Desiring desperation

THE other day I was missing the times when I felt pain and frustration and sadness, and those things pushed me deeper into relationship with God. Into needing Him, because He was all I had. Like the night before I told my parents I deal with SSA when I was 20. But I don’t feel that now and haven’t for a while. I even had the thought, “I can’t wait until I’m teaching some bratty Year 9s in 2012 and I hate it and that makes me desperate again”. It was weird; I know.

I’m so blessed, but it feels like a curse. God; Check. Money; Check. Friends; Check. Family; check. Sleep; Check. Healthy; check. Good study marks; check. Etc, etc, etc.

So yeah, I think I’m struggling with apathy ’cause everything is just working for me right about now. And maybe the problem was that somewhere along the way I said to myself, ‘when you can tick every box of the major areas of your life; you’ll be comfortable and then you will be happy’. But instead I am comfortable and bored.

Some of it’s just temporary. Studying at home by myself via the internet isn’t very challenging compared to working with 15 other personalities and dealing with advertisers and interviewees. When I’m on-the-ground at a university and living somewhere else next year it will be different. But it worries me that when everything is going right this is what is at the core of me. I feel like a middle class douche who duded themselves.

As I’m writing this I’m chatting to a mate who is working towards opening an orphanage in Thailand. I mean how does someone wake up one day and go ‘I want to open a school for boys in a poor country.’ He’ll make it happen too. Or Australia has a federal election in three weeks and there is a 20-year-old guy who could win a seat in the House of Representatives. I’m wondering how the kid decided, and then worked towards becoming a politician. Today I spent about half an hour trying to kick a football properly. That’s about the height of my dreams, haha.

I gotta think about this some more…


What I didn’t learn

A FEW years ago I would use two examples to describe my dad’s failure with me: he didn’t teach me to kick a football and he didn’t teach me to shave.

Growing up in country Victoria Australian Rules Football mattered. The social life of a small town revolved around its club and the ‘cool’ guys at school played. I don’t remember having a football at home until my sister decided she wanted one when I was probably nine. I must have learnt something from my dad then, but not how to kick properly. You, dear reader, may not understand the importance of kicking properly. At family gatherings and school it was not uncommon for someone to suggest a bit of the dreaded ‘kick-to-kick’. In the end I could do a retarded kind of kick on the few occasions I accidently ended up with the ball.

On Sunday afternoon I planned to have a kick of a soccer ball with a teenager from church. As we headed out to the small town footy oval I discovered unpleasantly that he was bringing a footy as well. When I ended up with the ball in my hands I said something like, ‘I can’t kick properly. Can you tell me what I do wrong?’ and then he spent the next half an hour or so teaching me. It was great and I discovered a few issues with my technique. In the next few days I plan to practice a bit more. I guess I see being able to kick a footy as an important masculine attribute.

Now to shaving…I was the kid who started growing thick black hairs between my lips and nose about age 11. Rather than be delighted a sign of my maleness had arrived early I resented it. Every few days after school I would stealthily borrow my mother’s small silver nursing scissors and cut off any early signs of a moustache in front of the bathroom mirror. If a family member happened to walk by I’d pretend I was doing something else while I hid the scissors. This went on for a couple of years until someone, mum probably, noticed I needed a shaver and purchased one.

So I started shaving with my electric shaver. (I think I’m now on my fourth). And never did my dad give me a shaving lesson. Part of my desire for one is no doubt a romantic notion a father should teach his son to shave. The truth is I could shave okay, so there was no need for a hair removal lesson. I use the word ‘okay’ loosely, because even today I frequently miss spots. Once every few weeks I would get to work and discover a patch of little black hairs I’d missed that morning. Last year a man I admired at work ‘revealed’ that his dad didn’t teach him to shave during a discussion on what the modern man isn’t taught. I was like, ‘wow, even some cool guys had to teach themselves to shave’.

I began this post with a mention of my father. In some ways these two issues show that he isn’t someone who will initiate a course of action. He waits for circumstances or someone else to ask, or force, him to act. I’ve probably picked up a tendency to do the same thing and it’s something I need to be aware of and prevent.

The next morning I spoke out some further thoughts on my father and me:

Winter days

TO be honest I’m loving my time here at my parents. Sure, it’s still the honeymoon, as it’s only a couple of weeks in, but it’s a good one. Good things: country location, cooking, man work, fast internet, time to think, pets and family.

Surprisingly, I welcome the return to the country after three and a half years in town. The view out my bedroom window, where I have my computer and do my studies on the internet, is trees and grass and paddocks. During my bike ride around country roads there’s hardly a car or truck in sight, and in the distance mountain ranges create a picture perfect backdrop. Almost every time I see them I stare with a goofy half smile.

And the cooking. When you’re renting a room in someone else’s home, you can’t just borrow some flour. But at mum’s I can and do. Perfect yo yo biscuits were followed by perfect choc chip cookies. I even weighed each biscuit at 20 grams before they went in the oven. You might call that being fussy; I like to think of it as baking to the glory of God. And before you worry about whether I bring enough testosterone to the kitchen I made meatballs and stir fry chicken as well.

