Infectious disease

The stark contrast between am and pm.

Situated adjacent to the plastics outpatients, and the fully private "well being" clinic. Lush, soothing, natural colours, pleasant lighting, soft courches and pot plants. Clean toilets. Well dressed young professionals from the ministry of foreign affairs, travelling from Africa, to South America, to SE Asia, and more. Members of parliament who without speaking a word seem to convey, I'm special, don't you know who I am? And a modern day rich man's wife, with an air of superiority, but a silly blond giggle. A huge sparkling ring, perfectly crafted make up upon her aging features, telling us about the nearly thirty porters she will hire for herself and her husband on their upcoming adventure trip.

The secluded clinic, in a building far from the main hospital. An old building, no airconditioning in the waiting room, open wooden windows with faded paint, tired looking plastic chairs. Sit back, don't sit too close to the patient, don't ask them how they contracted it, were the instructions. Men who lived alone, patients who dressed casually, avoided avoided disclosing their diagnosis to even their GP, those who suspiciously asked for bottles and bottles of cough mixture, who were on the methadone program, intravenous drug users (goodness knows how in this place, with campaigns such as the recent posters to party clean - with death and caning cited as some of the consequences for taking drugs). Actually, often you wouldn't be able to tell. The young man with trendy clothes and gelled hair, an average looking couple attending a dual consult, a grandma in a wheelchair.

The closed body language, the dodging of eye contact, the reluctance of acknowledging a smile and nod. Hey, relax, it doesn't bother me, I'm not judging you, and obviously it doesn't bother the doctor either, they take care of patients with this condition every single day. Home is good in a way. I don't embrace or encourage the "lifestyle", but as a country we probably do better to include these individuals as equals, rather than scums, lower class citizens. As sinners, we all need grace. Who are we to say that our sins are minor and acceptable, whilst theirs is shameful and immoral?

Difficult relationships - part one

I haven't been subtle in writing about my distate for particular friendships.

As I write, I know the sentiments are not very loving. Too much unwillingness to forgive and hate, especially for someone who claims to follow Jesus (and reflect his image).

As I write, I do half expect someone to confront me and say - hey, you can't just love those who love you, and be a friend or care for those who "deserve" it. Do you remember and practice the instructions to love and forgive as God has loved and forgiven you, don't you remember what Paul tells the early churches to love each other and be united in one purpose, don't you recall the first Corinthians passage on love.

Well, I did receive the rebuke and correction I anticipated, and needed. Through a book I bought, not for myself, and for a different purpose altogether.

It spoke of the difficult relationships which I would much rather ignore and avoid.

Different friends

"This is my friend..." - that word has so many meanings.

I always say that I have a lot of pseudo friends, acquaintances. I've been surprised to hear people who I would consider "social butterflies" explain that this has been their experience too. I was apprehensive to be back here, because I knew that after a period of time away, I would quickly be disappointed by those whom I thought were friends, but were really just people you (metaphorically) greet and pass by.

Back there the acquaintances were people who I saw weekly, or more, but always kept their distance. Not making an effort there, certainly I don't expect to see their faces here. I don't understand, it's draining, and at times I don't see the point. There are other difficult friendships, here and there. Notably those who shamelessly take without giving, and are constantly selfishly concerned with what is convenient for themselves.

Yet, there's always the beautiful too. Here I'm reminded of the many generous and kind friends. Friends who invite me to their home, are busy but always make themselves available, are willing to be flexible, who welcome not only me but my friends, who are always happy to meet, dine, sing or dance together. Blowing away my cynicism, realising not all friends disappear with time and distance.

And even back in that cold city, there were the friends who were there with me during semester, and during exams. Who, perhaps unknowingly, cheered me up by a few words, or brought stability into my inner world by simply being there, preparing and studying together, zoning out afterwards with our favourite game, a walk, and a food trail through the city. And apart from them, there are a few others in that city with whom I can enjoy chats over meals with, time after time.

You know who you are, your friendship is much appreciated, thank you.

Coins and squares

The image is from a year 12 English past paper.

The story has been told, in one way or another, by several authors. Including myself. The events highlighted, the emotions, the assumed intentions are so vastly different that it has been the ultimate example of looking at the same series of happenings from different viewpoints, perspectives, two sides of the coin, or more accurately four sides of the same square. Which is the real version?

Some were outright with what they saw happening, others didn't see the point in conversing. At one point I would not have accepted that there could be a different spin on the story. You could have, and maybe did, write me off as immature and exaggerated in my response, and I could have just easily dismissed you as clearly inappropriate in your behaviour. Or this time, I would be put off by that seething hatred, stubbornly held onto season after season, and similarly, you would close your ears as you accuse me of being blinded. What is the point, of telling them how I see it from here, and how they see it from there? What is the point, when talk alone never changes what is, and we are each set firmly in our opinions about one another.

Maybe, listening is the first step in acknowledging that your views, and feelings, are worth considering. That you may be right, and I may be wrong, or we both may be right, or wrong. Maybe, when we understanding the back story, the hate and anger will dampen, and gradually be replaced by forgiveness. Not unlike what that psychiatrist said about BPD patients - if you could connect with the troubled little girl behind the anger and chaos, you may be able to care for them better, and be more patient with their behaviour.

Maybe listening does have something to do with patience, loving thy enemy, and dealing with the overwhelming anger and hatred that comes so naturally.

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. - James 1:19-20

Side note 1: This time I woke up. And had to think for awhile whether it was real. Then I looked at the orange colours in the bottle and realised it was real.

Side note 2: Not an invitation to extrapolate "truth" in human interactions, to truth in general and say that there is no absolute truth.

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