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Today's quote:

Friday, November 20, 2020

Socrates said that the unexamined life isn't worth living

ho de anexetastos bios ou biôtos anthrôpôi


Why did you go to Thursday Island?" people ask me. "Because it's there," I reply. "But so are your comfortable slippers and the TV remote." Q.E.D., I think.

I may have been struck down with what psychoanalysts refer to as G.T.D.S.B.S. syndrome (* Going to do something a bit silly syndrome - source: Freud, Dreams and the Unconscious, published 1896), or it may simply have been a wish to revisit one of the many odd and fascinating places I used to live and work in - and they don't come any odder than Thursday Island!

There are two words I don't want to find myself uttering as an old man, and they are "If only ..." If only. We all have our own "if onlys". If only we had studied harder; if only we had stuck with that job; if only ...

My trip to the island was to eliminate one "if only" and to confirm in my own mind that I couldn't have stayed much longer on the island even if my then boss, Cec Burgess, had been less of a crotchety old bastard.

There were still many ghosts for me on Thursday Island. I couldn't walk the streets and the beaches of the island without remembering those many characters I had met up there, and to ponder "If only ...".

Even though for my own personal growth I had to leave, I had loved the life on Thursday Island and in Papua New Guinea, the Solomons, Samoa, Malaysia, Burma, Greece (why, even the occasional viewing of the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" brings back fond memories of Saudi Arabia!) and I still think about those faraway places almost every day.

The years spent there have left me unsuited in many respects for life in the deep south. I feel suspended between my past life in the islands and my present life in mainstream Australia, and I still seek a place where I can feel truly content. If only ... "Über den Himmel Wolken ziehen, Über die Felder geht der Wind, ... Irgendwo über den Bergen muss meine ferne Heimat sein." [Hermann Hesse]

Socrates said that the unexamined life isn't worth living, to which Plato is supposed to have replied, "Keep it in the jar with the lid on or it will all dry up!"

This then is the journal of my journey fifteen years ago to Thursday Island and another examination of my own messy past: click here.

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