ON a number of fronts, last week was not one of my best. Most of the news, international, national or state, was disturbing and/or depressing, and closer to home, various ailments seemed to gang up on me for a joint offensive.
The result was a brief brush with the black dog that occasionally growls at me and a week with nothing to show for it in things achieved or pressing business attended to.
A fringe benefit, however, was that I had plenty of thinking time. One day in particular, having imagined and brooded over all sorts of bad outcomes, I moped around the house for a few hours feeling sorry for myself.
Realising that this was the worst possible way of spending that precious commodity of which the world seems very short these days, I gave myself a mental shove and decided not to waste it.
Although not up to any vigorous gardening, I spent the best part of an hour in my tiny vegie patch, manually breaking up a bag of rock-hard cow manure. Don't laugh ... this not only allowed but facilitated a wide range of thought about the basics of life... and you can't get much more down to earth than cow pats.
(In case you were wondering, I did bow to the dictates of public health education and wear gloves. This is something I never did in my childhood or in many subsequent years of getting my hands dirty in the garden - and perhaps building up some immunity to various bugs.)
So what was I mulling over during this time of free-range thought?
One subject was the need for speed, which increasingly affects just about every aspect of contemporary life.
"Stop the world, I want to get off" was one of the alternative lifestyle catchcries of the 1970s, and now "Slow the world, I want to keep up" could well be a relevant
A related issue that I pondered was that with the shops already well into "Buy Now for Christmas" mode, and party planning in full swing around the coffee machine, it is impossible not to ignore the pressure.
Why do all those jobs that aren't really urgent just have to be done before Christmas?
Why stress about whether someone did or did not send you a card last year so that you have to do so this year?
In these belt-tightening times, why feel obliged to splash out on gifts when their real worth depends more on thought behind them than on their dollar value?
Information technology has given us a wonderful means of rapid communication, but why rush to tell the social media world every detail of your mundane day, just because you can?
Next in my ruminations, I gave some thought to that lovely wish for "Peace on earth", which seems less and less attainable, as does the admonishment "Love they neighbour."
Religious or not, we could well give some thought to a quotation I saw on a sign outside the church which is my Buderim neighbour:
"Make a living through getting ... a life, through giving."
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