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Away from the desk - August 2014

31 Jul 2014

Welcome to a winter wonderland

Ever heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?

Abraham Maslow was a psychologist who, in 1943, proposed a theory of human motivation that suggests we are all motivated to achieve certain needs in order of the most basic - the need for adequate food and rest to more complex needs – for security, intimacy, friendship – and finally to the highest human need for self-actualisation.

Fascinating as it is, I should probably get to the point as this is an article about surviving a Docklands winter. You see, the need for shelter from the environment sits at the second tier of human needs.

According to Maslow it’s not as essential a human need as food, air or water.  So, as we face the biting cold wind and rain that falls sideways and lashes you in the face, as you struggle to stay vertical and keep a grip on the $10 umbrella that has just broken, its okay, as long as you’ve eaten a good breaky and have a water bottle handy, right?

Well, you could argue not right. Wrong. Having survived not one but two Docklands winters, I reckon warmth needs more focus. Like food, water, and air, warmth has become a prized and much sought after commodity here in Docklands.

On my way to work in the morning I find myself lingering around the doorways of warm places, deciding where to get my lunch based on how warm the establishment is, and of course, seeking out the companionship of people who, like werewolves (c’mon, you know they exist, right?) exude a warmth that sometimes originates from the heart and may be genetically based (usually Scottish and Irish types). Or because they are werewolves.

On the other hand, what you need to survive a Docklands winter is, to me, a complex question that needs to be unpacked a little. Bear with me, I am the thinking, analysing type for whom life is never ever simple and possibilities are endless.

So, I reckon the question is loaded. “Survive” implies it is really, really, really, really bad here. That conditions are so extreme that they threaten survival. So far this year, I haven’t experienced that.

I have been cold some mornings on the walk from Southern Cross or along Collins St, but never have I felt like I would surely perish. Mind you, I do have an arsenal of Docklands winter staples:

  • Big, unshapely, lined jacket that effectively wraps me from head to knee kind of like a doona. A black doona;
  • Gloves, leather ones;
  • An Angora beret I bought from a vintage shop on Brunswick St that has become effectively part of my head; and
  • Long leather boots.

For men you could limit this to just a woollen beanie because they don’t seem to feel the cold (are they ALL werewolves?)*

Last, but not least on my list, is really just an attitude – a positive one. You know it’s going to be cold, and you know it’s winter, and you grit your teeth, and you tough it out because hey, its supposed to be cold in winter and, more than this, you know that this too will pass.

There have been many, many tragedies and stories of people facing unimaginable loss and hardship in the news over the past few months.

So really, surviving a Docklands winter seems to be a kind of walk in the park … with a werewolf for company.

*Actually in all fairness my friend Mikey also has leather cat burglar gloves and quite a few big warm jackets which pretty much shoots my generalisation to pieces. But I digress.

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