How about swapping just one status update with a conversation with an Aussie elder?

I have to wonder if we’re seriously missing a really important point in regards to this new era we’re in where communication and technology are supposedly giving us so much more knowledge than we’ve ever had access to before.  But are we forgetting that a lot of the most valuable pearls of wisdom, fascinating stories are often sitting right in front of us or pottering around next door.

If we had one face to face conversation with someone we cared about, a grand parent, an ageing aunt or uncle or simply a senior citizen sitting on the bus, instead of posting a tweet or updating our status we might learn something useful to ourselves.

 

If we made a commitment to ask the odd question about the life, past and present of these people rather than trawling internet news feeds to see what hundreds of strangers are doing at that particular second, might we be absorbing information worth passing on to others?  Something that helps to join a few of life’s dots?

In the sunshine on a perfect day in Marino, I decided to do just that, with my oldest mate; and I mean that in the birth certificate sense, with my Nan.  I’ll call this exercise, The Thoughts Of Nan Witcomb.

GREATEST PREMIER OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA AND WHY?

The man who really got South Australia up and running was Sir Thomas Playford.

THE MOST RECENT THING IN THE NEWS THAT’S GOT YOUR BLOOD BOILING WAS? Oh there’s so many things…the fact they’re putting people who have been in jail in trust homes yet some people who have been waiting for years don’t get them.

WHAT DO YOU FEAR MOST AT YOUR AGE NOW? Getting ill. Becoming someone who can’t look after themselves. I therefore live a very healthy life (she laughs with a cigarette and drink in hand). I do believe seriously though, all in moderation.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE SUCCESS OF APPLE? What? Of Apple?  (she cracks up) I know what you mean but the only apples I know about are the ones that fall off my trees and the birds get them.

AND THE IPHONE 4? (Note, I had explained the night before how I could Google information via my phone) I didn’t know what the little magic box that you were consulting all the time, I didn’t know was an iphone.  I have never seen anything like it in my entire life.

SOME INTERSTATE TWIT TOLD A TOURING MUSICIAN RECENTLY TO EXPECT ADELAIDE TO BE BORING…. YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT? The interstate twit was probably a boring person themselves.

IF YOU KNEW THE DATE YOU WERE GOING TO DIE, WHAT WOULD YOU GET DONE BEFORE THAT? To get all my television interviews, plays, poems, photos etc all gathered together to be passed on to next generations.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THRASH METAL MUSIC? Who?

(played audio grab from Our Last Enemy)  Turn it off!!!

WHAT WORLD NEWS EVENT DO YOU REMEMBER MOST VIVIDLY?

The end of World War 2.

DO YOU THINK ‘WOMEN CAN HAVE IT ALL’? I think they can as long as they do everything in moderation.  If they try to be top of their jobs, they won’t be top of their families.

YOU’VE NEVER BEEN MARRIED, REGRET OR THINK ‘THANK GOD’? I think thank god

IF MOBILE PHONES WERE AROUND WHEN YOU WERE IN YOUR 20’S, DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE EVER DUMPED SOMEONE VIA A TEXT? No, I definitely wouldn’t have. It’s cruel.

SOME WOMEN ARE LEAVING IT VERY LATE TO HAVE CHILDREN, WHAT ARE THOUGHTS ON THIS? I think it’s a mistake because the women will be going through menopause when their children are teenagers, so they’ll all be a bit crazy at that time.

WHAT WAS THE BEST DECADE TO BE ALIVE IN AUSTRALIA? They were all pretty good really. Probably for me the ‘50’s.  It was the last of the innocent age.

My questions could go on forever, but the idea is that her answers and others like her will do the same, if just take some time.

 

 

Yes Christmas is nearly here again and so is the loneliest time of the year for some

“Is Christmas here already?” Yes it is.  “It’s not that time of the year again is it?” I’m afraid it is.  “I’m not ready for Christmas yet, this year has gone way too fast.” Neither am I, yes it has, now can we all move on because talking about is not going to hold Rudolph and his gang back whether we like it or not.

Let’s just accept that next week is December and all the good and bad of this month are on their way back.

The stress levels are going to increase gradually as the chore list mounts up. The tensions will inevitably grow as we make contact with family we may not always get along with but must attempt to suddenly work together as a team to create one happy, loving family day around a decorated tree.

Everywhere you turn there’s going to be a symbol of Christmas that insinuates this is a time of only goodwill and a whole lot of cheer, but let’s face it, that’s not necessarily the case.  In fact, ever thought that that pretty little tinsel thing make not always brighten up someone’s day?

Christmas can be one of the loneliest days of the year for many people and I think we should stop complaining “oh crap, it’s that time of year” and spare a thought for those that have really good reasons to seriously dread the month and everything it brings with it.

Basically, all those lovely happy commercials you see on television of the two parents, a couple of kids and a grandparent or two, doesn’t exist for some people in the world and many of us rarely give them a thought.  We’re too busy whizzing around town from party to party, ticking things off our list.

Imagine sitting at home feeling the energy of the world celebrating and rejoicing when you know the only person thinking of you might well be yourself?  I hate to say it but in a very painful way Christmas is like having your nose rubbed in everyone else’s fortunate place and then having it wrenched away again by an invisible force that whispers in your ear on the way out ‘looks good doesn’t it but that’s not for you. You don’t have anyone to do all this with.’

 

How sad do you imagine this could be?  Would you not rather have Auntie Faye testing your patience than waking up on the day with nowhere to go?  With the world celebrating the joy of giving while you feel like the only one that didn’t receive?

It’s any wonder people with drinking problems end up cranking it up over Christmas and New Year periods when the loneliness kicks in.  I wish everyone could experience loneliness just once at some point in their lives because it’s a feeling that isn’t always easy to explain.

I’m not embarrassed to say I have felt the difference between depression and loneliness and they really are distinctively different in how they make you feel.

Loneliness is about as low as you can get.  It’s hard not to take personally when you feel that the world is operating on some sort of network that you just can’t get in to.  There’s all sorts of reasons that one can find themselves lonely so it’s not always easy to promote warnings that can keep us mindful of falling into its trap.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I think it’s worth reminding at this December lead up time that having experienced loneliness and depression both myself at different times, that I felt that depression is debilitating, but loneliness is soul destroying. They’re separate, have a different voice, neither of which you would ever want to hear.

We should just be mindful of how lucky we are if we have somewhere to go on Christmas Day and if someone buys us a gift.  There will be those in our community that will spend all those key moments and each special holiday day,  completely and utterly alone, waking up with absolutely no one.

HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED LONELINESS?  EXPLAIN HOW IT FEELS SO OTHERS CAN TRY TO EMPATHISE…x