Being Nice To Yourself…And Getting Away With It.

You’ll find as you go through life that you can be cruel to other people and get away with it – just pitch your meanness either too low to see or too high to criticize. Dictators and petty despots get away with this all the time.

You can also be cruel to yourself – Woody Allen, Rodney Dangerfield, and Oscar Levant  made a good living out of this – and your psychiatrist will also welcome you beating yourself up. At medical rates.

Being kind to others is also approved by the general population, as long as they are not required to join in or to contribute too much money. Do good on a small change basis and you’ll be fine.

But being kind to yourself will bring nothing but condemnation. Anything you buy yourself – any treat that you get – any happiness you find – will be looked upon as self-indulgent. Any time you grant yourself a discharge from guilt or an access to peace will be frowned upon. If you want to be nice to you, you’ll have to do it on the sly. So here are some tips:

a. Decide what you like to eat. Buy it, cook it, and eat it…in your own home.

b. Decide what you like to read. Buy the book, find the website, rent the movie. And look at it in your own home.

c. Decide for yourself what makes you comfortable. Do it in your own home.

Can you see a pattern developing here? Well the exercise of happiness at home is a good start. But consider it as a training phase. Wear yellow clothing and only fly in the daytime if need be…but prepare yourself for bigger things.

One day…go out and order yourself a meal of the things you like to eat in a restaurant. Eat them.

Then go read your book in a public park…or park in a pub and read it.

Then wear the clothing you like out on the street…and go where you find pleasure…and participate in it.

Make no mistake – someone will be angry. Someone will be disapproving. Someone will be unhappy.

But if you have done your training well….it won’t be you.

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Let And Hindrance III

Gosh, time flies. It’s been four years since I last considered this subject, and so much has happened in the meantime; I’ve retired from retail shop work and taken up home hobby shop work, and I’ve officially gotten too old to give a good God Damn.

It’s a little frightening – this new freedom. As middle-aged citizens in employment  we were required to be a pillar of the community and an example to the young. We needed to follow all applicable laws and apply for official permission on the correct forms.  Now that I am 70 years old, no-one looks, no-one asks, and no-one cares. Other people are depressed by this but I am exhilarated. I feel like a kid with a box of limpet mines and a pair of swim fins.

I’ve given up nearly every activity that requires permission – shooting firearms, flying toy airplanes and sailing toy boats, entering prestigious photographic contests, etc. Having had as much success with these things as was ever likely to be, I can leave them – and their lets and hindrances – far behind. And I can be a lot smarter in the next few years about joining into things that require obedience.

Please understand – I’m not an old rebel. I was never a young one, and wouldn’t know how to do it. I am merely a person who is determined to consult their own counsel and take their own decisions. I shall not be a nuisance nor a danger to navigation – but I shan’t be a sheep any more.

The tax people have my complete respect and obedience – monitored and assisted by an honest accountant. The police also have my wholehearted support for civil law – I shall do all I can not to be a scoff-law in any vital matter. I shall be delighted to participate in the political process of my state and nation – but decline to be bullied by friends or strangers regarding my own vote.

Past this – I shall enjoy toy boats, cars, and airplanes – studio photography,writing, reading – interstate trips and whatever local amusements offer – and I shall not ask permission nor take scolding from anyone whilst doing so.

The chief care I will have to take is not to shock those who like to dictate and direct. I do hope my smile will be bland enough – I must go get my copy of Alice In  Wonderland and  practice Cheshire catting in the mirror.

 

Make It Or Buy It?

I once started an old-fashioned hobby that needed all sorts of arcane things that I had never seen in shops. When I asked the president of the hobby club where to get the things needed he said: ” My Dear Fellow – we make them ourselves. “. And then proceeded to show me how. Over the years I discovered no end of enthusiasts making things in workshops, forges, sewing rooms, and kitchens that had not been seen for centuries.

I joined in with some darkroom and studio work that revived old practices. In nearly every case there were difficulties finding out what to do and where to get supplied of raw materials but in the end most of the projects attempted were achieved. And I found out that in the process of casting, sewing, forging, planing, and general blood-letting we had gained something even more valuable than the musket balls, swords, tunics, and historic photos – we had gained the ability to be a little independent in a coddled world.

Not all of us can make castings in a furnace that we have constructed from river clay – but I know two chaps who can. Likewise I know people who can hand-stitch an entire suit of clothes. I can make leather goods and spray paint. None of us is ever really daunted by a household repair – we might not get round to it for a decade, but that is just laziness – not fear.

We all have reversed the admiration we might have once felt for store-bought goods in favour of those we design and make for ourselves.

If you are a person who is the victim of the shops – if all you wear, eat, use, and do is governed by the goods on offer and the price that the retailer can extract – pause for a moment and think. Is there any little need that you have that can be satisfied by making it yourself? It doesn’t have to be an organically grown steam engine or an entire garden in a week. But start small and make…and use to the exclusion of a commercial product…one thing. Get used to it – get to like it – and get the feeling that there are more things that you can do…

There are.

Dining Out On A Budget

dscf5651In a word – take your own.

Dining out in Perth, Western Australia is generally a safe experience. Very few people are killed by the food or drive-by shootings. Even the dodgiest of cafes get a visit from the health inspector once in a while. Sometimes armed with a flamethrower, mind…

Dining well, is another matter. Oh, the food in some places can be excellent – in others reasonable – and in others…nourishing. The chief problem is the price of the eats – WA has minimum wage laws and penalty rate laws that make staff serving the customers an expensive part of the restaurant. If you need ’em and the customers want ’em, someone has to pay for ’em. Hence the $ 19 hamburger, the $ 7 milkshake, and the $ 40 steak dinner. Thank God we are not a tipping culture.

The fast-food alternatives reduce the price somewhat at the expense of flavour, nutrition, and dining experience. But there are alternatives – if you have the nerve.

Say you are travelling somewhere down south. The need for a cuppa and a pie becomes almost overwhelming around Bunbury and if you don’t fancy the Shell roadhouse prices or the Macca’s on the strip, the trip down into the maze of city streets is your only alternative – unless you play it clever. Every Bunnings, Homecraft, or department store is selling ritzy wicker picnic baskets fitted with cutlery, plates, and glassware for cheap prices. They probably won’t last longer than three seasons, but if you pack them with salad, cold meat, a cooked chook, and either some bottles of drink or a thermos of coffee, you can pull off at the picnic section of the BP, Shell, or other roadhouse and help yourself. If the servo staff chase you away there are public picnic benches along every highway.

There is nothing you can buy in a restaurant, whether it be food or booze, that cannot be bought cheaper from the local Coles, Woolies, or IGA, and you are not paying wages to have someone serve it. You can put your thumb in the salad yourself for free. Don’t panic about washing-up…you can do it when you get to your destination – just pile the fragments back into the basket. Or feed them to the local wildlife.

The best part is, if the urge to feed strikes you halfway between here and there, you need not grind your teeth for a hundred miles while you crawl to the next roadhouse. Or grind them for another hundred thinking of the price of the Chicken Parma.