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19 March, 2007

It All Comes Down To Socks

Since I gave up working for a living, there have been many positive changes in my life. I no longer commute 2 hours (or more) each day. I now sleep SO much better. I have not experienced a single moment of boredom since it happened. I spend masses more time with Wifie. And I write more blog postings (well, I think that is positive, anyway.) All of this was what I expected – and why I did it. But one thing I did not expect was that I have not worn socks at all since I stopped working.

Actually, in the Brisbane climate, it isn’t at all unusual to see people with no socks on, or, indeed, shoes, or even shirts! It gets pretty warm here. But don’t worry, I haven’t taken my freedom that far – yet.

The strange thing is that, I have discovered, simply by not doing it, that I don’t need to wear socks and I don’t want to wear socks. As the poet Theodore Roethke says, ‘I learn by going where I have to go.’ (Mind you, this is the man who also said, ‘Mips and ma the mooly moo.’ So maybe not the best person to explain Life.*)

If you’d asked me a few months ago, I would have professed almost complete indifference to socks. ‘They have their uses,’ I might have said with a nonchalant shrug, or even ‘I dunno. They’re alright, I suppose.’ Yet, when it came down to it, when the chips were on the table, when all was said and done… I totally rejected them. I now have a drawer-full of them, rolled-up and gathering dust, like woolly, hibernating, multi-coloured penguins, waiting for cooler weather, or soft, misshapen, stuffed-toy eggs, incubating for a winter hatching. If I listen hard in the dead of night, perhaps I’ll hear them snuffling and shuffling and snuggling against one another.

Who would have guessed that the sock is an expendable garment? I knew it about ties – the most stupid piece of clothing ever invented – and the waistcoat only hangs on because suit jackets are so useless at keeping people warm. But the sock?

Actually, now that I think of all those outcasts, those exiles from my life, huddled together in the dark, comforting one another in their misery, it occurs to me that their story may not be over. A leader may arise and gather his people around him (all my socks are male), giving them hope and filling their cotton hearts with pride. Yes, it will be a sock puppet epic to rival the Lord of the Rings. ‘I must go now,’ my right hand cries, fingers flapping. ‘My people need me!’

(*In fact, despite what I said, I think Theodore Roethke is a fine poet and the poems these quotes come from have long been among my favourites.)

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