As I’ve previously mentioned, I dedicate some time every morning to sitting outside (in the progressively colder and shadowy winter mornings) to read books on life and wisdom. Today’s wisdom from the Dalai Lama regards anxiety and stress, and although I’ve heard similar things before or come to the same conclusions, I thought it might be worth sharing in case it is of any benefit to those scant few who read this blog. In essence, he suggested two things for dealing with anxiety. Firstly, if your motivation, your intentions are pure and good, then regardless of the outcome there is nothing to be afraid of. For example if you wish to help someone by offering to do something for them, then even if they refuse you or rebuff you or some similar offence, there is no harm from your offer. If, however, your motivations are to steal or cheat or hurt, then you should indeed be worried about the consequences of your actions. In this way, by working to change your intentions to purer, kinder, more loving motivations, you have no need to fear consequences (though neither should you act blindly using good intentions as an excuse). Secondly, he suggests that you ponder the nature of your problem, and if you discover that there is a solution you feel relief and spend your energy working to solve it rather than fearing it. If, however, your problem is unsolvable, you should feel relief that there is nothing you need to do and spend your energy on more important things. In this way, you have two options with the same result: If you can do something about it, do it. If there’s nothing you can do, do nothing.
The job hunt has been going slow. I keep wondering why no one gets back to me- I am such an excellent candidate for the places I apply for. Alas, I suppose this is the nature of being unemployed. However, I am not so stressed about the meaninglessness of my life anymore: even though I am not working (a pastime I consider productive and enjoyable), I am working towards working, and that is enough for me. As time goes on, Semester 2 of uni draws closer. I met with my placement supervisor last week, and it seems likely that my final (full-time, 14 week) placement will be at a hospital, which would please my mother to no end. And, coming out of my time off, I suppose it would please me somewhat too. I’ve realised that I really did need this time off. At the end of last year I was pretty close to my wit’s end- I’d suffered (yes, suffered) an extremely challenging job that was exactly what I didn’t need- loose boundaries, little structure, little work, challenging clients etc. It shattered my confidence in my abilities to be a social worker, but the time off has slowly allowed me to recuperate my confidence and my compassion, and I am once again ready for the challenges, and the successes, of social work. But perhaps more importantly, I learned what it meant to be unemployed- to find meaning in every day, to pursue happiness. I learned how to be bored, and what to do about it (still learning, actually) and how valuable work can be to the human condition. If I had pursued placement I probably would have ended up in the same situation as I am now, but without all the lessons I learned through experience. So for that, I am utterly grateful my time off has been well spent.
On a rather unrelated note, I visited my friend Ange up in Coondle yesterday. Don’t recognise Coondle? I doubt many people would. It’s about twenty minutes north of Toodyay, which is about an hour and a half from my house. Ange and I have an enduring friendship- we communicate infrequently, but we’ve always kept in touch. Although it was quite a trek, I did feel I owed it to her because she’s almost always traveled further (and spent more on transport) to meet me than I have to meet her. I had not fathomed that four hours driving would cost $25, but the journey was surprisingly pleasant, and I had a very good time at her house. There’s something unique about the country; something in the air is cleaner, something about the space is emptier, something about the animals is… realer. It’s so isolated, and so peaceful (no doubt due to its isolation). It was quite special driving up country roads where the speed limit was whatever you felt was appropriate, and turning onto dirt-road driveways. Ange and I tried our hands at archery (surprisingly, at 25 metres, I hit the target with about three of the twelve or so arrows I fired, getting more accurate with each shot- it seems either my affinity with weapons is persistent or those few lessons I had stayed well in my memory.) We baked the most amazing cherry pie (my mouth waters even now to think- so rich inside and so crunchy outside), watched Rio and played games. Ange’s Dad is an experienced shotokan karateka, and I met him again briefly before I left for training. Ange wanted me to stay for dinner, saying I could skip Wu-Wei and just train with her Dad, but I declined. I saw that, although Ange loved the country and the quiet, she was getting lonely and restless, so far from all her friends, and I felt for her. But not enough to make the four hour journey every week. It was a lovely day though, and I hope to do it again some time.
