The Love of Order
So I'm starting with the little things like making my bed in the morning, ironing my work shirts on a Sunday. Getting up at 5am on a Monday isn't part of the plan, but I've woken up anyway so may as well make full use of the time with some writing and a cup of tea. I think the routine helps to put a little order in life, and there's nothing quite like a pending house-inspection to put a bit of order up you! For too long I've been unhappy at how unkempt my room is, so a thorough tidy-up of my physical and mental space is required. Although some would say my mental space has been pretty vacant for a while.
As per my recent posts, taking time for myself is imperative and this still pervades. This is not TV time, book time or even phone time - I know, your hands will no doubt just reach out and punch random strangers with all this free time!! In fact, pack up your TV and put it in a cupboard or drape a cloth over it. When my housemate moves out in a few weeks’ time, I look forward to not having a television at all for a while. That along with no news (3 months in or some such) has left me vastly cut-off from the world. I do have friends though that have chimed in on occasion: Well I can understand no news, but you must have heard about Mugabe! Whilst I did know of him, I didn't know about the non-military coup conducted by the military chap wearing military gear and representing the military. It's the kind of smooth takeover a squashed field-mouse has with an elephants foot. Albeit, a field-mouse that is quite the murdering bastard.
Yes, Penelope, I'll be there in a minute! Urghh, she wants me. Again. Routine, not all good, is it?
Image credits: personalitycafe.com and davidsteen.co.uk
It’s 9.30 at night, I’m having dinner and I’m roasting my balls. Suffice to say, that sentence may need explaining.
Here Comes Summer
Down Under, we are rapidly approaching summer. The year has sped by in its usual way, stealing months right under the very noses of those who aren’t watching. It’s how many days until Christmas?! And yet whilst most of the western world celebrate during colder temperatures, with the mere whisper of snow in the air, the Southern Hemisphere are hitting peak season for a temperature which is technically known as fucking hot. The familiarity of Warm occurs when it starts hitting 30 degrees during the day, about 86 Fahrenheit, and that’s when I start having cold showers and the air-conditioning is dusted off in preparation for hot. Hot usually is between 30-35, with Fucking Hot following quickly after between 35-40. Above Fucking Hot, is Pure Hell, which usually lasts about a week in 45 degrees. This only happens once a year and turns physical objects like people and car tyres into Blancmange. For any Fahrenheit lovers, that’s 113.
When it descends into Pure Hell, the sides of the swimming pool are just the other side of unbearable so you need to magically levitate into the water or just walk straight in wearing your thermal radiation suit. Tourists will tell you about going to visit things, popping to the shops, generally doing activities that involve being out in the sun. This is to be avoided at all costs. The shadows. That’s where it’s safe. Make a game of it: pretend you’re a predator or some kind of bush dwelling kangaroo!
Presumably because of something to do with the atmosphere, the hottest part of the day here is not the middle or even in the afternoon, but at about 5 to 6 o’clock. And this is in Melbourne, the city picked on by other hotter cities for it’s cold and wet weather! What I have failed to understand, despite being here for ten years now, is that some people (mental, weird, very strange people) love this weather. They claim to actually enjoy it! They bemoan the long awful winter, a winter where it doesn’t even snow or frost in the city. I am a proud Australian, but these are aliens.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my cold shower to get rid of the sunscreen I’ve been wearing all day and that in a few hours I’ll wear again when I get up. It’s like I’m preparing for some kind of sporting event by oiling myself up like I’m about to be shot through a canon.
Since I intend on travelling the Americas next year, I have joined a Pan-American forum owned by one of those gargantuan social media companies that probably don’t need any more advertising. This morning one of the first things I read was that a poor lady had overturned their vehicle and, let’s call her Diane to avoid referring to her as ‘she’ for the entire paragraph, was hesitant to drive again. In fact, when Diane did try, she started shaking and after ten frightening minutes simply burst into tears. Sounds like me going to work on a normal day, but I digress. Courageously, Diane was seeking help from the forum on how to progress and what advice anyone could impart. Naturally since we’re ingrained from childhood to ‘get back on the bike/horse’, that is exactly what 90% of the forum suggested.
Comments positively fell over themselves to regale others with their own far worse tale of woe and adversity, which is supposed to provide comfort and yet just makes the recipient feel bad for even asking the question in the first place. The good-intentioned advice range from helpful sorry to hear it’s and hope you get better’s to the more full-on call that a car crash? I once hit a tree so had I made paper!
Ever since I’ve known my girlfriend, her mother has abstained from driving. Since I’ll try to refrain from referring to her as ‘she’ throughout, let’s call her . . . Dragon Lady. Just kidding, I mean Hell Hound. Ok ok, perhaps Mildred will do. So Mildred had an accident at some point and basically refused to drive again, leaving her reliant upon her husband (he can remain he, because he has only got a small part. And I don’t mean penis).
I think the approach for me lies in a different path, and to consider as many options that are feasible whilst maintaining an optimism that eventually a satisfactory outcome is reached. When Diane jumped back into the vehicle for the first time, she expected everything would be fine: she would jump back behind the wheel, as that’s what you’re supposed to do, and she would continue driving as before. Unfortunately, she hadn’t anticipated the shock and how her mind would react to the trauma.
Whilst it would be impossible to perceive every permutation, the problem lies with the expectation. When I approach a new task, I imagine I’m going to cock it up entirely. That says a lot of my state of mind! In as far as DIY is concerned (see previous post) the odds are against me completing the task anywhere near satisfactorily. That clearly comes from my perhaps over-inflated perception of my skillset, the outer voice that exclaims ‘yeah, I can do that!’ versus the far more sensible yet much quieter ‘you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing!’
