As I left my mechanic’s workshop at 8.15am having dropped off my car for a service, I walked calmly across the driveway of the adjacent service station, wondering what I’d do next – sit at the local coffee shop and wait, or hike back up the hill to my house nearby. Suddenly, I felt a swish of air behind me.
Turning to see the source, a small silver hatchback whizzed impatiently by. When I asked him, “what’s up with you?”, the grey-bearded middle-aged looked highly agitated and flipped me the bird out the window.
Clearly, the driver was offended at me for not walking faster and for impeding his hurried exit from the petrol station. Very clearly, he had no respect for women and was yet another in a long line of male bullies encountered by me in the past few years, both in business and personal life.
I listened yesterday to Madonna’s acceptance speech as she was voted Billboard’s Woman of the Year for 2016. It really was an emotional but extremely well-written and rehearsed outpouring of the hard yards so many women in the music industry have had to plough in order to reach and stay at the top of their game. Bullying is rife in society – towards children, women and those perceived to have a lesser worth.
So, Mr Silver Hatchback felt it necessary to bully and insult me with his driving and his gesturing. Off he raced to his job, leaving behind a person left wondering why his aggression levels were so high at 8.15am. Mondayitis at its worst.
I crossed the road and sat at a café and read Sunday’s paper for an hour or so, made a telephone call to a lonely friend, and then made a business call as I walked up my hilly street. I was determined to make today a day where I made time to ponder. Not anything in particular. Just ponder.
It seems pondering is not allowed or encouraged in this society. I was sort of pondering as I walked across the petrol station driveway and look where that got me? I guess I should have been marching purposefully towards my next goal.
But what do we miss in our non-ponderous march to the finish line?
I guess the Christmas season adds to people’s already chronic state of agitation in our modern, busy and overworked lives. A trip to your local shopping centre will more than confirm that something bad happens to people’s brains around this time. Add to this, the stultifying heat and humidity in our sub-tropical home of Brisbane, and you do find some fine examples of “going troppo”.
Last night I watched again the very funny 2004 movie Christmas with the Kranks and my all-time favourite scene is when Jamie-Lee Curtis’ character, Mrs Krank, dives desperately for the very last tin of ham in the supermarket, competing for this ‘prize’ with another desperate shopper. She fails spectacularly in her attempt, but eventually manages to secure another ham by begging another shopper to sell her their’s at an inflated price. Sadly, in the car park she drops the ham and it rolls away onto the road where it is hideously splattered under the wheels of a lorry. This is sometimes how we feel when we have spent a long time chasing something, all to see it come to nothing, or worse, end up in disaster or woe.
So, is the chase worth it? Should we walk and ponder, rather than march and lurch and dive towards the object or outcome of our desire?
My resolution for 2017 is more pondering, less agitation. I shall try each morning to read the newspaper, or catch up on weekend newspapers, rather than diving headlong into a full schedule of chores and “must-dos” in the life of a freelancer. For, as Kathleen Noonan points out in yesterday’s Sunday Mail, “reading offers you a space that is utterly yours”.
I am going to claim some “utterly mine” space in 2017. Heck, I might even play my grand piano for a half hour each day and brush up on those scales and favourite bits of Mozart and Beethoven.
How many of your favourite things have fallen by the wayside as you march towards your life goals? Do you have any “utterly yours” space in your days?
Too many of us go through our days as if we have “no time to lose” whereas we have in fact lost the ability to use our precious time to nurture ourselves, which in turn makes us a better nurturer of others – our spouses, our children, our ageing parents, our colleagues, our gardens, our pets, and even strangers.
Make a point in 2016 to “amble” instead of walking briskly, stare out the bus window and “ponder” instead of reading your emails or picking the next tune on your ipod. In fact, how about taking out the earbuds and actually talking to someone on the bus? Talk about the weather, give someone a compliment about their shoes or dress or hair – a bit like the good old days.
The first step to detaching from your digital devices is to re-learn how to do “nothing”. It’s harder than you’d imagine, but well worth the effort.
The good old days may have meant a lot of elbow grease washing clothes and scrubbing floors – but it did also allow for a bit of a yarn across the back fence, or down at the shop…… There was a bit more time to lose.
And that’s the time we need to find back.