Ignoring the noisy third
Sometimes negativity knocks on the door and with the wink of an eye, surreptitiously says, “wanna come to my party?” And soon you find yourself mindlessly dancing to tunes from a decade ago that you thought you’d forgotten and never did like anyway.
Mine came in the form of a writer’s block. The words just weren’t flowing. I kept turning up each day this week to a manuscript thirsty for words, but even though my well wasn’t dry, I didn’t seem to have any way of drawing from it. I couldn’t find the bucket to scoop up the words so I could rearrange them, play with them and make some beauty out of them. What did the bucket look like, where had I left it or did I perhaps let someone steal it?
So I circled around the well, trying to notice it, and trying not to notice the doubts sitting on its edge swinging their legs and, I suspect, holding the bucket behind their backs. Shooing them didn’t work. They were persistent little creatures. So then I cleaned the house, read a novel, rearranged the kitchen pantry and a selection of other cupboard contents. Finally, I went for a ride.
Along Bilinga Beach, timber decks dot the foreshore. They sit low over the dune grasses and bridge the space between the esplanade and the sandy beach. From the concrete pathway shared by bicycles, pedestrians, wheelchairs and skaters, each deck starts with a narrow walkway and then balloons into a broader platform lined with bench seats. Then it continues with a few stairs down to a sandy track leading towards the ocean.
I wheeled my bike over the deck, set it on its stand and sat sitting in the sunshine, soaking up the winter warmth and contemplating what was going to help me tip these doubts off their perch. Two men walk across the deck and head down to the beach for a swim. I take some photos of the beach, my bike, the cotton trees and dune grasses then notice the men leap at the water’s wintery cool. Next minute help arrives.
A small dog bounds up the from the beach on the end of a long leash. He climbs the stairs on his little Shih Tzu/Maltese legs and heads straight for my legs wrapping himself around my calves and looking lovingly up at my face with the brightest of bright eyes. His coat feels silky and we chat. Then the dog’s owner climbs the stairs and stands nearby and we talk about this little dog – his name, breed, age, friendly nature – but there’s also a lot of quiet when it’s just me and this little dog bringing me a welcome dose of unconditional happiness. The owner is patient. She knows he’s doing more than saying hello. Then its time to go and Little Happy Dog and Patient Owner leave me with a happy heart.
The two men have finished their swim and walk up the stairs. “How was the water?” I ask. One meets my eye, stops, smiles and replies, “great!” While his mate continues up towards the concrete pathway, this guy tells me how brisk yet beautiful the water was. He tries to explain how soft and velvety the water is today, “so clear and clean” he says. “Does it feel like silk on your skin?” I ask. “Yes” he nods, it does. I know this feeling when the water is so light and delicate and its softness is remarkable. As he walks away, he turns and adds with relish “It’s a great day to be alive!” His enthusiasm warms my heart to even greater happiness.
Then his mate, having finished washing off the sand, walks back down to where I’m sitting and randomly says: “I was listening to the radio the other day and this woman with nine kids phoned in (to the radio)” and in the next breath he exclaims: “Can you imagine the social security cheque she gets?!” My mind went blank for a response. What do I say to such a confounding statement? I think my eyebrows might have raised and my smile certainly fell from my face. Somehow a neutral “huh” emerged from my mouth, leaving him to conclude that I didn’t share his views and wasn’t interested in delving into it. He walks away mindlessly repeating: “nine kids, nine kids”. His negativity stained the air. My rising happiness slumped.
I was left sitting wondering: what was that all about?
First there’s the amazing unconditional happiness spilling over me from the little dog, Secondly, I meet the infectious enthusiasm of another human for being alive and then this confounding (and exasperating) comment that I don’t even want to think about!
I ponder, then a smile breaks across my face. Two out of three ain’t bad.