Twenty percent of the century you were born into has gone. In that time the little child has learned so much. Tell me, what have you learned that makes you now an adult?
Is it the sense of fairness you picked up playing sport? Was it the value you gave to your team mates when you played? The friends you spent twelve years at school with day after long day will drift away on their own journey of life. Think of them.
What did you learn from the classes you took that you will never forget? Was it the ability to understand the lessons your teachers gave? From this point on you have to make sense of what you heard, what you read, and what was left unexplained. in doing so – become yourself.
What lessons have you learned from the places you have called, “My room”?
Is there one thing your father has said to you you treasure? What about your Mum? She has been with you all they way. Waking you up, getting you ready for school, cleaning up after you. What have you learned from her you prize? Have you told her?
I do not want your answers. They are things for you to think about in the depth of the night. Not that you have sleepless nights now. You will one day – and on those occasions you will have time to think of what your family means to you.
These are your salad days. With luck, now you are in the most wonderful bloom of love. You are soaking up: the music, the art, the culture of your day. I am most grateful that you are experiencing these days. Our lives are better when we can think about our good days. Some days are grey days. Days when there is no sun. No matter how much we long for things to improve they just seem to get worse.
You will have days like that. Everyone does. We never think we will, but we all do. Birthdays are good days to reset our mood. They are days when we can aim for the moon. If we miss the moon, it’s not bad. Life is just different than we imagined. The best part of birthdays is you get a chance to hear from those who love you. We, your family, love you. Have a happy day.
If one day you remember anything I have written here. This is my point. Live today, (tomorrow, and the forever days ahead) one day at a time, because that is how we make what is to become ourselves.
“Drive my car”. When the Beatles sang this song I had been driving for years despite the fact that like most families at the time we didn’t own a car. Driving was something I learned to do without any formal training. My test was to drive up a gentle rise and park the car on a flat section of the road. After answering about ten road questions and paying a small fee I walked out with my licence to kill.
In recent years I got involved with a state based program that matches learner drivers with mentors. The car is supplied by a local car dealer and the fuel is paid for from group resources. Learner drivers cannot take the wheel until they have passed a rigorous road rules test. Then they must learn to drive in the company of a licensed driver.
Most learners get their initial logged driver training from professionals. After that they will drive the family car under the supervision of a family member, or friend. The program I was involved with was to help kids coming from homes like mine where there is no car, or like Ellen who is a twin and her mum could not supervise both children in time for them to qualify as drivers at the same time.
These learner drivers had to commit to work with their mentors until they had accumulated one hundred and twenty hours of supervised driving. I got a buzz when my trainees got their licence but as time went on I found each new trainee more difficult than the last. They would cancel appointments without notice. They eventually tested my observational skills as I was dependent on their ability to follow instructions because I had no control over the vehicle, unlike the professional instructor has. In the end I decided I was no longer capable to continue.
Before I resigned from the program I injured my leg, however the real reason is my driver nearly had an accident on a roundabout whilst I was in the car supervising.. The driver did not see a car they had to give way to on this roundabout with its two lanes of traffic.
I gave the instructions to drive forward when the road was clear but by the time the learner moved conditions had changed. I estimated it would have been more dangerous to instruct a stop than to continue, so we continued upsetting the another driver no end. The learner had no understanding of what had happened but I was spooked. So I retired unhurt.
When our own children were learning to drive, traffic on the roads was lighter. More importantly my reflexes were better and my instructions were repeated over and over. By the time we got to our second driver what was said has passed into family folklore. Blinking, blinking, blinking, turning, turning, turning, and most importantly, stopping, stopping, STOP! These instructions I repeated at every intersection, ad nausea.
Now it is Charlie’s turn to learn to drive. His father has told him he is a good driver forty hours into his training. As an attentive young fellow it is unlikely his father will have to repeat the family mantra blinking, blinking etc.
Fortunately today motor cars are more reliable, and fortunately for us all much safer. When Charlie is told to brake the disc brakes in the car he drives will not overheat and fail as they frequently did when they were simple drum brakes.
Cars are safer than they have ever been yet people still die on our roads. No matter how busy the roads are it shouldn’t be a condition of driving for some people to die on our roads.
Let me backtrack a little. Previously most cars were manual. It required coordination and skill to change gears manually before the introduction of the synchronisation of the gears. When that was sorted most cars had bench seats in the front. This meant designers were forced to put the gear stick on the steering wheel column. This arrangement required a certain dexterity for the driver to select any gear because to do so required lots of unnecessary linkages from the gearbox to the steering wheel. It required all moving parts to move as required.
