Saturday, February 6, 2010

Taboos of city life

It's been a strange month of lone evaluation, mind heatwaves, comparisons and self-inflicted shortfalls, all of which were doing me harm. So I've ceased the death by a thousand cuts and have aligned by body and mind into some reasonable evaluation of my fundamentally good situation.

Work has been a significant backburner for this particular mood. Many times, as I gazed over the capital works and my team of student labourers knocking books and boxes and heavy shelves about, I felt that leaden, guttered feeling as you do when you're looking right up a 300 metre cliff, knowing you have no choice but to climb it, but resisting and wishing to take a swim in the stream behind instead. I had to also deal with new staff and orientation of new students, all of which has gone swimmingly well. And now, there are database reports due for the security system people, and submissions for new equipment & furniture too.

But hey, that's Monday's problem. Or Tuesday's...

It's interesting to have just come across Alain de Botton's 'The consolations of philosophy'. In it, he talks about Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, and how Socrates would wander amongst the cityfolk of Athens and speak to strangers at random. Socrates wanted his subjects to question the status-quo and their own motivations in maintaining it, and indeed, to examine whether the status-quo had any real validitity or true value when looked at through rational perspective. Much remains timeless in the ways and values of the West.

It's coincidental that I've recently had the idea to conduct some sort of study, to ask a lot of questions of people, to open up a taboo subject that is all-pervasive in our cities yet is rarely discussed other than in a 'blanket' kind of way. That is, inheritance, money, property-possession. You see, I can sit around a lounge bar with a bunch of friends, having a drink, a pleasant time, enjoying the day and the company. Yet each of us will be of varying financial status. We'll talk about our jobs and what we like and what we don't like about them. We're a little coy about discussing our properties and where the money came from, which is fair enough. But it's interesting to me that one person owns 5 houses including a heritage-listed guest house, the other's been able to buy a free-standing house in a leafy part of the north shore, the other can buy a unit through family money, and another who's never worked a day in his life is handed with an apartment with a balcony and city views.

Over the last month I tended to be living via the 'half-empty' mentality. Maybe the heat fried my wires a bit. I felt insecure and a little fucking pissed off that I've worked for 15 years full-time, and while I have enough deposit to secure a 1-bedroom city box (and live very tightly for many years hence), it seems like people all around me have their pockets showered with moolah and are spending up on some fabulous cave-kit without the financial strains of high-equity mortgages.

During the hot month I felt this sense of being short-changed somewhat; looking back over the past - which is really fucking boring and stupid I know - and hurting that my dad made a virtue of pissing his money up against the damn wall and making the publican (and brickyard owner) rich in the process. I think this train of thought was sparked off during my uncle's death & funeral period. My cousin, 14 years my senior, was telling me that he used to drink with my dad in the pub and how great my dad was and all that. Well, that's very nice for you, dear cousin. But what about us, my dad's children. Very easy for my cousin to talk as he and his siblings got an apartment each at illustrious Bondi Beach. I'm cool with my cousin, but next time we meet up I want to discuss this with him, that he got the best bits of my dad saved for him.

But by demeaning my dear late father, and even worse, myself, with thoughts and emotions of lack serves only to debase myself, my being, and my character. I don't need to suffer self-esteem issues because I don't own a fucking home. Why should I suffer status anxiety just because a numerous load of individuals living in very close proximity to me drive Very Expensive cars. Fuck it. And fuck them. I would never buy a Very Expensive car if I had the money, nor a Very Expensive house. I like my material possessions in moderation.

I want to know if money, inheritance, and property ownership makes people happy. I want to know if people are more satisfied when they have a house they can call their own to come home to. In my observation, no level of external riches or acquisitions seems to make people more happy or fulfilled. They often add to burden in life. It's possible that property ownership and material wealth can remove to some degree an impediment to happiness (ie, poverty, housing-stress), but these things in no way have the power to remove unhappiness as a substantive psychic entity that lives in most human bodies on the planet.

There is the whole life. There is our love life, work life, social life, active/sport life, creative life, travel life, as well as home life. Just because we own a home it doesn't mean we're happier. Everything needs to be balanced, and balancing life requires looking at what we do have. We have our bodies, we have our level of health, we have loved ones, and we have so much. We have our parents who did so much for us, even if we think they didn't. The 'good' (or "now" as Ekhardt Tolle would say), is every moment. As long as we have food, clothing and shelter we are doing fine. We can make the time to divine gratitude for all that we have. In any moment that we are aware, we find we do not need what the other person has. Every moment has brought 'me' to his point.

