A free Weekend; old books and new thoughts

Quite a while ago, when I was doing Yr 12, I remember coming across a book by Viktor Frankl. He was an Austrian psychotherapist.

It might have been in the Moonee Ponds library, the spot I retreated to escape the noise at home, and to pretend to myself that I was studying.

Or, I may have stumbled upon it at home, perched upon the skewiff bookshelf that inhabited the cool ante chamber near the back toilet. It stood upright next to the heavy Edwardian back door that admitted the chill Southerly wind on most days of the week; not just through the space below the door, but through its gaping key hole too.

The bookshelf was home mainly to an array of kids picture books, a collection of red cloth bound Enid Blyton’s from the 1950’s, handed down a generation, or two, and a scattering of 1970’s Australian literature; Donald Horne’s Lucky Country comes to mind, as does Ronald Conways’, The Land of the Long Weekend.

Another book I remember clearly on this bookshelf was titled Australian Pioneer Women by Eve Pownall. This text had a dust cover with an image of the 1904 Frederick McCubbin painting The Pioneer. It depicted a worn out looking settlers wife, languishing sadly amidst the steely blues of the Mt Macedon bush.

Loosely mingled amongst this dishevelled collection were a few other books, more esoteric in their nature. Among them authors such as Eric Fromm and Viktor Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning was the title of the Frankl book.

I’m not trying to impress upon you. My philosophical readings are sparse at best, but they must have been relevant at the time and must have tied into the English theme for H.S.C. that year. I could also have been procrastinating over the ill chosen subject of Chemistry, one that has never drawn me back in.

Either way, something from this era must have resonated for me, as only yesterday when lounging on the sofa beside the fire, I recalled Frankl and the term he is credited with having coined, that of Sunday Neurosis.

My search engines’ definition reads as follows:

“Sunday neurosis, that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest.”

It seemed relevant to this weekend.

A combination of things for me meant there was no kids sport, no significant social events and, of course, no AFL footy, nor finals. The structures that are usually built into my weekend had gone, albeit temporarily.

It’s an odd feeling. One craves free time, yet when it arrives, it can be confronting. The question is posed, what do I do? Or, the opposite, too many things to do and being paralysed by the choices and the subsequent indecision.

And so my weekend unfolded with leisure at hand.

Amongst other things, here’s a couple of things I did:

  • I took off to the South Melbourne market on Saturday morning, unburdened by time constraints, Paintball birthday parties, tennis matches in Seaford, and devestating games of footy at the MCG. I had company in my husband and our youngest who is eleven now. We, the tiger trio, sat down for coffee served in glass coffee cups and a milkshake served in a stainless steel vessel; not the takeaway varieties that come in the paper and plastic combo that must be steadily building as a waste management problem for our community when you consider how many are disposed of each day. Normally, I have two takeaway three quarter full strong lattes a day. That equates to 730 paper cups from me, alone.
  • Our fresh food supplies for the weekend were replenished, meaning that we did not engage with a home delivery service on either Saturday or Sunday evening. There are no pizza boxes scattered across the bench, nor are there any half eaten tubs of Rogan Josh loitering inside the fridge.
  • I was able to amble through the market and peruse the second hand book stall in the centre of the market. There, I came across a book titled How did Sport begin? Published in 1971, it has that musty smell and creamy, tan colour to its pages. Someone has inscribed in blue biro, upon the front page with a note to the recipient…To two real sports, Pam and Alfred…..(I can’t decipher the rest). I left the market thinking about sport, why is sport, sport? I left the market wondering who Pam and Alfred were.
  • The womens exhibition game of footy was televised on Saturday night. I sat down thinking I would watch a little bit of the game before going off to start my newly acquired, old book. I ended up watching the whole game. It was such a clean, open game of footy, that I had to watch until its celebratory end. It was a spectacle set against the backdrop of Western suburbia. If television ratings and twitter updates are a sign, it was surely a success.
  • With the open fire lit and a leg of lamb baking beneath a crusty marinade of garlic, rosemary and french mustard, I was reminded of that old tradition of the Sunday roast (minus the garlic and mustard marinade). And so with all the kids at home for a change, the family celebrated fathers day, and an early Sunday night dinner, seated together. It was complete with both conversation and argument, and in relatively equal measure.

In so far as football is concerned, the weekend was perfect in that it shone a spotlight upon the newly forming women’s league. How other fans felt about the bye, I can’t say. Nor can I comment on behalf of AFL finals players, will the break upset their rhythm? If so, I do understand.
As a footy fan, I think it was positive.

The free time and leisure opened up new possibilities and new thoughts, even a sequence of thoughts.

I get what Frankle was on about, that dissociative state one can feel when faced with emptiness, vacancy or uncertainty. But stepping into that space and beyond that emptiness can also be the opening for some new and creative wanderings….Perhaps a new and contemporary edition of Australian Pioneer Women with a more hopeful image on the cover….now there’s an idea and many possibilities….

Anyway, just thinking aloud. How was your weekend without the usual round of football finals?

contributed to and commented upon at The Footy Almanac here

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