FOCUS THE MIND
A few weeks ago I wrote an article titled, ‘Lessons Learnt’, which focused on fishing tackle, but last week I broke another of my ‘lessons learnt’, when I lifted a rather heavy detached boat trailer onto the truck tow ball at a workshop. In doing so, I damaged my shoulder, or, to use the vernacular of the physio, the rotator cuff. Initially, I was focusing my disdain on the tradesman who put the trailer on the boat without securing the R clip on the ball, but when it is your boat and vehicle, you should of course always double check. After all, I spend my working life reminding people that the skipper is responsible, so I will take this one on the chin. Anyway, with a few weeks to recuperate, I have taken to reading a few books and one that has captured my attention is a rare non-fiction piece of Tim Winton’s, titled, ‘The Boy Behind The Curtain’.
I have always been taken by Tim Winton’s style of writing and unique connection with the WA coastline, but must admit that I can only take so much fiction before it feels so unreal I lose interest. So when my wife Viv said she had bought me a Tim Winton book to get my mind off the shoulder injury, I was initially unimpressed. However, after reading the blurb and realising this was a collection of true stories that shaped the life of this unique author, I was soon immersed.
While yet to finish the whole book, whenever we have dramas in our lives, it is a time to reflect and I soon found myself reflecting on life experiences, provoked by Winton’s third chapter, ‘Havoc: A Life in Accidents’. It commences with a motorbike accident that he and his father come across in Albany, which brings back memories of his father’s near fatal motorbike accident as a policeman years before and then eight years later, only 200 metres from this location, Winton himself is a passenger in a vehicle that ploughs through a two metre high wall at a girl’s school. “It’s galling to lie in bed for weeks absorbing the results of someone else’s mistake. But the old man was right-convalescence does focus the mind”. Heady stuff indeed and Winton, the deep thinker he is, explores this further with comments like, “Each of us wades in the swamp of everyone else’s actions and intentions” and “We’ll forever be vulnerable to havoc”. Or what about this, “You might not have sharks in your neighbourhood, but there’ll always be a catastrophic diagnosis in the wings, or financial crash, or just some moron running a red light”.
So I reflected on my sister’s eight month battle after a medical procedure went awry and how her mental attitude has now pulled her threw and she can live the life she planned after retiring from teaching a few years ago. And then there was my dad, Jack, struck down with a major stroke, in his prime at age 54 and how he turned his life around, off the smokes and drink, walking every day and living a fulfilling life until 83. So when Tim Winton used his own car accident as the catalyst to seriously pursue a career in writing, I got it. “I was goaded into beginning what I’d dreamt of doing since I was ten years old. Because of that one sudden moment I went harder at the writing game than anybody could believe, myself included.” Perhaps a message for all of us when dealing with the havoc in our lives.