A Different Approach
I would dearly love to be proven wrong at any juncture, and for said outcome to be absolutely delightful, but alas. A friend commented this makes me a pessimist, of which I’m sure I am not. One of the many scenarios I envisage does include closing my eyes, throwing paint at a wall and it just landing exactly where I want it to. But in actuality, I know that I will make an assessment of the wall colour, get a colour chart, get a sample, take it to the manufacturers, get 500 litres to complete the paintwork on my house, and then realise that the wall I sampled isn’t the same colour as the rest of the house and besides, I need 501 litres. And that 500 litres I brought was just the last batch . . .think I lie? Brace yourself . . .
Two weeks ago I went to a DIY store to get some wood sheets cut. After waiting around for twenty minutes, we finally found a staff member that relayed the unfortunate news that the wood-cutting machine was broken. The machine at another store across town was open but they close at 6. It was 6.15pm. The next day I turned up to complete my task, got everything cut by the professionals and went home satisfied to make my table. 100% into completing said table, I see the table is wrong as they’ve over-cut by 10cm. I go back to the DIY store, relate my story and to my surprise they believe me. They cut me another sheet of wood and I finally receive the length required and put the table back together. Think it ends there? No. They had actually under-cut the wood by 8mm, making the entire thing needing re-cutting again. And do I like the table now it's finished? Not particularly.
My girlfriend keeps asking if I'm going to write about shoes, handbags and make-up any time soon. Perhaps I'll get browny-points for mentioning a clutch.
I come from a long line of bodgers, which is why my current mentor is so important to me. A bodger, one what bodges, is a repairer of things without finesse (the dictionary claims a clumsy repairer, I prefer sans finesse!). The task may not turn out perfect or in fact how I’d planned, but it'll do. Helping my father at DIY was a constant source of hilarity at three or four years old, and of infinite frustration for my father which was vented at inanimate objects. Exclamations like "oh you want some of that do you, you motherfucking nail son of a bitch?! <arms swinging like a windmill with hammer in hand> Take some of that, you bastard!" were commonplace. I learnt a lot from my Dad. There were a scant number of kids that possessed the ability to swear like a particularly querulous pirate.
Three Unwise Men
One of the only hand-made presents my father received from his own dad was a small square block of wood with a nail in it. This, growing up in the midst of Word War London, was a tank. In fairness, resources were scarce and rationing only stopped in the UK in 1954, a full 9 years after the war ended, simply due to absolute penury. The price in defending our small island. For my father, a compositor trying to run a farm and bring up two kids whilst my mother worked (a rarity now let alone 40 years ago), the jobs were endless and just needed finishing. Perfection could wait.
So with my paternal grandfather being a bodger, and my father being a bodger, I have indeed grown up to be a bodger’s son. The Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, despite my best endeavours. And this is where my world collides with that of one of my mentors and dearest friends, David Shepherd, of Shepsters motorbike community.
A Star is Born
With the purchase of my Landcrusier, Izzy (short for ‘issues’), there are many things I need to fix. I feel I should be able to do most of it, but there is a vast chasm of difference between doing it, and knowing how to do right. This schism was evidenced in its entirety when my friend suggested I first glue and then screw together my cupboard to which I replied without a beat "well I can do that, and I should, but if I fuck it up then it'll be harder to undo". And lo . . . I could feel my Dad whispering in my ear “good job son, I’m proud of you”. Whilst in the workshop, I can also detect David’s OCD heckles rising every time I misplace another screwdriver. His experience in fixing motorcycles, houses, cars or anything requiring artistry or skill vastly outweigh my own. However, contrary to Kipling’s ballad, the twain do meet.
Fixing The World
Sometimes you need to just get things done, regardless if how pretty it is. A quote often attributed to Einstein runs along the lines that if he only had one hour to save the world, 55 minutes would be defining the problem and 5 minutes on the execution. I would be closer to 30 minutes thinking and a cup of tea, 15 minutes in the execution, and 15 minutes trying to find my tools. I would save the world, but I’d probably cause a bit of damage in the process, like forgetting a country or two and wiping out billions of people. David is the type of person that would not only save the world in that hour, but probably make some improvements like tapping into infinite sources of clean energy and ending world poverty. And making grass slightly more Kawasaki green.
In my corporate life, there is an obsession in having a mentor or coach. Whilst the concept is excellent, the execution often ends in the need for some kind of formal relationship where the student asks no questions and the maestro espouses what they believe to be knowledge to fill the time. In fact, the best mentors are simply people you can learn from, and if you have friends or family you can reach out to for that, then that’s mentorship in its purest form. Whatsmore, I have come to realise, you don’t even have to know your mentor. You have access to the greatest minds the world has ever produced, philosophers, scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, all available to you at your local library or on the internet. I have admit, the library though is where you can feel the knowledge chasing you down the aisles. I often battle against myself in baulking at prices for books or audiobooks, yet I know the biggest investment I should make in my life isn’t in a house or a car, it’s in myself. We have the ability to surround ourselves with the best minds in the business, nay the best minds ever to grace the planet. When listening to the most successful minds alive today, they all have several traits in common: incredible work ethic and drive; oodles of money (now, anyway!); starting their day early; meditation or mindfulness; and above all, reading. Read. Just pick up a book and read. I’m not sure how much Seneca’s Letters and Marcus Aurelis’ Meditations are going to help with fixing my Landcruiser, but when I’m done fixing, I’ll want to be going somewhere. And to help me make sense of it I may well be calling on two-thousand-year-old mentors. And David, for when I break down and bodge something else.
Writing and writing...