Tuesday, January 10, 2017

“The Two Bucket Theory” versus “Waste Another Year”

While in Dublin, Ireland between Christmas and New Year I spent much time with the family, as well as in the embrace of my thoughts. I thought about the time I spent in the Arabian Gulf and at Sea back in the late 1980s; as well my usual ruminations related to the past and how I came to be who I am, from my days as a Barman to my present reality of an Industrial Chemist.
These are some thoughts from my little black book, that I record my thoughts and episodes of contemplative naval-gazing.
I've been thinking a great deal, and reflecting upon on days now passed. When I was young, my Father (the psychiatrist) would often explain to me that the formative years in childhood, as well as moments of trauma shape ones' personality. He would also indicate that though it is vital to understand ones 'self', to survive reality - but would warn that self-reflection has hidden dangers because what we uncover is not always good.
My brother-in-law Gerry and I visited my beloved Father-in-law Mr Keogh yesterday in the hospital. He's in his mid-nineties and not well currently, though he has moments of lucidity which reminds me of the man he used to be - and when he recognised me and smiled at my jokes as I held his hand, I felt good.
Seeing both my own Father Dr Karim and Mr Keogh my Father-in-Law's mental faculties in decline is troubling. I'm writing away, shaping the memories I have of these two men from these existential scribbles into the reality of my fiction. I guess this is due to trying to bring back who [and what] these two men were; not who they are now; their physical bodies and intellect now barely a husk of who, and what they were in their prime.
Being back in Ireland has unlocked memories. Ireland was one of places I visited back when worked a rota of 6-weeks 'on' in the Middle-East followed by 3-weeks 'off' (when I would travel, on my own). The company would pay travel costs to the value of return flights to London. For tax reasons, I could only spend 42 days in the UK hence I got to see a bit of the world; and learned about reality, as well as myself.
I recall on my first trip to The Kingdom, while supervising loading operations on a Crude Oil Tanker, one of the old-hands told me something that stayed with me. It was in the early hours, we were on deck, measuring the cargo, taking samples and as we did so, Bob explained 'when you work in Saudi Arabia, think of it as being issued two buckets'. He continued talking as we worked away watching dawn break over the ocean on the starboard side. 'The first bucket is for the money you earn, and the second bucket is for the shit you have to take. When the 'shit bucket' weighs more than the 'money bucket', it's time to leave.' He smiled 'the analogy is the same for life, for when the shit you take becomes too much, it's time to leave'
I was up early this morning as these memories plagued my dreams, as I thought of that time in the Arabian Gulf and of Dr Karim and Mr Keogh and these thoughts, these dreams found themselves embedded in my writing.
The two bucket theory is useful when contemplating our lives, for when the road forks, it's useful to survey our two buckets.
I also thought of a song I first heard on the Aramco US radio station I listened to while stationed in The Kingdom.
Sometimes, going back in our memory helps us shape our futures, as we check the contents of our two buckets, especially when we feel low.
The photo that starts these reflections, was taken many years ago, when I visited the 'lowest' place in America; Badwater Basin in Death Valley, California.
I also thought of My Father and of My Father-in-Law. The significance of which is only evident in my writing; for the memories of a man in his sick bed, are the deeds of a Man in his Prime. I also thought of my children, and my Godson and extended family, as age awaits them, as do their own two buckets.
Melancholia expresses itself in ways we don't always understand until age comes upon us, and then we combat it the best way we can.
"(Don't Go Back To) Rockville" / R.E.M.
Looking at your watch a third time
Waiting in the station for the bus
Going to a place that's far
So far away and if that's not enough
Going where nobody says hello
They don't talk to anybody they don't know
You'll wind up in some factory
That's full-time filth and nowhere left to go
Walk home to an empty house
Sit around all by yourself
I know it might sound strange but I believe
You'll be coming back before too long
Don't go back to Rockville, don't go back to Rockville
Don't go back to Rockville and waste another year
At night I drink myself to sleep
And pretend I don't care that you're not here with me
'Cause it's so much easier to handle
All my problems if I'm too far out to sea
But something better happen soon
Or it's gonna be too late to bring you back
Don't go back to Rockville, don't go back to Rockville
Don't go back to Rockville and waste another year
It's not as though I really need you
If you were here I'd only bleed you
But everybody else in town only wants
To bring you down and that's not how it ought to be
I know it might sound strange, but I believe
You'll be coming back before too long
Don't go back to Rockville, don't go back to Rockville
Don't go back to Rockville and waste another year
Don't go back to Rockville, don't go back to Rockville
Don't go back to Rockville and waste another year

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