Flight of the discord

About an hour ago I was standing at a bus stop holding a finger-crunching number of grocery bags when I heard a mad-man’s mumblings echo in the distance.

I squinted to the main street’s vanishing point and eventually made out the silhouette of a staggering plump figure. A few moments later the figure developed into a dishevelled drunk woman; her bare feet fumbling as she clutched a filthy blanket dangling over her left shoulder. The blanket trailed behind collecting butts as it went.

As the rabid self-talk grew louder I made a conscious decision to look at the ground. There were many others at this bus stop but I knew this character would be drawn to me. They always are.

Her steps grew heavy as she quickened her pace. She suddenly flew into a frenzy – like a seagull after a hot chip – as she ran towards me arms and blanket flailing, her voice screeching: “Get ya fucken arse of me land!”
Her metholated breath blew across my face. I did not flinch.
“Fair call”, I thought, drawing on memories of European settlement in Australia.

The gull was not happy I had not moved a step back. She stared for a good 20 seconds.
“Well, give me a dollar would ya?”
I handed her some loose change, momentarily wondering whether I was being charitable or being robbed.
She turned to her blanket and said matter-of-factly “every dollar counts”, then walked back into the night.

While the brief moment of stampede had quickened my heart beat, I had otherwise been unmoved by the whole episode. I have encountered so much depression, anxiety and psychosis, so much lunacy in my life, that at times I wonder whether I can still be surprised. And, while it’s given me at times a sense of overwhelming misery over the suffering of loved ones, I’ve noticed it has also given me a drive to find the positive and the flip-side in most situations.

It is a determination not to fall into the same abyss.

Some would argue that finding this unconventional love of life by adopting a “this isn’t so bad/so scary” or even a “this is actually a good thing” philosophy is just putting my head in the sand. But if Plato’s Cave in Philosophy 101 taught me anything it is that we have no real concept of what reality is. Ergo, why does “facing the reality” always have to gear itself towards being a negative?

Of course there is no point polishing a turd: the death of a loved one or the injustice of pain and suffering is seldom a situation to rejoice. But if you don’t squeeze out every bit of the positive in life’s little disappointments, you’re inviting the filthy blanket of misery to your being.

Sometimes a situation seems ugly but with the right filter, lens or perspective, it can actually be quite beautiful – like scaring the crap out of a seagull while staring into a searing sun, then taking a photo of the bird’s arse.

bird in busselton