Vibrant and grateful

In an unusual mood today.

Yesterday I had a big day with work, busy running around sorting things out and sourcing answers and reporting back to the bigwigs here and interstate. There was a fair bit of pressure attached, but I find I really enjoy that. I’m good at problem solving. My mind clicks into gear and I’m automatically charged so that I can do 2,3,4 things at once, sending emails, making calls, running up and down stairs, puzzling out the latest crisis and formulating solutions. I’m all of a piece then, all synchronised, almost without conscious thought, like an athlete taking to the field and doing what he is best at and finding that zone.

The pressure I enjoy. I always think I’m at my very best when under the pump. It feels like a direct challenge, and I’m invigorated by that. Not for a minute do I believe I will fail. I will find a way. Never am I more confident than at those moments, and it shines through.

Today is different. I found a bunch of answers yesterday leading to more complex questions. I’m in the process of resolving them, or least finding a position on them – but the pressure is off. The immediate stuff was resolved by last night. Today I’m looking deeper, but I’m limited now because so many have left for their Christmas break and won’t be back until well into the new year. As for the rest, it’s the last day before Christmas and there is little appetite to start in on something just before the break. That I can understand. So for now I’m surveying and documenting the situation, and sending out queries I know won’t be answered for a while. I feel like I know this stuff now, better than anyone, and it’s for me to coordinate and take to the next level.

All of this is in the background, but overlaid is a kind of sentimentality.

It’s the time of year, happy people and gifts everywhere in glittering paper and festive cheer around the office and in the street buskers and corner trios playing Christmas music with Santa hats on their head. There’s memory and also a sense of goodwill, even good fellowship. I am a part of this and I am happy for my fellow human beings. I wish them happiness and hope, and just thinking that makes me feel better.

Last night I caught up with Donna for our usual pre-Christmas get together, and I think that’s when it really started for me. I left work weary from it and with a throbbing headache, but quietly ebullient. I stalked the busy streets in my suit, the sun shining down and people like me on a mission for a good time. I went to the bank and for the first time in several years actually used my wallet to keep my cash in it. I’ve never carried enough to worry about it in recent times, just stuffing it in my pants pocket. Yet there was a time when if I had less than $200 in my wallet I felt I was short.

So I had a full wallet and early for my catch-up went to have a drink somewhere. I went to one bar after another, every one of them full to the gills. There was a rumbling sense of occasion. Buoyant crowds of drinkers catching up for a last occasion before the big day, full of anticipation and easy favour. The sun shone down brightly and the clean, bright lines illuminated the general mood of relaxed dissipation.

Eventually I found myself at Meyers Place. I had a pot of Little Creatures while others around me scoffed longnecks of Melbourne Bitter.

Eventually Donna showed up and we found ourselves at the rooftop bar of the Sheraton drinking cocktails and sharing gossip. It was easy, and familiar, but I was aware that once upon a time I lived like this all the time and took it for granted. We were both conscious of that, and it made it different, like re-connecting something that had been disconnected too long.

We went for dinner to the restaurant below, East, where we had an excellent Asian meal while the conversation went on, sometimes light-hearted, even frivolous, and sometimes deep and meaningful. It was a lovely night and at the end of it we exchanged gifts and went our separate ways having pledged to look after each other in the coming year.

The train was much less crowded this morning. I went in at my usual early time pondering the events of yesterday and wondering what it would mean today. There was nothing in my email and so I went back downstairs to get a coffee.

It was a little after 8 and I headed back towards the station I had come from 10 minutes before. In the time since a busker had set himself up on the street. At first I didn’t know this. I heard the music, mysteriously coming from I didn’t know where. It was an old Billy Joel song She’s Always a Woman to Me played on electric guitar. It’s a good song, but I’ve never thought much more of it than that – but today it was different. The music was so clean that it seemed pristine. He was an expert player and as I drew nearer the sentiment of the song and purity of the sound affected me. How good is this, I thought. How good life could be. It was all in the simple stuff.

At lunch I went to the market. As a Christmas treat I shouted myself a (very gourmet) sandwich sitting at an upmarket bistro. Across from me at the long table was a girl of about 10 with her grandmother. The girl was dressed up as if for the big trip to the city and seemed full of delight and curiosity. She watched everything, commented on everything, bubbling over with enthusiasm and wonder. Her grandmother indulged her, as grandmother’s do. There seemed something awfully old fashioned in the scene. It was something that happened all over, and through time, this adventure to the big smoke attended to by a loving relative. There’s such innocence in it that as the man I am today I felt moved by it, and happy for them, glad that such things still happen, and could happen. And I recalled dimly a time when I was a just boy doing just the same thing with my grandparents.

The market was hectic, just as expected. I bought my few small items – some vegies, cheese, some coffee beans, and even some Turkish delight – chatting quickly with the harried but cheerful shop assistants. We wished each other a happy Christmas each time and I made my way back towards work.

It’s a great time to be in Oz, the weather great, and hot days ahead. I thought that walking back down Elizabeth street, thinking of all the travellers at this time of year. I hummed under my breath the tune I’d been humming all morning – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – it’s the carol for the day, and the carol that seems most true.

I was full of all this, vibrant and grateful.

So – Merry Christmas all – I hope your hearts are easy and the way forward clear. Look around, and be grateful for all you have.

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