Friday, November 03, 2006

A good question

I saw 'A Prairie Home Companion' last night. I'm not a reviewer so I won't drone on suffice to say that, in a world of Britney Spears, chain store fashions and bad reality TV there are people out there who give you hope.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the amount of information we are presented with these days. Sure I suppose you can tune out and live in your own small patch, retire to the convent and a life of contemplation or just turn off the television and burn all magazines but ... I cannot do that.

Torn am I between an addiction to knowing as much as I can about the world around me and the urge to take it all down a notch, return to the days when you kept abreast of news from your family and fellow villagers and - maybe - the odd bit of information from the next big town.

I adored the movie. I love Altman's gift for ensembles, his acknowledgement that, in the cracks of our lives and in the dull, overcast corners of society lie the most interesting stories, the most intriguing people. I mean the man was born in 1925 for God's sake! I know 37-year-olds who lack his energy. Ok, I'm just talking about me but surely there are 70-year-olds tucked up in nursing homes who didn't have his drive when they were 40; amazing stuff.

As for the writer and star of the show, Garrison Keillor, well he's another rare bird. By accident, coincidence or serendipity I have just recently read one of his books - 'Love Me'. His name rang a bell but the book is based in the hallowed halls of The New Yorker magazine and I am so addicted to that publication that it was that element that truly attracted me. Here is a man who can write, orate, joke, sing, debate ... I am not sure I'd want to meet him (don’t meet your heroes) but hell it makes me happy just knowing he’s a possibility. Originality, passion, the confidence to stick to things that you like when the rest of the world is hinting that they may be past their prime - God I love that. As I walk past the windows of the houses in my neighbourhood or look at people on the tram or others pushing carts through the fresh produce aisle at the supermarket I just HAVE to believe that, back home, on their tiny balconies or in their plush reclining chair filled lounge rooms they have passions that survive, that eccentricities flourish, that interests are pursued. No wonder I live with a Postman-poet ... maybe his peccadilloes are his greatest strength.

I'm rambling now and I just looked at the photo of Jearlyn Steele that I have posted here and remember what this rant was meant to be about. In the movie - PHC - she sings a song called 'The Day is Short'. Besides the fact that the woman and her voice are like hot chocolate with extra fudge and her smile made me want to cry with gratitude, the words of the song just bowled me over. I think that was because I had, only hours before, had a conversation with a dynamo type retiree about the nature of living, the pace of modern life, the challenge of being true to yourself, not comparing yourself to others and having the confidence to step out of the rat race and give the rat some cheese instead (maybe even share a glass of wine with him).

"The day is short. The night is alone. Why do we work so hard to get what we don't even want? "

- How true is that of so many people you know?

Why do we work so hard for things we do not even want? That's a curly one. I have recently taken to walking through retail strips, supermarkets, shopping malls and the rest with my eyes directed to the floor. I say to myself "You don't want it, you don't need it." The fact that I have had a hiccup with a big cheque coming through and that funds are tight is assisting this Buddha type outlook no end but recently I keep thinking about the work I am willing to take on and the things I do with the proceeds. I also look at the lives of people I love, people doing jobs they hate to buy things they don't need, who take on more and more pressure to update things that already do the job at hand. God we are strange creatures. How have we stumbled so far into the abyss? Why do we work so hard towards things that don't even thrill us that much? They may have in the past but the shine's all rubbed off now and you can see the chip board underneath.

It's probably worth pondering. I'd ponder too but, guess what? I'm off to the shops!


Blogger shemovesinmysteriousways said...

Oh, Contessa It's so great to have you back! I think the absence has done you good. That's one of your best pieces. Due to recent events, I've been reviewing some of your very oldest published works - will show you some time soon. You always were and continue to be, brilliant!
Now, I'd love to ponder feeding the rat, but have 2 minutes to get washing off the line, find smallest child who is very quiet, and pick up larger child from school, before disappearing down the coast for complete rest and relaxation for nearly a week!!!!!!!

3:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand what you mean Contessa. I think back to earlier times when it was considered that we were to be well rounded at most things, like Mr Keillor and Mr Altman,we should sing, dance, orate, sew, hunt, play a musical instrument and so on. There is so much to do in life and I wonder why we do so little. But that's me, I am not the norm I know.

Quote from Phillip Adams:

It seems to me that people have vast potential. Most people can do extraordinary things if they have the confidence or take the risks. Yet most people don't. They sit in front of the telly and treat life as if it goes on forever.

6:07 pm  
Blogger the contessa said...

Hello dreamweaver and shemovesinmysterious ways - thank you both for reading. You are very inspirational to me in different ways but share one stellar quality - the confidence to be yourselves!

11:01 am  

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