Category Archives: Signs of Life

Sign On or Sign Off – It’s Our Choice Now, and Now, and Now


I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning.  It was 5.15, the sky was overcast, the air humid.  I was sure I could smell a shower on the way and, contrary to the song lyric, I do not like walking in the rain, although I have been known to wish on the odd star in the Southern Cross Constellation. 

I really wanted to stay in the bed, the lovely, lovely bed.  The fan was blowing a cool breeze through the room, the sheets were soft and comforting.  Dotty the Fanatical Cat had yet to perform her early morning dance of the seven-varieties-of-Dine-Feast-this-minute on my right shoulder.

So, I’d almost made the decision to walk tonight, after the sun sets – be skin care aware, grasshoppers – and then, something happened.  I got up. 

Call it motivation, call it respect for delayed gratification, call it fear of a narrowing left ventricle.  I got up and off we went.  But some days, I don’t make it.  Some days I sign off, and I almost always regret it.

A famous athlete, Herb Elliott, said that the hardest part of training is getting out of bed every morning.  The trick is in realising that most of us need just a little burst of extra grunt in order to rouse ourselves, but once we’re up, we’re up.  The logic of the little burst applies to so many things in life.

Beginning, starting, having a go, being there, showing up.  Waking up.  Getting up.

Momentum.  The little burst.

Those who show up get the prizes, whatever they may be: money and jobs, sure, but consider, too, satisfaction, consider the comfort of knowing you’ve done the thing you wanted to do but didn’t think you could.  Consider the work, the art, as Seth Godin describes it, that will win you new life directions and career options.

Consider capturing the memoir moment.

Those who wake up and get up into their lives, those who actively choose to sign on to their lives, enjoy much better odds of, first of all, continuing and then, of finishing what they’ve begun.

It has to do with focus, mindful focus, as you create your memoir, your art, and your legacy now, and now, and now.

But ultimately, it’s your choice.  Perhaps you’ll cruise past the SIGN ON banner the first few times around the paddock.  Then, you might decide to take a look at who else is signing on, so you roll up at the appointed hour and mill about in the background, near the car for a quick getaway, among a handy stand of shady trees, so you’re almost invisible.

You pretend you’re just an onlooker, doing a bit of gardening – even though you hate gardening – checking out the last dandelion.  Not that anyone’s asking.  They’re all too busy queuing to sign on.  Eventually, you think, and this is where what you think comes into its own – thoughts dictate actions and feelings – you think, What the hell, what harm can it do?  With any luck that’s what you decide, because as some famous person’s humble father once said, You only regret what you don’t do, Jennifer.

Fear is often the biggest obstacle to signing on, even in the morning when all you need to do is pull yourself up and pivot sideways to greet the wonderful world of the vertical mammal.  Ignore fear, try it once, and let the little burst guide your way.

Are we going to sign on or sign off?  Now?  Or now?  How does now look? 

Let’s do it, grasshoppers.

Remember: Memoir = Life = Now

SIGNS OF LIFE: What Are You Shovelling?

ShovellingManDSC02213(2) You never can tell how people will react to a little bit of attention.

A short while ago, I decided to create a project for The Memoir Detective using signs I found as I walked around the neighborhood or visited other parts of town.  The important thing about this project is that the signs are found signs, that is, I don’t construct them, I simply come upon them as they go about their business of informing, directing, and guiding people.

I figure that these signs can be a way into discovering more about ourselves and our motives for doing what we do.  They can act as an imagistic form of shorthand for how we live, and maybe they can point us towards something meaningful and worthwhile beyond their original use.  They can help us discover our truth.  Everything has the potential for recycling into something even more useful at The Memoir Detective.

A Little Bit of Attention – 1

So last week, I was out and about taking photographs of things that took my fancy, when I came across a sign I’d been chasing: Caution, it said, If You Can’t See My Mirrors I Can’t See You.  Ironic when you consider what happened.  It was on the back of a truck parked near a service station.  I snapped off a picture and continued walking as I stashed the camera.

Then I heard a voice from way up in the truck’s cabin.  I hadn’t seen his mirrors, but as it happened, he’d seen me after all.

Is everything all right?” the voice called over the engine’s noise.

I was the only person within cooee, so I called back, “Yes.”  A busy truck driver wanting to make conversation.  Who’d had thought?

