One of the more gratifying aspects of any minor illness is the mood that overtakes one (i.e. me) during one’s convalescence.
A short while ago I developed a rather fascinating set of assorted symptoms and a whole lot of illness to go with them. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t really all that bad, but a secretary who overheard me listing the physical manifestations of my condition over the phone to a rheumatologist, asked me how, with so many things going wrong, I was still alive and paying my super. As it was, I felt alright apart from being somewhat tender to any light pressure over every bony prominence and half of all the fleshy ones too.
Anyway, I looked sick enough to make most of my family (I love my Jodes), think that I was rather ill, and being the sort of rugged and manly chap that I am, I just gritted my teeth, stiffened my famous English upper lip and forced myself to act as ill as possible and play for all the sympathy I could get (Anything to avoid doing the washing up). All of which goes to explain why, as we close in towards the end of this financial year, I found myself quietly convalescing in my lovely provincial villa, idyllically located within the flood plains of the Logan valley.
I stood atop of the garden veranda (how the hell I got up there in my current condition is another story) late in the evening as the sun sank over the nearby metropolis we locals know as Ikea. It was totally deserted save for the occasional hoon speeding by, the only real sign of life being a faint wisp of blue smoke curling lazily from the far too loud, wide bore exhausts of the boy racer’s utes.
As I surveyed the scene I felt a deep calm sweep over me. I was aware of a great stillness within me. I was aware of a dissolving of strife and tension. I was aware of falling asleep, which I probably promptly did.
When I gradually became aware of waking up again, the last of the rays of the sun had already gone, leaving nothing but an amorphous orange smudge on the horizon, and my sense of joy and tranquillity in that moment were heightened only by that sound most delightful to all who enjoy the vast openness of Australia… the sound of the womenfolk preparing the day’s dinner.
I took another slug of my cold coffee and hobbled off the makeshift balcony into the sweet smelling back yard. What an evening! What a moment! What an opportunity to step outside of the minute to minute blood, sweat and tears and ponder day to day living and to commune with nature and to think…
Yes, I decided, now would be when I would pause, take stock of the moment, and think some realy, really, Great Thoughts.
Yes, I would turn my attention to a few of life’s pithy little problems – such as my blueprint for an Ideal Society, a rational basis for humanitarianism, an alternative to imprisonment as punishment, a peace plan for the Middle East, a much needed cure for tourettes and a few other odds and ends that I hadn’t quite got around to sorting out last week.
And, as I am always eager to share my thoughts and insights with you, my faithful readers, I thought that I would now reproduce for you the stream of philosophic consciousness that emerged from those great moments of contemplation.
Alrighty then, here I am. Just me, all alone, standing here, in the dark, all at peace with the world. Just like I had always promised myself I would one day be. So… So… Hmmm… So here we are then…
So… what? So what time’s supper? Now wait, that’s not exactly a philosophical premise, is it? It’s not stoic, anyway – epicurean maybe but not what I had in mind for such an occasion as this.
Start again. Start with life. Ah yes, life. Life. Yes, life. Life… and… Time. A Time-Life production maybe?
I once took out a subscription to Time magazine: it was extraordinary – every single three year old back issue I had ever read in the dentist’s waiting room was absolutely fascinating and so jammed full of interesting stuff, but every single up to date issue that they sent me in a confidential, plain brown wrapper, was as boring as old boots. Funny that. Life eh?
But then what’s so boring about old boots? I’ve known some fascinating old boots in my time. I even married a couple.
But don’t boots get old suddenly? You can be wearing a pair of brand new shiny boots for a couple of months and think that they look quite smart… and then the moment you go into a shoe shop, they suddenly look as if they are forty years old and you have done thirty thousand miles in them, most of it on rough terrain while avoiding arrest to boot (no pun intended but I’ll still take any credit).
Nothing looks as criminal as the things on your feet when you go into a shoe shop. I always get the feeling that the assistant is going to look at my feet, nip round the back of the shop and call Interpol. Yes, it must have been the shoes that gave the police their first clues to the Springwood embezzlings. Yes if it had not been…
GODDAMMIT this isn’t anything like a Great Thought. This is dribble. As per bloody usual. Start again!
Well… Hmmm… Well, perhaps I should elaborate on my blueprint for an Ideal Society. Yes I’ll do just that. Actually my eccentric uncle Neville (name changed to avoid Albert any embarrassment) once had an Idea for an Ideal Society.
“My boy”, he said to me one Sunday, “I think there would be a lot less bloodshed in this world”,
“Yes, yes, yes, yes,” I said
“a lot less war and strife”,
“Yes, yes, yes”,
“and a lot less vandalism and destruction”,
“if everyone in the world spent three weeks in the Canary Islands, They’re just so darned peaceful”.
(Was that it?).
Mind you, maybe the daft old twerp had a point – there might be a real future for a political movement to replace Capitalism, Socialism, Marxism, Anarchism or even Fascism with honest to goodness… Package-Tourism. A new world order organised by the upper echelons of the Fly by Night Holiday Co, Ltd, Plc. (dot) Org.
Are you kidding? They couldn’t even get the two of us and our luggage from our airport to the wrong hotel. But aha! That maybe exactly the sort of world government we need for our Ideal Society…
“The Fly by Night Holiday Co, Ltd, Plc. (dot) Org, regrets to announce that World War Three has been unconditionally delayed owing to the fact that we can never get more than four soldiers to the same place at any one given time”.
Hmmm, so much for Society then. What’s for supper? HOLD IT. HOLD IT JUST ONE MINUTE. We are not moving from this far from idyllic back yard until we have had at least one Great Thought or moment of insight. Start again!
A moment to breathe. How often have I asked, even pleaded, for a moment to breathe?
Hundreds of times, I’ve promised myself a moment to breathe… to attune myself to the music of the spheres, to face myself. Well then. Here it is, so go on – face yourself. On the other hand, why even bother? Surely one already knows exactly how rotten one is in the first place. Deep down in one’s heart, one would rather face a rhinoceros with haemorrhoids than face oneself. It would probably be prettier anyway. The only people who can actually face themselves are precisely the kind of people that don’t need to.
Maybe I could take a moment to breathe and go round and face them. So much more pleasant.
All right, just for the hell of it. What am I doing here? What am I doing at this point, here, on the third rock from the sun, at a flash of time between the first amoeba and the very last neutron bomb: what am I doing? Well… I’m… I’m… What am I doing?
I’m finishing off this blog entry, that’s what. Somehow that doesn’t sound like a very significant answer. I guess I’ve just used my moment to breathe as a moment to breathe in. So what of the future? What do I want? Where am I going? I am going… I am going to have my dinner. Yes that is what I want and that is where I am going – to dinner.
So I went for my dinner. And on reflection, I realised that I hadn’t quite got round to solving the humanitarian question or the problem of the Middle East.
Some other time, perhaps. I mean life eh? – It certainly takes some thinking about, doesn’t it?
One thing is for sure though; simply thinking about things just never seems to make them happen. You have to act to get those little annoying jobs done around the house. And whilst I’m here wasting my valuable time thinking of and putting to rights all of the world’s little woes, you could be jotting down my phone number (0434 646 928), and giving me a call, and taking the first steps toward properly maintaining your home. 🙂