Masters work in 2011, you designed a conceptual animation that goes part way to your goal of making an endless gyroscope machine. With insight, I’ve realised it was a symbolic gesture of relating to a troublesome sexuality, but this is the alchemy in which your art exists. I could confidently say that you have been guided, and that the Jungian idea of synchronicity, that meaningful co-incidences have spiritual significance, has been at play throughout your life.

The design you had the idea for is included in this interactive project. Where it goes will be determined by a positive mindset. The linking to you, at 15, is still valid to me now, I guess you could say it was something I had never finished and that I didn’t have the means to do. Now, I forgave how ‘delusional’ it might have been to put effort onto this idea of late, and your ideas are alive in my life now.

15 year-old Rich: What have you lived life for? Was it worth it? Do you wish I’d been popular in school or just ‘RICH’ that everybody knows?

As a 40 year old at present: Young Rich, Im pretty sure I can say with confidence you were born for a reason, to contribute to the broad experience of human existence and to, if I was speaking spiritually, learn as the earth is a school, so that you can learn and grow. The earth hand your manifestation as a spiritual being in your body, has seen you overcome many obstacles. If I could have slipped into your mind then, and told you something about your life, it would be this:

You are blessed although you have had trauma. You have learnt through bad decisions. You have been a beacon of hope for others. You wrote and performed in your own bands. You have exhibited art for many years. You are very loved, if a little misunderstood by your family. You have been blessed with some spiritual/intuitive gifts over your life which I now had hoped you had paid more attention to. You have sold thousands of books that your wrote and travelled around the world a few times. You are in a fortunate country and you live in a state of luxury only Kings and Queens lived only 200 years before your birth. But the thing you have lived for-is to learn through experience and reflection, like I am doing right now. In this you are contributing cosmically to a grand design. You have met famous people and listened to spiritual leaders, both famous and infamous. Life is not easy, but you agreed to that before you came here I have realised, as part of your life purpose, your shamanic ‘soul contract’, if it were.

15 year-old Rich: What are ya? Bikie, hiker, hobo, millionaire?

As a 40 year old at present: Your suggestion here is that I am somehow so different, that I would be unconnected to a normal society. In this regard, there is some truth to that I must concur. I feel for the 15 year old that was so overwhelmed he might check out of society as a way to preserve yourself in such a hostile place, or so it seemed to you. Sometimes, you were disconnected-for your own preservation, sometimes you were so disconnected, reality became cloaks and daggers, and your delusions, which make some sense in retrospect, took over your life and prevented you from engaging in (I hate the word ‘normal’), normal things. You are not a millionaire, but you are rich, in many many ways, which you have much gratitude for.

15 year-old Rich: I bet you’re average, nothing special. Do I hate you? No, just wondering. Maybe I’ll find a source of inner strength, and do something with my life, maybe I won’t.

As a 40 year old at present: Again with the self depreciation, which would follow like a curse through life… I know you were told you were special as a child, but I also know the frustrations from inter dimensionality and fears born of the modern world that ‘normal’ people did not understand. In actual fact, you invited this consciously. I remember you saying to ‘the universe’ that you would offer your mind and body and soul to help stop a nuclear war. Its quite unfathomable you might do this-I think you were about 15 or 16. Its about the time you consciously remembered encounters. I also remember when you were younger, you drew a landing pad for UFO’s on the shed roof with a crayon- which is still there-and it was a metaphor for opening up those multi dimensional qualities to your metaphysical experiences.

Your strong moral compass was debilitating with a feeling of responsibility for the world. In some ways this is true to this day.

If I could say-Rich at 15-I like you. I even loved you, as I love you now. You were an extremely sensitive person thrown into a complex place that you could hardly bear, and you survived with the best attributes you have. But you made a hell of a lot of mistakes later on thats for sure! But, this is normal, and you have grown from them. Recently, you went on a trip to Thailand with your partner Steve, and on a whim, you got an image of your inner child tattooed on your foot. It seems that event acted in congruity with this response to your letter. This follow up writing was to say and enforce that as I look back, I love you and want to say-that you are going to be ok, happy, grateful, blessed, and a very fortunate person despite your many learning obstacles. You are grateful and loving and have not been broken yet! If I could say one thing to you however-it would be not to pick up smoking. I know it was rebellion, but I’m still smoking and its hard to give up! I would say this to any child or adolescent, too.

15 year-old Rich: Want to know whats in your room?

As a 40 year old at present: Yes! I have read this letter and I will break up your text because I remember nearly all of these things that were in your room! Maybe I should tell you whats in our room now though?

