The day a squirrel made everything okay

I approach one of those pivotal moments in one’s life.

In less than three weeks, my beautiful wife and I will be leaving Wellington, New Zealand – the city which has been my home for more than 14 years. We will then spend a week with each of our families before boarding a flight to San Francisco – the city which will become our home for the foreseeable future.

The pivot has not yet occurred, and our actual departure is still just over a month away.

Yet I am already looking back. I’m looking back at the time we spent with our dear friends in Wellington before the move.

I’m remembering going to see Iron Man 2 at midnight at the Embassy cinema with Brock (who bought the tickets), James and Chris, Keith, Jem, Tim and Michelle, and of course Mia.

It’s tomorrow night, but it’s already happened.

It’s already happened and we’re living in San Francisco and alongside all the awesome newness we’re missing our friends. We’re talking about them fondly, and remembering the drinks we had before the midnight screening on a school night.

It’s already happened and we’re back living in New Zealand, and our kids have grown up and have kids of their own. We’re sitting in our comfortable chairs, drinking tea and smiling as we remember those last few weeks in Wellington before the start of our first San Francisco adventure.

It’s tonight, and the movie is tomorrow. I sit in bed as Mia reads the third Harry Potter book for the first time. I look around the room we’re sub-letting, and I can feel the seconds flowing steadily by. I look back down at the laptop as my fingers clatter across the keys and these letters appear on the screen.

The moment of clarity fades away as I find myself staring into nothing and remembering the squirrel. Tom Rix arrived in San Francisco today himself, and 8 hours ago he posted this image of a squirrel. (Thanks Tom!)

Somehow the squirrel made everything okay. This upcoming move has made me feel in turn excited, terrified and numb, and as we approach the actual day the sheer change of it has grown increasingly overwhelming.

But there are squirrels in San Francisco. We will get to see squirrels. And that is Quite Awesome.

When I saw the squirrel (of all things), somehow I knew it was going to be okay.

So here I am, looking forward and imagining looking back. Finally writing another blog post for the first time in probably months, feeling like I’m looking into a whirlpool which will be sucking us in and then spitting us out.

Once we’re free from it, we’ll look up – shake the water from our hair, and realize we’re not in New Zealand any more. Perhaps I’ll remember to update you as to how it feels on the other side.

I’ll do my best to.

Published in: on 27 April 2010 at 11:06 pm  Comments (4)  

This is real life.

Yep. This is it.

Look around you – away from this blasted screen.

All that stuff? Real.

If you run your hand over it, you can feel the texture of its surface. Real.

Right now? This is it. This is your life.

This may all seem blatantly obvious to you, in which case you’ve probably stopped reading. For whatever reason, however, when I stop to consider that this is real life, it is almost always a revelation.

Have I always been so disconnected?

Certainly as far back as I can remember I’ve spent most of my time more in my thoughts than my body.

Lost in a book or a movie or a song or an idea. Full of hope, worry, regret or nostalgia. Seeing what I think is in front of me rather than what is.

And when I stop, when I stop like have right now, when I make an effort to cease the babble in my head and see this moment – this moment which is the essence of what this life actually is – when I do that, everything tends to appear a liitle absurd.

But again, perhaps that’s just me.

Whatever the case, this I know: in a moment I’ll stop writing and you’ll stop reading. I will get up from this park bench and go buy some fish. I haven’t the foggiest what you’ll do next.

And for both of us, this will still be real life.

Permission to Play

Last Friday I took part in an impromptu bit of fun which arose out a discussion in the Wellington Twitter community. Thanks to a tweet by @mikeforbes and the efforts of @spanishmanners, we christened our inaugural #formalfriday.

Formal Friday

With casual clothes the norm in so many many of our workplaces these days, the concept of a Casual Friday is increasingly irrelevant. Going to work wearing formal wear, however, has become both novel and fun. Especially when followed by drinks and dinner afterward to see what the others decided to wear.

As ‘adults’, most of us are simply too shy to appear silly in front of our peers. To dress up, to slide down banisters, or to randomly break into song. I for one (I’m sad to say) tend not to step out of line unless perhaps others are doing the same.

In an organized group, I’ll run around in circles, dance in the street, or even wear a suit to work. For some reason, however, I seem to need permission to play. If I feel like I’m not alone in it, if I feel that it’s a condoned activity, then I’m in.

