If you can fool yourself, you can fool anyone – 3rd February 2020

I have all the character strengths I need at my disposal but there are some I need to practice more and improve.

Perspective: Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself/others.

I see myself on a journey where the destination is wisdom and contentment. My challenge is to acquire these attributes before I die. My default assumption is that everyone else is on the same journey whether they know it or not. Many have already met their challenge whilst others are still travelling. So I sometimes find myself being able to provide counsel for others and other times go in search of that counsel myself.

Social Intelligence: Being aware of the motives/feelings of others and oneself; knowing what to do to fit into different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick.

This is one I really need to practice more. I have gotten better at this since I was in my 20s but even now I just avoid social situations if I feel they don’t suit me. This is slightly compounded by being in Thailand where some situations may mean I’m the only English speaker or there may be myself and one other English speaker, almost forcing us to be socialable with one another. Then there are other times I may only be surrounded by other teachers, where our only connection is our profession and conversation devolves into complaining about our schools, which becomes unproductive and boring. Finally, there’s the rest of the ex-pat community who I generally remain suspicious of, mostly through negative experiences when around them previously. Well, I guess it’s a fertile ground for improvement at least. Must push myself. (Today I just want to shut down and sleep.)

Spirituality: Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort.

I believe life ultimately has no meaning so we must give it our own meaning somehow. These days I am doing a lot of thinking around all these ideas but it is becoming time to put things into action (shaping my conduct).

I remember one time when I was working at the check outs in a supermarket and a regular customer I would chat with was contemplating out loud what the meaning of everything was, to which I responded that life is pointless. She readily agreed but we understood each other that this was a motivation for giving it meaning rather than giving up on it. I have definitely changed my view on this over the years. When I was younger, with lots of time ahead of me, I sometimes thought life was pointless so just gave up on trying to do anything. I’m questioning this statement even as I write when I consider all the many things I actually achieved during that time. But no matter, those negative thoughts were in my mind.

Kindness: Doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them.

Sometimes I don’t give myself enough acknowledgement for doing this. I perhaps consider kindness as being normal so forget to account for it. But there are definitely other times when I think back to times when I could have been kinder and offered to help someone with something that they were doing, rather than concentrating on my personal tasks.

Teamwork: Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one’s share.

I wonder if this characteristic is an issue for most only-children? I’ve learned to rely and depend on myself, even more so having been raised by a single parent. I do prefer working alone but also happy to be part of a team so long as instruction is clear and meaningful. When part of a plan doesn’t make sense I just won’t do it. Perhaps I am sometimes thought of as cantakerous because I am not afraid to speak my mind. See next point!

Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted.

Me and my big mouth.

If you’re led around by your nose
You’ll never get to see how the garden grows.

Cool hidden cafe. On the edge of Burma.

I am sometimes good at doing these things but often get wrapped up in myself too much instead. Perhaps people who know me would be surprised at these choices; perhaps they would see me differently. That would be nice to know but ultimately there’s only me that has to live with my thoughts. Only me that can think, and then act, my way to improvement.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to be invited for a bike ride by Boyan this morning. I was quite surprised. I think he feels a little more comfortable to talk with me now. I’m happy if he feels that way.

We got that attitude! – 26th September 2019

Yesterday I showed some resilience. Small things upset me in the morning and everything felt overwhelming again. After school, I went to the dentist. I think sitting under the drill settled me down again. At home, Amy was quite negative about being here in Thailand but I was the one telling her things aren’t that bad. I realised I had some strength and resilience I need to draw on more.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful that other people have shown an interest in working with me. It shows me that I am valued for my contributions.

Gratitude Journal

Today I’m looking forward to a job interview with another school. I’m looking forward to Hayden coming to visit in a couple of weeks’ time. My friend, Ellen, will also visit from China with lots of yummy Sichuan sauce. I’m looking forward to getting away from some people in this school where I work. I’m looking forward to time hanging around at home with Amy and our friends. I’m looking forward to the cooler weather of winter. Damn! I’m looking forward to a lot of things.

23rd Feb 2021 – Looking back on this looking forward is interesting. Some of the things I was looking forward to, didn’t necessarily turn out for the best but it was definitely the right way to approach all those things. I know some folks who anticipate the worst of the future and then feel pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than expected. I think I used to be like that but not these days. I’m much more of the thinking that even difficult tasks, events and situations are just occurrences and they will be over after a certain period of time regardless of what my thoughts are about them.

