Orange Dust (Again) and Silence…

January appears to have whizzed past. It has been a tempestuous month, and Melbourne appears to be in the thick of storms of sorts, metaphorical or otherwise. On Friday, a very hot day ended with heavy rain as well as a dust storm that threatened to again coat the city with a carpet of orange brown muck.

Tress and I braved the unpleasant conditions on Friday for our usual end of working week dinner at a local joint. We opted for Thai and had a quiet unwinding dinner that was quite pleasant. We then went home to enjoy the tennis. January each year is the one time we watch tennis on television, as the spectacle of having the world’s top players battling for a grand slam title is worth every minute. Melbourne puts on a grand party for the event every year and most Melburnian I know bask in this.

On Saturday, the orange brown coating threat was fully realised and I got out the pressure cleaner to clean the car that was on the driveway, as well as the driveway itself. It was to be another rainy day but I didn’t trust the rain to wash away the muck, and I felt far better after the quick cleaning job.

Car quickly cleaned, I gave the little fellow a bath. I took my time working the medicated shampoo into the little guy’s coats, and finished it off by rinsing some vinegar into them. He looked far cleaner and fresher after that.

Pooch and car cleaned, I got stuck into vacuuming. The day got much more humid and I was sweating like a pig when I was done vacuuming. It was well past 1pm by the time I hit the showers. Tress too had done a truckload of work with the laundry, and when we both got cleaned up, we ducked out for a bite at the local shops, and then picked up the groceries.

The night ended with the tennis again, this time watching the young American lady picking up her first grand slam title. Ms. Sonia Kenin had earlier taken out local sweetheart Ash Barty and it feels like Ms. Kenin will pick up more trophies in the years ahead.

I was up early on Sunday morning. There was a game at 4.30am. United was playing Wolves and I thought I’d catch it. I was up from 4am instead, and instead of turning to the iPad as I normally do, I just lied on my bed to take in the silence. I listened to the silence and whispered a prayer.

In as much as I appreciate the routine of work and rest each week, sprinkled with little indulgences of good food and wine and local drives to wineries and beaches, what I long for is to seek some form of “higher” purpose. I don’t know what that looks like though, and I have been asking the Lord “what next”, for a while now. I have been seeking and asking for a little while now but as life is chugging along anyway, it is easy to get distracted. Life can settle into a rhythm and offer enough nice things to keep one’s thoughts away from stuff that is messier or, simply less pleasant.

I have no desire to travel more or make new friends or seek new experiences, I merely want to find some form of service or engagement that gives me a sense of fulfilling a higher purpose. Do I need to have some form of pre-qualification before that happens? Probably not. So why has it been so silent out there? As I lay on my bed in the dark listening, all I hear is silence. I didn’t let the silence linger however, as one of life’s pleasant distractions soon butted in again. It was soon 4.30am and the match had started. I started to watch the game on the iPad but then moved to the lounge room to turn the TV on to continue watching.

United delivered another pedestrian performance, new signing notwithstanding. Bruno Fernandez looked promising on paper and didn’t look too bad on the pitch either but somehow, the overall team performance was all too familiar in its ordinariness. United slogged on for a goalless draw at home to Wolves and yet again, all that is left is unfounded hope.

At St Alf’s later in the day, Peter spoke on 1 Kings 4 & 5, and continued the theme on wisdom – God’s wisdom. He spoke about seeking wisdom to work out practical matters of everyday living. I wonder if eking out a routine not unlike mine, is an example. Probably not.

We then had a very ordinary lunch at a local Indian, before we went home and I did the week’s cook, human and pooch, while Tress went out for her ethereal activities.

Later in the evening, as the day ends with sunny and cool conditions, it felt so lovely that Tress and I spent a little time outside, weeding and fussing with the lawns, flower beds, etc. We kept going until the tennis – the men’s final – started. I had wanted Thiem to win but the magnificent Djokovic prevailed again, albeit he needed 5 sets to overcome my horse.

As I continued reading Tracy Kidder’s book on the train into the office this  morning, I wondered if my reading this book will have anything to do with the trajectory of my thoughts in the past year or so. Kidder’s book on Dr Paul Farmer, the founder of the Partners In Health charity that does great work in Haiti and Peru, has been sitting on the bench top for a while (many weeks). It wasn’t even my book. Tress had picked it up from her workplace but she had then left it on the kitchen bench top and never touched it since. I picked it up only because after reading a Helen Garner book on my first week back at work after Christmas, I had nothing else to read. I simply picked up Kidder’s book on the way out of the house one morning and notwithstanding the crowded trains leaving only standing room and the hustle and bustle and noise of summer commuters, I have plugged away and am nearly done with that book now. I don’t know how this will impact and shape my thoughts on the question of what next. I will soon return to Helen Garner – her “Monkey Grip” now sits on work desk in the office. When I pick it up, Kidder’s book and Farmer’s work will likely ebb away. I hope that doesn’t mean the silence then envelopes me again. It can feel like being covered, again, by a layer of orange brown muck that will again need high pressure cleaning.