I’m not parked in a bus stop, am I?”  He smiled down at me, but he wasn’t happy.  He looked a bit afraid.

Bus stop?  Afraid?  Of moi, a happy snapping stroller?  Perish the thought?

No,” I said.  “I don’t think so.”

Only, you took a photo.  I thought I must be doing something wrong.”

Something wrong.  I quickly explained that I was doing an art project taking pictures of signs – it seemed the easiest way to tell the story of Signs of Life.  Otherwise, we could have been there until the truckie’s and my No-Doze wore off.

I really like your sign,” I concluded, pointing towards the back of his truck, smiling a cheesy, cheesy smile, glad to be fit enough to walk away fairly briskly should the driver decide to let fly at me for upsetting his tea break.

But he didn’t His next smile was relief and brief.  We both took off, him for lunches unknown, me to make my second mistake of the day.

A Little Bit of Attention – 2

Further along on my route, a truck was parked outside the library: one of my favourite places, a smorgasbord of free books, as many as you can read as far as the eye can ABC.

The truck featured a great sign beneath its front window – Dual Control Vehicle – and I wanted that sign in my Cybershot.  But the letters were a bit faded and I knew they wouldn’t come out very well, so I continued to the back and there it was again, a little the worse for wear but clearer, white against black.  I did the deed, and continued walking.  Until I heard a voice from behind asking, “Is everything all right?”  Damn those rear view mirrors.

Yes,” I said, “as far as I know.”  But what did I know?  Nada.

I just stopped for morning tea,” he said.

Did I care?  I was looking forward to my morning tea if I ever got home and away from these talkative truck drivers.

There’s nowhere else to go unless I drive back to the depot – it’s an hour and a half there and back.”  He was imploring.  He was very big and he wore a fluorescent yellow safety vest.  He looked like a gigantic canary with peculiarly superior driving skills.  He stared at my camera.  He looked afraid.

The penny dropped.  Or rather, the shutter opened.

Oh,” I said, “I’m doing an art project.  I took a shot of your sign – dual control vehicle?  It’s an art project.”  Did I mention that?

I blathered an apology for interrupting his morning tea and he blathered about residents who phoned the council to complain about trucks parked in their streets.  Residents who thought that any idling truck must be shamefully and not gainfully idling.  Residents who thought that any council worker munching lunch in their vehicles’ cabin or standing with their thermos in the shade of a tree must surely be bludging.  Residents who couldn’t comprehend the notion that council workers, too, were entitled to breaks.  Residents who sent photos of idling trucks to the council administration.  Yikes.

I apologised again, and again;  I told him I had no interest whatsoever in calling the council about anything (other than burst sewerage pipes – now that’s something to get exercised about) or of sending snapshots of his truck to them.  I wished him well and hoped I hadn’t given him indigestion.  I walked fairly briskly up the hill towards home, and the sanity of my idle cat and an unobserved and unremarked upon morning tea.

A Little Bit of Paranoia

Two paranoid truckies in one day?  Coincidence?  I think not.  I think something not very nice is afoot, and it’s moving more than fairly briskly.

Here are some lessons I learned on The Day of the Two Truckies and the Not So Happy Snaps:

  1. Isn’t life too short to whinge and bitch about strangers we don’t know, doing jobs for reasons best known to themselves and which we have no clue about, and which are clearly, furthermore (and take a breath), none of our business anyway?  Isn’t life just far too short for that nonsense?  Let’s focus our energy elsewhere, somewhere where the sun is shining.
  2. Let’s stop moaning about strangers who stray onto the periphery of our lives, and instead do something worthwhile for ourselves.  Save on bile, biterness, digital images of ugly trucks, and nagging phone calls.  Save on frowns, malice, and revenge.  Save on anxiety medications and botox for our wrinkled, angry foreheads.  Save and smile, silently.
  3. If I want to take photos of appealing signs, I’ll let the boys know that I don’t care about their munchies, or their work orders, or their idling machinery BEFORE I snap.

Are you the paranoid truckie, or the happily ignorant snapper, or the dobber?  Is this your memoir?

Worry less, get permission, stop with the kvetching. 

Ask yourself: What Am I Shovelling?

Copy of DSC02064(1)