That time of year is here. Christmas. Not Christmas Day, but Christmastime. It has its perks. Its moments.
For me, among other things, it’s a time I understand again who I am close to and who I am far from. Certain people come to mind. Other’s don’t. My hurts are sorer and my smile is wider at Christmastime.
It’s a time to swim and sleep and skate. I like to see Christmastime through the eyes of many people. Those who purchase it, avoid it, drink their way through it and a small number who even celebrate it.
Ten years back, we shared boxing day with dear friends in York. We were all childless and slim. We ate duck in a smoke enhanced room on Rose Street, near the Nestle factory.
There’s a month.
The ancient Romans would have something to say about the way we now live. I wonder if they’d be impressed with how we do things or disappointed at our lack of progress. We are living in one of the most peaceful times in history, with the percentage of all deaths through wars and fights at an all time low. There is a sinful number of deaths from diarrhea, disgracefully.
What would they make of rock concerts or roller-blading? I read an article today about a man waking from Somalia, I think, across to somewhere is South America, following some route taken by ancient women and men because…
Among other things, he was enjoying walking. Not driving anywhere. Walking. He was his own ambulance. Africa intrigues so many. Me too. I haven’t really been there apart from a few weeks in the south looking at beasts, sleeping out and ensuring Savannah went down not under.
I love the idea of walking a long way. Like a very really long way. I’d enjoy the time to myself. It wouldn’t be peaceful for me, but it wold be quiet. I would like the view and the pace. I’d like the lack of expectation and the genuine focus on the journey and not the destination. You’d feel like you were doing something you chose to do, wanted to do. It’d be releasing and cleansing.
If it weren’t for future bills, I’d go for a walk tomorrow.
There used to be a lot of things I didn’t tell my mother. Like how I consumed cigarettes as a teen or the time a sadhu chased me with a brick. It was the hardest thing I’d done to tell her I’d run out of money once and needed a loan. She did was a mother would do.
I took her grandchildren to Iraq last week to try new food and to visit a friend. Previously, I had never understood what people meant when they said that they had “no expectations” of what a place would be like. Now we are fellows. We booked, we flew, we arrived. Five nights in the north of a country which has had to find new beauty within. Smiles, helpfulness and ‘welcomes’ were placed upon us in a way seldom seen in the west or the south. We ask ourselves occasionally why we live as foreigners (or ‘expats’ as is trendy). It’s not just the delicious comestibles or year round sunshine.
Who can tell what our boys will make of the road we force them to walk? But, when I see how much they mean to their friends and vice versa, I feel (not think, feel) that they will be okay.They get the best and worst of many worlds. Minecraft, cat ownership, kebabs for breakfast and the ache of fractured relationships. If nothing else, I hope I am placing feathers in their back that they would soar and dive themselves when they are ready. They may use their wings to fly back to New Zealand, their holiday destination of choice, or to trip off to corners yet explored by us. As long as they are kind when they get there.
My father,and aforementioned mother, was a traveller. He bought me a map as a boy and I intend to cross it as much as my knees allow. Maybe as much as he hoped I might, too.
I do not believe in the devil but I have met her children. They sit, with ties and smug faces, partonising, insulting and generally running us all down. They could not care less.
They are pretenders and delight in the terrible. They bully, they smile and they excuse themselves. A world without them would be one where we could shine, do out best. There would be laughter - lots of it.
Although they reek, they hide. But they chip and beat, these daughters and sons.
I am several ages. The one I want to be. The one I am. The one my knees let me be. I enjoy each one. Being happy is a good goal, like being a millionaire by thirty or filling a room with bottle caps.
A bucket list could be a giggle.
Around eight is the number of lies I believe we parents have running with our children at any one time. They are more gentle than the steamroller that is the Easter Bunny or that “Mummy was just practising her singing” at 8am on Saturday morning.
They lie under what we do. In trying to show them they are the centre of our universe, we let them believe they are the centre of the universe and so forth.
It’s inescapable as we only take our wee dudes along the same path we walk ourselves. They nestle - relying, spying.
There is only a ‘play’ button on parenting. No fast forward (although it feels like that one is stuck down), no rewind, no pause and, Lord willing, no ‘stop’ nor ‘eject’. My boys are their own. I thought they were mine, but they’re theirs.
Their beautiful coat of birth doesn’t fade but it does get pelted and marred. Still elegant but with scratches of sadness seen only by experience.
Loving them does not raise them. The boys have a ludicrous childhood. Here and there. Mountains, lagoons, ancient cities. Skype with Grandma.
What will be?
Nobody would ever mistake me for a religious or spiritual person but that is not to say that I don’t end up in a church once in a while.
Two points of human behaviour intrigue me and long have.
1. Where people choose to live.
2. What people choose to believe.
One often leads to another, also.
You see, these matters affect every breath of us. How we talk. To whom we talk. How we eat. With whom we eat. How we exist and possibly for how long.
I have been through about four or five worldviews in my time and will no doubt wear out a couple more. I know people who stick to their guns. Hold fast(s) and charge through their weeks with intent. Not just getting through but angling and rolling towards something. Wow!
Being in New Zealand again has been refreshing and pleasant. It’s the people. It’s the people.