Then there’s the man work. Last week I must have spent four hours mowing the lawn. I love mowing the lawn. So many life changing thoughts happen, possibly because of the heightened state caused by the fuel fumes, but that doesn’t change the fact it happens. I love pushing the mower, it makes me feel alive. Yesterday one of dad’s cows was lying on the ground and she couldn’t get up because she is so fat. So we put on our gum boots and went out to “Barrel Cow” to give her a push up. (see her pic below)

Pets. I have a dog. His name is Spot. When I’m studying he comes and taps on my bedroom door. I lift him up (he’s old) on my bed and there he stays keeping me company as I write assignments, listen to lectures and read books. My parents’ also have two kittens: Tom and Jerry. They are so full of vigour. Outside are six roosters that crow repeatedly though every day their clothesline beheading draws nearer.

My dad is such a practical man. Like tomorrow his uncle is coming to visit, and him and my mother need to clean their messy home and Dad says “I guess being 92 he’ll want to go down the toilet”. He’s such a realist. I love it. I’m getting on good with my parents. They adore my presence in their home. What can I say? I can’t help being me.

Spare time. It’s amazing. I had a couple of periods earlier this year where every minute seemed to be allocated. One of the most important things in my life is having time I can do anything I want to. As it’s probably due to deep seated emotional issues feel free to pray for me. Anyway, now I have free time. Go with a couple of friends on a two hour train ride into the country for no particular reason. Check. Plan to go to beach with friends an hour away one day. Check. Think about movies to go see with two free tickets. Yeah, baby. (There are no good movies coming out before their September 30th expiry date in case you were wondering). Ponder issues of sexuality and openness and God and so on. Yes.

I know what you’re thinking. These very things you love right now you’re going to hate soon. That day’s coming that’s for sure, but until then I’m enjoying and resting in it.

By the way brothers, thanks so much for your feedback and sympathy on my last post. There was more than 3000 words of it and I appreciated it all.

Half-year happenings

It’s been a big few weeks.

Last night I drove to my parents’ place with my clothes, linen, computer and other accumulated possessions. It was moving time after three and a half years living in (town) and working on the local newspaper. A couple of hours earlier as I gave my rented room a good vacuum in preparation for my exit, I listened to political concession speeches like Australian Prime Minister John Howard in 2007 or John McCain in 2008, because it was the right moment to appreciate emotional losers stating profound things. My outlook on moving resembled a concession speech rather than a victory one: “The past three and a half years were a hard slog of becoming a man with many mistakes made. Tonight I am thankful for these years and those people who were part of them. I do not leave this (town) as I came, and will always remember the lessons taught in the shadow of these fine green hills”.

Living at my parents’ is to study three subjects over the internet, so next year I can work towards becoming a high school teacher. This move, with more time to study, write, ponder, speak, chat, seek Him and appreciate winter sun streaming in the window, will be good. I don’t like where my attitudes to life and God are heading and this is an opportunity to create some good patterns in a safe environment.

I’ve been restless for a couple of months. I know, let’s get a haircut. Hmmmm, maybe I’ll try some facial hair. A new jacket? Yes, please.

Nine days ago my girlfriend of six months and I broke up. We sat on a piece of water company infrastructure overlooking paddocks and powerlines as our relationship ended. It was mutual and necessary. Afterwards she gave me a packet of honey crusted salted peanuts and I walked home and cried real tears of “whoops, I’m a screw-up who screwed that up”.

When people asked why we broke up, I said there were differing expectations and abilities to provide and it wasn’t going to work into the future. That was kind of true as she wanted me to be more affectionate and engage in deep, long conversations about life. I said I’m not likely to change those things in upcoming months. Also she is committed to (town) for the next two and a half years and I have no idea where I’ll be in 2011/2012, so we were going to be in a holding pattern if we continued.

This was my first relationship. Ever. And I won’t be rushing into another one. By the end of it my deficiencies in desire, action and intensity were all too prevalent. I would like to say this is due to same sex attraction and on some level that is true. But I was also apathetic about the success of the relationship because it would get in the way of my selfish desires. I wonder whether straightness would have made it work, though part of me doubts that. Alternatively the SSA provided a scapegoat for what may have just been incompatibility issues.

She is truly an amazing person and I wish her all the best. I feel bad about it for her as well. Perhaps I should have ended it a couple of months earlier. Perhaps a lot of things. A relationship is unchartered waters for me and I learnt along the way.

There was good stuff being half of a couple. Cycling together, picnicking, going to cafes, swimming at the beach, lots of text messages, having someone who makes me a priority etc etc. As well there is an awareness of what needs to be right in me before I embark on another relationship.

By the way I say (town) because if I wrote the actual name within a couple of hours my newspaper colleagues would have a Google Alert pointing them to this here blog.