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.

22 Comments on “Ignoring the noisy third

  1. Loved reading your piece. Sometimes you have to change your location, stop fighting or pushing for those words to come and receive inspiration in unexpected places. I am least inspired by a computer screen or staring at paper. I’m sure the words will keep coming, Gail. These little lulls are natural. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so true Jane. Trying and pushing for something never works in creativity. It tends to aggravate by dulling receptivity, making it harder to step into the flow. Like you, I find being outdoors in the world of nature with its implicit acceptance and adaptation to change is always inspiring.
      Thanks Jane 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A very engaging piece with an unexpected ‘twist’ near the end. The negative guy nevertheless revealed something of worth: a negative is not a nothing, but here displays a neediness or privation of a way of being that is more in tune with (and grateful for) one’s environment. In some way the experience exceeded 2 out of 3.
    Might be worth submitting to a Writer’s Centre for inclusion in their mag.?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Henk. The negatives are worthy in their own way in what they reveal about ourselves, others and the world we’re creating. I’m glad you found the story interesting and thanks for suggesting I submit it. Enjoy your solstice day 🙂


  3. Gail

    Lovely word pictures, philosophical insights and your own spirit shining through.

    I find animals can so often show us the way if we let them as you did….

    I agree with Henk – perhaps submit to qwc mag? (Not sure if they have any rules about having already ‘published’ online though.)


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jen,
      I love that expression “word pictures”. There’s a strange beauty in moving through these moments when the boat isn’t sailing as we “think” it should be, when we feel becalmed, yet wanting the wind to keep carrying us. I agree, the wisdom of nature – its plants, animals, creeks, mountains, oceans, beaches – will so often show the way through.

      Thanks for your thoughts about submitting to QWC. I’ll look into it. 🙂


  4. I love the insight that little dog brought you. So true. Animals always know the right things not to say.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey Gail, thanks for another enjoyable post – I especially loved the depiction of ‘doubts swinging their legs’. Did you know that it’s a scientific fact that physical distance away from a problem actually helps one see the bigger picture, and therefore assists in finding a way around the problem? I certainly find that a day out, away from my office and the computer, recharges my batteries and gives me a fresh perspective on things, and many new ideas. It’s not slacking off, it’s essential. Cheers, Paula


    • Thanks Paula, I didn’t know there was science on that but I believe it to be true for me too. It certainly helped me get some perspective. Yes, those doubts are cheeky little things sometimes 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. There’s a draft I’ve had sitting for two or three months. I go back to it and still doesn’t seem right. Maybe time to revisit?


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