You gonna take it easy…?

Ah the middle aged Mulga man… I remember when my old man was in his forties… not too sure why, but I do and now low and behold muggings has arrived safely in my early forties and wow what a journey. In a way I guess I’m a little bit surprised, not surprised that I made it, I think I’m like most people, in that we all think, nay expect we’ll live forever and then one day reality kicks in and for some of it’s too late and ya dead. But, Dad has always said, “make the most of what you’ve got… play the cards you’re dealt… you’re a long time dead… and none of us are gett’n outta here alive…” you know, all that sort of half negative but kinda positive philosophical shit.   

I guess the old fella and his approach to life sprang to mind recently as I’ve started to realize time is getting along… he’s still with us and hopefully will be for some time yet, but he got me thinking. I had to front the doctor recently and as was bound to happen – had to get my naked on! Now we’ve all been naked, some more often than others and some manage do it with style… not me though, no way, no sir, not now, not ever… My sawn off, bent up, half broken, country baked & busted, lilly white arse with a cricketers tanned Dad bod has no business, and I mean NO business at all getting naked in front of other folks. Caught a glimpse of my reflection in the doc’s mirror midway through the physical and frightened the living shit outta myself. They should have signs on mirrors like that say’n “Beware, images may be as gross as they appear!”

I jest of course (well not really – I am no Trevor Hendy that’s for damn sure) but it is what it is; my point being that country blokes, mostly more than sheilas, tend to take a little less care of themselves than they ought to and while most are bloody tough individuals… shit catches up with ya. Another old bloke from the Mulga country said to me not that long ago “that we’re too full of red dust and Mulga leaves to see the error of our ways…” and I suspect he’s right. I know I’ve had a few humps and bumps along the way, and I can certainly recall the hiding that dad took and one way or another managed to keep going. Yeah he got broken bones plastered and deep holes stitched up, but otherwise if it wasn’t life threatening, he just got over it. Not straight away of course and he was obviously in enormous pain on many occasions, but he still somehow and with a monotonous regularity just sucked it up, dug deep and went about his business.

This man, my dad, the kid from the UK that came to Australia as a four year old and grew up in Brisbane before transplanting himself to the heart of the Mulga triangle in south west Qld… was and I’m guessing still is, one tough SOB. I can recount many a time when he got busted up or knocked down right in front of us kids or others working in the yards or the paddock and would always get up. He’d find a way to dust himself off, wrap up the wounded section of him, be it a busted hand, broken or dislocated finger etc. and re-join the task at hand. He was never one for pain killers none too much and I don’t think I can once recall him pulling out or standing down because of an injury… and to some extent the apple hasn’t galloped too far from the tree.

As I presented initially half-naked for the doctor and looking a little off the pace for a fully blown physical, I could quickly list the injures and yet to be resolved health issues staring back at me. I had learned from my father and the grand father before him that life gives you nothing for free and I took from that a need to dedicate your time to pushing forward and allowing little if no time for reward or recovery. Now I’m no hero, many years have been spent on good tucker, fizzy drinks and many an alcoholic beverage… but few have been the times that I’ve ever slowed down and truly taken care of myself. I got the priorities a bit muddled up along the way and just like the old fella have focused on what had to be done or what was said would be done, and not so much about the ability to be able to do things for the longer term.

The busted shoulders and scar-covered knees tell a story of motor bikes and cattle yards, chain saws and bulldozers… and while I’m sure if asked if I would do anything differently if time could be revisited, I would say no, I’m just not entirely sure why. The rural industry, the endless struggle and my almost constant relationship with drought there has  developed a battle, a war even to be waged on outback and regional properties which never ends. This unrelenting and often unforgiving modern march of rural folks is conducted at enormous cost, and not just financially, but physically… and as can be expected it’s the boys from the bush that rarely steady up long enough to heal the wounds.

I’m not in it as much as I used to be and on any given day I can provide numerous contradictory sermons on exactly how I feel about that situation; but now, here, today, after this week and the extended review of physical chassis & running gear… I do ponder the net worth of putting yourself in harm’s way so often and then failing to take the time to see yourself recover. If I could speak to all the blokes out there, and the girls of course (but I think y’all know who are the worst offenders), I’d say much the same stuff as the old fella said to me, but I’d caution that you should do as I say, and not as I’ve done.

“DO make the most of what you’ve got… you CAN only play the cards you’ve been dealt… you ARE by all reports a VERY long time dead… and ABSOLUTELY none of us are gett’n outta here alive… BUT, you are not expendable OR invincible… life can be long, but when it’s almost done will seem so very short… and no matter where you’re at on your journey, try to live those days like they may be your last – but do leave a little in the tank for tomorrow”.  I know, all that is kinda half negative but still sort of positive  and philosophical shit… but without your health you ain’t got nothing and so treating your body like it’s dirt bike or a rodeo strap may get the business done in the moment, but that shit has a nasty habit of catching up with ya!

Go hard folks… go early, go often and do what ya gotta do, but while chicks do dig scars, broken bones do heal and most shit does come good… life is for the living, so if ya get a chance… take it easy on ya self.

Thanks folks for reading & for playing along… This is Black Rat’s Back Chat and you’re welcome. JM xo.

Categories James Blog | Tags: | Posted on September 29, 2017

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