Thursday, September 23, 2010


I'm having a bogan renaissance - listening to Guns n Roses (Use Your Illusion I, if you must know). Ahh, the early nineties! It was like society had a hangover from the 80's, and was busily chugging down Aspro Clear and eating bland fatty food in an attempt to recover.

I was a teenager in the early nineties. I was really hung up on the past in those years, like really really hung up, hankering after times gone by. It may have been because my childhood had been the happiest time of my life up to that point, and the time I was in then was crap. But it became a serious issue for me. I only realised it when I started hankering after a time which I had already spent hankering after a previous time again, and I thought "hang on, this is rubbish, I'm going to hanker my life away". Then I finally listened to what most people say all the time, something along the lines of "what's past is past and we don't know what's to come, so enjoy the present", and started living in the present. It was surprisingly pleasant and I stopped missing out on all the stuff I had been missing out on whilst in mid-hanker. But I also believe that there's nothing wrong with the odd spot of harmless nostalgia. It's like going on a holiday and taking photos. If you never look at the photos once in a while you miss out on the whole memory. And music is such a great memory trigger. You can feel what you were feeling at that time, remember what you were interested in, the type of things you were thinking about, with an amazing clarity. And sometimes, remembering the past can be an incredibly powerful tool for good.

I went to my 15-year high school reunion in November last year. It was, without a doubt, one of the best nights of my entire life to date. It was like a fail-safe reset switch for me. It was the school I went to after getting booted out of the high-school I had gone to for 5 & 1/2 years, at which I had been having that crap time I mentioned earlier. In the 6-odd months I was at the new school, I made friends that I am still in contact with today. They accepted me as one of them almost instantly - a stark contrast to my experience at the first school. This, coupled with the intense internal changes I was going through at the time (issues that were brought to the surface as a result of leaving the first school, and being dealt with for a change instead of just being swept under the rug as per usual) resulted in an overall experience that was immensely positive. After this was when I moved to a different state, went to uni, got caught up in more negative behaviour, had some painful relationship breakups, got sucked in to an over-the-top religious movement, etc etc etc. There were some amazing positives in the intervening time as well - marrying my wife, having my first son, making some great new friends - it was by no means all bad. But when I went back to my old home town, and got together with my old mates, went to some of the old pubs and discussed some of the good old times, it was like a mega-memory trigger, bringing back all the positive emotions and mindset of that time. It was the "reload fail-safe defaults" switch for my soul. Like when you plug your iPhone into iTunes, it has a button saying "Restore". You press this button if you are having issues with the phone's operation after recent changes, and you can revert it back to a more stable operating state. Somehow, after that night, the bad stuff in between seemed to matter a whole lot less, and I was freer to enjoy the good stuff I'd picked up, because I had been "rebooted" with the most important thing I had learned in that time - I'm me, and that's bloody-well OK - a conviction that had somehow been eroded.

The experience of that night has stuck with me until now, and I think it always will. I'm so grateful that I could put some of my life's negative experiences into such a comprehensively positive frame, which is one way of transforming negatives into positives and coming out of life's knocks the better for it.

Based on my experience of that night, I have re-worked an old familiar saying, and I think it's my new motto. It goes like this:

"When life hands you lemons, make vodka and Red Bull. Lemonade is for cissies."

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