Yesterday I had some business to attend to in the Big Smoke, and I tried to avoid the early rush hour traffic pouring into the city centre through the northern suburbs by parking my car at a railway station in the outer outskirts, after which I ambled into town enjoying a so-called quiet cabin on a shiny new train.
Amazingly, the optimistic concept of the quiet train cabin actually seemed to work wonderfully well, although on second thought why wouldn’t it? At this time of day, the bums on seats belonged invariably to sleepy commuters, detached from the hard dawn light of reality as well as their fellow travellers by means of newspaper, smartphone and bluetooth headset.
The only sound, as we glided easily along the winding river and meandered through the scenic hill country, was that of a passenger behind me snoring, and snoring loudly at that.
While I couldn’t make out the perpetrator of the raspy nose bellowing, it was of course undoubtedly a man. As I once told my then GP, “it’s a scientific fact that women are physiologically incapable of snoring.” “You’re a wise man, Richard,” he answered at the time, nodding sagely.
I think there’s a real trap for those of us facing any kind of serious medical challenge around potentially ending up cultivating our own misery to some extent. Though understandable at times when my mood is at a low ebb, it’s a really tricky pitfall to focus too much on one’s own travails.
And it’s easier said than done, but I do want to keep yelling at myself – ensuring I never forget this – that I am not my affliction.
It’s hard enough to make my way in the world with this new condition, which sometimes makes me feel like I’m sporting a giant billboard on my forehead, with in neon lights ‘UNCLEAN – DODGY – ACTING WEIRD’, without picking up too many labels offered from external sources as a matter of course.
But if I start clinging to labels I devise myself, then it’s curtains – at least where my mental hygiene is concerned.
And I suppose another way I try to do that is by tempering the sorrowful feelings which inevitably spring forth when speaking to supportive loved-ones. While it’s key to be fair and share when I’m struggling, I just don’t want my emotional me to start trying on a coat of empathy of a style and colour not of my own choosing. I just refuse to think of myself as someone who tends to have bad luck, has such a rough deal etc.
At any rate, before I’d even left the station I had already clocked two people who were physically much worse off than me.
And, while I stood awkwardly near a familiar drinking fountain on busy George Street, trying to grasp my medication from the everyone-proof little bottle of Kinson, this time it took less than 5 minutes before a busy office worker on her way into the office stopped and ask if I needed help. In that no-fuss Aussie way which is just so helpful as it leaves one’s fragile sense of dignity fully intact.
Subsequently, I renewed my car’s registration, with a nice young chap helping me, and lo and behold, upon presenting my government concession card, I found the total bill for a six month rego renewal was zilch, nix, nada.
Credit where credit’s due. Nice one!