We have a wooden floorboard big bedroom with a beautiful window to look out from. There is an image on the wall you created called ‘sweet peace’, and you have nostalgically saved it from being sold at exhibitions, because the day you created it it gave you such a feeling of accomplishment and serenity. It is an image of a lotus flower, the enlightened soul growing from the dark of the weeds and mud, quite a metaphor for your how you feel about your life now.

On your bedside drawer, there are essential oils and incense you use for burning in the room and house; on the shelf opposite the bed there are many crystals you have collected over your life, and there is a bowl of them on your bedside table as well. You use white sage to cleanse the room and you still burn incense like you did when you were 15.

You marvel at the crystals all the time, and clean them under full moons to keep them in pristine condition. Some may say you are Wiccan in religion, lending a lot from Buddhism. Under the picture ‘sweet peace’, you have a poem that was read to you about Archangel Michael, which is all about not being more than God with the ego-a lesson you struggle with as you feel reticent to promote yourself at times with your art, and other times placing too much importance on them. In any case, it has been important for this study to hang on to so many drawings letters and memories from your childhood.

15 year-old Rich: 2 x Oils articles, A Rockhampton and Canberra flag on a bamboo pole, a Halls Gap and Sydney badge,

As a 40 year old at present: This delights me at this age, because although you were fraught with philosophical dilemmas about your place in the world and worrying about the world, you were a band loving, poster bearing normal kid in ways!

15 year-old Rich: a homemade crayon,

As a 40 year old at present: This speaks to me on many levels! I remember you making the crayon, it was melted with flame out of other crayons and was multi coloured. Even back then you were not only making art, but you were very philosophical about even making the substance that would make the art-somehow this was a metaphor for you as a deep thinker

15 year-old Rich: environmental balance symbol,

As a 40 year old at present: I remember your environmental balance symbol-it was very coloured and expressive and you had melted crayon wax on it to give it bulk and texture. I remember it was a planet with a line through the equator, in this way you were aware of the respect of the natural balance of the planet, and you were an avid lover of David Attenborough and had many books, especially on lizards and birds.

jars and bottles full of marbles, my license, heudo, surfing posters, road-sign dartboard reptile articles, energy for life poster, 2 x free flow design, an E.T. pamphlet, postcards, photos, garfield in a noose,

As a 40 year old at present: I remember all these things! I especially remember the garfield in a noose-in your reading, which extended also to music and all aspects of your life-you were not interested in the cliche or the normal, you were interested in the destruction of what was considered commercialised, general or apathetic in your eyes. To have garfield- the worlds most famous and as you thought-monotonous homogeneous cartoon strip in a noose, it was saying a big ‘fuck you’ to normality, and to bring on the diversity! Even then you displayed the characteristics that would drive your interests in a non conventional way. The shock of hanging a small toy fuelled the aspect of you that to make a point you had to go out on a limb-this did trip you up later in life with your experimentation with drugs, which exacerbated your illness-you were even addicted to crystal meth for a time before one of your soul buddies — Ross — rescued you, for which you are still grateful.

15 year-old Rich: a plastic hand,

As a 40 year old at present: The plastic hand was an extendable hand that you squeeze and the hand moves-you loved it and it was your dad whom bought you it from one of your almost yearly trips to the royal Melbourne show. It was special to you because you were fascinated by it, and you were nostalgic about it because your dad bought it for you. One of the reasons you were accepted into VCA was the fact you had constructed a movable hand from coat hangers, string, and elastic from old car inner tubes. It was an early kinetic sculpture!

15 year-old Rich: a paper ‘sprint’ hand, a goanna photo with me

As a 40 year old at present: You used to get homesick as a child, but in year seven you went on a holiday to Hattah lakes near Mildura — and yes, you bought secret cages in the bottom of your bags to take your catch of lizards home. You could not believe your luck when a goanna climbed a tree sunning itself-and you and grant waited all afternoon till sundown when it climbed down, and you brazenly caught it! In the photo, which is still on mums mantlepiece at your parents house, you were wearing full fluorescent tank top and shorts that you got in surfers paradise, and you look ridiculous!

15 year-old Rich: and a paper starfish, a red barren paper aeroplane, a spiderman, Mickey mouse badges, a guitar strap, Footrot Flats picture, list of twenty elements,

As a 40 year old at present: You were and still are fascinated by science. You finally let go of Footrot Flats with your last move with Steve, and donated them to the children of the poor guy that had to mow your lawns… I’m sure he didn’t look forward to your requests to mow the lawn, it was more like you had to fell the back yard with his ride on lawnmower!

