As a person of bronchial difficulties when a young man, James discovered that if he placed his thumbs gently into the nasal cavities and flared his nostrils with this manipulation, his inhale of breathe through the nose would be enhanced..and as a bonus, the extra air rushing through would dry the nasal discharge and alleviated the continued blowing of his nose that often resulted in a soreness and reddening of his skin there…so to allow the continued…enjoyment…of this new found discovery, he would softly scrunch pieces of facial tissue paper into a blunt, conical shape and insert these into the nostrils to hold them open…the resulting appearance gave James the look..in abstract..of a dragon with flames shooting from his nose..
“I trust you are not going to go out in public looking like THAT!” his mother admonished…
Of course he never even considered such..but this was an example of the small but important discoveries that made James’s life more comfortable…for THAT was his primary objective in life..: Comfort…or rather..: The avoidance of discomfort.
“Nov course nort” James replied with a nasal blockage tang “Nyou think I worn’t to look nstupid”.
The other discovery he stumbled upon in his younger years and continued right into old age, was the practice of when removing his clothes at night, he would NOT take the garments off in a singular manner..that is; one at a time, but rather keep them coupled by removing undershirt, shirt and jumper (in winter) in one complete batch..so to speak..and shuck them over his shoulder to sit open-throated, so to speak, ready to slip on again in the same order come morning on the floor near his bed…the same for his trousers and shoes and socks…small things, yes..but things nether the less that made for more comf….no…made for less discomfort…less discomfort…there IS a difference….and again, his mother had to be made aware of his preference for this form of dressing lest she uncaringly kick the clothing into the corner of his room with a disgusted..:
“You’ve had these same clothes on for the last week…for God’s sake, they are starting to smell!”
“Only to YOU”…James would sulkingly reply “I find them just worn in to my body shape..it takes about a week to get them just right.”
Of course, these little quirks of behaviour were the ones familiar to his young years..and even if they did roll over into his older age, there were others gathered up upon the way through life that James would apply and maintain to keep the ferocious wolves of discomfort from his door.
These “discomforts” were not only restricted to physical things, like clothing or mechanical devices like the car or power tools…particularly tape-measures which would after prolonged use break down and the inner spring that retracted the tape suddenly slip within the device and not allow the tape to go back and one would be left with the full eight metres of rattling/crackling, crinkling useless measure all a-jumble in one’s arms…a most distressing situation…solved by having at least three or four tape measures available so that the one measure was not relied upon at any one time and reduce the possibility of being left with a jumbled mess and no tape-measure…or even into things concerning food, like taste or too hot, either spicily or temperature wise…he even developed a dislike in his later years for getting wet..not to the detriment of washing oneself, but in going for a swim or when the relatives came to visit from interstate and everyone wanted to go to the beach and wade in the waters of the low tide…a youth of growing up by the sea left James with an aversion for both the smell and the salty residue on skin of sea-water…but these discomforts also extended into his emotional life, those feelings of emotional discomfort when confronted with, say, sickness or the death of a friend or family member…having to attend funeral and wake and all those moments of (sometimes) false sympathy and the lauding to the heavens of someone even disliked when living…for in James’s mind, grief was like poetry…it was best internalised and experienced within one’s own body and mind…and of course, there was James’s first marriage with a wife who embraced enthusiastically..religiously..the principles of “New Age” philosophy..to the extent she became an apostle of one American guru ridiculously re-named Joice Bleeeby…the “Joice” there to rhyme both in spelling and sound with “Voice”..as in her blurb pamphlet; “The Voice of Joice!”…and the extra “e” in her surname so as to emphasise by phonetic extension the self-importance of her presence.
This worshipping of New Age practices involved the acute discomfort to James of attending workshops where it seemed the main emphasis besides the passing from person to person of a “talking-stick” of a locally gathered tree-twig with a chook-feather attached, secured with plaited wool thread to the stick..was on turning adjectives into nouns..as in adding a “ness” to the adjective..so that “Well”, became “wellness”..and “Whole”, became “wholeness”..as with the “wholeness” of the thing….It was in the rolling off the tongue action at one workshop by this Joice Bleeeby of such “ness” words that James couldn’t help but slip in his own ness-word..
“Lochness” he blurted out before he could stop himself..the fraternity of new-age disciples all turned frowning to him..”..The monster…y’know?..I..I..just thought of it..”James mumbled…but it was clear the guru thought otherwise and after the session was seen to have a quiet chat with James’s wife.