Bukha is a town nearly as close as you can get to the tip of the Arabian Peninsular and nearly as close as you can get to a one hour drive from my door mat. Describing this place is easy yet I can be sure that if I did, any given listener would sketch a different picture in their minds than the one I have. Bukha is breathtaking and strong.
Oman did well to hold onto Mussandam during the great dish-out of areas era of the 1970s. It is a space I missed enormously during the three years we were away from Ras Al Khaimah and a place I feel very at home in. Quite possibly because there are very few people there along with a multicoloured ocean and geological features which leave both creationists and evolutionists head scratching.
Bukha lacks only a skatepark and a place to buy cashews.
I already have made my list to read to the journalist who sits by me on my deathbed. My list of things I wish I had done. It’s a short but deep list.
I wish I:
* did what I was good at
* did what I enjoyed
* saw the world
* spent more time playing with my boys
When I was a youth, I was misled down a certain track. I followed this path. They didn’t tell me it was tapered and petering but here I am pinched, poked and flopping.
My values have shifted recklessly over the past few years. Twenty one year old me would slap me with my own knee.
"There is still time," I was told yesterday.
Ben has been singing a fair amount of Outkast recently. Specifically the first line of Hey Ya! We made up slogans for ourselves a week or so back and Ben chose Ben Bucksmith: A dude and a half. Jonah has proudly adopted Jonah Bucksmith: Chucky Norris. (This is the nom de plume of an Australia FMX rider who, beside Burj Khalifa, stole Jonah’s heart a few weeks back by engaging in a swathe of backflips and no handed clickers right before Jonah’s big brown eyes.) It’s getting hard to keep up and more enjoyable to watch our two.
With another silly season under my belt, I look forward to the New Year and having an excuse to reignite old habits and terminate new ones. I do feel a little lost at this stage of the calendar, like I’m waiting for something I can’t quite put the tip of my tongue on. It’ll come.
It has been wonderful to see so many of the families here travel home for Christmas. Doing so requires taking a lofty kick in the financial jingleberries, so it is not a trip people make lightly. But the do. The urgency to get home to family is sweet.
Santa is pants because:
1. If children believe that Santa has delivered their presents, it means they have been repeatedly lied to by people who they trust. It’s not magical or sweet. It requires starting a lie, building on the lie, answering honest questions with lies and then ending with a lie. It is strange behaviour and enough to get anyone on a certain naughty list, surely.
2. Believing in Santa takes the giving out of Christmas. It encourages children to make lists of what they want (the longer the better), to think primarily of what they can get from Christmas. There is no thought of others, or giving, or of the poor, or gratitude. It feeds greed which breed mean deeds. Fa la la la la la….
3. It removes the celebration aspect of Christmas. There is nothing left to celebrate. We make a list. He checks it (twice), brings presents down chimney to stockings.There are tears because he didn’t bring so and so and so on and so forth. What are children learning or treasuring or taking with them to adulthood from all this? What do they celebrate?
Can I get a witness?
Quietness is a treat. In the ilk of white chocolate, loose clothing, mown lawns and young smiles. It is elusive and underrated. It is one of the highest forms of gentleness. Quietness demands restraint and a seldom seen quality on the inside.
I have a new telephone. I nearly love it. With its red case and slippery face, my phone makes me feel like a hunk. The sales folk required a cute amount of salary in return for my new bliss. The marvels of modern mammon, ay.
It was important for me to buy a phone because I didn’t have one. Actually, I did have one, but I put it in the bin. It was working until I threw it down a flight of stairs one morning in a fit of sleepiness and tripping. For a while it developed a feature which I believe, if available on all communication devices, would be a hot seller. For a month or more, I couldn’t hear anyone through my phone. I could talk and they could hear me but my old Sony made me as deaf as my friends were dumb.
Hunk: Hi hun, just to say I’ll be a little late after work because I need to drink some beer
Hunk: I hope that’s okay. Text me if we need eggs. Love you and so forth.
With unhappiness, it finally gave up its ghost and refused to pass on my messages any more.
For a long, long time I spoke my mind. I answered questions and shared myself. Noise and blurting, barking, squealing, grating. Year on year, reinventions are surfacing.
Apparently there is a lot to be said for listening. Who knows, maybe I’ll start writing poetry, also.
There was a seventeen to twenty one year old gentleman at the ramp today. He had a hole in his left hand ear large enough to put a honking stud through, and he did. His dark blue tee shirt hid how skinny he really was. He was leaner than 1990s Jon Toogood and Courtney Cox put together. For a yob, he had a pleasant smile. I warmed to him instantly because he misled himself to believe I could skate great.
We alternated runs at the facilities squatting at the border of Karori and Northland. It was my first session on a mini for eighteen months, yet it felt like only last weekend I was cracking my knees and skinning my sockets. It is the sounds of skateboarding I like the most which would explain why my best tricks involve lots of contact with the board and the ramp and with fellow others.
My colleague this afternoon demonstrated kindness. He was complimentary and polite. He even offered me a puff on what I initially thought was a bottle of Lucozade but happened to be a makeshift bong. His innovation was delightful and surpassed his ability to ride a skate.
Spanking new boards sit in my luggage. Essentials for a new leg.