Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Get Over It

‘What a wonderful day it’s going to be,’

I had just breezed in with my trusty duster and cleaning cloths. He greeted me with these words from his spot at the computer in the reception area.

‘Oh?’ I said. ‘So you’ve got something special happening today?’

But he shook his head.

‘No, not really,’ he told me, and then went on to explain. ‘It’s just that I’m fairly new here and everything is still fresh and exciting. So every day is going to be wonderful.’

Do you know, the very first thought that popped into my mind was to say something along the lines of

‘Well make the most of it because it won’t last!’

But, thankfully, I managed to quash that thought before it found utterance.

See I remembered people saying things like that to me when I was all excited and filled with enthusiasm about something new in my life.
Like when, after years of being a stay-at-home Mum, I was able to get myself a job. I was over the moon, but the moment I expressed my feelings on the subject, everyone told me

‘Oh you’ll get over that, believe me’

I guess I’ve heard those words a number of times during my life. Whenever I’ve been brimming with excitement about anything – including my first adolescent crush – someone has always seen fit to tell me,

‘You’ll get over it,’

Now of course they were right. My enthusiasm did wane with time, sometimes much more quickly than others. What started out as so fresh and exciting soon turned into the mundane. Well except in the case of the first crush – that turned into reams of dark poetry filled with heartache and thoughts of ending it all. But I did get over it.

And I totally understand that we could never maintain that level of excitement for long periods of time without causing ourselves physical and emotional harm – all that adrenaline pumping, heart racing, jumping-out-of-your-skin reaction to life is really only ever meant to be a short term thing.

But I wonder how much of our ‘Ho-Hum’ attitude is actually due to an inevitable decline in enthusiasm and how much of it is actually programmed into us? 

Someone comes into work so obviously full of the joie de vivre and your first response is to ask them
‘So what are you on?’ (Or to make assumptions about their nocturnal activities of the previous night.)

The shop assistant is bubbly and wants to chat and we think,

‘She’s a bit over the top,’

Could it be a case of sour grapes? Do we react to happy, enthusiastic people in this way because they make us feel lacking? Because we wish we knew how to be more like that instead of being bogged down in our own particular patch of mire?

At the moment the (very young) guy at the reception desk is bursting with positivity because everything is new and life is full of opportunity. I have no idea if his youthful exuberance will stand the test of time or not, but I sincerely hope so.

 I didn’t want to tell him 

‘You’ll get over it’,

 because I really hope he doesn’t. 

©Lyn Murphy 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Jacarandas are in Bloom

©Peter Murphy

The Jacarandas are in bloom.

Everywhere we go we are greeted by the magnificent display of lilac-coloured blossoms, creating a giant halo for the branches, carpeting the ground beneath the trees and swirling along the footpaths in the spring breezes. It’s such a beautiful sight.

That opening statement was the only thing I found in my cupboard of inspirational thoughts when I sat down to update my Blog. But, when I tried to find an analogy to use – some way to turn the blossoming of the Jacaranda trees into a life lesson – I came up empty.

I wondered if perhaps my thoughts about the Jacaranda trees could have been more to do with aesthetics than anything else? Perhaps it’s just that I love the sight of the world turned magically purple – just as I love the explosion of red in the summer time when the Poinciana trees take their turn; and the haze of yellow in the winter when the wattles flower.

But then it occurred to me that everything in this life doesn’t have to be steeped in meaning. We were created with an ability to appreciate beautiful things.  Once upon a time, before the advent of Relaxation Music and the plethora of herbal remedies to cope with the stresses and strains of life, I’m sure people would just go and sit somewhere – in a meadow or on a hillside, and soak up the beauty of nature.

Of course, with the hectic lifestyle of today, it isn’t always possible to go communing with nature. But then this is the very concept that makes today’s lifestyle so hectic – the idea that everything has be such a big deal.
A child’s birthday party used to be a matter of heating up some party pies and sausage rolls, and making some fairy bread. They would have a treasure hunt and play musical chairs and you’d send them all home with a piece of cake and a bag of lollies. Nowadays you need to hire a Jumping Castle and/or a professional entertainer. And the cake? Well I’ve heard of one unfortunately lady who earned herself endless scorn by presenting guests with something worth about $30 from the local bakery.

