This post is likely to be a spatter of fragments. They must have some correlation in my mind, though I’m quite sure they will seem disparate to others.
Fragment 1: the joy of a pet
I had a quiet evening at home on Friday night cooking Lasagna with a friend. After creating mess in the kitchen and eating a meal which was half decent, while I cleared the dishes away my friend took up residence in my (one and only) armchair. ‘Far out – this is a comfortable chair’. I know, I replied, half smiling to myself. I’ve yet to have a single visit not comment on the joy of this chair. It is little wonder that Ikea have been selling the same design for decades.
Next the Licorice radar activated – Lap present in chair. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, proceed directly. I watched Licorice curl up in my friends lap. When the patting stopped, Licorice’s paws tugged on clothing and aimed for the face. My friend shot me a look and queried – ‘is she trying to scratch me’. No… she wants you to keep patting her… her habit is to climb up closer and closer to your neck and smother you with love. And the pawing worked, for pats were given once more and I could hear purring. A smile broke out on my friends face. For someone who has had a rough time; a little Licorice love did not go astray.
Fragment 2: the infectioness of optimism
I rarely go out on Monday night’s. It’s the first night of the working week and I seem to have a habit of coming home; slothing around and then settling in to watch Australian Story at 8, or more recently “The Elders”. I find that both programs offer a blend of light and shade that is missing from much of the media. I go for long periods at a time when I simply do not watch the news. I am conscious this puts me out of touch with current events but the upshot is I miss a good deal of depressing information!
It was refreshing to listen to Mohammed Yunus speak. I’ll admit that I’d never heard of this nobel peace prize winner prior to watching this interview. And the interview was not without depressing information – what can be sadder than discussing the extent of poverty in the world. Yet, I finished watching feeling somewhat hopeful about the world. His excitement and enthusiasm was infectious. It reminded me of interviews I’ve seen with the Dalai Lama… where he appears almost child-like in his joy; resilient to any negative questioning while he conveys his wisdom almost without you knowing it. The thoughts offered are so simple yet so intertwined in the concept of caring for another person.
From the Mohammed Yunus interview, I particularly liked this exchange:
ANDREW DENTON: What is going to make [a young person who is 20] change from a life where they make a profit for themselves to a life where they are going to invest in social business?
MUHAMMAD YUNUS: See making money is an exciting thing. You can find a lot of pleasure in making money. Changing the world is the most exciting thing in the world. We have to make a decision that I will not live my life in a way that will take away the enjoyment of life for another person- that simple decision, that’s all.
For more see: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/elders/transcripts/s2757468
Fragment 3: not funny at the time; can laugh now
Unsure what I wanted to paint and running low on good quality watercolour paper, I took out an A3 sheet of regular drawing paper and began to coat it in gesso to give it some strength. I used my favourite tool – the windscreen wiper squeegee thing – to quickly coat the paper.
Without warning a flying brindle object with 4 paws and an uncanny sense of target; landed smack, bang, in the middle of my gesso-ed paper. She took 3 steps off, leaving little white footprints on the plastic covering the drop sheet before I whisked her into the bathroom and shut the door hurriedly. More paw prints – on the tiles (thank goodness for the peeling quality of acrylic). Before she decorated all the tiles, I hurled her into the shower recess which still had a thin layer of water. As the water started to turn milky and saffron’s eyes grew bigger and bigger, I threw off my clothing, grabbed a cloth and set about trying to remove gesso from all 4 paws.
I’m sure when people say a shower with company can be fun; this isn’t what they are referring to…
Saffron and Licorice later sat jointly; hunched in protest on a towel in the bathroom giving me foul looks anytime I dare pass by.
Fragment 4: the mirror of others
I’m a pessimist; a cynic. I’m not the one in the office who beams with positivity about the latest concept. I’m that annoying person who questions it; analyses it and is skeptical about it’s effectiveness before it’s even given a chance to evolve.
Recently I’ve had a few days where I felt very aware of these qualities. I was having “a bad day” and so on the way to work, got out my iphone and took random pictures from the bus. They were not framed or consciously chosen. Many were blurred. Yet reviewing them later they seemed right. They expressed that unsettled quality I sometimes have and the knotted smog of negativity that some days I struggle to see through.
A couple of evenings later the phone rang. It was a friend who has been undergoing treatment for cancer for about a year. She sounded so chirpy and upbeat. We chatted and I got off the phone thinking – why can’t I be more like that?
Some time passed and I noticed that the group of girls in the office who normally ripple with smiles were suddenly far more sober. I spoke to the ringleader of the smile squad and she explained that some criticism of their work had been bandied about. She said to me something along the lines of ‘it’s hard to receive that criticism but I feel for my team. They work so hard and they don’t need that – they are trying their best.’
I reflected on the way my colleagues are normally and thought… what a shame to see them despondent. Thinking back to their normal energy, I questioned again – why can’t I be more like that?
Working in the city, means I sometimes bump into people I haven’t seen in months or years. This happened to me the other day. I was walking along and spotted someone I knew. Knowing the person oozed negativity, I asked myself whether I could just creep by and not be noticed. Yet something in me, thought that wasn’t acceptable. So I went up and said hello. I was greeted with a smile as per usual. However, just like usual, I noticed myself almost sitting outside the conversation noticing each toxic thought being thrown in my direction and wondering how quickly I could leave – work only gives so long off for lunch and as if I want to spend it listening to that.
I listened, I chatted and I exited. As I walked back to the office, I thought ‘thank goodness I am not like that’. While I do often long to be less constrained by my negative thinking; in that moment when I was contrasted with someone else, I saw myself a little more kindly.