Sunday 23 November 2008

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Stormy Saturday

© John Sawyer – November 2008

It’s just after 6am and heavy rain is pelting the decking just in front of him while the daisy bushes 10 metres away are bathed in sunshine. He’s safe behind the transparent roller blind that’s been tied down for a week in anticipation of rain. He watches the drops of rain consolidate into streams that then accumulate into small rivers that hurtle down the blind onto the decking.

He’s sharing the veranda with washing that’s attempting to become dry but which instead hangs damply on the flimsy Kmart drying racks. Shorts, undies, socks, pyjamas and towels attest to some of the week’s activities. A stained, formerly white handkerchief flaps its once fashionable, embroidered red “J” in the slight breeze. Did he really have this in his pocket last week? Luckily there had been no high powered client meeting to be embarrassed in. Those stains look the same colour as the paint he put on the kitchen wall ten years ago.

This is Melbourne in summer. Kids in white cricket gear will soon be turning up at sports grounds to thwack willow against leather. If they’re lucky Dad might take them out for an egg and bacon sandwich instead.

He returns to the AGE but it can’t hold his attention against the violent, almost deafening drumming of hail against the roof. He watches as the hail hits the deck, bounces under the blind and melts rapidly around his chair; one of a pair of extra comfy club chairs he’d picked up from the salvos for $160.

He lifts his feet, crosses his legs into a lotus and wraps the blanket around his lap, hiding the pyjamas tucked into yesterday’s socks. A flannel shirt, a woollen jumper and sleeveless jacket provide just enough layers to keep his top half warm. Without shoes or slippers he’s marooned here for at least an hour. The dog nuzzles her snout under his arm and tries to climb aboard.

This is his favourite place in the world; his man’s shed. He’s out amongst the elements, away from the phones and the demands of the office. He tries to meditate but he’s lost the ability. His thoughts jump to the developer from hell; the developer who’s been making his life a misery. His mind races through the permutations of death threats, verbal abuse, intimidation, plaster dust, damaged sewerage, broken water pipes, broken agreements, lies, holes in the roof, water flooding the living room and emails flooding the in-box; all from the development next door. He’s become almost obsessed, waiting for the next dodgy builder disaster.

Instead of the endorphin laced sense of well-being he used to get from meditation, he now feels real anger, his head aches and his right eye twitches violently but invisibly. “Fuck. Fuck. Fu…ck!” He yells angrily towards the rain. You deserve better than this mate.

The wind rises as the thunderstorm rolls closer and he suddenly remembers another thunderstorm he witnessed a few years ago on a flight to Singapore. A clear starry night, 12km above the Western Australian coast, just after sunset. Far below there’d been a violent localised thunderstorm. He’d watched fascinated as bolts of lightning had flashed from the bundle of black clouds. Yet here he’d remained safe, high above, immune from danger.

Intellectually he knows this is how to deal with his bodgie builder. Can he somehow learn to sit way above reality and observe the antics dispassionately or will he be dragged into reaction because he’s become too emotionally involved.

The flowers survive the buffeting from rain, wind and hail. The daisies, roses and geraniums have survived without a damaged bloom, without even a damaged petal. The strategy is to be flexible and bounce back to your original position; to bend to the potential destroying force and to swing back. Even if you are blown over, you hang on. You send down some new roots; you turn your flowers back to the sun. Survival is paramount.

Love, happiness and friendship are paramount.


Unknown said...

You are learning, Grasshopper

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