It’s been a longer gap than usual between posts. Nothing has seemed worth writing about. My attention has been elsewhere; directed inward. I’ve been doing the mental equivalent of sitting in a corner with my knees drawn up under my chin. Not a comfortable pose, but not an unhappy one either. I’m not describing a depressive state; rather one for contemplating, weighing, reassessing. Clearing out the garbage, if you like.
So, the first post in a while. I hope you also enjoy what might seem like an eclectic collection of photos. Most of them are in some sort of context.
(Surfers taken from Burleigh Headland)
I’m quite at peace with myself as I write this. There’s even a warm glow shining from some place deep inside. Happiness, is a word for it, I guess.
The last few weeks have seen me let go of some things I needed to let go of. There’s a weight off my shoulders, a spring in my step, and if not a song, then a blog post in my heart.
For a start, I’m grateful – for a whole lot of things.
I am healthy, mostly. I could choose to focus on the aches and pains but I do not. I am alive, with all the possibilities, chances, and delights that flow from just being.
I wake up each morning to a beautiful day, breakfast down at my local coffee shop by the sea, a walk and then time for whatever else I feel like doing.
I have a wife I love and who loves me. With our marriage we have worked at and drawn from, we are so much more blessed than we would be without it. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting marriage is an essential staging point on the road to happiness; or a pre-requisite to it. Not at all! There are enough miserable married people to make that idea a little shaky. It might sound a bit strange but the experience of a loving healthy marriage relationship has helped me understand that we don’t need to allow ourselves to become dependent on another person to be happy. (I just hope my wife reads that part carefully and understands what I mean). Just to explain it more carefully, I think a marriage where two people are comfortable in their own skins is a much better indicator of health and happiness than one where each depends on the other for their worth and meaning. Am I making sense? Well, I am to myself.
My wife and I are definitely joined together in a deep spiritual and emotional way, but we retain our identities, our preferences, our tastes, and our opinions. Neither of us would have it any other way.
So, just to finish up on that point, I am not arguing for marriage as a means of being happy. For Sue and I it has been, and is, a wonderful gift. That’s great. There are a lot of other people for whom a marriage relationship has been a destructive experience. There are many others, who are not married in a legal or any other sense, but who have strong healthy identities, are content with their lives, and who are just as blessed as we are.
So, where was I?
Yes. I’m grateful.
Friends. How wonderful it is to have even one friend? I have more than one, and I have no idea how I managed that. I am so happy to feel the close bond of friendship. Man or woman, it doesn’t matter, although I guess it’s a bit less complicated for me as a man to sit down with another man and share the deepest stuff. Friendship founded on mutual respect, affection, and trust makes my heart sing. To shatter or betray a friendship is a miserable, terrible thing (one thing I learned along the way that has stayed with me). My friends are important to me. With them, I can be who I am. I can say what I want to and I can be a servant to them in turn. Sometimes I need do nothing but sit and listen. There is a symbiotic relationship between friends that is worth caring for. I sometimes think friendship encourages the finest things of which a human being is capable.
I’m also grateful for family members, daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren, brother, sister, and in-laws. To show them my love more overtly and unconditionally has been a bit of a challenge for me historically. I guess I have been seen by some of the family at least as a bit of an oddity. They have accepted me despite my oddness. I have tended to play my cards close to my chest where I should have just hugged and laughed and spent time with them. Simple really, and not rocket science. I hope I will continue to learn how to better express the love I feel for all of them. That really would be a blessing and much more important than some of the things I will talk about below that I have decided to unload from myself.
(A lone reflective Pelican in Biggera Creek)
This has been a cathartic post to write, and I have not even begun to discuss some of the things I intend to leave behind. So, now to those things:
(Pedestrian crossing sign in Berlin)
I am determined to let go of the need to understand and to categorize other people. People’s motivations are their own and there is no need for me to know why someone else does what they do or behaves the way they do. Neither will I presume to judge them on what I see. (Alright, that might be a bit of over-reach. I will at least try not to judge others quite so often).
Other people deal with stuff I am not privy to. They respond to pressure I am unaware of. They battle demons I cannot see. I will try hard to remember that.
Other people do not need to make choices that I approve of. Well, it’s nice when they do, but I will learn to accept them just as well when they do not. Once again, this might need to be a work in progress.
In the same way I will not allow myself to take on board someone else’s judgment of me. No one knows me as well as I do or my creator does. People may be well meaning in their judgments, or they may not be, but either way, I will learn to follow my own path.
Specifically, I will withdraw from involvement in pointless political discussions and debates. At least I intend to try. Now and then I have allowed myself to be drawn in to a cesspit of negativity where I question other people’s support for political causes and their motives. I have come to understand that contributing to an atmosphere of political polarization where mistrust and hatred drown out concern, compassion and even rationality is not what I want to do. It is not me.
Yes, I have ideas about how the country should be governed and how the world should operate. I have values that I want to see promulgated. For me though, I am going to try to spend my time on building relationships and looking out for those around me, instead of participating in the cacophony of voices talking past each other that constitutes contemporary politics.
I am sick of it all. I have had it up to here (he writes, thinking of his head). Political argy bargy can be left to those who enjoy it, or to those who think it makes any difference.
At the start of this blog I set out some of the things that are important to me. It is these things: My marriage, my friends, my family, and any other people who need a hand, who are going to receive my energy. At least, that is the conclusion I have come to. Life is meant to be a feast. It is too short to spend in endless negative loops.
(Dining Room at Wernigerode Castle, Harz Mountains, Germany)
My Manifesto is more of a guide than a checklist; a wish list even. I am heartily sick of the endless negativity of political partisanship that I see blighting my country and others. As far as I am able to, I will withdraw from it. Maybe then I will see more clearly to attend to the things that are really important to me. Blog writing continues to be one of those things. Don’t expect that I will retreat from controversy; just pointless political partisanship.
We will see.