Wednesday, November 09, 2005

New Habits

I have been trying to read the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People but I am stuck on Habit 2, the one where you have to write a personal Mission Statement (yeah, it was the 80s when that book first came out). I thought that I already had a personal Mission Statement, encrypted in a strange language and stored inside my head, but I re-looked at it and it turns out to be as old as 2002! Well, a lot has changed since then, and so I am thinking about my new version. But a lot has stayed the same too, and I am keeping the parts about finding inner peace and calm. I still think they are important.

I don’t think I would describe Townsville as a peaceful place, but it is slow and quiet mostly. Slow and quiet without peace sounds horrid in the heat and dull dull dull, but – I dunno – there is pleasantness here too, and prettiness in the blue hills that ring the town.

And there are peaceful spots. Because Hayden and Marny (Hayden’s cousin who is staying with us) start their working day with a 7:30am meeting, they leave the house early each morning and so I have taken to going for a bit of a morning walk/run along the seafront, down The Strand. In between the port at the south end of the town and the army reserve at the north end, The Strand has been done up a bit like Southbank in Brisbane, and also like Southbank, people only started hanging out there after all the boardwalks, ugly sculptures, swings and paths for walking were put in.

Towards the north end, at Kissing Point, is a sea baths known locally as the Rock Pool and it’s where everyone swims because the sea here is full of jellyfish. In the afternoon, the Rock Pool is overrun with squealing kids, but first thing in the morning it belongs to the old people, the ladies in swimming caps tied under their chins and the old gents slapping their arms and legs while they stand in the water. There is a group of them who meet there every morning to wallow in the cool and quietly gossip before they start the day, and it’s a lovely peaceful sight when I arrive sweating and pounding up that end of the shore. At the Rock Pool I turn around, and head back down the beach towards home. All the long way back I can see the port and the industrial cranes which are there to unload the massive cargo ships that sit calmly out in the bay, waiting to offload the ore to be taken to the refinery which provides our bread and butter.

My other new thing is that I’ve joined a book club, and I met them for the first time last night on the verandah of the historic Yongala Hotel - another very peaceful spot. The bookclub is an informal affair, a bunch of ladies, some older some younger, who meet every month for dinner and wine and a bit of discussion about the book they have just read. It was all very chatty and nice, not intellectual at all, and after my convoluted navel-gazing about my Mission Statement and my Habits and agonising about plot and character and drama and trying to write a novel in a month, it was lovely to hear someone say that she had simply enjoyed reading the book. And at the end everyone gave a mark for the book and a mark for the meal, and the results were to be posted on a website. Just when I was getting sad about missing Iron Chief!

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