Did I Suck Enough?

In the beginning of 2020 I started a project where I planned to learn a heap of new shit. It started out ok, but ended up getting a bit derailed, so basically, I still suck at most things on the list of shit I wanted to learn. That’s ok cos even though I didn’t learn all the stuff I wanted to learn, it doesn’t mean I have to close the door on that forever. Besides, I got to learn new stuff, it just wasn’t stuff I saw coming and a lot of it wasn’t easy, and not in the way that requires you to push yourself when you are learning a brand new skill, but in a way that calls into question stuff that you’ve been taking as a “given” all your life. This kind of lesson always sucks because it feels like subtraction rather than addition.

Becoming a better person isn’t always about addition. It’s about growing and sometimes that means growing away from ideas about yourself, about the world, and about relationships. Sometimes personal growth means that you lose. I lost some relationships this year, and the way I view community and friendship has changed forever. This is because I grew away from an idea I had about myself; the idea that I was a good person in the eyes of my friends and the eyes of the community. I was wrong about that and it took me by surprise because I thought that being community-minded, warm, friendly, caring, generous, dependable, considerate, genuine and a good listener were valuable traits. They’re not. This year I learnt that none of that matters. This year I learnt that in general, people who are meant to care about you say one thing to your face and do the opposite behind your back. When the chips are down, they’ll do everything they can to take you down with them, and then act like you never mattered to them anyway.

What a sad, stupid life.

So, I guess this year I did suck quite a lot, especially in the eyes of people I thought cared about me, but that’s ok because I did a lot of awesome shit and none of that matters when it comes to what other people think. Stuff like reading 15 non-fiction books, 17 fiction books, riding the fat bike hundreds of kilometres, seeing Alice Cooper in concert, riding my horses, mapping out hikes in Burrum Coast National Park, Completing a Graduate Certificate in Disability Practice (I wrote over 200 000 words in assignments, which is equivalent to around two books), buying my own boat, making YouTube movies and just generally being authentic, not full of shit.

Thank god I’m self reliant and don’t need other people around me to live an amazing life. Being extroverted and alone is challenging, but I can manage it by being extreme in my pursuit of physical, self mastery, and intellectual challenges. Maybe life is about serving the lesser good (the self), rather than the greater good (humanity) because in the end, if you don’t put yourself first, how can you ever hope to serve anything or anyone? But, who can tell? I don’t think anyone really “gets it” because if they did, then they wouldn’t act like total pricks towards others who don’t deserve it; others who actually might need a helping hand, not scornful judgement.

Are you who you seem, or are you full of shit too?

The Power of Sock Protectors

Did you know that sock protectors have special powers? Yep, those simple pieces of fabric,held up by elastic that sit over the top of your boot can get right into the nooks and crannies of your life and bring the whole thing crashing down around your ears. Surprised? I was too.

Image: Rossi Boots website

It’s no secret, I love making shit for people. Every year I make upwards of twenty Christmas cakes to give out to my friends and family. I write stories and stupid little poems for people, I buy my friends gifts when I come across something I think they’d dig. I give money to homeless people and I give my time to charitable causes by hiking long distances to raise money for stuff I care about.

Once, at Woodford Folk Festival I bought two teenagers some books in the bookstore because they didn’t have enough money to get the books they wanted. “Get whatever you want and I’ll pay for it. Don’t worry about the price, just get it and I’ll pay for it,” I said. When one of them asked why I said, “Just because.”  After I did that I felt totally magnanimous and went a bought a stranger a coffee, then another, then another, all anonymously. It made me feel totally awesome.

This is nothing new. I haven’t set out to create trouble for anyone by being kind. In fact, I’ve been this way since I was a little kid. All through my life I’ve loved making things to give to others. I never imagined that it could turn on me.

A while back I made a good friend of mine a pair of stupid sock protectors. They were flowery and ridiculous. I knew he’d probably never wear them because of their ridiculousness, but I thought it was funny, and I thought it was fitting because we hadn’t been friends that long, so it was a light-hearted gift to give at a beginning of a friendship.

I wish I’d never made them. As a result of these stupid sock protectors I’ve been accused of some pretty outrageous shit. Quite a significant amount of assumptions have been made about me, my motives, my marriage and how I spend my time. Even my human rights have been called into question.

Because: sock protectors.

