I just re-read a short from Knitting and other stories: ‘That Summer at Manly’ by John Jenkins. It’s the latest free short story download from Margaret River Press and it’s worth…well, much more than a couple of mouse-clicks! It’s cold today and these phrases sent me to my happy place:
“… the sunlight is filling me up, and buzzing…”
“ The air was full of fish and chips…”
“The hiss of air-conditioning threw a cool lifeline as I carefully removed my togs and collapsed into flames—flames which had once been the crisp, white sheets of my bed.”
‘That Summer at Manly’ is an evocative piece that makes me wistful for salt and sunshine. The narrative structure shifts like the ocean; we feel the gentle pull of memory, an undertow of nostalgia. This is a story of hot Australian summers, youthful escapades and neatly escaped disaster; it’s familiar territory, part of the shared cultural identity of anyone who’s spent time on the coast. I found it comforting, particularly as summer edges near. It stirs up childhood memories of beach holidays and surfing camps; of sandy feet and the scent of suncream.
Everywhere I look, I see evidence that winter is falling away and I am glad. And I am looking closely, because I am trying to slow down and take a deep breath today.
I enjoy the shift in seasons because the jasmine scented air signifies that spring will come again; that some things never change. I have been restless, and yesterday, I was reminded of a comforting passage that I read when life is moving too fast; when everything feels a bit scattered.
This is an excerpt from Michael Leunig’s The Curly Pyjama Letters:
In response to your question, “What is worth doing and what is worth having?”, I would like to say simply this: it is worth doing nothing and having a rest; in spite of all the difficulty it may cause, you must rest Vasco- otherwise you will become RESTLESS!
I believe the world is sick with exhaustion and dying of restlessness. While it is true that periods of weariness help the spirit to grow, the prolonged, ongoing state of fatigue to which our world seems to be rapidly adapting is ultimately soul destroying as well as earth destroying. The ecology of evil flourishes and love cannot take root in this sad situation. Tiredness is one of our strongest, most noble and instructive feelings. It is an important aspect of our CONSCIENCE and must be heeded or else we will not survive. When you are tired you must have that feeling and you must act upon it sensibly- you MUST rest like the trees and animals do.
Yet tiredness has become a matter of shame! This is a dangerous development. Tiredness has become the most suppressed feeling in the world. Everywhere we see people overcoming their exhaustion and pushing on with intensity-cultivating the great mass mania which all around is making life so hard and ugly- so cruel and meaningless- so utterly graceless- and being congratulated for overcoming it and pushing it deep down inside themselves as if it were a virtue to do this. And of course, Vasco, you know what happens when such strong and natural feelings are denied- they turn into the most powerful and bitter poisons with dreadful consequences. We live in a world of these consequences and then wonder why we are so unhappy.
So, I gently urge you Vasco, do as we do in Curly Flat- learn to curl up and rest- feel your noble tiredness- learn about it and make a generous place for it in your life and enjoyment will surely follow. I repeat: it’s worth doing nothing and having a rest.
Mr. Curly xxx
I love the notion of ‘noble tiredness’ and I am honouring it today. Shortly after reading this piece, my son asked me to come and look at something in the garden:
The image spoke to me: slow down. And I was reminded that the easiest pleasures are the ones found in nature…
I’m trying to harness my children’s natural state of wonder; the way they find joy; the way they perpetually marvel. There’s so much to marvel at…
And summer will come soon.
I hope my ‘sister-wives’ don’t mind that I’ve gone public with their images. When I think of summer, it’s all about lazy days spent at this beach with these beautiful friends.