Fear and self-loathing – a pitfall of one’s own making

A few weeks ago on a bright early Sunday morning after having Ubered two girls back to their respective homes following what most likely had been ‘a big night’, I noticed I was quite close to Bouddi National Park.

Climbing the gorgeous steep hills in the trusted Holden (one of those winding and twisting mountain roads my late Dad would have loved) I was again struck by the fact that I never realised just how close to Sydney there is this abundant natural beauty. It’s not all beaches by any means.

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Sometimes I find myself peering down moss-covered leafy country lanes, glistening in that pre-dawn gossamer hue that evokes so much. Things such as the magical month of May in England, slowly strolling down the rolling grounds to Dyrham Park, or even more slowly making one’s way up Glastonbury Tor around Easter time.

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Having arrived at the national park, I had a cursory glance at the large map offering visitors a clear overview of some of the features, highlights and danger spots.

Cursory because of course, as everyone knows blokes don’t need to waste time asking or looking around for directions. Following the time-honoured guideline ‘Close enough’, we plunge happily and headlong into any adventure that seems remotely interesting, challenging and/or stimulating.

Should this approach result in any kind of disaster, calamity or setback, we shift gear to another familiar strategy, which can only be described as ‘Don’t worry about it, I’ll deal with it!’

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Just before the entrance of the path, I saw a large staff –  well, just a long stick really – which had been left for a new user such as me in this case. It just leant back against some rocks, a languid invitation to go walkies together.

It was quite apt as moments before I’d been enjoying a doco on the legendary Merlin in his Wild Man of the Woods incarnation. That same staff now rests in my abode, strategically placed for when my legs refuse to step to it .. I believe it works even better than my cherished walking stick.

But I think I won’t inflict this new helpful walking aid on an unsuspecting public. I can just imagine Blonde Highlights Nos. 1 and 2 being flummoxed to bursting.

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At times, I feel the need to shut down and shut off. It’s usually fairly obvious when this happens.

I tend to feel I just can’t be around people on those bleak days when I’m sick of the sight of myself, shuffling around, feeling the good people’s stares and incredulous looks burning into my back.

However, it’s a nefarious trap to avoid at all costs; the temptation to wallow in self-lamentation and fruitless navel staring.

This is when usually the only thing that can drag me back to the surface is when I see an opportunity to do, be or mean something helpful benefiting someone else, who might after all be facing equally arduous challenges themselves.

In the end, none of us is an island.

But if I have to be an island, I bags Mallorca. Claro que si!

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