It’s a start, I guess. At least I’m playing at all. I figure the best way forward is to simply ensure there are more group activities awaiting me in the coming weeks, months and years. In time, maybe I’ll find myself playing without even thinking about it.

So what’s next? Firstly I intend to organize some Cryptozoo runs here in Wellington. If you’d like to get involved, just let me know.

Secondly there’s a little something a bunch of us devised today – a multi-day group gaming, reading, watching and playing binge we’re calling #schoolholidays…

Transparency Starts at ‘Home’

I recently had an experience at work where I asked someone to go above and beyond what they normally would for a  good cause. They were able to give no promises, and I understood it was unlikely to actually happen.

In the eleventh hour, they pulled out the stops and managed to do what I had requested, and I was naturally thrilled.

When I went to give the good news to the person it was for, however, I suddenly realised my mistake. However it had happened, I had provided the wrong reference number – and all the extra effort had been expended on the wrong task.

I immediately had two options:
1) own up to the colleague who had gone the extra mile
2) not mention it, as it was possible they’d never find out anyway

I’m sad to say that my immediate instinct was to do the latter. It was only after taking a deep breath and actually thinking about the situation that I owned up right away. I don’t know about you, but for years I had issues with fearing what people would think of me if I admitted to fault. The problem was that the moment I hesitated, it suddenly became increasingly difficult to be honest about it.

There’s a lot of talk at the moment about how engaging with people through “Social Media” requires honesty, openness and transparency.

I think it’s as good a time as any to remember that it’s just as important (if not more) to be transparent, open and honest in our everyday dealings with workmates, friends and family.

You might “get away with it” – but for how long, and at what cost?

The Invisible Chomsky

On the topic of media silence, in chatting with a friend about independent media options, I remembered a modern instance of something being kept out of the mainstream news.

Almost 10 years ago now, in November 1998, Noam Chomsky gave a talk at Wellington’s Opera House. It was free entry, and I joined the line as early as I could to gain a seat. The interest from the public was so great that as well as filling the Opera House’s three levels, the organisers also provided a live video feed (which from memory had some issues) to the Paramount Cinema too.

His talk went largely over the heads of myself and most of my friends, but we tried our best to keep up. Despite the snazzy editing of the documentaries that have been made about his work, in person he came across as incredibly dry. All the same, we were thrilled to see such an incredible thinker speak in person and hoped to understand what he had been on about one day.

My most lasting memory of the talk, however, was the fact that the mainstream media totally ignored the entire visit. Nothing on the television news, nothing in the two main newspapers, and as far as I know nothing on the radio. The only local media I saw that mentioned it was a totally independent community newspaper called The City Voice, which sadly no longer exists. Clearly the advertising that got people along was almost entirely “viral”.

In 1943 we experienced media silence due to state intervention in a time of war. Fifty-five years later, it certainly wouldn’t have been the government getting in the way of this obviously interesting news story. I can understand that the media is under no obligation to cover every event or happening, but to this day I wonder who made the decision that this wasn’t newsworthy…

Riot Police in Manners St – Then & Now

While looking into the history of NZ’s capital some time ago, I came across an amazing story of a 1943 riot in downtown Manners Street involving “over a thousand American and New Zealand servicemen as well as several hundred civilians”. As noted in the linked article and elsewhere, it went unreported in the news due to wartime censorship – so everything we know about it is via the stories of those who were there.

I was reminded of this event last week, when I came across THIS. Sixty-five years later, here is a tale of riot police once again having to keep the peace in Manners Street: “Riot police had to control fights among a crowd of almost 200 people as they tried to arrest a suspected thief wielding nunchaku in Wellington’s Manners Mall.”

The thing I find most interesting about this case however, is the first comment. Another witness to the event describes its reporting as “almost wholly inaccurate and quite irresponsible”. It appears that while the facts were left entirely unreported in 1943, these days they’re manipulated so as to be more eye-catching.

If what James says in his comment is true, then in both cases we’ve had to hear from eyewitnesses to get the truth. Here’s to individuals without state pressure or the need to generate advertising dollars keeping us informed of what’s really going on.

Can anyone recommend some good grassroots news sites?

Published in: on 28 August 2008 at 1:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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