I’m in the middle of packing up to move out of this home. The place is all over the place. There are boxes everywhere, sealed up and half-open. There’s the usual debris associated with that. The things I’ve put out preparatory to that. Stuff I’ve put out to throw out. Bundles of newspaper ready to be used in wrapping up the fragile pieces. Things never properly put away because I knew I’d be packing them up. And so on.
In the middle of this Prospect, and his sister M, arrived to have lunch with me. This too is part of the process. I contacted Prospect to check if he wanted anything in my household prior to it going into storage. He nominated the Eames replica. Fine. Come for lunch then. That was the opportunity to use up the lovely fillet steak in my freezer, so a win all round.
We’ve had a lovely afternoon sitting out on the back deck enjoying the meal, and then just talking. I love that. I believe in conversation as something more than just an exchange of information. Good conversation must be allowed room to move, air to breathe. It’s organic and unpredictable and it takes the protagonists to unexpected places. It ‘happens’, there are no constraints, no inhibitions, no boundaries. Good conversation is an act of exploration, but good conversation is rare.
We covered a lot of territory today. Stuff we had in common,things looking ahead, and things we’d lived through but never discussed, about my writing, etc. He’s actually one of the few people I know who read this blog, and he’s an avid reader. He knows me better than most as a result, and that informs the conversation between us.
I had an interesting conversation with my sister this morning. I’ve said it a million times, we’re very different people in temperament and attitude and personality. I told her this morning about my meeting with the ATO on Friday (I’ll report on that later). What came out of that were revelations I never expected.
In the first place she expressed surprise at my outrage. She told me she expects things to be unfair and unreasonable. Things aren’t fair, people don’t act as you hope they will. This is very much my sister, but I have to say that I too have low expectations these days. The difference between us is that she accepts that as a state of affairs while I rebel against it still. It may be the case, but must it be? I was no more surprised at the ATO response to my claims than she was, but as an intelligent Australian I find it hard to accept. It rubs against me in the wrong way. She wondered at that. I told her if it was any different I’d have curled myself into a ball 12 months ago and given up. As I spoke I realised the truth of what I said. It’s the fire in me that keeps me going. Difficult as it may be sometimes, it’s the combative, stubborn, perverse part of my nature that keeps me going. I refuse to accept the state of affairs. I’m incapable of it. And so I kick and kick, and that’s the meaning of me.
The other thing she spoke of came as a greater surprise. Somehow this had never come up before in the thousands of conversations we’ve had. I had no idea. It was like she went way back in her memories to recall things that had been present for 20 years or more. “You’ve always been so relaxed,” she said. The things that she couldn’t live with I brushed aside. She referenced her teen years when it was apparent then that I was a different fish. She spoke of mum saying how I was confident about something, or unworried. She said how I never appeared nervous or worried or downcast. Not surprisingly there was something vaguely disapproving in her words, mixed in with the wonder and confusion.
I was not aware of this. I was unaware that she saw me this way. Unaware that others might too. Truth is that I do worry, and there are many times I feel nervous. I process those things though. I’m reasonably confident and so any nerves I have are met with the knowledge that I have done this before and that’ll manage – and the realisation that few things are as tough as they appear to be.
As for my worries? God knows I’ve had an unfair share of those in recent times. As she so kindly pointed out, it’s hard to see how my situation could be worse. That may be true, or not, but it’s not relevant. “It is what it is,” has become a cliché, but I think it’s been a guiding principle for me long before it became a part of the language. I explained how I put things in boxes. Things are shit, true, but dwelling on the negatives isn’t going to make it better. Getting down about my life won’t make it better. I have to deal with things, which necessitates that I put the negative things to one side. I have to keep believing, and working towards that belief. That belief, for now, says that I can work these things out, and that I can make things are good again. I may have lost one battle after another in recent years – and these are my words to her – but I’m not defeated yet. I live to fight another day, and to one day triumph.
Do I believe that? Utterly. Actually belief is lightweight. That’s what I know in my gut. I don’t know that I will win, but I know I can – and that’s enough.
In short, I don’t think I’m as relaxed as what she claims, but maybe I’m wrong. It certainly puts a different slant on other moments in my life if true, some of them pretty critical, such as when I was called ‘the Fonz’, and so on. I just think I’m positive, as my father is, but in a much different way because though having similar character, we have different personalities (interestingly Prospect told me listening to people speak at my mum’s funeral brought me to mind.)
So we come to Prospect. We’ve been friends for about 5 years now. I never knew or thought to ask what he saw in me those years ago, but today he told me.
Prospect thinks I’m cool. He’s the one who branded me Steve McQueen. He told me today that when he met me he thought I was a straight shooter who would stand up for what was right. I was stylish and interesting and egalitarian, but above all, I was fun. That’s a nice endorsement, and if I could go through life being known for that I’d be happy.