It must have had something to do with the fabric I made these particular sock protectors from because I’ve had no back lash from the sock protectors I made for other friends to let them know I value their friendship:

Peter: I met this guy when I hiked from Woodgate to Brisbane in 2019. These ones were made out of Star Trek fabric

Yal: I met this dude at uni in 2010. These ones were made out of Hawaiian fabric

Liv: I met this cool chic on the same hike as I met Peter. These ones were made out of red flowery material

Tiiu: Another cool chic I met on the hike. These ones were made out corduroy with a stawberry print

Wardy: A fella from a town I used to live in. This guy had about ten pairs; all flowery material

And, what about all the other stuff that I’ve made people over the years; bags out of old jeans and vintage sheet and curtain fabric; the jams and preserves I’ve prepared; the writing paper I’ve marbled by hand in my kitchen; the cross stitch and weaving I’ve crafted; the plants I’ve grown from seed; not to mention the stuff that my friends have made for me, like shopping bags out of old t-shirts, kitchen hand towels, cocodamas, crocheted beanies, patchwork quilts, etc, etc?

How is it that a simple act of kindness can be taken out of context and used as a tool of destruction and vitriol? I know the answer, it’s because in general, people have a hard time being able to step back and look at the big picture. I’ve noticed that it’s really difficult for people to recognise their shortcomings. I know this because I’m human too. I’ve come to learn that one of the hardest things to do in life is to take responsibility for stuff and come to terms with your accountability. It’s so very much easier to take something that has nothing to do with your situation (like sock protectors or even birthday cake) and focus on that to alleviate having to examine your own shortcomings; in this situation, an inability to see things for what they are, not what they’re imagined to be.

Basically, my gift of sock protectors allowed a person to circumvent the accountability they needed to face and shift it onto me, which, by the way, has absolute zero to do with me nor with sock protectors, but I’m pretty doubtful they’ll ever see it like that. This is where the magic comes into it. It’s magical thinking that has facilitated the great switcheroo here, magical thinking that decades, or even just a few hours of discord in a person’s life can be blamed on sock protectors and that everything will be solved because it’s all my fault, even though me and the sock protectors only came along after things had gone south.

It sucks having to deal with your own shortcomings, but unless you do, you can’t live an authentic life, and that means that you can’t ever really be properly happy. As the Cool Guy I’m Married to says, “Take the hit early”.  What he means here is, if you accept that you’re wrong, that you made a mistake, or that you basically just fucked things up, then that’s great because you can sort it out ASAP and get on with things. It’s OK to make mistakes because as humans that’s one thing we’re pretty damn good at. It’s how we’ve made it to the point where we live in civilisation; a place where most of us have jobs, drive cars, have bank accounts, watch TV, buy shit we don’t need and have running water. The life we all have now is only the way it is because we fucked everything up, but kept on learning and moving forward.

You have to own your own shit because:









Sea sick

People probably think I’m a tough mofo, but I still get scared every now and then. It’s just that I don’t let my fear stop me. It’s not always easy.

I went fishing the other day with some awesome friends from Woodgate. A couple I lovingly refer to as The Tidies, which is an amalgamation of both their names, and another mate who could otherwise be known as Tytus Brosch (this in an in-joke that no one will understand, but I’m using here in the pursuit of anonymity and also because I wanted to draw a picture).

I really like boats and I like fishing, but it’s been many years since I was on a boat that wasn’t in command of the cool guy I’m married to and I was a bit worried about how my mate Tytus would behave on the water. What if he’s a total cowboy? I worried, and what if I need to pee out on the ocean when there’s three other poeple on a small boat? I wonder how long we’ll be out there. Will I get really hungry? What if the boat sinks? What if the waves are really big? On and on it went. None of that stuff was an issue. Tytus was great on the water, no hint of cowboy in him, but what I didn’t even consider for second was getting sea sick.

To my horror, I got sick! I was totally surprised because I’ve only ever been sea sick once when I was about eight years old, so I’ve been telling myself for years that don’t get sea sick and I’ve always felt a little bit self righteous about that.

One of us had already upchucked by the time we’d gotten to the first spot, and I said to myself, no way am I gonna let that happen to me, but as the morning wore on, I began to doubt my ability to follow through with that commitment. Even so, the remaining three of us didn’t say anything about feeling sick and we all kept fishing and joking around as though everything was perfectly normal, find and dandy.

After a while I felt I had to mention the situation and said, “Gees, I feel a bit sick.” Immediatley the other two people on the boat who didn’t appear sick at all yelled “Me too!”  and we all started laughing. All of us had been staying stum in an effort to hide our apparent “weakness”.

In the end we caught a few fish between us and had a great time, even though all of us were crook as dogs! We laughed about it and I guess that’s what will make the trip a lasting memory.

It’s always interesting to me that the things that I might be concerned about are never the things that come up as challenges. I’m really glad I didn’t let my reservations about the fishing trip stop me. I would never have had the opportunity to see this because I usually avoid getting up at 4am:

Sunrise through the mouth of the Burrum River. It’s a hard life in Woodgate. Oh, how I struggle. NOT!


What if the opposite of your fears transpired?