KEEPING COOL AT 34 DEGREES
It’s 34 degrees and the suns crushing down as I sit in the van trying to roll joints with sweaty fingers. I just left the Museum of Tropical Queensland and I’m going over my next moves for the day in my head. My attempts of rolling escalate to vocal displays of dissatisfaction. Name calling at someone who isn’t present. I lay it down and take a deep steadying breath. I’ve noticed this shift in my mood over the last 24 hours or so. Quicker to temper, irritable and short. I had my first sign something might be up during the headphones incident. I shouldn’t have been so bold in this heat. They’ve always been a trigger of sorts.
Reaching into my pocket on the way here with one hand on the steering wheel as the phone vibrates noisily in the ashtray that it sits while I’m driving. Keeping one eye on the road and trying to unravel the headphones with my left hand. Third ring in. Time isn’t on my side. Pressure. The ear-bud with the little ‘R’ on it indicates it is the right bud causing me the distress. It’s become tangled up good as I continue to roll the wire mess uselessly between my clammy fingers. I’ve missed the call. I throw the headphones over my shoulder into the back and amid an avalanche of insults and the inanimate headphones who have now managed to insult my very existence. A familiar mix of satisfaction and shame replenishment my empty stomach like a recently flushed toilet refills with somewhat tainted water. Was that really necessary? Probably not. Did it feel good at the time? Yes. Was it worth it? Probably not. “I’m in a bad mood.” I tell myself which serves the purpose of both easing the feeling of guilt and vindicating the victim fragment of me, too stubborn to admit fault. As soon as I’d accepted and internalised the fact I was simply “in a bad mood”, the gates were open. Now the snowball is off and rolling gathering more of the same on its way. I start looking for justification to the headspace I’d agreed to being in. Now when I stub my toe stepping into the van I can say to myself “See? This bullshit right here!” then go on flailing about in this fashion having given myself a free pass. Maybe it’s in some way some way satisfying to hit the release button and just vent irrationally from time to time. I cast around for reasons this could be happening? The heat and hunger being my main culprits but also I cant deny the most likely. I’m coming off a weekend where I put back a substantial amount of alcohol while out and about in Mackay after my show. Maybe it’s a number of different contributors or maybe it’s just as simple as this: Today my mood is different to how it was the day before.
Maybe it’s about recognising that things simply change from moment to moment and there’s not always a glaringly obvious reason for everything. Maybe it’s about looking at that as objectively and with the least emotion possible attached, accepting it for what it is and proceeding onward regardless. Maybe all I can do is look on and try to gently steer the ship back in the direction of steadier seas while being aware that the wind is against me today and that cant be changed, at least not by me with any of the skills in my arsenal at this point. Now I’ve lost my train of thought. This kid just ran screaming past the van with his dad close behind him in pursuit. It’s reminding me of when I was in the museum just before. I was hanging in the Rainforest display with the room to myself when a little boy came charging in. It was just the two of us now, alone in the dimly lit leafy enclosure. It’s saddening that my first thoughts were concerns for anyone else to come in and find a child and me alone in a shady room. This is either a shitty sign of the times or evidence of my own susceptibility to media propaganda but either way I was distracted from considering the options too much as the little guy looked over and squeaked out “Hello!”
I said ‘Hi’ back to him, noticing a defined difference in my voice to how I’d address any other living thing with the exception of maybe a puppy. He ran over to my side and we begun pressing the buttons that lit up the displays around the room and reading their names out loud, me assisting with the words he got stuck on. It was fun. Really fun! After ten minutes he heard his mum calling from off in the next room and he raced off in the direction of her voice with a run that said he’s shoes were a few sizes too big.
Next time I find myself in that type of situation I’ll be more willing to remain in the moment and take the chance to communicate with a person who’s outlook on life is so very different from my own but in a funny way makes so much more sense. Next time I won’t let my mind race down rabbit holes and entertain the worst of possibilities. A lot gets missed or passed over when I’m not present in my experience of the world around me. Next time. But here I am looking ahead again.