Evening with Tony Hawks

May 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

What a funny, interesting man. I went to the Tony Hawks talk because I’d heard his name on the radio, and because it was an Action For Happiness event but I didn’t expect to hear such a story.

Years ago, he went on a month’s hitch-hiking trip around Northern Ireland with a fridge for a bet. The bet was for £100. The fridge cost him £120. When people found out the complete uselessness of this bet, they went out of their ways to help him. The point of it, after reflection, was to make the most out of every day. The fridge journey became a metaphor for life: starting, and ending, in Dublin. He took it everywhere with him. A great deal of time was spent in the pub. It got lots of drinks bought for him.

There was much wisdom to be gained from this trip, which he imparted. I was surprised at how openly leftist his views were. I’m not brave enough to condemn our material culture as publicly and firmly as he is. He said that he was going to vote Green – backed up with points about our environment and the long term effect of our material culture. The Green party are the only ones that will probably take serious action against it. My worry is that if you vote Green, it’s not going to count for anything. It will always be Labour or Conservative. Lib Dem have crushed any hopes now with Clegg’s poor performance in Parliment.

Some of Tony Hawk’s wisdom that appealed to me was the idea that not knowing where you’re going to be is ok. He kept his faith in the fridge on his trip, and didn’t know where he’d be a few days into the future. It’s not something I hear often from other people, but it is a personal philosophy of mine too. Knowing too much about where I’m going to end up traps and limits me. I prefer the unknown.

Similarly to my project, being with the fridge magnified his experience – it was a catalyst in the same way that my superhero costume was.

The first question to Tony Hawks was ‘What is the fridge in my life?’ The superhero is my fridge! I think everyone needs to find their own fridge. Tony Hawks gave an answer about religion – and yes, that’s a great answer, but not for everyone. Everyone secular needs to find their own fridge/superlook. Maybe I can extend the definition of a superlook to something that might be carried on your person too, something which is part of you but not worn.

Another question that was asked was what does he do to perk himself up when he feels down. His reply was to think of someone else rather than himself – when he is giving, he is never down. He said it in a way – when we are giving, we are never down. He said that people’s natural reaction when someone stumbles is to pick them up. I don’t believe that to be true. It’s good he said it, it’s good to promote a positive view of the world from his standing, but it’s not true. Just this morning, I dropped my things underneath someone’s legs on the tube and she made no move to help me, even when I left it there for a few seconds.

Also I have had the experience of giving too much, and it made me unhappy. I needed to give to myself, not to others all the time. It is possible to give too much.

Another question was ‘what is a little thing you do every day to improve your happiness?’ He didn’t have a thing he does, but I do: I smile at strangers. It’s something many of us can do to improve our happiness. It doesn’t always get a return – maybe it gets less of a return with him, maybe that’s why he didn’t mention it. Getting a low smile return can be hard.

What he said was instead of having a daily thing he does, was that he is aware of things he could do: that’s a point that has come up again and again in my project. Rather than seeking out something to do, be aware that it can be done, and do it when the opportunity naturally arises.

Maybe I should add that point to the journal. I also need to add that the well-being activity cards are a mixture of what I did as The Optimist and from my research into well-being.

All in all, Tony Hawk’s experience is an obvious parallel to mine. Maybe I should put it in my viva….

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