Monday, February 18, 2013

Zen and the art of footwear choices

Please excuse the cliche title and the following drivel I wasted the name on... Many things happen in my day to day life. A lot of it is either overwhelming or underwhelming and the whole experience usually ends with me stupefied by the end of the night desperate for a few moments alone but when my time finally arrives, I'm unable to do anything useful at all! I often end up sitting, numb, in front of the computer late at night, not creating anything, not writing just numb wanting to zone out. Unable to concentrate I'll fall into a mind numbing video game, or watch a movie or Youtube videos. Desperate to disengage and acting out like a teenage brat who's parents have finally left him alone!

Oddly when I finally have the energy to write on this blog, for some reason I never seem to want to write about the important stuff. It's all too confusing and fraught with complicated emotions that I can't really express anyway. I'd much rather write about my thongs!

Thongs: My apologies to the cobblers (for want of a better description) of quality rubber (Not actually rubber.. more a cocktail of chemicals) footwear. Over Christmas I visited my parents in Melbourne. As the gifts were passed around on Boxing Day I received a small flexible parcel of familiar weight and size. Ripped the paper off to discover a new pair of thongs… I had a $2 pair on at the time but kicked them off and tried on my new ones. They fit nicely.     

I don't know which shop they came from but it obviously wasn't the 'Throw away imports from China Store...' I’ve been wearing this pair of thongs for nearly two months, cycling every day and sometimes on bikes with those horrible bear trap peddles. I am pleased to say that the thongs have withstood all kinds of punishment and are still holding together nicely. Looking back on a previous post I realize, as I did when I wrote it that I was overgeneralizing about the poor quality of modern thong making material. OK it's not a subject that you'll hear discussed or debated seriously anywhere other than a pub or a sundowners session at a seasonal seaside caravan park, but since thongs are pretty much all I wear I figured it was a subject worthy of comment and consideration.
My comments about poor quality were obviously based on my personal spending habits which were guided entirely by my Scroogliness, which had temporarily overridden my usual sense of judgement when it came to quality of materials, workmanship etc... Ignoring the range of fine quality footwear available to those who bother to find them I chose to condemn the all aspects of modern thong production and focus my post on a bragging session about my skills of ‘walking in thongs’.
Oh… what a prideful of a braggart am I!  (I also failed to mention all the times I've stupidly stood on sharp objects which have penetrated my thongs and lodged themselves in the heel or ball of my feet! Which I'll never admit to!)
Well I just thought I ought to confess and admit that my comments about the generally poor quality of all thongs was incorrect, some thongs are better than others. Over the past year I'd allowed my miserliness to override my sense of value for money and sense of quality. I broke one of my golden rules of judging a bargain! Is this cheep thing I'm buying actually any good?
I'd contented myself to purchase the cheapest of crappy thongs from the supermarket, rather than venture out to one of the larger department stores or shoe shops to purchase my thongs. I elected to pay $4 rather than $10 or $15 which would have set me up with a quality set of 'flip flops'. In fact if I'd bothered I could actually have found a decent pair of thongs for under $10. The fact that I was too cheep to pay a couple of extra bucks for a much better quality of foot rubber is only testament to my stinginess.

So as an addendum to my previous post, the premise of which, when it comes to learning to walk, I'll stick to however I must concede that a decent quality thong will take the traveler much further than the cheep crap I'd worn through 3 sets of last year!
Lesson learned? In future… always buy the better quality thong… And walk in them like they are the soles of your feet. ;)

If you'd like to learn more about thongs from people who take them much more seriously than I, check out the Powerhouse Museum tribute to the 'Rubber thong' HERE, it's a pearler! 

Friday, February 01, 2013

Old friends passing through...

Recently a deceased friend visited me in my sleep.
Isn’t it funny how these things can happen in a dream and not feel at all out of place? She was right there with me talking to me as if it was perfectly normal for the dead and the living to converse in a normal manner. I do not find it strange to be visited like this anymore, the memory of deceased friends has come to me many times before and I accept the visits graciously. But what do they mean?

A lot of people will say the dream state is nothing more than the ticking away of our subconscious, stray thoughts with no meaning… at most a symptom of anxieties or unfinished thoughts. Yolngu I work with have a very different opinion of dreams and will often become very interested to hear about dreams or visions. Somewhere in the middle is me. I’m not confused by the events and don’t have any sense of foreboding about being visited but know better than to pass it off as nothing. Something inevitably happens to connect my dream to what is going on in the material world. 

Lately my kids have been fascinated with Ghosts, zombies and skeletons. They are working through the information available to them to create their own understanding of the lore of the un-dead. We discuss it regularly and they have determined that Zombies must be killed, my boy has a stick designates for this purpose, Ghosts aren’t necessarily bad, are like shadows and cannot be killed and if a skeleton ever gets up and walks around it will be treated like a zombie! My son was at first scared of ghosts, he wanted to kill them like zombies but is now content to talk to them without fear. Although not un-dead Aliens (from outer space) are also on his hit list…  We’ll need to discuss the possibility of not all Aliens being  bad guys.

Zombie killer... (Even so called zombies have a story to tell. I wouldn't class Frankenstein's monster as a Zombie)
I am not sure why my friend would come to me now or what will come next but there will be something.  My friend died last year, hit by a car as she crossed the road. I still don’t know the exact details of the incident and was never satisfied with the answers given. I tried to find out more but at the time I didn’t want to do anything that would cause distress to her family. 

Every weekday on my way to work I ride past the place where she was hit. I often wonder how it happened. Was she careless on the road (it was suggested she rode against the flow of the traffic, but where is the evidence?) or did the driver simply not see her? At the time it was announced that the driver wouldn’t be charged and there was a lot of speculative comment in the media about the cyclist being negligent but no facts to back-up these opinions.  People got all self-righteous about helmet laws and bicycles on the road etc… but we never heard what actually happened.
Maybe I need to find out… Maybe I will.

The day after my dream I received an email which mentioned the friend from my dream, a request for help for her family…  I cannot help them in the manner that was requested and I don’t necessarily need to interpret my dream to mean that I should but the message was another one of those coincidences that reminds me something is waiting to be done.

My Yolngu friends get a bit nervous when the spirits of the dead are not dispatched. Nobody sleeps easy until everything is cleansed with smoke. The dead must complete their journey… They cannot be left wandering their old haunts, tormented and confused.

It might seem odd or even disrespectful to be talking about the life of a friend who has passed away in the same conversation as kids imaginings about 'monsters' but seeing the peculiar goings on of the world through the eyes of a child can help put things into perspective. The kids are playing with ideas and concepts of things. The world of the spirit and the material blend, fantasy is not necessarily fiction it's more like a philosophical sand pit, until they discover for themselves what is true or untrue every idea, every story or crazy idea could be true. They understand most physical boundaries but to them so many things are still possible. I like that.