I would not wish to swap or give up any quality, attribute, capability, gift or talent that I have for money and possession. You got it? You can have it.

I went to the wedding a year ago of the one with the 5 houses including the heritage-listed guest-house. To his credit, he doesn't drive a Very Expensive car. But I do find it sad and a little dismaying that he wasn't very happy when I ran into him at the supermarket a month before he got married. He was stressed and his face showed it. He was chronically busy and the impending marriage was causing him some degree of strain. How easy would it be to scale back and enjoy the fruits of what's been handed to you? (And have since cultivated and nurtured, admittedly). Well, that's easy for me to say. When you have that level of acquisition, to scale down must feel like a form of death. But in holding onto millionaire lego-land comes all the responsibility and burden of material ownership.

I walk around looking at big houses and wonder where I'd put the studio. I bet most houses don't have a music studio within them. I'd make it primarily a rehearsal space, with only minimal gear. I don't like too many trinkets - but I do like space to make noise.

The key is to enjoy your life, and to enjoy it by enjoying the sensation of your body beyond mind and emotions, and to be grateful for what we've got. I'm pleased to say I'm back on this track after a month of faltering, and I don't think I'll falter no more. In short, Christmas through to late-January had me in a funk, but I'm climbing out of it.

Besides, I may consider buying a shoe-box; I cast my eye to Marrickville!

***************************************

I've taken an interest in the case of a missing 52 year-old Melbourne man with a famously "illuminati" surname. He was a multi-millionaire businessman who made his money through property investment. He was found hacked to death and burned up in a downbeat suburb of Melbourne some two weeks after his disappearance. Two people have been found and charged with his murder. Apparently, the businessman led a double life; he had his loving family and dream home, and he was also actively involved with underground swingers' circuits.

On the day of his death, the illuminati-surnamed businessman parted from his brother at the airport after a day doing business in NSW. He was to drive home to his lovely wife and house and family to celebrate his daughter's entrance into medical school. So why on earth did he decide to stop off at a suburb very different to the one he lived in, for an illicit, frenzied fuck?? It's a horribly sad way to live. He forsook his family, his home, and his children each and every time he partook in a swingers' session, and this time it cost him his life.

What interests me is the motivation for murder. The couple that the businessman visited, in their housing-estate home in the working-class suburb of Hadfield, had expected that the businessman bring his "wife" as per the arrangement. A fight ensued and the businessman was killed and sawn off with an electric saw that had been purchased that day at Bunnings.

Now, why go so far? Why murder? The working-class man, selling used cars off a house-yard for a living, likely had low self-esteem and a fundamentally low opinion of himself. He wouldn't have liked to have been duped by a guy pretending to be in his thirties and lying about the wife he didn't bring. The wealthy businessman wanted 'action' and that would have caused great ire in the used-car seller who saw himself being duped in the bargain.

Is this enough to aggravate a murder? No. If the businessman had been some average joe, a heated argument may have ensued but some degree of understanding may have leveled things off. What I think happened was, at the heat of the argument, the used car guy somehow became aware that the man in front of him was some rich prat trying to take advantage of his partner. The businessman may have shot off a covert insult that unleashed the stark contrast between the two men. If so, it was a fatal mistake. The lowly used car guy, trying hard in life but never making do with the limitations imposed on him, in having some rich cock in his house demanding to fuck his wife, would have had all his emo buttons detonated. In a moment of insanity the pair killed the businessman. In a harrowing moment the two men were made equals by sexual depravity, two men who would not have crossed paths in any other way. It's awful to think what went through the businessman's mind in his moment of death, that he gave up a lovely house, a lovely garden, a lovely family, and lovely children, for this.

Be true, be grateful for what you've got, and be responsible for those you love, and that which you love. Yeah, love is the key isn't it, above money, above property, above what other people appear to have or own.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...
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veleska1970 said...

i believe that hard work and acquiring possessions builds character. having stuff handed to you on a gold platter just breeds complacency. i, too, have worked for what i have and i'm proud of my achievements and accomplishments. and like you said, everything is not always as it appears on the surface.

i'm glad you're coming out of your funk that you've been in. take care of yourself, ross.

ross b said...

Thanks Veleska, my perspective has really straightened up and am feeling much more poised and a lot better, despite the pressures of work etc. It is so true, working for what you've got does breed character; 15 years at my workplace has really built me up in so many ways. I'm glad to have had this experience.

Kind regards, Ross

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Al-Anon

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