15 year-old Rich: ribbons, cars, piles of old rubbish, old broken typewriter,

As a 40 year old at present: I remember that typewriter well. When you and your sister were young you would practise typing your names on it. You both had catch cries too you would write, over and over again. Your sister would write ‘This is the story of Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde’, over and over. Sensing something base and metaphysical though, you would type an interesting message over and over, as if you knew as a child where you would end up after this life had run its course. You would type ‘Back to the place of origin’. In a way, writing this narrative is doing just that.

15 year-old Rich: a desk, (homemade), full of graffiti,

As a 40 year old at present: You know what, you loved making things out of wood and decorating them yourself. When you were younger, you would carve boats-you also made a paddle boat (which sank in the pool and mum cracked a bottle of champagne for its maiden voyage!) It was so funny and a happy time recorded in photographs of an epic fail! I can tell you now, that the desk you have now is actually propped up on some books you self published and still have copies of-the top of the desk is an old door! You were always one to make light of not having things, or you would entertain yourself, and be satisfied with it. It was a good quality to have to be an artist.

15 year-old Rich: a ‘telephone book money box’,

As a 40 year old at present: I remember that book too! Later on you worked at Kmart, and you used to hide the $26 dollars you would earn on the inside of the book-which was hollowed out so it would look like an ordinary book. During your childhood you were always making cubbies and going to secret locations, life was mysterious and adventurous, and in later years, as soon as you were allowed, you Wez and grant would catch the train to Stawell and ride your bikes to the Grampians to catch lizards.

15 year-old Rich: bed, tape recorder, tapes, dog with specs, gecko cage,

As a 40 year old at present: Those geckos were from a trip your dad took you on to broken hill where you collected and caught lizards that you kept as pets for years. You also made the cage, with a perspex front and a blue night light so you could watch them emerge at night time and feed them mealy worms.

15 year-old Rich: chair, amp, guitar bean bag heaps of school books, plants, (one meditating under a triangle).

As a 40 year old at present: Where does a 15 year old get the idea to get a plant to meditate under a triangle? perhaps it was from ‘a country practise’, where one of the characters was a bit eccentric, or perhaps it was from ‘the curiosity show’ where they demonstrated how meat would not rot as well under a triangle form. To this you were fascinated with the pyramids and archeology and its mysteries and are still an avid watcher of documentaries.

15 year-old Rich: Just got ‘Place without a postcard’ — Midnight Oil from Kerrie + Mark + Karen + Christian for b’day. Got Brut 33 from Sara. Kerrie’s surprise party tomorrow. gonna be good.

As a 40 year old at present: Brut 33! How funny! Sarah is now a lawyer, and you met her years later. You had such diverse friends. I think its because you thought you were so different, that you could accept all sorts of different people. You followed with this attribute throughout your life.

15 year-old Rich: By god, tomorrows gonna be alright.

As a 40 year old at present: I like your optimism, and during your life, there is just this inner feeling of invincibility, that you will die someday, and that is ok. Even now, you accept that and really appreciate the buddhist view of considering your own death every day. Well, tomorrow speaking as a general rule WAS ok-you survived-one of your ex girlfriends always marvelled about how you would land on your feet. I’m still not sure if this is fate or a quality you possess. But to be sure in this moment, you are in a beautiful house, about to hold some drawing classes for marginalised people, (whom you always relate to in some familial way), sitting near the heater, with your faithful dog Steinberg and Steve’s dog Chopper-waiting for him to come home from work.

15 year-old Rich: I’ll try and make ya great, Rich!

As a 40 year old at present: I wish I had remembered this slice of optimism in some points in my life young rich, but you have persevered through your mistakes and misgivings, and achieved a lot. Tomorrow was great-life has been worthwhile, and you were born into a time and a place and a reason in history, maybe not to be the greatest, but to keep being passionate about small things that you can do with honesty and greatness.

15 year-old Rich: Best wishes, Rich.

As a 40 year old at present: What a wonderful opportunity in self actualisation that I have been able to respond to this letter. What an incredible amount of themes that were taken through to my adult life, and what a ride since then! Its almost impossible to think that I had written this letter with so many synchronicities and so much meaning by replying. Young rich, I’m glad you considered me in the future. I can now more comfortably release the past with ease, and am so grateful for my life and its lessons. Hopefully this healing process by which I have comforted my inner adolescent can soften the blow of other people considering their own upbringing in the light of the (T)eaching qualities of A/r/tography.

There are many themes of this letter which are confronted within The Universal Embrace. Firstly, there is the intuitive subject of madness, which would become a later feature of my life. Within this dialogue I try to distance myself from the trials of being symptomatic to overcome a challenge which has been there with me for a long time. It has taken herculean effort, but I am satisfied my creating processes have added content and information that will enrich the good will of the world and society.

http://www.theuniversalembrace.com