Hundreds of people are cheering for him to jump. Hundreds. Standing right on the edge of the platform, his toes curled over, he bends his knees, gently swings his arms back and out to the side, and the crowd gets louder. Some people are wah-hooing, some are pumping their fists in the air, others just beam smiles up at him. It’s 38 degrees, and he’s feeling the heat. His soft white belly hangs over his black board shorts and his little butt pokes out behind him. This is the moment, this is it, and then it’s not. His knees straighten and he pulls out of it, steps backwards. The cheering turns into a painful and long awww-uuuh. We’re disappointed. We want him to jump. We know he can do it. And he hasn’t given up. He steps forward again and looks down at the water below; he takes his mark: bends his knees, swings his arms back and hinges forward. The crowd rears up: this is it. The collective orgasmic climax of hundreds of people teeters on the edge along with the boy, only he can get us there. Then he pulls out, again. The longer this back and forth goes on the harder he grimaces. He wants to jump. But we’re not bored or about to give up on him. The cheering rises again: people in the swimming pool are smacking their hands on the water while people on the grass start standing up, craning their necks to get a better look and peering from under their hand hats. The attendant lifesaver yells at him through his tinny hand-held loudspeaker. And then he just does it. He jumps, with his arms out and his legs pressed together. His soft body hits the water like a little dumpling into golden syrup sauce: plop. He has concurred the 10-metre tower. The crowd goes over the edge with him. The kid’s no older than 12.
The energy levels as we watch the next kid climb the tower. He goes over to the edge, peers at the water below and immediately pivots on his heel. He descends to a soundtrack of pitiful clapping and soft moaning. The first kid has passed on his fear to the second kid. And we all get it. We understand everything we’ve just watched. Because we have all been there.
I’ve met more than a few women in recent years – months, weeks, days, minutes, moments – who say they are trying to become softer, to tap into their feminine side, or to rid themselves of their rigidity and hard edges. They want to respond differently to situations in which they usually put up a guard, withdraw into themselves or, perhaps, on the other end of the scale, attack or get defensive. They say they want to be more vulnerable.
These are the types of women who have, at one time or another, perhaps even on many occasions, offended people because they voiced an argument or opinion that was different to those around them. They said, you know what, I don’t agree.
They are the women who rather than be treated as small and inconsequential in certain relationships choose to step away and direct their energy towards relationships in which they are valued. They are the women who refuse to change themselves or discard their own wants and needs to appease someone else. They choose to rock the boat, rather than let is drift aimlessly.
We are too much for ourselves because there is far more to us – we feel more – than we can manage. ~ Adam Phillips
Leaving again. Saying goodbye again. Wondering what I’m doing again. Feeling moments of loneliness and exhaustion again. Feeling a bit ridiculous. Feeling all stretched out and had it. Feeling like I’m being squashed in a box and all my flesh is bulging out the sides. Laugh-crying. Saying, I don’t know why I’m crying. HAHAHA! Laughing to stop crying. Laughing hard, laughing a lot. HA!HA!HA!
Leaving again. Saying goodbye again. Wandering what I’m doing again. Riding my bike with tears running down my face, thinking, damn, where is this all coming from. Thinking, damn, that was a long two and a half months. Thinking what even happened these last months.
Had a lot of beautiful times. That’s what happened. Had conversations I’ll never forget. Had hugs I can still feel. Had sex with more strangers. Had fun. Had momentary connection. Had the courage to not cling on. Had no regrets. Had two weddings. Had my friend wed, had my brother wed. Had my parents in the same room for the first time in eleven and a half years. Had many nights alone, bored. Had many nights alone, writing. Writing and writing and writing and thinking I can make something if I want. I can make something if I really want. Thinking damn. Thinking damn I’m tired.
But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But. But.
Being single is a brave choice – because no matter what the reality feels like it is a choice and will always remain so. Anyone can choose to settle, at any point in their life, whether for love or for companionship or to simply ward off loneliness or societal pressures, but not everyone is prepared to choose to be alone.
