Sunday, September 30, 2012


No one wants to be ordinary.

I’m sure, at some time in our lives, we’ve all harboured the belief that we were meant for something a little grander than the lot we’ve ended up with.  We bemoan the fact that, when we look back over our lives, there seems to be a serious lack of accomplishments to speak of.  It’s all so mundane. So everyday!
Just recently, after running her own business for years, my daughter has been working as a temp in a few different factories.  She’s been telling me about the different jobs she’s been doing, and in most cases she’s been part of an assembly line.

All day long she will be involved in doing one small job that is part of a sequence.The workers are rotated every half an hour or so in order to make sure everyone has a turn at doing each particular job.  The first stage on this one assembly line was to hold two small bottles at a time over an air jet to clear out any impurities, and then the bottles were put onto a conveyor belt to go through a machine to fill them with medicine. The bottles were then capped and went on to a labelling machine. After this they were gathered into carrier trays which are then boxed. The boxes went on to be taped and then packed into larger crates for shipping to various stores.

So, for half an hour at a time my daughter would stand there, take two bottles, quickly put them over the air jets and then back onto the conveyor belt to go through the filing machine. At the next rotation she would put the caps on the bottles and then send them on their way to be labelled. 
And so it went; the same little job over and over again until she was moved to the next station, which is the lot of factory workers everywhere.

But, as long as everyone does the job required of them, the product will emerge at the other end, all neatly packaged. If someone mucks up, as they did a day later on a line producing cans of coloured hair spray, then it's a different story altogether.

Perhaps it was a moment of inattention on the part of one of the operators, but suddenly there was a deluge of blue plastic caps spewing out of one of the machines. People were ducking as the caps rained down on them, bouncing off heads and conveyor belts and onto the floor. Eventually the machines had to be turned off until the mess could be cleaned up.

Now, of course, eventually the cans of hairspray still got to emerge all neatly packaged and ready for shipping. But there was time lost, which equates to reduced profits. Someone, at sometime soon, will have to submit a report explaining why, on that particular day, the section for which they are responsible, didn't meet the quota requirements for the day.

It doesn’t sound nearly as impressive to say ‘I work in a factory’ as it does to be able to say ‘I run my own business,’ It sounds very ordinary in fact.  However, remember, the next time you reach for those bottles and packets on the shelves of the various stores, that they are only there for you because people stood for hours on assembly lines in factories.

And remember too that for every superstar in this life there are thousands of people working in the background to take care of the ordinary, everyday things.  It’s only when everyone does their part that things come together successfully and the superstars get to shine.

And really, when you think about in those terms, there is no such thing as ordinary, is there?

©Lyn Murphy 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bird Watching

Today is a day for living.
This morning, instead of switching on the computer and checking, with forlorn hope, for emailed responses to my job applications, we went out straight after breakfast.
Instead of trawling through the job sites and feeling increasingly miserable about the lack of suitable opportunities, we grabbed our cameras and went bird watching.

We went to nearby Nudgee Beach, with its boardwalk meandering through the mangroves.

Now we hoped, since it was still quite early in the morning, that we might spot lots of wading birds as they took advantage of the receding tide to hunt for breakfast. But perhaps the waders had other things to do this morning because there wasn’t a one to be seen.
Still, there was a multitude of Kingfishers, flashing blue-green in the dappled sunlight as they swooped about in search of prey. And we were serenaded by a host of tiny, drab little birds who made up for a lack of splendid plumage with their magnificent songs.
We watched the antics of a little Willy Wag-Tail, never still for a moment. We heard the raucous honk of the Ibis as they patrolled the mud flats.

We laughed at the tiny crabs which disappeared en-masse when they spotted us – the really amusing part being that we wouldn’t even have noticed them if they hadn’t moved. There were so many of things that it was as if large portions of the ground simply changed shape in a heartbeat.

We saw the little puffer fish cruising around close to the surface of the water, harvesting the bugs that were foolish enough to settle for a moment.

It was such a simple little outing and yet it was just lovely. I came home feeling refreshed and uplifted and with a new sense of resolve.

I have no way of knowing how long this state of being semi-unemployed will last. But, for too long now we seem to have speaking in terms of tomorrow – ‘when we get more work/more money’. We’ve spent so much energy straining after a future that may, or may not, even exist for us, when the truth of the matter is that our lives are happening RIGHT NOW!

I saw couples this morning, their caravans and Winnebago’s parked on the foreshore, while they lounged in deck chairs, fishing or reading. We might not be able to travel the countryside at our leisure, doing the tourist thing. But we certainly don’t have to stay at home and mope either.

There’s no work for tomorrow either. Another adventure perhaps?
©Lyn Murphy 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Where are the words today?

I felt the urge to write something so I opened up this blank page and sat there, fingers poised above the keys, just waiting.
There are ideas in my head – but they are like those funny floaty things that lurk at the very edges of your peripheral vision. When you try to turn to see them properly, they simply flit away.
I read other people’s Blogs to see if something in their writings would inspire me. But they didn’t.

I’ve read articles by some of the writing greats who tell me that this is a common experience. The words don’t always flow as you would like them to. There’s no magical incantation to make it happen – no day of the week or hour of the day when it’s guaranteed that I will fill up the blank page.

And it doesn’t really matter whether it happens or not today. No one is going to be ringing me to find out when I’m likely to post again. No one will be pounding on my door, demanding that I honour some commitment to turn out X number of pages per week, or per month, or per year.

