Tuesday, March 23, 2010

the beach

On Saturday (20th March, 2010 to ground this temporally), we went down to the Gold Coast. This was prompted by the forecasts of unusually (indeed, spectacularly) high seas because Tropical Cyclone Ului was buzzing around in the Coral Sea, about a thousand kilometers to the north.

The swell was a tad disappointing, although it got better in the afternoon as it swung more nor-easterly. I even got a couple of reasonable photos of significantly more athletic people than me taking advantage of it. They're on flickr (the photos, not the people as far as I know).

But what was much more interesting to me was how being by the ocean made me feel. It was an almost primal connectedness. So much more than I feel "at home", in the city - or the 'burbs, to be more precise. And so much more than in the bush, or rainforest, or pretty much anywhere else.

There's something visceral about the sound and feel of the ocean beating itself to death against the shore, the sight of waves breaking in green crystal tubes, the smell of the water and the taste of salt spray on my lips.

It's that way for me at least - I dunno about anyone else. It's probably because when I was a kid we had all our holidays (and/or vacations, depending on where you're reading this) at the beach. My parents owned a house at the Gold Coast (which would now be worth a fortune - damn them for being selfish and selling it to house us and things *sheesh* :)), and we packed up everything (including a quite large TV - black and white of course) every Christmas and headed down there for a few weeks of carefree bliss. Or, at least, so it seemed to me at the time. I remember, with some irony now, watching the breaking story of Harold Holt, then Prime Minister of Australia, disappearing in the surf in Victoria. I was wearing swimmers and a towel and it was background noise for me and had my Mum and Dad glued to the screen. I just wanted to go to the beach.

I'm old now (dammit), and know that there were cares and concerns that I knew nothing about, but they don't matter now. We all had a wonderful time and Santa invariably worked out where we were. Once he paid a visit in person - unfortunately my Grandfather had been urgently called back to work so he missed it, but we told him about it when he came back just after Santa left. Amazingly bad timing.

But he (Santa) gave me a camera. My first camera. It was a cheap 120 plastic thing and it was magic. We couldn't afford to buys gobs of film so I didn't get to use it much. But I loved it, and it mixed in with the goodness of the holidays.

And then we went to the beach. The sand was white and clean and pure and just right for digging holes, building cities then playing Godzilla. And when it got hot, the surf was there. Crashing up the beach, calling us to come play. We got to know what a rip looked like, we got to know what happened when you tried to body-surf on a dumper (and managed not to drown or break anything more important than pride) and laughed a lot.

So good times and the beach got inextricably linked in my mind, and in my soul. There's nowhere like the beach and, sadly, the Gold Coast. I feel at home there like nowhere else - even now, 40-ish years later, and with the tackiness that has evolved on so much of the tourist strip.

Because the ocean's still there, the sand's still there and the sun's still there. And for a while on Saturday, I could pretend that that's all the matters and be a li'l kid again. Now I've got a not inexpensive digital camera setup and can shoot like there's no tomorrow - and I did on the weekend. But that didn't matter. I was a kid again, and the sun was on my face and the salt was on my lips and life was good.
And it took a cyclone to show that to me. Life's weird sometimes.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ok, I lied

I'm back again.

Which, obviously, implies that the last post wasn't, in fact, the last post.

It may, however, have indicated the oncoming bout of depression that, over the last couple of weeks, has done its best to turn my life into a reasonable semblance of heck. It's probably done the same thing to those around me to, a for that I'm really sorry.

I don't know what kicked it off. There's a whole bunch of possible things, some so stupidly trivial that they wouldn't even be noticed by someone with a brain that actually worked. Others that I can do nothing about, but which are wrong - at least to my moral compass. Others that I probably could have done something about if I'd realised what was happening. But I didn't until it was, really, too late. None of them really matter, because they were all external and not within anything I can do to control. But they, I guess, just built up slowly over time. And then the world caved in.

This, of course, feels particularly trite and self-serving because while I'm typing this, there's a very, very large number of people in Haiti whose world has, in fact, literally caved in. My heart (and the pathetically few dollars I can spare) goes out to them. Now, and via a few charities I support in an ongoing way, into the future I hope -'cause it'll take way longer than the news keeps interested to actually fix what happened.

Which is where I am, I suppose, lucky. I'm getting fixed. Or I'm fixing me. Or something. I don't know. All I do know is that by Tuesday morning this week (errr that'd be the 12 Jan, I think) I couldn't function in any meaningful way. I couldn't (as opposed to didn't want to) go to work. Just couldn't. It was all I could do to not take a very, very large does of something nicely toxic and just go sleepy byes. But that wouldn't be fair to those who are (for reasons I still don't understand) willingly attached to me. So I just disappeared from the world. I stayed home -

Hiding in my room, safe within my womb. I touch no one and no one touches me.

As so eloquently sung by Simon and Garfunkle.

And, slowly, the blackness lifted. To the point where I can almost function like a real person again. I hope.

I don't know if this is anything like anyone else's experience of clinical depression. I've had it (or at least been diagnosed with it) now for years, and this is the worst single incident I can recall. So my absence from everything - particularly anything social - is entirely due to that. I don't know how common it is for it to suddenly incapacitate someone totally and completely. Hopefully not very, 'cause I'd rather not have that happen every other week/month/year/lifetime, thank you very much.

It's not anyone's fault. There's nothing anyone can do, as far as I know, to either stop it happeneing or make it go away quicker. Short of giving me a .44 magnum, which would be messy, so they probably shouldn't. But otherwise, it's just one of those joyous things that make you realise that even going to work isn't all that bad. There's much blackness - no, really it's more of a dirty grey/brown/nothingness.

And hopefully that's going away. Quickly. With drugs to help. Oh Seratonin, where are you when I need you? Or Pethedine. Or even a good stiff scotch (being a non-drinker, that'd probably have as much effect as a good jab of Peth, I expect.

So, ceiling cat, take note. Thank you for adding to my life's rich list of experiences, but once was enough. I've ated by pillz so leaf meez alonez now - kthxbye.

*This post brought to you via BigPond Cable internet which was broken today but magically fixed by a nice man in India/Pakistan/or somewhere similar within 8 minutes of me dialling the general Telstra support number. That was, truly, awesome service. Yay Telstra. You're getting it right at last.