While the driver was doing this the foot had to find the clutch without seeing where the foot was. At night the driver will have had to use the left foot to dip the headlights, very often, at the same time. Often these foot pedals were at different levels and crashes occurred. People were hurt and maimed, and some were killed.
By 1970 Victoria recorded 1061 deaths on the road in the year. The government and the press joined forces to introduce better road safety. The first move was to legislate the introduction of compulsory seat belts. This was the first place in the world to pass such a law.
Racing car drivers were very familiar with the improved safety the lap sash belts gave them at the wheel. One motoring writer and race driver assisted in promoting their use. In 1973 Peter Wherret started a TV program on cars called Torque. This program and Peter did much to improve road cars. A most popular car in 1976 was the HJ Holden Premier. He claimed the power of the car was impossible to stop given the car had calliper brakes only on the rear wheels. These “Kingswood” cars were removed from production in 1980 partly because of his program.
In the forty years since 1980 the death toll in Victoria has dropped significantly. In part it is due to legislation. The introduction of drink driving rules. Much better safety features in cars including: better tyres, better brakes, better seats, better vision, better everything including side protection and air curtains. The government has made better roads and road signage. Most importantly it has much better pre- driver training.
When I started to drive I had less than two hours of experience on the roadways before I drove solo. (I had hours of experience at slow speeds driving tractors and farm trucks but, on reflection I had no experience of traffic or handling a vehicle at speed before I drove on the roads.)
By the time Charlie has his licence he will have driven on city and country roads, on wet days and dry ones. He will have driven at night, in the morning traffic, and any other conditions that pop up. He knows drugs and alcohol are forbidden, and if he should be so silly as to drive and text the fines are horrendous.
In these days of autonomous vehicles we need smarter drivers unlike at any time before. Stay safe on the roads Charlie. Be a good driver and never think you are the best because even the best drivers can unexpectedly be injured by the worst. Too many people are killed each year on our roads – even today.
Our experience of life has an internal, and an external expression. When thoughts are recorded we are enabled to “see” the invisible thoughts of the individual. Whatever is produced need not be earth shattering. As this piece illustrates.
As the artist and the subject, you can’t judge what’s important or what isn’t. You have to leave that to others. Do you think that Beethoven could have told you that the 5th and 9th symphonies were going to be really important and the 6th and 7th weren’t going to be? No, he was just Beethoven doing his Beethoven thing.
Just as well. The world would be poorer without Beethoven’s music. I can’t choose as they all have a place in my life, but The Pastoral relaxes me.
Living with good genes you visit your doctor only to replace the medications he has prescribed for daily use, when you have run out. You trust your GP – the pills prescribed; will reduce your cholesterol, replace the hormones your absent thyroid cannot produce, or lower your blood pressure. The proof all is well is revealed with a regular blood pressure check – 120/73 at 59 heart beats a minute. Excellent result. Even for a person a quarter of your age. It is all you need to hear before you exchange pleasantries and leave to go about your daily business.
With no comprehension of Greys Anatomy, or understanding of pharmacology, you trust the diagnosis your GP advises. Even he may not decide your the treatment for every ailment from a conversation. Most likely your GP will order blood tests to confirm the diagnosis gleaned from careful questioning. She may recommend you visit a specialist before ever a diagnosis is reached.
Not every visit is conducted with such routine rhythm – but you hear things.
Today your primary carer will reserve opinion until all channels are exhausted. This is as good – as it is bad. Specialisation can become misleading unless the specialist keeps a clear mind – the whole person needs treatment, and not just a specific disease found in part of the body.
The life of the doctor is most certainly fraught. This is especially so in this Internet age. Lots of people visit a doctor after first making inquiry of Dr Google. Your friends are often more knowing (not knowledgeable) than the doctor, and hypochondria is very common among those friends who make weekly visits with yet another complaint.
This is not to condemn them. How one feels can be misleading. Too often an acquaintance has died because they ignored symptoms other people acknowledged. One person says “I feel this,” The other says nothing. The first has a diagnosis, a treatment, a short, or a long painful – convalesce, and they are cured. The second, dies, or worse – is given a prognosis and dies shortly afterwards. The difference in their lives is sometimes a matter of how they think of the medical profession.