Oh I used to dream of being an author, of seeing my name emblazoned across the cover of a multitude of books on the book store shelves. But very few aspiring writers get to be on the bestselling list. I guess we all soon discover that writing for a living requires a whole lot more than the desire to write and a smidgen of talent.
Still, thanks to the Internet, we can all still write to our hearts content and even find a regular readership. I don’t have to churn out thirty thousand words and write proposal letters. I don’t have to suffer endless rejections in the hope of finally finding someone to publish my work. I don’t have to meet deadlines; to study market trends, so I know what it is that people want to read these days. I don’t have to spend a small fortune promoting my work in the hope that someone, other than my closest friends and family members, will buy my book.

 I can write whatever, and whenever, I want.

Or I could if the words would come.

Where are the words today?

©Lyn Murphy 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Shroud

Omigod! This really doesn’t look good on me.

I’m sure it’s happened to you at some time or other. You’re out somewhere and you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror, or a shop window, and you cringe with embarrassment.

How could you have ever thought it was acceptable to be seen in public wearing something like this? It looks just plain awful – totally unattractive. It is really NOT the look you want to portray at all.

He was in his office when I came by on my cleaning rounds. I tapped on the door and asked if he wanted me to come in and ‘do my thing’ or, if he was too busy, would he prefer me to leave it until another time?
Says he ‘No – come in, by all means. I’m never so busy that I can’t spare a few minutes. I’m just not that important’

I scoffed at his pronouncement and told him -  of course he is important! But he shook his head and continued,
“Do you know how we measure our value to this company? We stick our hand in a bucket of water and then pull it out very quickly. The depth of the hole that is left behind determines our worth.’

I laughed at his joke and told him that should mean we are all on a pretty level playing field.But it was so obvious, by his manner and by the heavy atmosphere in that office, that he really believed what he was saying. He even added, in a tone tinged with bitterness
‘the only people I’m important to are my mother and my wife, and then sometimes I wonder,’

I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Not that I don’t understand depression – as a fellow sufferer I know all about the bottomless pit of blackness. But seeing it in someone else like that made me realize, with a sense of shock, just how ugly and unattractive it is.

Now it isn’t true – this idea that he is so unappreciated and unimportant. I happen to know for a fact that he is one of the ‘in-crowd’ which exists in most workplaces.  But I also know that when someone is in the midst of one of those ‘woe-is-me’ episodes there is nothing anyone can say or do to bring them out of it. They will only think you’re being patronizing.

And besides, people really don’t know what to say or do in those situations anyhow. Most of the time, like me, they just want to walk away and hope the other person snaps out of it – and soon. That black cloud, they wear wrapped around them like a shroud, repels people.

For me this experience was like catching a glimpse of myself in a mirror or a shop window. How could I ever have thought it was okay to go about wearing that shroud of depression? It’s so damned ugly and certainly not the way to make myself attractive to people – not the way to encourage them to show me love and appreciation and support.

I don’t, for one moment, suppose that this little epiphany will mean I never get down and depressed again. Be it situational or chemical depression, it’s just not that easy to manage. But in all forms of depression, attitude is the biggest factor. I can take the attitude that I really don’t care what other people think. So what if they’re uncomfortable around me? So what it if repels them and they don’t know what to say or do?
And I can wallow in my world of gloom and darkness, feeling isolated, unloved and unappreciated, for all time.

Or I can determine that this is NOT the way I want the world to see me, wearing this dark, ugly shroud of depression.
Perhaps I can write it on a piece of paper and attach it to my mirror. I’ll see it every morning as I’m dressing. It will read,

Don’t wear the shroud today. It really doesn’t suit you at all.
©Lyn Murphy 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Strawberry of Persistence

I like Strawberries. I like them sliced up on my breakfast cereal and on my occasional Saturday morning treat of pancakes.
When Pete caught the gardening bug last season he decided that he would grow some for me.

He bought some hanging baskets on EBay and filled them with a special blend of potting mix. He scoured the Nurseries for nice, healthy looking strawberry plants and lovingly bedded them into their new homes. He sprayed them regularly with naturally sourced pest repellent mixture – no nasty chemicals here. And he constructed a frame over which to drape netting to keep the birdies away.

Every day he watered them and we waited – and waited.

But the Strawberries never made an appearance.  We didn’t even see any flowers – we just watched the lovely green leaves slowly turn to brown.

It was so disappointing – but the Strawberries weren’t our only failure. Our back yard seems to have way more than its fair share plant-devouring insects and the soil seems to be a haven for all sorts of plant diseases. Despite his best efforts, there were many things that Pete just couldn’t seem to grow – and Strawberries seemed to be one of them.

However he was determined. I looked on in amazement as he continued to care for those dead-looking plants – and even went to buy new ones. I gave up asking why he even bothered and just left him to it.

Then, one day not too long ago, he came inside all excited. He said for me to
‘Come and have a look,’
And there, amidst the leaves was one substantially sized pale green Strawberry. There were signs of others as well – little flowers budding – even on the old bushes which had now turned back from dead brown to bright green.

Well the Strawberry is plump and red and almost ready for picking and eating now. Pete’s perseverance has paid off. I’m not sure how many Strawberries we will get from our bushes this season. But just knowing we CAN grow them is all the incentive we need to keep trying.

The last few years of our lives have been full of disappointments – things that just haven’t worked for us despite our best efforts. All we’ve got at the moment are the dried up remains of our big hopes – just like the dead-looking plants at the end of last season.
Growing Strawberries, well growing anything for that matter, requires persistence and determination. And so does life.

We’ve always made it through in the past. Something has always cropped up when we’ve least expected it. And just knowing this must be our incentive to keep on trying.

Who knows how close we might be to reaping the Strawberry of our persistence?