Mr. Right says ‘what is a sin in difficult times?’ – 8th June 2019

Last entry in this journal was 11th August 2003.

Things change a lot in 16 years. One thing that doesn’t though, is a parent’s concern for their child. Sometimes I wonder how I can be so much more for other children than I can for Hayden. I guess I just wasn’t there enough.

I won’t beat myself up over this though. Not like I might have done in the past. I can’t change the past. I offer myself to Hayden but I think sometimes he’s afraid to ask, doesn’t want to bother me. Same with his mum. We’re both busy for sure but I don’t think there can be a time when I would refuse to help.

His mum and I have different ways to deal with these things. We try the best with what we have. I do wish I could’ve been more involved in raising Hayden, not particularly in formal education but in life education. I think I set him a good example in many aspects and while I worry about where his motivations are coming from, I consider how useless I was at his age and how things have come right for me since then. I needed certain people to push or pull me in the right directions.

We thought we had no future get here we are. I do wonder the future for the next generations though. With the whole world at our fingertips, it feels like the starry-eyed wonderment has dissipated. It’s no surprise the attitude of each generation might feel this way.

It’s not my fault but I try to offer hope and a positive outlook as much as I can.

Brisbane is burning – 11th February 2018

The plan was for the beach and then to go see some bands in the evening.  My friends from New Zealand, Die! Die! Die!  just coincidentally happened to be playing in Brisbane this weekend, the end of an Australian tour, ironically, along with an Adelaide band I had heard good things about, called Horror, My Friend.

A late start put us behind unfortunately but around midday, we headed off in the direction of the Sunshine Coast.  Hayden regaled me with stories of different little events in his life as we passed through each suburb where they occurred.  Old girlfriends, new girlfriends, good friends, loser friends.

We made the beach an hour or so later.  It was a hot day but the beach wasn’t so packed, with some good learners surf and long sandbanks.  We floated, dived, talked, waded and wandered.  Something about the beach totally refreshes the body and, to some extent, the mind.  Salty sea air maybe, or perhaps just the general feeling of shared happiness.

And dogs.  I really enjoyed watching various dogs jumping around in the shallows, chasing tennis balls and old broken basketballs, anything that could be thrown and retrieved.  I told Hayden about getting a dog sometime in Thailand, thinking it will be a nice companion and a distraction from potential loneliness.  A partner that will listen without question or comment.  Well, perhaps still questions, such as where’s my food and why won’t mum let me indoors.  We’ll see.

Energised from the ocean we headed straight to the pool back at the apartment block and the couple of people who were hanging out soon left us to our own silly play and games, though there’s not a lot you can do just with your body and a stack of water.

A quick shower and a quick snooze, as thunder rolled over, I woke up again totally buggered.  I wanted to go out to the show but also knew that we would still have a second chance the following afternoon.  So, dodgy halloumi yiros with dodgy chilli sauces followed by a couple of beers back at the apartment and some entertainment via the satellite with some fishing show called Wicked Tuna.  We were instantly rooting for the big cuddly fat bloke with the dreadlocks and slamming the guy who was abusing the rules of etiquette.  And then bed.  Again.

Unfortunately, the beers gave me indigestion and I had to sit up during the middle of the night to let out some gas, which disturbed my dreams.

Never mind, we still made it up at around 10am and headed out to play mini-golf, or putt-putt as it’s affectionately known in Australia.  We were behind some fat kids who were fucking around and their fat sweaty dad keeping their scores, over which the constantly argued as we sat waiting in the sun until the finally fucked off to the next hole, so this repeated 18 times and without realising it, my exposed flesh was now lobster red.  Oh well.

I quickly slaked my thirst with a couple of Hoegaarden’s and we headed to Tym’s Guitars where both aforementioned bands were playing a 2pm free show in the store.

It was good to catch up with Andrew, Mikey and Lachlan from Die! Die! Die! as I’ve seen them playing around for more than ten years now and had a hand in helping get them to China for shows back when I was more involved in those things.  Today though, did inspire me to offer assistance to get them to South East Asia perhaps next year.  Also inspired by my old friends ‘ni-hao!’ from Tokyo currently touring in Malaysia, hanging out with my friends there.  It would be awesome to help out with a tour over there, perhaps do some tour managing if and when free time arises.

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Both Horror, My Friend and Die!x3 were excellent, great ear ringing guitar indie rock that I’ve not seen live for a long time now.  This old man nodded his head, occasionally in time with the beat.

