Thursday, April 30, 2015

Guest Post :: The Thoughts :: By Robyna May

Now here is a post.

When Ronbyna from The Mummy and The Minx and Chasing His Sunshine sent me this Guest Post she wondered whether it was "a little dark and strange" for me to want to publish here.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is because of it's darkness, it's rawness, it's truth that I am so pleased to publish it here.  And there is nothing strange about it.

Not to me.  Nothing strange at all about asking the big questions.  Nothing weird about wondering where the deep conversations went.  Nothing odd about questioning why things happen the way that they do.

When I read this post I felt instead a bit overawed and overwhelmed.  I told Robyna that I felt as if I had been made caretaker of something very precious.  I still feel that way.

Read the post.  You'll know what I mean.

Guest Post : The Thoughts : By Robyna May

I remember it clearly. The voices raised above each other. The coffee and biscuits being proffered at the same time as passionately held opinions. Sometimes the conversation would be in Dutch and I would strain to make sense of it. Sometimes there would be an interloper and there would be English. Until someone started speaking with such emotion that their mother tongue would take over and leave the newcomer stunned and uncomfortable.  Most Sundays of my childhood were spent like this - coffee and cake and conversation at someone's house. After the Dutch Reformed Church goers had spilled out of the hall and onto the street in search of the next coffee and stroopwafel. The coffee was always hot, strong and black. The topic of conversation was always free-will and pre-determinism. 

Perhaps you can imagine how the circles went - How can free will exist if God knows everything and therefore the outcome of everything? If the outcome is known, then it must be pre-deteremined. Free-will is an illusion. But if free-will is an illusion, then so is sin and how can that be?

I would go to bed with these thoughts dancing through my head. I would try to capture my own free will. Try to identify the thought that controlled my breathing. The thought that compelled me to pick up the book I was reading.  But they were slippery those thoughts, quicker than whatever part of my brain gave chase. And I wondered at these different parts of my mind and how they interacted. I wondered, like many narcissistic children wonder, if I had somehow conjured it all up. This entire existence. Or, when I felt less like the centre of the universe, I wondered if we were all just dolls. Played with by the children of giants. Our immense victories and tragedies nothing more than the imaginings of bored infant Gods. I remember those strange thoughts. The thoughts that belonged to a child of no more than ten.  As a teenager, I revisited those thoughts, through a different lens. Trying to make sense of the abstract and searching for meaning. I read widely and sifted through words, attempting to find some sense. There were sleepovers and late nights talking to friends who were occupied by similar thoughts. At first, as we lay on our makeshift beds, our words would be tentative. And as we grew and explored each idea, we would start talking quietly but fiercely into the darkness. And we would finish by saying that we would understand better when were older. We didn’t not know then that these conversations would belong to us only as earnest, book-smart girls whispering in darkened rooms. 

Unlike my parents, I do not talk about philosophy as an adult. BBQ talk is full of real estate and children and thermomixes. It does not wander into dark and interesting territory. Rare, wine-sodden nights out with girlfriends lead to debate and despair over our government, climate change and the plight of asylum seekers. But those meaning of life conversations seem faraway and indulgent. Perhaps the absence of religion has taken away the platform for conversation. Maybe that kind of rumination is a European thing - not tolerated well by practical Australians.

But those philosophies came flooding back when my son died. When at an innocent two weeks he was robbed of life. My hands and heart, where a baby should have been, were instead full of questions. I wrestled with a God that could allow it to happen and I dismissed the notion of meaning when all seemed senseless. I grappled with the idea that his death held any reason and I wanted his tiny life to be filled with purpose. I wanted fourteen days to measure longer than a fortnight. 

And those words whispered by a hopeful sixteen year old girl came back to me - “maybe we aren’t meant to get too close to the truth of things. Maybe if we do, our bodies give way and cannot handle it. Perhaps that’s when we leave this life - when we figure out its meaning.”  And it gave me some small comfort, that perhaps in those precious few days my son’s soul had found all it needed. 


Robyna writes about grief and parenting after loss at Chasing His Sunshine.  She also writes at The Mummy and The Minx a blog about rediscovering your inner minx after having babies.  You can also find Robyna on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.  Writing and creating beautiful things are her passions.  She lives in Brisbane with her sons, her husband and a crazy dog. 

Doesn't she write amazingly?  Of course I can never relate to Robyna's loss having never experienced anything like it.  And yet Robyna's writing is so relatable.  Don't we all remember those late nights of childhood and teenage musings?  We dismiss them, eventually as childish but sometimes I wonder if we are all going backwards, becoming less wise as we move through life.

What has made you ask life's big questions?

Listen to: John Lennon Beautiful Boy

Images by One Small Life


  1. Thank you so much for having me and for your incredibly kind words. xxx

    1. It's wonderful to have you here, and it was a thrill to be over at your place last week! Hooray for blogging collaboration. And I really love this post. Takes me right back to my childhood. x

  2. Robyna can write, can't she? I love her last sentence. Simply beautiful and on such a "higher level" of thought and reason. Hugs to Robyna.

  3. Robyna, these questions occupied my thinking as a child too. Like you, I was raised in the context of church, but my sorts of questions were not so common there. I wondered about self-determination, fate, existentialism (although I didn't have the words for them then). I would weigh myself down with the terrors of the world and feel like I might never be able to lift my head. For me, the relief came when I decided that maybe it is death itself that brings us enlightenment. I heard somewhere when I was in my teens that we use a very small portion of our mental capacity, and that even Einstein used something around 11% (not sure if I got that right). But I figured, what is the rest of it for? If not for comprehending the universe? And if we can't use it in this life, for some reason, it must be space for our minds to expand into. It's the only way I can comfort myself about death. I think about how much bigger and more beyond my Mum must be thinking. How far more comprehensive her understandings must be now she is released from the limitations of body and time and the laws of nature. Thank you so much for this post. I really really enjoyed reading it. Thank you Kate for posting it! Brilliant read. Beautiful song. And I am so sorry for your loss Robyna. Fourteen days isn't even close to long enough to be with someone you love so much.

    1. Thanks Rachel - whilst there is so much that I do not like about organised religion, providing a context for those questions is definitely something I miss. And thank you about your kind words about Xavier - it was nowhere near enough time, but I am grateful for the days we had.

  4. A beautiful post that gives much food for thought. I remember spending hours in 'dreamland' as a child, lying on my bed, thinking all the thoughts, pondering and imagining about all of the possible meanings of life and everything in it. Youth was a time when I consumed books entirely - taking them in, analysing and understanding their everything. My mind seems superficial in comparison now. I wonder if it's a coping mechanism for the overload of tasks in everyday life. I hadn't really thought about it before, but my preference is for spending time with entertainment now, rather than philosophy. Thank you for reminding me about that other part of me! I'm going to see if I can rediscover a little bit of that youthful and thoughtful self again. x

    1. I do think that we spend our childhood with much bigger thoughts than we realise at the time. I am sure a special little someone will soon pose some new questions and perspectives.

  5. A real thought provoking piece. This made me reflect on my own childhood, and how the decisions of adults often seemed mysterious and complicated. It is interesting to note (for me) how decisions are more often than not are not as open ended anymore, more often than not the question of 'and then?' is no longer posed.

  6. As a child I was sure that the adults had the answers to all the questions I was thinking about - I didn't realise that as adults you become so busy and your world narrows to the point that you stop asking those questions - that the questions do become closed as you say.