I have a quirk in my hearing. Hearing tests have shown nothing, but I find it more likely I will process what you say if I watch your mouth while you’re talking. I call it psychological deafness, not quite selective hearing, maybe selective understanding?! Back in the Yak Bottoms group house days, which included rather many drinking sessions, I’d insist in my brew warmed state that I was left in my deaf ear…maybe there’s something psychological about that too?!
It can be an annoyance, but I think our quirks define us, and certainly they differentiate us. And yet they give us membership of the league of humans and anything that can unite us, give us compassion for self and others is welcome in my book. And when you look at the definition of quirk, and its synonym stable mates below, it’s fairly safe to say we all have our quirks and find ourselves muddled in some quirkiness sometime or other.
noun: quirk; plural noun: quirks
a peculiar aspect of a person’s character or behaviour.
“they accepted her attitude as one of her little quirks”
synonyms: idiosyncrasy, peculiarity, oddity, eccentricity, foible, whim, whimsy, notion, conceit, vagary, caprice, fancy, kink, crotchet, mannerism, habit, characteristic, trait, feature, obsession, fad;
informal hang-up, thing;
“he likes working with people he knows because they know his quirks”
a strange chance occurrence.
“a strange quirk of fate had led her to working for Nathan”
synonyms: chance, fluke, freak, anomaly, unusual occurrence, turn, peculiar turn of events, twist, twist of fate
“by a quirk of history they were related to seven American presidents”
a sudden twist, turn, or curve.
“wry humour put a slight quirk in his mouth”
The origins of the work quirk are unknown but lay in the 16th century, where the word meant a subtle, verbal twist, quibble or unexpected twist.
There have been a few quirks in my year. Lately it’s left me feeling a little angry. But that’s just served to make it feel bitter and the fact is that bitterness is not liberating. Perhaps letting go is a matter of degrees that has to do with how we mark the turning circle to face forward. You have to walk the dial even if you don’t want to. It’s not enough in life to wait, to be in readiness as my crossword reminded me.
Adversity too is an adventure and quirkiness can be a crack, an opening into something else, a different way of seeing and being.
So I’m running my fingers over and into the cracks, embracing the quirk. There have been some good quirks. I lived in South Australia for 6 years, now that’s a quirky place with wonderfully quirky people who I still miss.
There’s the quirkiness of small people. Some years back now I was batting late in a state cricket training session. It was getting a bit dark and we really should have stopped. We were batting on the pitch. There was a new player trying out. She bowled a full toss that I was slow to pick up in the light and when I went to pull it I top-edged it into my mouth. I didn’t bat with a helmet. When she arrived in the middle, the manager, a brilliant woman and close friend of mine was smart enough to tell me to kneel down, head over the pitch so I couldn’t see the reaction of my team mates. That’s a back drop to the quirkiness of having a false tooth on a plate for a while, and the cute quirkiness of my niece, who at the age of three, randomly in a temper tantrum declared “…and my aunty has a special tooth”…I’m not sure what pull that was meant to have?! It just made us laugh.
The false tooth was a great quirk too for giving me membership to a pirate gang. It transpired that among a group of work colleagues I frequented the Contented Soul with, a number of us had missing teeth. You had to have a missing tooth to be a member of the pirate crew (although Di didn’t, we consented to her being the Cabin Girl). That was such a fun era in my life! And you know, finding a quirk in common with others made it so much more acceptable to me while I saved my dollars for a more permanent solution.
Another quirk I don’t mind, that I had the privilege of helping to raise kids and teens (my younger siblings). Those kids are the bee’s knees let me tell you, though they are well and truly adults now. Quirks of fate (although really it’s the journey I was meant to have I think) led me to different parts of the country and I’ve been able to travel all over Australia meeting brilliant people and appreciating just how beautiful and devastating the country can be.
Life is full of quirks and I got a bit of a wake up call the other day about another of my own. I dropped in to see one of my sisters and her family in Canberra last Sunday morning. We were talking about my pending move to Sydney. She knows that for a while this year I fell over in my efforts to improve my health and keep tackling the challenges that presents.
