Lazy Luddite Log


The Living City

It is twelve months since I returned from Canberra to Melbourne and as much as I came home I have also experienced a life that is subtly yet significantly different.

On returning from my only de-facto relationship I got two kinds of messages from Melbourne friends. One was "we are sad for you but happy to have you back". That was lovely. The other message was "you gave it your best shot". I think that is right but consider its implications.

I had the best chance I ever had to make a partnership work. I was given a wonderful opportunity by a fantastic person. However I fell short of expectations once more and (I felt) one time too many. A friend came to the Bush Capital to drive me back to Melbourne and I must have been shitty company because that long night was possibly the worst of my life. I stared at the terminally boring Hume and could see nothing in store for me but another day and another and another...

I think I was a bit blank like that for three months on returning home. I normally go happily to things but in that timeframe wanted to stay in and had to deliberately force a happy facade and attend more from commitment than desire. I knew that eventually I would improve and wanted to get back into my life.

I went to a wedding very tentatively because of all it represented. Fortunately my friends do things the way they want and this ‘pirate’ wedding reminded me that things can happen at a speed of our choosing. Well if we happen to find others that agree with us on the pace of commitment anyway. You can only determine your own actions in life and sometimes you have to re-assess how you do that.

Following those three months I was more well-adjusted and in a condition to develop interest in others. Just feeling that in yourself (let alone expressing it) is a good thing. However such feelings combined with the Canberra experience provoked plenty of introspection.

I pondered what kinds of human interaction work for me. One is keeping my own company which I enjoy and can fill with assorted past-times. I started with the intention of focusing on me but somehow other humans played a much bigger part. Friends have always been important and the extent to which I engaged with the minds of others was both energizing and exhausting. Communication takes work but is worth it.

Then there are the assorted human interactions we deem 'relationships'. That I was in an exploratory mood was evident to a few others. Someone put me on the spot in a small group conversation by asking me if I was considering polyamory. At the time I made some melancholic comment that maybe nothing will work for me. I can do it more justice now with the following statement:

“It depends.”

That may seem like a nothing response but I will tell you my thinking. The differences that exist between any two relationships are greater than between any two models of relationship. This is because a person is far more complex than the cultural constructs we invent and it is the person or persons you relate to that matter. So whatever intimate interactions I have cannot be described till they are negotiated because they are a product of the unique humans involved.

Who can predict what is on my horizon? There are too many factors involved including my own preferences. For one thing affinity is an ingredient of attraction for me and that limits those I find interesting. Personal circumstances will limit things even further. And then what if there is more than one person left in this dwindling number? Shall I make overtures concurrently and risk seeming like a cad? The things we do for both sentiment and sensation! Sometimes it all seems like too much to bother with.

And yet things have gotten better since that long dark night on the Hume Highway - possibly I am just better adjusted to a lack-of-predictability in life. I have left the freeway and am now in a city block with many criss-crossing streets and laneways. Sometimes I will walk and at other times I will choose to stand still. Sometimes I will wander and at other times I will ask for directions - everybody needs help sometimes. Whatever happens is okay as long as friends continue to communicate with and embrace me (literally and figuratively) and I hope I deserve that. Anything more is a bonus.

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In response to this post I got a private message from one friend giving me some lovely advise - basically say that "people are always worth the bother". And also that sometimes in the Living City others cross your path even if you decide to stand still for a while.

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The Shadows In The Park

I have over time got more into the lyrics of songs. Never as much as many of my friends. I am perfectly content to never know or understand all the words of a song. But I appreciate the emotional impact a good line has on me. And that impact can happen even if I misunderstand the words. Here is one such misunderstanding:

The shadows in the park belong to yesterday...

That is what I had always assumed a line from Home by Jethro Tull was. It transpires that the line is in fact:

The shadows in the park were longer yesterday...

My version works much better for me. The words as intended simply refer to the passage of time. Mine evokes memory of past experiences. I imagine someone visiting their old neighbourhood and walking past a park in which they store some long-distant recollection. What are they remembering? Playing on the swings and missing the simplicity of childhood? Reclining on the grass with a long-lost lover and feeling a momentary frisson of that? Walking a family dog that has been replaced many times since and feeling a sudden pang of loss? For me the shadows are memory-images superimposed over the static scene of the empty darkening suburban park and it may in fact be too late for there to be many light-shadows.

I prefer songs that explore life in a frank way that recognizes the mixed experiences we have and seeks to come to terms with them. There are plenty with a dose of reality - these words come to mind:

And it seems such a waste of time
If that's what it's all about
If that's moving up then I'm
Moving out!

However I have an admission to make - I also enjoy the sentimental stuff that sells us a distorted image of life and love. Dammit! I am critical of songs as part of the culture - traditional and popular - that fills us with expectations that only sometimes work for us and yet I still enjoy all that silly "And then I saw her face (da-da-da-da-da) Now I'm a believer!" How do I reconcile my critical perspective with my emotive joy at these songs? Well one thing to say is that I also like Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings even if I know that Jedi and Istari are imaginary. But there is more to it than that.

Songs exist to make us understand the experiences of others - I can seek to understand them even if I feel differently. I hardly need to fully endorse every tiny thing that comes into my life. Okay Monkees take it away now! Dig that sweet mushy lily-white groove!