Looking, Walking, Being.

When I was a kid I used to wheedle, beg and plead every night so I could watch MASH. What a fantastic show that was. Problem was, it was on at 8 o’clock at night which was my bedtime. My Mum, after being subjected to the kind of negotiations usually only seen in hostage situations; who had a crush on Alan Alda herself; realised I was a true fan and let me stay up to watch it. I kept my end of the bargain by not complaining I was tired in the morning and asking for five more minutes in bed.

One of the things I enjoyed about MASH was the concept of R & R. It seemed so glamorous to go away and be pampered, laze about and generally just do whatever you wanted. For the longest time I refused to call family holidays anything but R & R. I was so persistent that the term was eventually adopted into the family lexicon. Yet I didn’t really understand what that meant until last weekend.

I have been stressed lately; the soundtrack to my life has been the songs of my demons taunting me. Demons which needed to be faced but which were largely ignored. For weeks I have been walking through a forest, wrestling with branches that constantly fall in my way, unable to see the sky, unable to envision the end of the road stretching out before me.

Although thick with life the forest has been quiet. I felt like I was encased in a soundproof casket as I moved through it. Then, at long last there was a sound. It was like new rain falling.

There are sounds peculiar to the advent of an Australian summer. The magpies soar below the treetops with the speed of an eagle. They do their sunshine dance, forming circles and patterns so symmetrical it seems rehearsed. Often a single black and white feather falls, perfect as a quill, still warm to the touch. They cry out, the peal of a bell both joyful and plaintive, and their brothers answer.

The sky is big, blue and clear. It is hard to believe it is not handpainted. The colours it casts on the ground splatter like a crescendo so that everything is daubed with brightness. The air has a scent no chemist could capture – freshly sprung wattle, sweet frangipani, the bite of eucalyptus.

In the mornings and at night as the heat rises the cicadas tune their instruments. The buzz follows wherever you go like soldiers marching to a crusade. They are one, they are many. Singing as if under enchantment.

I spoke to a psychologist on Friday who put things into perspective. I realised it can be easier to live in agony than in victory. The monotonous, jangling onestep of old sorrows, old horrors must be faced, thrown out of rhythm so that music and light can prevail.

I told the psychologist that over the past few weeks friends have hailed me in the street and I have looked straight through them, that I have neglected to pay bills, forgotten to open my mail. She told me the words I have always wanted to hear. “You need some R & R!”

So like Hawkeye and Trapper before me, I spent the weekend lazing about. I watched two entire seasons of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer on DVD. I have every episode. I listened to music, ate spaghetti and meatballs and slept in until 10AM. I had coffee with friends, did some gardening, and walked in the park. And you know what? My childhood image of R & R was everything it was cracked up to be!

12 thoughts on “Looking, Walking, Being.

  1. These days, it’s called ‘me time’, and my favourite way of spending it is to curl up on the sofa with a toasted ham, cheese and tomato sandwich and a bottle of ‘Tanglefoot’ and watch a wildlife or travel programme on TV, or a DVD like ‘A Knight’s Tale’ or ‘Blazin’ Saddles’

    Can you get the Paramount Comedy Channel? Because there’s at least one episode of M*A*S*H every day. That and ‘Cheers!’ are, IMO, two of the funniest series ever to come out of the US … and (unlike British comedy) have the property that the humour doesn’t date, and, even after countless reruns, are just as funny as when they irst hit the screens.


  2. I always loved me some M*A*S*H. What a wonderfully well-crafted show!

    We all need time to withdraw, to rereat, to hide, to rest, to re-create. It is wellspent time that keeps us SANE!

    How’s Alfie?

    By the way, goofy American that I am, I LOVE your names – Alfie and Selma. The stuff novels are made of!


  3. Good for you! Well-deserved. Sometimes I think life should be more of that than of the other…alas, that’s not how the world works!

    Thanks for the cheering squad on my nanowrimo!!!!! There’s still more to go!


  4. I am so glad you gave yourself a much-needed break, Selma. I can’t tell you how much I treasure my “do whatever you want” weekends now that I am on my own. When you are in “on” mode 24/7 it is so easy to end up in the place where you were, just going thru the motions and trying to deal with the overload. I’m betting that Monday was much easier to face today. We all need to learn to be a little kinder to ourselves in this world of go-go-go!


  5. Despite the fact that you’ve been blindsided by some of the most difficult things life can hand you, you are able to write a beautiful post and show what grace you’re made of. I’m glad you got some R&R. It’s amazing what a bit of time off can do for a soul.


  6. Travelrat – aah, Blazin’ Saddles. A true classic. We get The Comedy Channel and TV1 which plays MASH and Cheers and my son’s favourite, The Nanny. I must admit that I watch those shows more than I should and I can’t go past reruns of The Bill.

    Groovy – Alfie is doing really well. And there is nothing goofy about you, you are far too groovy for that!

    PWADJ- the fact that you have put so much effort into Nan NoWriMo has spurred me on. So, thank you!

    Josie – you are so right. Sometimes I look at all the stressed out, rushing around people all around me and think – ‘How are we going to keep up the pace?’ We all need time out, it’s so important.

    Meleah – I love MASH too. I cried when it ended. Thank God for reruns!

    Ms Karen – awww, you are a sweetie. Hope you had a great mini vacation. I can’t wait to hear all about it!


  7. “This weekend… I watched two entire seasons of Buffy…”

    Me too! I watched seasons 3 and 4 (for the billionth time) and then listened to the commentaries.

    I’m a shift-worker, when I’m at home. At 5pm on weekdays, I watch MASH reruns on 10.

    best wishes,



  8. Love MASH! And for the Dr. to say you needed R&R–it’s a sign! A sign that a break is exactly what you needed and I’m glad you took it.


  9. Laurie Anne – crazed adulthood is such an apt observation, but I guess I wouldn’t have it any other way…or would I?

    desperatewriter – I believe in signs. They aren’t often provided by doctors so I grabbed that sign when I could!


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