Being single means sitting with and observing yourself for long periods of time, often when all you want, or believe you need, is to be told that you are beautiful, strong, unique, or whatever. It means getting to know yourself in ways that scare you and then fronting up to the world the next day as though doing so is the easiest, most natural thing. It means looking at yourself in the mirror on days that you feel emotional and ugly and worthless and telling yourself that you are beautiful and strong, and also believing it to be true.
The dream of solitude sponsors the hope of creative liberation ~~ [I wrote this quote down at some point; I’d like to think that I wrote it myself but I’m sure I didn’t but I’m not sure who did.]
A time ago, back when I was living in my Brunswick one-bedder, I was down on my hands and knees looking for a baking ingredient at the far-reaches of my kitchen cupboard, merely ginormous not necessarily well stocked, when I found a pot that I’d stashed in there a couple of months earlier. I grabbed the handle, sat back on my haunches and inspected its contents: rice was crusted, thick and black, to its bottom. I was momentarily confused before its history came back to me: I’d flung the pot into the cupboard when I was expecting company of a male nature and hadn’t had the time, nor desire, to clean it. It had been there ever since; I obviously had not missed the pot. I shook my head in disappointed disbelief.
I glimpse the white of my face and the wet red of my lips in the bathroom mirror and I know I only have tens of minutes to get home before every cell in my body starts to bleed the black death of a hangover made severer for the $6.50 red wines I’d been drinking with a friend at the Brunswick Green the night before, and really, that’s when it all should have ended, when I walked her to the spot at which she was going to turn and head off on her bike and I was going to turn and go directly home. But there was this man I was texting and it was leading to the suggestion of having a late-night drink (sex) and lately I’ve been all like yeah whatever why not like it’s 2009. But it’s not, is it. Still, I say yeah sure let’s have a drink and he says he’s going to roll out of bed and meet me at Longplay, which happens to be not far from his house. What’s a $17 cab fare on a May night feeling so full of jovial promise, right? Continue reading
The unexamined life is not worth living – Socrates
There is knowing and then there’s knowing. When you think you know, sometimes you only know. And then, oddly, sometimes when you think you only know, you actually really do know – you just don’t know it yet.
I had anxiety even when I thought I didn’t have anxiety. I had been living with anxiety for so many years that all I knew were the different extremities. When my hands weren’t shaking, or I was laughing freely, I believed it was gone. It wasn’t gone. It was still stuck in the deepest crevices of my being, in places I didn’t know how to reach. I know that now only because I don’t have anxiety. I finally found a way to get the broom into the hard-to-reach spots and swept the rest away – if not for good, at least for now. And in six months time I am certain I won’t look back on this moment and say oh I thought I didn’t have it then but boy did I have it. I know with every corner of my calm, swept, unshaking being that I don’t have anxiety, at this point in time.
I know this because I don’t wake up and have to manage the way I feel. I don’t constantly have to look for ways to stop my hands from shaking. I don’t have to excuse myself to go and stand in the bathroom and breathe. I don’t have to question my emotional responses and compare them to a benchmark I’d not known for a very long time. I can now trust the way I react to things – trust that my responses are from my heart, my core and nothing else. This is what it feels to be anxiety free: it’s being able to trust your emotional core.
I sat on the edge of the rooftop and looked down onto the street. A man rode his bicycle up to the street light out front, opened a rusty box mounted on the pole and flicked a switch: the street light turned off. He kept pedalling, stopped at the next light and turned that one off too, and then went to the next. Fairy-floss coloured clouds stretched across the sky, a hot cup of stove-top coffee rested in my hands, and I smiled and took a long, slow breath in, as though my body was filling up with honey and I greedily couldn’t get enough. And then I breathed out. And then in. And out. And in. And that was what I did that morning, watching the world wake from grey to pink to blue. My mind at peace, not wondering where I was going next or what I was going to do with my life or when I’m going to meet that person. In that moment, there was nothing else but my breath and no other place I wanted to be other than where I was, in Mysore, India, on an easy, perfect Saturday morning.