This is just the first example that popped into my head, but I’m sure you can come up with a dozen more. Today everyone is expected to be perpetually busy – maintaining a career and a household and raising a family – or babysitting the grandchildren while the children tend to their careers. And the children are expected to grasp the basics of reading and writing, numbers and colours, before they even start kindergarten. There’s just no time for sitting in a meadow, breathing in the fresh, country air.

Maybe the only beauty in your day is a goodnight kiss from the little ones, fresh from their bath and smelling of soap and shampoo? Or the special glance that passes between you and your partner, over the breakfast table, when the kids are at war over who’s turn it is to pack the dishwasher? It might just be the joyful greeting from the dog when you finally get home in the evening; or an unexpected email from a loved one far away?

Whatever it is – let that be your meadow or your hillside. Soak it up. Enjoy the moment.

©Lyn Murphy 2012

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Riding on the Rims Part 2

Last night (Friday) Pete said ‘How about we go over to the markets at Lawnton in the morning? We can leave right after breakfast,’

I said yes, that would be fun. But in my mind I was thinking of the basket of washing in the bathroom. And the pile of dirty mops and cleaning rags from our jobs during the week .Not to mention the mess on the lounge room floor.

See Paddy has an upturned cardboard box – his little cubby house – which he chews to pieces with great gusto. It’s our answer to having our furniture chewed. But every other day I need to clean up all the little bits of cardboard from the floor, and I mean all over the floor, not just in his little spot on a mat in the middle of the room. He has a way of spreading it everywhere.
Oh and the dear little fellow had managed to sneak off with a crust from a piece of toast and taken it up on the sofa to eat, so the arms of the sofa and part of the seat was covered in powdered toast.

But I managed to drown out the little voice in my mind and we did go to the markets, and it was a very pleasant outing. We got a bit of exercise walking around all of the stalls and we stopped to chat with some people selling birds. Three of the birds were the same breed as Paddy, but one was a Cinnamon Conure, which is a completely different looking bird, although he certainly displayed the same kind of antics. All he wanted to do was play, hanging upside down on his perch and chatting away in his birdie babble to Pete.
We got some lovely bananas, a book for Pete and a sweet treat for our morning tea. And, when we came home, there was still plenty of time to do the laundry and to clean up the mess.

Sometimes we can miss out on a whole lot of life because we are so regimented in our thinking. To me Saturday morning seems to be the time when I should do the laundry and the housework. Now when I worked full time, commuting back and forth to the city each day, Saturday morning was really the only time I had to do these things.
These days, with our contract cleaning work, I have much more free time so it really isn’t imperative that Saturday morning is set aside for housework. Yet it was still the first thought in my mind when Pete suggested an outing. Regimented thinking, see?

Okay, so it might sound a bit sad to you that my idea of Riding on the Rims is leaving the housework to go to the market, or going bird watching instead of hunting for jobs on the internet. It probably would have sounded pretty sad to me a couple of decades ago too, but happily I’m at a stage in my life where it really doesn’t have to be all high drama and wild excitement.

No, it’s more about making the most of whatever opportunities we have in life to enjoy ourselves; to escape from the humdrum, even if only for a couple of hours and do something different – something that will refresh and energise us to get back to it all again later.

©Lyn Murphy 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Riding on the Rims

They were probably around 10 years of age - a group of boys in scruffy clothes, who had gone into one of those Discount Stores at a local shopping center, leaving an assortment of push-bikes, skate boards and scooters on the footpath outside.

We were coming out of the nearby Fruit and Vegetable market when they exploded out of the store, snatching up their various modes of transport and charging off in such haste that one of them knocked over a display basket on the footpath.

