Bloganuary poses “What was your dream job as a child?”
The railway line to Grange ran past the end of our street Each time I heard the whistle, my heart did skip a beat No matter steam or diesel as the changes went ahead Engine Driver was the job of how I would make my bread.
Then there was the time the circus came and pitched its tent The canvas and the sawdust wafted its exotic scent The excitement and the bands that brought it all to town Convinced me that my calling was to go and be a Clown.
Some years went by and I pondered while in my early youth What my drawings, lines, and squiggles could yield in terms of truth I wrestled with the dawning of a fledgling intellect And thought I might cut the mustard to become an Architect.
These dreams of long ago seeded what came to be Factory Clerk and Retail Help – first jobs that set me free Then on the day I was ordained, ready to embrace my mission They said, mindful of the Clown*, “I see you’ve achieved your ambition!”
* We are fools for the sake of Christ… (1 Corinthians 4:10)
Bloganuary queries “Who is your favourite author and why?”
I have many favourites, but I’m going to land on one that set the path to becoming a bibliophile – Charles Dickens.
Great Expectations was the text our Year 8 English Teacher had set. I quickly found myself engaged with the dark and menacing opening, the eerie Victorian atmosphere and the weird behaviour of Miss Haversham. As the plot unfolded I found myself in the grip of the storyline right to the end.
Dickens’s devotion to fully detailed characterisation and attention to minute setting descriptions transported me to 19th-century English cities and countryside – both the bucolic and the bleak. As soon as I was earning money I subscribed to a complete set of Dickens works, noting my particular attraction to David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. In some unaccountable way, I must have been identifying with the main protagonists of these stories – each of them negotiating the circumstances of their youth to address the circumstances of their narrative line.
Perhaps I saw myself as one of Dickens’s characters, seeking to address social inequities, confronting and outsmarting my antagonists (real and imagined), and carving out my life’s path. Perhaps Charles Dicken’s had a lot to do with me becoming a pastor.
He certainly opened the door to engaging with many more authors.
“What fear have you conquered?” the Bloganuary prompt teases.
Some remain unconquered. A childhood incident triggers aquaphobia. As a result, I’ve gotten through life without learning to swim. For an Ozzie, this is an anomaly! I have concluded that my other bête noir, acrophobia, is just plain vertigo. Air travel is a breeze, even though I get dizzy standing on a step to change a light globe.
My temperament is one that seems naturally tuned into threats, real and imagined. The radar is constantly scanning the horizon, ready to react whenever an unwelcome blip appears. In counterphobic fashion, I am the zebra that protectively circles the herd, keeping an eye on the long pampas grass that conceals stalking predators.
Some commentators describe this persistent low static state of fear as existential dissonance. It is an inherent inability to trust the wellness of things. The antidote seems to be courage cultivated by awareness and paying attention.
The Apostle Thomas is my patron saint. He had the courage to name his doubts and ask his questions. Even though he feared the worst, he was the first to urge his peers to accompany their teacher back to Lazarus’ deathbed, where danger and mortal threat loomed.
I don’t know that one really conquers fear. One becomes aware of it, studies it, and reflects on it. In the process, its grip weakens and it almost becomes like an old friend. It’s no longer fear – it’s something else.
What is your preferred mode of travel? I was a youngster when introduced to Shanks’s Pony. “How are we going to get there?” I had asked. “Shanks’s Pony” was the dry reply that totally escaped the scope of an innocent six-year-old who, nevertheless, quickly discovered that this was the cheapest and easiest means of transport. Ever since then, Shanks’s Pony has served me well. Of necessity, I often use car, bus, train and, occasionally, plane, but Shanks’s Pony offers me the most leisurely ride. This slow mode of transport is helpful when orienting to a new place of abode, whether shifting house or visiting an unfamiliar area. There is something about claiming the way one is treading to make it one’s own, even if it’s experiencing being there. The shanks still get a good workout after almost seven decades and still remain a favourite mode of travel.
I resort to pedantry in order to avoid or stall a direct answer to this albeit common question, which I, along with many, must have mulled over many a time. I note the direct USA reference and how I am not sure now which countries use the short scale (10 to the power of 9 ie 1,000,000,000) or the long scale (10 to the power of 12 ie 1,000,000,000,000). It makes quite a big difference, thus discombobulating thoughts on how such a large sum might be distributed.
I would find it such a headache that, whether short or long, I would employ some trusted administrator to set the moolah up as a philanthropic trust for health and education where most needed.