Currently the conversation is about pain. The press is full of the dangers of opioid and other drugs prescribed for pain. Codeine, Fentanyl, OxyContin form part of the list of products which pain sufferers are very familiar. Word has it that these drugs can be habit forming, just as morphine – first discovered in 1803, is known to be.
Tragically many lives have been lost by sufferers of long term pain. Their treatment caused them to become addicted to their treatment. In time the drug becomes more necessary to them than the pain it was prescribed to aid. It has reached a stage of alarm across the developed world.
The level of pain individuals can accommodate varies from person to person. The truth is few men would be able to live with the pain of child birth. It remains one life’s mysteries how women naturally live through confinement. But not all pain is equal.
From my own experience I have learned how easy it could be to slip into addiction. Many decades ago I visited Dr Bill Davies, (the doctor that was present at the birth of out children). On this occasion I had to wait for a long time outside his rooms. Every minute I waited the second hand of the clock scraped against its body on its journey and it screeched at the five o’clock mark. “Screech screech”.
I do not remember why I had made the appointment, just the noise the clock made every sixty seconds. perhaps I talked about to him about my jumpy legs. (My wife will tell of how I kick her nightly as I am going off to sleep. I have done this for years). Anyway, when I got to see him I said I couldn’t live with such an irritating clock. He looked quizzically at me and wrote out a prescription. This I took to the chemist, and in time I started taking Valium.
The prescription had five repeats. After about the third I mentioned I was taking diazepam, and the listener said it was addictive. Instead of taking pills I should read Dr Ainsley Meares 1968 book, Relief without drugs. I did. However I had a strong feeling of wanting something despite knowing the drowsiness I felt from was caused by the Valium. So I read it again and practiced what it said.
Fortunately I persevered with the techniques recommended by the book and I stopped taking Valium before I fell into its grip. The technique explained in the book is now recommended as Mindfulness training by professional groups. This is not news to Buddhists of course. It is just one of the practical parts of their practice.
Another aspect of the “Relief without drugs” book is the knowledge it is possible to retrain the brain to think differently. Interestingly this is now a recommended pain relief action. This has lead to whole new field of pain management. One I am convinced I must turn to with renewed energy and retrain my brain for practical reasons.
One grapples with pain. When, like now, I have remained in one position too long. One winches with the odd ache before moving freely. The relative influence of pain comes and goes. The arthritis that was causing pain in my finger knuckles a few months ago is now so bad my right hand constantly aches. The truth is I am losing the use of my right hand because of pain. To the point I try to avoid using it. Past experience has taught me not to rely on medication for things you can set aside with training. My brain is being retrained not to complain about an aching hand.
My message from all this? What happens next is up to me.
The embarking passengers ran to the taxi rank and opened the door pausing just long enough to flick water from the rain soaked umbrella before they climbed into the cab. The driver, wearing a checked shirt embossed with the logo “13 cabs” on the collar asked, “Where to”? “Recital Centre Kavanagh Street South Melbourne”. The reply was sufficient information for the driver to perform a quick U -turn, taking advantage of the sudden break in the traffic. In the first two hundred metres the wheels bottomed out of every water filled pothole on the city road. Suddenly the female passenger cried, “Stop! I have lost Il Cannone Guarnerius. I thought you had it”, she wept to her male companion. “I have”, he calmly replied, as he flicked aside his overcoat and showed her the violin case resting on his lap. “That was close. Ok you can keep going”. The diver turned to her and asked, “When we get there can I play with you? You play? “First Violin in my homeland orchestra. I always have my Stradivarius with me, but since I came here as a refugee I have to drive this taxi”.
Image ref. Nanooze.com
No sound was made recording this scene. Tell me, what music best suits this scenario?
If you liked this piece then I hope you can find something else to like before you leave.
This moment is the most symbolic one I have lived. You and I share this moment to think about how our lives are better because of the past. Reflection is the reverse of how we actually see things – so learn from it. (Your hair -for instance – is parted left or right. In reality whether it goes this way, or that, depends on which side of the mirror it is seen.) Any regrets we have are experiences of the past that have shaped us. Regret must not hold us forever in its grasp, for if it does, it is to die in loss. In my eighty years I have learned real happiness is found now, not when.
This thought was prompted from a list of possible regrets I just read. How you respond is something we might both learn from. Tell me what it has done for you. Thanks for stopping by.