Training is going amazingly as always. I look forward to it every day, and on days when I don’t train I feel restless. It’s the most enjoyable part of my life at the moment, and every week that passes I grow stronger, more knowledgeable, more skillful. It’s wonderful to see, and I really thrive in the dojo. Plus, Mugai Ryu has moved into its own new dojo!! When I first joined, Kaneda owned a warehouse in Jandakot where we could train for hours every day and leave whenever we wanted to. It was a special place to me. I’d arrive at 11am on Tuesday for the “mixed weapons” class, and he’d improvise a lesson in drunken kung fu. I was the only person who really cared- everyone else who rocked up did it just to hang all day, to play video games and sew costumes. And it was such a great place to hang. I miss the smell of mould and the scrape of the concrete on my feet, as strange as that sounds. This new dojo will doubtless have a totally different personality, shaped by different people for different reasons. But it will be a new home nevertheless, and I’m looking forward to breaking it in. I feel just a tiny bit guilty for not helping them move over the weekend- we inherited it on the Fourth of May (May the Fourth be With You! International Star Wars Day, for those geeks among you) and set everything up on the fifth and sixth (Revenge of the Sixth!), but Beth and I had an appointment with Britain and Bombardieri Photography on Saturday, and I sprained my neck showing her a stupidly challenging Shaolin kung fu technique on Sunday.
I’m just rambling about my life at the moment. Why are you still reading?
Speaking of photography, the shoot went amazingly. Beth and I entered a competition to win a free photo shoot in EnEx100, and it turns out she won $230 worth of photos in a couples shoot. We were told to bring a casual outfit and a classier outfit for the shoot around Leederville and in their studio. Beth had a stack of make-up applied, which I thought tasted a little weird, but looked great (though I still prefer girls without make-up on). It was a little strange doing some of the poses, where I was told to look “masculine” and Beth would
be hanging onto me like she deferred to me. I was even told to say things like “You look hot” to her, probably to get her feeling sexier, but it was just too awkward for us. We all laughed and had a good time though. A week later we went to view the photos, which had been reduced to about 50 or so of the best ones. Surprisingly, although the casual photos looked really great, it turns out we look damn fine together all dressed up. We also had a few individual photos, and they asked me to do taiji because they had seen me practicing (I’m starting to realise just how often I do it- Shihan calls it “kitchen training”, using spare moments while the kettle is boiling to get some practice in, to internalise it and make it part of every day life. Well, Shihan, I’ve internalised the crap out of it, let me tell you.). My God did I look amazing. My technique was, as far as I can tell, very close to flawless: single whip, brush knee and snake creeps through grass all looked fantastic with me in black pants and shirt against a perfectly white back drop. We ended up picking about twenty favourites, and then we started talking money. The smallest, cheapest desktop print they could do was a little smaller than an A4 piece of paper, and it was $195. The next size up was a little bigger than A4 and costed about $410. Frames, canvas, wallmounts, multiple pictures across one board etc. all cost phenomenal amounts of money. In the end we decided we’d get two of the cheapest ones, and because we’d won the raffle, it only came to $160. But damn, I wish I could have gotten that snake creeps through grass…
Also, randomly, I ordered a limited edition Club Nintendo gold nunchuck controller for the Wii. I’ve had a lot of problems with Club Nintendo not accepting registrations for products, but when they released the NES controller which was compatible with the Wii-remote, I compiled all my points to buy it. Unfortunately I was about 20 points short of the 3500 or so that I needed and the opportunity was lost. However, when they released the gold nunchuck to celebrate the one year anniversary of the 3DS I jumped on it, spending most of my points in one glorious purchase. And it is sweet. Although highly materialistic, it goes beautifully with my limited edition Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword wiimote. Hooray, Nintendo-fanboyism!