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Soup of This Day #354: To Shine Behind Big Clouds Of Joy

January 17, 2014

The view from the 2nd tier of the Prindiville Stand at the home of Western Australian cricket. Wear sunscreen if you go, even if you’re set in the shade – Photo: Longworth72, 2014. Image cropped by Longworth72.

Today I’m thinking about being happy.

Not so much about whether I’d like to be happy – Because I would, most days anyway. Not every day mind, because that would be boring and would probably involve a soundtrack by The Partridge Family.

They @#$% me.

Nope – I’m more contemplating what it is that makes me happy and – This next bit is strange – This funicular of thought has been driven by watching Karl Pilkington moan.

Yep, that Karl Pilkington.

For those who don’t know Karl’s work, he is a sort of moaning everyman sop to Ricky Gervais’ sharper observations on everything. Typically this dynamic is exploited by Gervais and Co. sending Pilkington into extraordinary situations and then extracting a sort of natural comedy from the ensuing fish-out-of-water slapstick. With attendant moaning.

Imagine if Owl and Eeyore did stand-up together. Owl is Gervais and Eeyore is Pilkington.

The Karl Pilkington I saw on tv last night was on his own though. Shorn of his Owl, he was fronting a program called, The Moaning of Life.

Which, just from it’s handle, comes across as right for Karl Pilkington, naturally, but not naturally right for Longworth72.

I’m not big on moaning, at least not for entertainment purposes. Sure, if it helps Eeyore to talk @#$% through then I’ll be there for that. If Eeyore wants to fill a hall by complaining though – Then you’ll need more than a 100 acres of wood between the 2 of us.

Still, I tuned in to watch this program because the episode, which was about happiness, started with a trip to meet the Rarámuri in Mexico.

I’ve written about these folk before. For them, running long distances is life. And happiness.

I was curious to see this in practice because running has made me happy in the past. Partly for the freedom, that feeling of being unbound, but also in a more literal sense – Exercise can help to ‘proof’ me against depression.

In spite of that last being a pretty major factor in my life, these days I’m less likely to take a run. I mostly feel too weary. So damn bone-weary that if all of my bones had mouths, they’d set to a chorus of yawns, right down to the merest sliver in the littlest of my toes.

1 of my toes is smaller than all of the others. I’m pretty sure it’s the left-most 1. I’m ok with that.

So running isn’t going to make me happy now because I’m not doing it. The Rarámuri can’t help me to be happy if I can’t help myself to run.

In spite of this obvious oversight I was now hooked into Karl’s search. And this was even though the next segment featured some very literal hooks being pierced through human skin. Apparently some people can achieve happiness via a sort of cleansing pain. They achieve this using skin piercing and subsequent suspension, i.e. You stick meat hooks through your shoulders and then use those anchor points to hold you clear of the ground.

Lots of animals have tried this down at my local butcher’s and none of them seem happy. Or alive.

I did once try a milder version of approach to achieving joy – I got an eyebrow pierced with a niobium barbell. I did so to impress a girl. This, it’s true, would have made me happy – Or at least the girl could have – But alas, while I don’t regret the attempt, I didn’t get much of a feeling of joy out of it.

In fact, whenever I had to header the ball at soccer training across the 6 months I had that damn hood ornament, I got distinctly unjoyful.

Plus none of this suffering got me anywhere with the girl. I’m ok with this though because she’s not the girl I married and who is the love of my life.

So far then, Karl’s search for happiness was not working out for me. His last segment though was an inspired change of pace – Karl spent a day with a man who had done away with money.

It was supposed to be a day and a night but this longer scenario did in fact run the likely risk of making Karl unhappy. Although getting a free Hawaiian pizza from a dumpster seemed to cheer him up a fair bit and I thought for a slice that he’d power on through on a cheesy wave of good vibrations.

But no – What did happen was that Karl attained a heightened appreciation of the comfort he did have when money was available – Specifically with regard to fluffy pillows and mattresses in hotel rooms, none of which the dude with no dosh could provide. So for Karl, some money can buy happiness.

