Nothing to do with the story. I took this image because I love this tree and will make a drawing soon

Nothing to do with the story. I took this image because I love this tree and will make a drawing soon

Sometimes in the midst of a bleak moment I need to remind myself that I have value. The ways of doing that are strange and varied but lately it seems to help to go over moments in the past and analyze them. They do not need to be big things but just things that have some elemental glow of life about them. I enjoy looking at wider causes and effects. It is probably cabin fever becoming terminal but I was thinking of a few things and felt like sharing. Lucky you!

Blood donation for instance. I became a blood donor as soon as I was old enough. I trotted on down to Parramatta Council Chambers where the donations were often held pretty much within a week of becoming old enough to do so. Why wouldn’t I? I am a military brat and our parent’s sense of duty rubs off in some unexpected ways. At that time I was also a motorbike rider and the kind of worker who takes dangerous jobs as were all my friends. Of course I thought I was invincible and would never need it! When the doctors were fighting to save my life and put me back together after the accident I apparently sucked up 64 pints of the stuff. When I awoke and was well enough to understand what was happening they told me how much blood I had used to impress on me the extend of injuries I had suffered. I felt betrayed! It was one of the first things I was upset about after the accident. People would say to me that I could feel alright about being given the precious stuff because I had donated some of it myself. That wasn’t the idea! I cringed when they said that. How could they not understand that I had given blood to help to help someone else in an emergency? Not so I could justify taking a great deal more for myself. Even though I get the warm glow for having donated blood all that way back I get a deep burn of failure that I used more than I gave. Now I am irked by the fact that all the surgery, illness and drugs means I have not been able to contribute for years.

Then there was chess. Karin McGrath and I would spend hours playing chess in her parent’s lounge room when we were about fifteen I guess. I get a warm glow about that for several reasons. I enjoyed playing against Karin. She was a determined and intelligent player and her parents were my second family. They were great days! Because of that constant challenge there was one year down at the Baulkham Hills Masonic Hall that the regional champion popped in for some display matches against locals. The organizers and his followers were dismayed when I thrashed him twice in a row and when he attempted to play me a third time his followers kept yelling moves and distracting me so we called it a mismatch and parted with much unpleasantness. The questions arising from that memory are interesting. Was I better than that guy? Well yes. At that moment I was.

About two days ago there was a bit on ABC radio about chess. It came from back in the day when the Russians and Americans put so much stock in one of their countrymen winning at chess and the kind of super genius status that would surround the good players. That piece took me back to those games and the horror of the fans of the champion to see me beat him up with such a total lack of respect (at chess). I had been playing an enthusiastic and brilliant opponent in Karin. We played for the sheer joy of it. I seem to remember Karin beating me two out of three games so that guy might have looked even sorrier had he taken her on. I do not remember either of us finding many people who could beat us. So, what does that mean? Nothing. We played a lot of chess and became good at it and I had the distinct privilege of having a mind like my own to play against. I never really thought about that game until the recent radio story. So! Was I smarter than that guy? Well who cares? Why mention it here? Dunno. I picked up the memory in my mental fingers and looked at it from a few angles. What was that big chess dude’s name… Kasparov? I don’t care. It’s chess. I was amazed at the emotion my opponent and his sycophants displayed. Amazed he had sycophants and really by the second game I disliked him enough to want to make him hurt.  He had been acting like a god coming down to dispense his gifts by allowing us to play him. Whack!!!

The thing I feel happiest about is the fact that this is just stuff. Even when I am digging around struggling with self-esteem I don’t feel I am wallowing in heroic moments nor do I need them. I think that is the message. I pulled up the chess memory because it came up on the radio. I was actually repelled by the whole “chess genius” thing and so my little tickle of self esteem runs from the fact that I never gave it a thought until now and now further warmth is from the good memory of playing Karin. This is what happens when you get old and isolated. You remember stuff that nobody gives a shit about. If you read this far it’s your own fault!

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