Thursday this week is R U OK?Day and it is a challenging week for a few reasons. But it’s a good challenge. One that should make you feel happy. Read on.
Gav Larkin, who founded R U OK?Day was a good mate of mine, a golf buddy, a drinking partner, bullshit artist, self-appointed legend. A lot of people know that Gav was diagnosed with cancer three years back and died two years ago, just a couple of weeks after R U OK?Day 2011. At pretty much the same time his 10-year-old son Gus was diagnosed with a brain tumour and today still fights on. He really is an incredible kid. Maz, Gav’s wife and Gus’ mum, has gone through so much these past two years it’s almost impossible to calculate. She’s strong. She’s awesome.
What Maz has been through and what she continues to go through is a perspective lesson for us all.
It reminds me of a day a few weeks back when I was told we had been beaten to a pitch by a couple of competitor agencies and I blew up – I was fair dinkum filthy. I was in beautiful, bucolic McLaren Vale, South Australia when I got the bad news call, in a rented Commodore, with two of my team – poor Prue and sick Tess.
After the call I did not speak a word for the 45 minute drive back to Adelaide. I was having a right old, proper hissy fit coupled with extra mature petulant silence. I COMPLETELY and UTTERLY had the shits.
I gave poor Prue the most withering fast twitch death stare when she asked me innocently if I was OK?! What was she thinking? AM I OK? Silly Prue. Of course I’m not OK – I’m ANGRY. At what? At being told we were not getting a piece of business we probably didn’t think we were going to get anyway . . . I was that nine-year-old who had just lost a game . . .I wanted to throw all the toys out.
I promise I don’t want to turn this blog into the same old, “inspiration is everywhere in the every day”, cos it’s not and I’m not that kind of bloke. But the afternoon progressed in a hilarious way and I think I should share what a petulant shit I was and how I got it back . . . eventually.
So we finally returned, in frosty silence, to the hotel in Adelaide AND I REALISED I’D LEFT MY CUFFLINKS IN THE CAR . . . can you imagine how FURIOUS I became?!
Several hurried and irrational phone calls and poor Tess (who had been spewing – literally) had to run them across the road to me (not just any road, North terrace – that’s a MAIN road in Adelaide). When I finally made the dress rehearsal WITH my cufflinks I proceeded to run through the runsheet with the organisers AND IT WAS ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!
Auction items changed, timings and details changed . . . Fair dinkum, I was about to lose my schizzle but then the very apex of frustration arrived . . . do you know what happened THEN?!?!
The girl setting up the room brought me a goddamn warm beer after Id specifically asked for a really cold one. . . And I just sat there. WHAT AN ABSOLUTE PRICK OF A DAY. . .
And here’s when God or whoever, or no-one at all, or coincidence stepped in and gave me the uppercut I deserved. What was the event I was about to co-host? The Starlight Children’s Foundation Five Chefs Dinner. Of course. Who did I sit next to? The dad of the kid with cerebral palsy. Of course.
What did I do when he told his story so bravely on stage? Bawl my eyes out? Of course. And what did I do when I realised what a shit I was? Got on that stage and worked my butt off to raise every single dollar I could for people who needed it. And what did I do with the dad when he finished his speech? Well, we drank a little bourbon and I thought to myself I AM THE GODDAMN LUCKIEST BLOKE IN THE WORLD.
And I resolved to do whatever, whenever I can to help people who actually need something. And when I think of Maz and the couple of years she’s had, I can’t complain about being at Customs House on Thursday cajoling people into a ball pit to have conversations that could change a life. I can’t bear to think about my self-indulgence.
And on the day after R U OK?Day, nine of Gav’s great mates will be at the annual HOG lunch, drinking and eating Chinese in his honour. At some stage we will have a toast to him, momentarily we will reflect and then we will get on with the matter at hand – more duck and much more shiraz. And he would want that, I promise you. No tears, just plenty more beers. But we, the lucky nine, need to realise how fortunate we are to go home (albeit broken and drunk) to our partners, our families, our healthy kids. Gav can’t do that. And that’s just shit.
But we can help keep some of his best work alive. Please do whatever you can to help out on R U OK?Day. Send a tweet, post something on Facebook, have a chat with a mate or a colleague, hug your kids, nephews, nieces so they know how much you love them, call an old mate you haven’t seen for a while, check that he or she is going well. Engage, embrace, converse and please don’t be afraid.
Make sure everyone you know and love is OK. If they are, then thank your lucky stars, if they’re not please do whatever you can to help them out.
Asking people if they are OK – how bloody simple is that? Good job Gav. Basket Press in your honour on Friday. Maybe a magnum. It’s that good a legacy brother. . .
Come and show your support at the Conversation ball pits:
What : National R U OK?Day pop-up conversation ball pits
Why: To start conversations on R U OK?Day
Where: Customs House, 31 Alfred Street, Circular Quay, Sydney
Federation Square, Swanson Street Forecourt, Melbourne
When: Thursday, 12 September. 7:00am – 3:00pm