I too am fond of my pillow (Made of something called memory foam – Wait a minute… I’m made of foam!) and the mattress (More independent suspension than my car) it mostly rests on. I can however see where the absence of money can make me happy too.

For instance, I’m writing this post while sitting in the 2nd tier of the Prindiville Stand at the Western Australian Cricket Association ground (Known as the WACA). The weather is nice – It’s tipped to be a scorching 44°c tomorrow but for now it’s a much gentler 30°c and that soothing sea breeze, known locally as the Fremantle Doctor, is adding just the right note of comfort.

Which would be a decent day out in of itself anyway, but today I’m here to watch Day 1 of an international Test match – Proper cricket.

And it’s free.

Because it’s women’s cricket and I’m guessing that the game’s administrators are trying to engender some interest.

Which is astonishing that they have to – This is fantastic cricket with skill and effort easily befitting this stage. The pace bowling is zipping off the hard WACA deck, the batting is straight out of a decent textbook, and the fielding is as good as I’ve seen all summer – I’ve just witnessed a stunning catch at 3rd slip that had no right to be taken, not that low and not behind the magician who made it appear in her hands.

There’s some decent context flavouring all of this too – This is the opening day of the Women’s Ashes, with Australia continuing its summer-long stoush with the old enemy, England. This is brilliant sport all round.

So while I can’t shake the feeling that I’m somehow ripping somebody off – Probably the players, many of whom probably don’t get paid enough to be full-time pros – I’m still pretty happy. I’ve never sat in the Prindiville Stand before – I almost always can’t justify the cost.

Yet here I am, with hardly anyone within cooee to harsh my mojo, looking down the wicket – The same turf strip that Australian firebrand Ellyse Perry has been steaming into. She has 3 for 41 at this stage. Her fellow quick, Holly Ferling, has taken 1 for 46, while the medium-fast duo of Rene Farrell and Sarah Coyte have 4 for 43 and 2 for 23 respectively. On a day when England have chosen to bat they have therefore closed their 1st innings at 201 all out.

Let’s call that evenly poised – Or more accurately an unclear picture. You can never really judge a par score until both teams have had a bat. The pitch dynamics are too of a specific time and place for predictions otherwise, particularly from the 2nd tier of the Prindiville.

Scores and what will happen tomorrow though can’t intrude on my happiness – This is cricket.

1 last thought from Karl Pilkington’s adventures in happiness – The man with no money chose to spend each night sleeping under a simple sheep of plastic. This was too much for Karl and it probably would be for me too. That kind of urban-survivalist scenario does haunt my dreams though – Not because I’d be scared of the prospect – I’ve contemplated it enough and come close enough to it a few times as well. There but for the grace of something would have gone Longworth72.

Maybe instead it’s my subconscious reminding me of what I have and how valuable that is – A sort of mental primer in appreciating life. If so then I know what I’ll be dreaming of tonight…

The $200 I owe the women out there for playing bloody good cricket. C’mon you Southern Stars!

Postscript: Australia ended up losing the Test by 61 runs and I got sunburnt. I’m still pretty happy about it all though.

To Shine Behind Big Clouds Of Joy

  1. I think Owl and Eeyore would be Owl-some doing stand-up. I think I might have been good at cricket back in the day had I been exposed to it…but one thing I am lousy at is being exposed to the sun. I attended a baseball game one April when the air temp was cool but the sun was unrelenting. Sat 100% still at an angle. 50% of my face got burnt. I was quite the sight. A Phantom of the Opera I was. Oh bother.

    • I think that had they taken to it (And you almost did), Americans would be dominating cricket. Fortunately you guys chose baseball instead and now my country is free to be good at cricket while I watch the Red Sox be good at baseball.

      I always feel like a fool when I get burnt so looking like a stage act would probably suit me – Sadly my efforts the other day left me red all over my face and with little sympathy from my wife – It was a rookie mistake.

      Thanks for reading. And the owl pun.

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