#comedy #health #mentalhealth

Gusto

I don't have any tips for COVID isolation. I don't have any advice for those who've got COVID, or who want to avoid it. What I do have is two words for how I would like to continue to live my life post a nasty brush with COVID, and that's 'with gusto'.

I don’t have any tips for COVID isolation. I don’t have any advice for those who’ve got COVID, or who want to avoid it. I would never proclaim to be so expert, or, as far as I am concerned, so arrogant as to discuss those subjects, even though I am recovering from it.

There’s so much talk, there’s so much misinformation and there’s so much information.

What I do have is two words for how I would like to continue to live my life post a nasty brush with COVID, and that’s ‘with gusto’.

There is something about lying on the kitchen floor wondering if you are going to keep breathing. First of there is the feeling of the cold floor. Then second there was the thought, ‘fuck, I am so not a cook, I don’t want to die here, it’s not representative of who I am‘.

Fortunately my blood oxygen came up enough for me to get up. I got up and considered calling the ambulance, knowing I had an antibody treatment appointment in the morning at the hospital anyway. So, okay – maybe one tip, if you are struggling to breathe with COVID, call 000 (if you can reach the fucking phone, in my case, I live alone and couldn’t).

It’s no secret that I’ve lacked the will to confront the demons of my own life front on for a while now. That I’ve lost myself in my professional work, in my comedy, but haven’t felt whole since 2014 and only just recently feeling the pieces of who I am falling back together.

Being this ill hasn’t given me any special epiphany, apart from never taking a full deep breathe for granted ever again. But the global buzz around this virus and surviving it, has given me pause.

If you have read enough of this blog, it’s about many topics, tied together with a stick and a transformational piece of string. Or several pieces of string, with dirty knots and attempts to make it a cohesive binding of some sort. It’s about a complete change, it’s about being myself, and how vastly different who I am now is, from the first blog post to now.

As long as I can remember, someone in the family was sick. Dad was 20 years older than Mum and I worshipped the ground he walked on. Losing him in 2002, I felt I lost a big part of me.

Fitter and Turner, air gunner, lighthouse maintenance technician, scientific workshop manager (doing things like remote seismic line work), coast guard founder (small seaside town in South East Queensland in the 1970’s), mentor to many, friend, handy bloke to know. Dad was one of those people that other people quietly appreciated and never forgot.

I’ve been withdrawing from public performance and commentary since I started my PhD in March 2021. Because I want to live a life more like Dad’s. Be a handy person to know, but not just for appearances, but because I genuinely care about people and the state of the world.

Maybe not running around lighthouses (that’s not physically possible anymore), but also doing things that give me pause. I’m presenting at a conference in Hobart in February, COVID test dependent. But it will be my first trip to Tasmania, a place Dad had many photos of from his years in the Australian Lighthouse Service.

It’s also hosted at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, the irony of that being Dad’s lighthouse service career was predominantly skirting the waters of the Antarctic. My first serious conference proceeding as a PhD candidate, something my Dad would be so proud of. I really hope I get to board that plane and go.

This trip means a lot to me, because of that history and presenting a paper about action research that aims to centre the voices of satirists. Because Dad’s dark humour or the memory of it carried me through many a spot.

In fact, the memory of that dark take on life, helped me get off the kitchen floor. Because if WWII didn’t get Dad, and TB didn’t get Dad, and shipping in dangerous conditions across Bass Strait didn’t get Dad, then a fucking viral spike wasn’t going to get me. But it could have, it really could have. And after all the severe injuries of my life (there’s been a few), never did I feel more like I wasn’t ready to die just yet.

So, here’s the renewed ‘with gusto’ bit and it’s probably not very exciting.

My renewed gusto is to love my family. We’ve had years of turmoil since Dad died in 2002, he was always the oil that greased disputes and the fixer of hurts. My relationship with my mother has always been strained, but it’s got better and she’s here nearby me again, and we will make it work. My adult son and I are connecting better than we have for about 8 years.

It’s also to continue love what I do in the academy and in the community arts sector, and to continue to contribute. I do believe art and comedy have a role to play in this changing place the world is becoming. I think it’s a bigger global life raft than people imagine.

So, there, no tips (yeah, yeah, there was one important one). Just gonna keep on doing ‘with gusto’.

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