Now I guess we were both expecting someone to come rushing after them, shaking a fist and threatening to kick their backsides if they came back again – but it didn’t happen. Either we misjudged them and they were just full of youthful exuberance or their transgression went unnoticed.

What didn’t, and absolutely couldn’t, go unnoticed was the awful racket they were making as they fled. The noise was obviously coming from the beat-up cycle ridden by one of the bigger boys. I quickly saw, and pointed out to Pete, that there was no tyre on the back wheel. The boy was riding the bike on the bare rim – the metal scraping and grinding against the footpath.

I saw it in my mind’s eye – it’s school holidays and the ‘boys’ are off out and about – probably to the skate park – or wherever the local kids choose to hang out. But this boy, let’s call him Scott – his bike is missing a rear tyre.  It can’t be patched any more, Dad says. The rubber is perished – just plain worn out. We’ll have to get a new one – but not this week, Scott. We just don’t have the money.

Well next week the holidays will be over. He needs his bike right now. It’s just too bad if he ruins the wheel completely by riding on the bare rim. It’s just too bad if he cops a serve from Dad when he finds out. All that matters to Scott at that moment is having fun with his mates.

When we are very young we simply live for the moment. We really don’t have the ability to look ahead and consider the consequences of our actions.  But when we’re much older we see things differently. We are so aware of the risks – of all the little things that could go wrong and the damage that could be done by that brief moment of hedonistic impulse.

A couple of weeks ago, for example, Pete decided to take us driving down a narrow winding track through thick rain forest. All I could think of was the fact that we had no reception on our mobile phone. What if the car broke down? It was raining. We were miles from anywhere. It should have been an adventure – a bit of fun on a Sunday afternoon – but, for me, it was all quite nerve wracking. I couldn’t relax until we were back on the bitumen once again – with a couple of bars showing on the phone.

How nice it would be to find that delicate balance between the impulsiveness of the young and the caution of the more mature? We don’t need to go riding on the rims.

©Lyn Murphy 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Lesson from the Wetlands

We went walking in the wetlands at Tinchi Tamba this morning. Pete mentioned that we might even see a kangaroo, and, about two minutes later, I grabbed his arm and pointed – ‘Look!’

She was standing among the trees, just a few meters away from us – a large grey female with the bulge of a Joey in her pouch. She stayed quite still, watching us, and providing a great opportunity for Pete to take some photos.

As we watched the Joey stuck his head out and even leaned down to nibble on some grass on the ground. It occurred to me that this arrangement – the mother carrying the baby in a pouch – was probably not very comfortable for her.

Think about it for a moment. A kangaroo is all legs and tail, sharp bony joints and long claws. I’ve seen a Joey dive into the mother’s pouch when he feels threatened – head first, wiggling around until he manages to turn right-side up. I’m sure anyone who has been a parent will know that very young children have no concept of being gentle to avoid hurting someone. They flail around with little elbows, knees and fists and often leave Mum and Dad with bruises. I can’t imagine a baby kangaroo would be much different.

No, I really don’t think motherhood for a kangaroo would be a very comfortable experience at all. But that’s just the way it is for them. They don’t know any different. They really don’t have options to make things easier or more comfortable. They just continue to do what nature has programmed them to do.

I often think our lives are made super complicated by the fact that we do have options. We are constantly presented with a barrage of advertising which tells us that, provided we can afford it, there is an option to deal with most of the uncomfortable things in our lives.

There are pills and potions and surgeries, gizmos and gadgets. There are bookshelves bulging with self-help books. There are special clinics, and self-proclaimed gurus of amazing new techniques guaranteed to help us discover strengths and powers within ourselves that we never knew we had.

 In fact I think we have gotten to a point where we seem to believe there must be something seriously wrong with us if we can’t find a way to banish any of the discomforts and inconveniences in life. We have almost lost the ability to simply grin and bear it – to accept that sometimes life WILL be uncomfortable and inconvenient. That’s just the way it is. 

© Lyn Murphy 2012