As this was my last night in Brisbane, we did the pool thing again, till everyone left again, and watched as a crazy thunderstorm approached.  By the time we’d showered the lightning was fizzing and the darkness approached in a wall of cloud, streaking the sky.

Hayden and I talked about his mum, my mum, our families, his girlfriends and all sorts of other things and I feel good that he will find his feet sometime in the future.   As much as I want him to get there sooner, it doesn’t really matter so much, so long as he gets there, learning along the way.

Faster than snakes with a ball and a chain – 9th February 2018

See you later Adelaide, I couldn’t wait to leave you.

I got a taxi to the airport, three hours before take off.  I just couldn’t sit around at the house, waiting.  It was time to start the journey even if that meant sitting and reading my book at the airport for a couple of hours.

I will miss you slightly, in that comfort of a regimen of work and sleep, preparing for these next precipitous steps, uncomfortable dread gnawing at me.

A zip and snooze and I’m landing in Brisbane as the sun sets back nearer Adelaide.  My son, Hayden, is waiting for me with a big hug and we get lost in the maze of car parks and lifts, assisting others who are similarly lost.

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Brisbane is the opposite of Adelaide in road layout, it’s a mess, made messier by the winding river running through it.  It also makes it more interesting immediately.

We arrive at our apartment, ablute, and then search for food.  Opting for takeaway burgers and beer, we sit and talk for an hour or so before hitting the sack in my first decent bed for many months.  Blissful rest with crazy dreams.

It’s interesting to watch Hayden finding his way in the world.  I am now at the point where I just have no idea what ‘teh kids’ (as I call them, on purpose typo) are into these days.  Popular culture was never my thing and though Hayden has his own interests outside popular culture at least he still understands all those current references.

I’m really only interested in old bookshops and reading about history, trying to get a better understanding how we are where we are.  No longer being in the now, doing the do.

But I know I must do the do again when reaching Thailand and I was visualising a day in my life there.  Riding a motorcycle to school to teach English, I want to feel that thrill on the new, fill myself with the wonder of ‘how did my life end up here – that’s just amazing!’  But then also wanting it to feel familiar again, something normal, but not get to the point of a rat race boredom.  A balance is something I would like to strike and something I feel like I’ve never been able to achieve.  Like sitting still, very fast.  Maybe it’s just the way I’m wired.

Today we went book shopping and found a great store called Archives.  If I had the time I would’ve spent so long looking through here but opted instead just to ask at the counter for a couple of books I remembered being interested in finding.  Sometimes I think it’s just a little game of something to do in a place, with the possibility of a little reward at the end.  Like setting a little goal for the day.  The assistant took me straight to two of the books I asked about and I was amazed that she knew them immediately and where they were located.  If I ran a bookshop that’s how I would want to be, knowing exactly what you have and where it is.

The only problem with these two books is that they are both massive and heavy.  Hayden and I struck a deal that he will bring them to me later in the year or wherever it is that he gets chance to visit us in Thailand.  I have enough to read already so no hurry really.

I used to hate reading, sometimes would force myself to read books just for the hell of it.  Somewhere along the way I’ve just found myself enjoying it more.  I read, and have always read, lots of comics, usually alternative and mature comics rather than superhero type stuff, though I am now going through old 60s and 70s Marvel.  I’m not sure what the appeal to me is really?  Maybe getting lost in those world with some hints of visuals perhaps, as I generally only read non-fiction books otherwise.  I actually would like to read more fiction too and get lost in those worlds but somehow real life books are just what is interesting to me these days.

This afternoon I will attempt to write a small piece for my mothers funeral.  I have an idea for it, just a small event which sums up her attitude to life and dealing with problems.

Having Hayden around is distracting me from thinking about my mum not being there to talk to.  I really want to show her today’s pictures of our house, but showed them to him instead.

Hayden is a typical early 20s guy I guess, with what people my age might consider strange ideas, thoughts or views on events in the world.  He does, however, have his head screwed on and shows a lot of empathy a lot of the time.  When I think back to my life at his age I was the same, finding my way, honing my opinions and beliefs.  I discussed this with him today and said I thought that every parent wants their children to gain the wisdom they themselves now have, faster than they did.  To get smarter, quicker.  However, being a parent, being older, you also know that that is not how it works.  You can nudge in certain directions but one can only grow under their own directives.  When Hayden is ready, he will be.  He’s happy enough and figuring it out.