She is a psychologist and has been doing some training in something I can’t remember the name of, but has to do with the manifestation of psychological stuff in the body. She told me that if I wanted to see a psych in Sydney to help with losing weight she would be able to recommend someone who has done this training. She went on to mention childhood trauma and I assumed she was meaning the death of my parents and guardian, but then she talked about how I may be impacted by being sick as a kid and the near death experiences.
Wow. I hadn’t thought a great deal about that. I know that I’ve always had a tendency to unconsciously withdraw from the touch of someone I don’t know well, probably because of the number of strangers I interacted with as a child. But I hadn’t thought about what it does to you to nearly die I don’t know how many times. To not be able to breathe. To have all that chaos go on around you in response. I do have vague memories of seeing other kids playing in the children’s ward. I have vague memories of my father coming and staying with me in the evenings. I have vague memories of my pediatrician stopping by. I know my mother told me that at one stage I was giving my physio, who apparently I adored, such a hard time that either I or my mother was going to have to start seeing a psych. Goodness! The patience and persistence of parents who look after sick children is amazing. I have memories of being held down, arms strapped down. I don’t know if that one is true.
It was interesting that this came up on the back of a trip that week for work to an organisation that works with survivors of childhood trauma. It just made me think about how sometimes we don’t really appreciate the ongoing impact of trauma and how it can play out for us in our lives. Isn’t it just another reminded to always be kind? To just be open to why people are the way they are, to just know we’re all shaped and reshaped by our experiences.
Anyway, all of this served to give me a kick up the backside, a dose of reality, and a reminder to more determinedly show myself the kind of compassion, patience and love I extend to others, and to shift back into a more positive frame of mind. It may have been a crap year, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been good in its own way. One thing is for sure, I’ve spent more time in the last year thinking about and addressing my own stuff than I have in my life. You get the opportunity to do this when you stop being a workaholic, but you’ve still got to chose to go there. And it’s uncomfortable and I sometimes still want to think it’s selfish as an excuse not to deal, but really it makes you a better you and I’m worth it. I turn away from it sometimes, but then I come back to it, the harder journey but the one with the most reward for myself and those I care about. And I really do think it gets better, it gets easier, you deal with the stuff, you learn how to always be focused enough on yourself and it becomes something that is integrated and balanced in your life. It won’t need to be so front and centre. And no matter what you find and chose to work on, the people that love and support you still love and support you, you come to realise they always loved you no matter how you felt about yourself.
This year I traded on the decision to not look for a salaried position when I had to leave my last job, and I was provided for with enough work to allow me to rest, recover and stride forward. I met someone who inspired me to be stronger, to tackle what holds me back, to visit my grief, to find my creative self and to see love in a whole new way. I couldn’t be more thankful. I connected more strongly with my faith, leaning on it to help me believe I’m enough and to continue on in the face of rejection and loss. I’m really enjoying that spiritual journey of faith. I lost my nephew and shared the grief of my sisters and our families, but grew from their grace and dignity. I found a pathway forward that’s really living for me after so many years of living for others. What a completely unexpected and amazing year. Quirky for sure but mountains have been moved!
I had the overwhelming urge the other day to go and visit my Grandmother in Redcliffs, a small rural town in Victoria, as if it was school holidays and I was a kid on a long bus ride, or a spontaneous decision on a Friday and after work I’m cruising the highways. Returning to a time and place where there is the space to just be and it’s safe and I am who I am.
The thing is, I may not be able to go back to that place and time, but there’s nothing quirky about our ability to reflect on the places and pieces of the past, to smile, grimace, weep, dance with joy and reach out for others as we connect it to who we are now and who we’re always becoming. We’re always becoming.
Here’s to becoming even more in 2016.
The blog has been a great tool for me this year in articulating my journey. I don’t expect it to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I have had friends tell me they are grateful for the honesty and shared journey and that they can relate to a lot of what’s been shared. I’m glad about that. But I have to say, I hope next year it all gets a little more light-hearted like the early posts. Watch this space I guess!