The Spectrum

VCYesterday I allocated the whole day to working in the local area for a very nice lady who was an ex UWA professor and a ‘church going’ lady and now retired.  To give me a hand she had hired a local handyman and he was a ‘roughie’.

So I alternated today between discussing Christology and spirituality with R while lamenting the mess that Yanchep has become since all those f@$-in young couples and families had moved in with Z.

It was enjoyable and entertaining. But it also highlighted the diversity of the community we live in.  Z has been in Yanchep renting the same house since 1990 and works as a handyman as little as possible, while R lives on a farm since retiring and comes home to her Yanchep properties on the occasional weekend.

R had identified herself as having ‘church heritage’ and seemed to enjoy discussing faith with me until it got sticky… She was talking to me about the importance of faith, but how all paths lead to God and it doesn’t matter which you take. Up to then we had found common ground, but on this  I disagreed suggesting Jesus definitely claimed to be the only way.  The conversation ended there – very politely mind you  – but when R opened her wallet to pay me I saw her ‘Bahai’ membership card. Of course that explained why any kind of exclusivity would be a problem.

By contrast Z and I discussed the more blokey stuff of life as we worked.  My favourite quote from the morning was him telling me about a conversation he had with tech support trying to fix his computer. The di*&^head said to me ‘Don’t you know how to re-install windows mate?’

I said to him ‘Will a rim off a VG Valiant fit on a HT Kingswood?’ And he didn’t know…  ‘We can’t all know everything mate!’ said Z and I think he made his point pretty well… albeit in a way I would never have thought of…

It was a great day with two good people but it highlighted the cultural differences that exist within this little community.

To Consciously Quit…

greyA couple of weeks back I stood on a hill about a km north of our house and watched the surf roll in on a cold, grey Sunday afternoon. The picture here is from that day.

I had driven there to go for a surf, but every bone in my body was baulking at the idea. It was cold. I was out of shape. I hadn’t surfed properly in months. There was a small crowd. I knew I’d probably get rolled more than I’d enjoy it. It felt much easier to just head home and stay warm.

As I reflected on it later I realised I was actually pondering giving up surfing… I was wondering whether I was still up for the various elements of what makes a surf. The thought rocked me. I would never have thought I’d get to here.

So, while it was cold and grey and the crowd didn’t appeal, I pulled on the wetsuit and stubbornly paddled out, just because I don’t want to quit. Truth be told I didn’t really want to paddle out on that particular day, and I did get smashed around more than I got up and riding, but entering the water was ‘drawing a line in the sand’.

I know plenty of people who unconsciously have given surfing away because they are ‘too old’, ‘too fat’, ‘too …………… whatever’ and I felt myself sliding into that zone. What’s bizarre is that I never have as much energy or zest for life as when I am surfing.

The last time I had an experience like this in the surf was at Indijup carpark when I was about 35. I was out on a big day and I got hammered, held down and smashed around pretty severely. It scared me and I floated into shore to get my bearings and catch my breath. I felt pretty beaten up and began to pack up my things and head for the carpark. Then something in me clicked and I put down the gear and paddled back out. It was that moment of realising that I was about to cross a line I didn’t want to cross.

I doubt I would paddle out in those waves today, partly because my skill and fitness levels would make me a danger to myself and others, but I needed to paddle back out on that particular day, because I was in danger of unconsciously doing something I really didn’t want to do. It was that same feeling two weeks ago.

raftsI imagine sometime in the future I will have to stop surfing. I imagine there will come a day when I simply won’t have what it takes either in skill or fitness, but I hope that day is a long way off in the future and I hope that when it comes I am able to choose to do so consciously and with a sense of knowing that I have found enormous joy in the ocean for the years I was able to surf.

What’s interesting is that since that Sunday I have been in the water 10 times, enjoying the challenge, hanging with the local groms, catching lots of waves, finding my confidence and my fitness again and feeling alive – very alive.

Having turned 50 I am aware that I am no longer ‘on the up’ when it comes to fitness, energy and strength and part of me finds that quite depressing. At the moment I genuinely resent this part of growing older and I do not look forward to 60, 70 and 80. I don’t like feeling my body ache and my muscles weaken. Maybe I will develop an acceptance of this, but for now it just pisses me off.

After 40 years of being in the water I really don’t ever want to leave. I don’t want to be a person who ‘used to surf’. It would be the closing of a chapter – the end of one of my greatest sources of joy and I imagine something inside will die if and when that happens.

For now I will continue to find joy and give thanks for what I can do. And I don’t intend to make any changes any time soon.




The Wrong Question

There is a question I’ve been asking people for many years now as a way of helping them define their sense of vocation and identity. Its not a new one – I’m sure you’ve heard it… But this morning I started considering that maybe it wasn’t the right question – or even a helpful question.

It is: ‘What would you do if money were no object?’

I was watching this cool vid on Vimeo (yeah – another busy Monday…) and as the narrator used the question, something jarred in me. As I pondered it some more I realised that there were two things that I was feeling uneasy about.

The first was the implication that ‘money is an object’ and the second was that it actually has the potential to lend itself to a quite indulgent, maybe even selfish response.

Perhaps my dreams are too simple these days, but for the most part it isn’t money that holds me back. I would love to take off around Australia again in a caravan and do some travelling combined with some itinerant ministry in the various backwater towns we might end up in. I know its hard for some of those towns to get anybody to come for a short time let alone a long time so some folks offering a hand might be helpful. I imagine the experience would be valuable for all of us.

But the factor holding me back isn’t $$, although we would need to scrape together enough to make it happen. Its a wife who really wouldn’t enjoy that life. Its two kids who would lose their connections while their old man gets to indulge some of his wanderlust. Its a community of people both in our church and locally who we would stop connecting with for a period while I go do my thing. Its my business clients who I like to look after and stay connected with.

So in reality its not money that holds me back. Its the complexity of life. Its the sense of responsibility to others – and I think that is a good thing – as well as the knowledge that my personal dreams are not necessarily shared by the rest of my family.

I think the question has the potential to imply that we are sole entities who function as individuals and it doesn’t pay attention to the wider communal impact of our actions. If we genuinely value one another then we don’t simply ‘follow our dreams’ wherever that leads because we consider how it impacts others.


So I am pondering a better question. It needs to be one that doesn’t restrict dreaming and one that helps a person’s imagination fire up, but I wonder if the $$ question is the wrong way to hit it?…