While some people open up easier than others, I truly believe that if you give people a chance they’re probably going to teach you something – or at least confirm something that you only “sorta kinda” knew, but perhaps need to more deeply engrain in your psyche…
For this week’s musings, I’m going to get a bit nostalgic with y’all and share some of my favourite lessons from a few of the interesting people who have kindly shared a little piece of themselves with me.
1. Don’t make assumptions about people.
John “Swanee” Swan, musician: “I met a homeless guy in Perth after a gig, and I immediately sat beside him because I thought he’d need a drink, ‘poor bastard he’s homeless’, you know. Well, in actual fact he was a very rich man, he had a house in Hunters Hill, and he had a boat in Hunters Hill and God knows how much he had in the bank, but his riches dwindled in value when his three children and wife died in a car accident. He left the Range Rover and he just walked, never touched his bank account. He told me his story and said, ‘Don’t assume all homeless people are alcoholics young man.’ A lot of that man I carry with me today.”
2. Age is just a state of mind (fo’ realz).
Gary “Angry” Anderson, musician: “I caught up with Angus [Young, from AC/DC] a while ago, when my band was doing the support for Guns and Roses. We hadn’t seen one another for at least twenty, maybe thirty years. We were standing backstage catching up having a bit of a chat and I said, ‘One of these days we should do a blues album together.’ He said, ‘Yeah, let’s wait until we get old.’ Pretty funny, these blokes in their late 60s talking about when they get old – which says something about our attitude. We don’t acknowledge the idea that, supposedly, if you’re in your late 60s you’re traditionally required to retire gracefully.”
3. Life is better when you have a ‘conceited bias’ for yourself.
Ada Clark, artist [on how people can ‘make it’ as artists]: “They have to have an almost conceited bias that they can do something different. When I say conceited it’s the wrong sort of word, but if you don’t believe in yourself, it’s no good starting. You’ve got to say to yourself ‘I’ve got something that is entirely me’. A bias towards yourself that you can say something different than the next person. And you’ve got to take that risk because if you don’t, you’ll never know. You’ll just never know. And a lot of people will not take that risk.”
4. Trust your gut… and take care of it.
Rich Bowden, writer [after being diagnosed a diabetic, turning it around then creating a wholefoods website]: “I had a terrible diet. Really bad. I was diagnosed with diabetes and was told to take all these medications. I convinced my doctor that I could turn it around myself – I’d already been reading a bit about diet – she was unconvinced and told me that my triglyceride levels were among the worst she’d seen, but I kept on trying to persuade her. She eventually agreed to it, but stated ‘I hold no responsibility for this.’
“… I’ve still got work to do, but I was tested again six months after my diet change and I’m within the higher end of normal range and now considered a ‘controlled’ diabetic. All I did was common sense stuff – I switched to wholefoods and started exercising.”
5. Anyone, at any age, can choose a different life
Jamie Stedman, editor: “We got raided by the police one time, and mum shoved all the drugs down the front of my pants because she knew the police couldn’t touch me. I would have been eight years old. I went out the back and I buried it all. I remember thinking to myself at the time, ‘I will never live this life. This will never be me’.”
6. Love is supposed to feel safe.
Kim Kelly, author: “I met a wonderful man who opened me up to a new understanding of what love is, and what it is to be loved. It was the first time I’d ever been seen – allowed myself to be seen. I called my uncle and said ‘this guy makes me feel safe. Like I can reveal all of myself’. My uncle said, ‘never underestimate what a sexy word safe is’. And he was right.”
7. Love and kindness should go hand in hand.
Doreen Cummings, musician [when asked the difference between painful past relationships and her current one with her husband]: “The difference is the emotional connection; the security of someone who sees your generosity and doesn’t take advantage of it, but loves it instead. For both of us, the willingness is there to be the one who compensates, but neither of us are willing to abuse it in each other. We’re still stunned at how easy it’s been; how perfect it is. Big words but it’s true.”