“I am not prepared to stay in a relationship with you unless you pay more attention to what Joice is telling us”..she sternly announced after the workshop……..James had to agree with her and that was the beginning of the end of THAT marriage….actually, the relationship began to slip away with the recent moving of house and family to a suburb with a lower status postcode…it being a very difficult situation to rise in social status from a lowly postcode…from, 5153 to 5251 to 5152…you can see the difference, surely?…the lower the number, the higher the status..James’s wife harboured secret aspirations for the last of those numbered postcodes, and was prepared to sacrifice almost anything regarding their relationship to gain it!
And in truth, it was that driving ambition of James’s first wife that opened up the most sublime and ingenious insight to a philosophy that would seal the direction of his destination toward an elimination of social discomfort and solve that most complex of conundrums plaguing modern life..; decisions, decisions, decisions?…which, where or what to choose?
How many times have we asked ourselves why we did a certain action, the result of which ended up detrimental to our wellbeing…no, not wellness…wellbeing..? After the building of several family homes and the trials and tribulations from a failed marriage which resulted in the loss of accrued collateral from the division of material possessions, this question vexed the mind of James for many nights. Why, he asked himself, after fulfilling the social obligations of work, marriage, children, a home built, could things from so far outside his sphere of influence and decision making bring the whole construct crashing down without so much as a squeak of support from that very society whose “rules of engagement” he obeyed to the letter?
Chance, James decided, played a more important role in the affairs of humanity then has been given credit for..as a matter of fact, he reflected, chance is a integral part of this modern social engineered society..’yers pays yer’s money and yers takes yer chances’ the modern-day catch-cry of civilised society. This momentary diversion in his thoughts brought back an incident in his younger bachelor days when he would happily place a bet on the horses. These wagers were a “penny-punter” affair as his gambling money was a quite small amount. He would ‘study the form’ on race day, a Saturday, pick his horses and go to the Totalizer Agency and place his bets then retire to the hotel to have some beers with his mates and listen to the races. These wagers were usually unsatisfactory in a winning sense and he began to wonder on the worth of studying the form of the horses…it seemed that chance, or the machinations of “fixed races” played a bigger part then the mere record of past races of any one horse..so James decided to try a different approach, partly bought on by his laziness in continuing to try to pick a specific winner and also by a simple mathematical sum…that being that in the usual fifteen horse race, there were four chances of a payout on the ticket..: First plus place, second and third…so that made the chances of getting at least ONE payout of whatever amount a roughly one in four chance if just picking a random number. But how does one pick a random number without being influenced by the opinion of the forms or the tipsters?…simple..: one takes one suite of a deck of cards..Ace to King..that makes thirteen, throw in two jokers and you got your fifteen runners..shuffle and then turn over a card and bet on the random number that turns up..three cards for winner, second and third…of course you mark the jokers for differentiation..
While this method seem absurd and quite simplistic, it worked!…James started getting extraordinary results using the method…not only winners, but daily doubles and quinellas!…even to the point where one delightful Saturday won him enough money to purchase a cheap, second-hand car that only needed a few patches of sheet-metal pop-riveted on and “bogged” to cover the rust in the door panels..and bango! Bob’s your uncle!
This good fortune continued on for a few months, albeit in a still penny-punter way till, in an attempt to try and increase his chance of winning, James started to consult once again the form of the horses whose numbers he had randomly picked with the cards and started to change bets from those he considered hopeless to others with better form…and it was this betrayal of the God of fortune that broke his run of luck and he eventually gave gambling on the horses away completely.. acknowledging with a mea-culpa admission that his greed had let him down. .but the lesson with chance was learned..: There is considerable opinion behind the thesis that there is no pattern to chance..but in James’s conclusions, he decided that the pattern of chance is identifiable in that it HAS NO PATTERN….and THAT is the secret to managing chance…ie; you take a chance on chance.
And it was this lesson with chance that James now ruminated upon in regards that bigger gamble of fortune..: Life.
“What was the point” he mused “of planning, plotting a course, making choices regarding one’s budget and work balances to only have all those best laid plans come to nought?”…and he calculated there and then that with so many millions of other people likewise scheming, planning and choosing, and in the end being manipulated by forces so far outside their sphere of control or influence, the multitude of variables that overlap, collide and determine one’s life are so legion, so multitudinous, one might as well NOT make life-changing decisions based on a false premise that we are all on a “level playing field” and in point of fact, make it a clear objective to do the opposite of – like the horse racing form – trying to pick a winner..
The conclusion James came to and which influenced ALL future decisions in his life was to not try to pre-empt an outcome, but to actually …do nothing!……just sit tight in patience, riding out the storm of chance, waiting for the dust to settle on the fracas of life around him and then to just select the best of what remained..which, as experience of the many years that had passed since he made his fortunate discovery, was the best and most beneficial decision he could have made.
So I pass this on to you with a ; Bon voyage mes amis!