Ever since I first heard about it, I’ve loved the idea of Extreme Ironing. It combines extreme sports with the love of a well-ironed shirt. I’ve seen pictures of people on top of mountains, ironing. Scuba diving and ironing – actually under the water, shirt floating around the ironing board, iron keeping part of the shirt anchored, person standing calmly on the ocean floor in wetsuit and scuba gear. There are people who iron in caves, on wires strung across canyons, on surfboards.
Oh, how I wanted to try it. Not that I’m an extreme sports person. I’m not even much of a sportsperson, unless ballroom dancing, belly dancing, and beach walking can be counted.
My extreme sports moments include being hit in the head with a softball, crashing into a wall while roller skating, and nearly cutting a tree branch down on top of myself.
Still, I wanted to try extreme ironing. I started with Mild Ironing. I borrowed a small ironing board off a friend, gathered up my iron, and grabbed the first thing I laid my hand on in the clean washing basket – my summer pyjama pants. Armed with these, I set off for Black Rock.
The cliff edges were out of the question. They were crumbly and therefore fenced off. And I wasn’t about to climb the cliff face. Mild Ironing, remember.
I strode along the beach. When people saw me, their first vision was always ‘woman with surfboard’. Then they saw the ironing board legs and took a second, longer look.
My friend, toting the camera, trailed behind me. He did not want to be associated with Ironing Board Woman. Too embarrassing.
“You could do some Extreme Ironing, too. I’ll take your picture”, I suggested.
“Yes, I could”, he replied, his voice full of ‘but I won’t’.
I passed a scuba diving lesson. One woman pointed.
“Hey, extreme ironing!” she said.
Whew! At least one other person had heard of it. She looked like a woman living her own dreams – a large, middle-aged lady struggling into a wetsuit with keenness and laughter.
I clambered out onto the rocks and set up where the rocks met the sea. Alas, no white water, no wild waves churning onto the rocks and sending spray metres into the air. It was a calm, sunny day. The water lapped gently and the rocks were half-dry.
I balanced the board, and pretended to iron my pyjama pants. My hair was blowing softly in the breeze. So much for Danger Woman. My biggest fear was sunburn, or not looking good for the photos.
I then found a crevice between the rocks, big enough for me and my ironing board to get into. My friend took pictures from above. I squatted down. We were trying to make the crevice look as deep as possible. I felt as daring as a miniature poodle on a leash. At home, I had a book called ‘Women Who Walk with the Poodles’. And here was I, doing Mild Ironing.
Back home, I posted pictures on my blog, and on Facebook. I was the first poster to the Extreme Ironing Facebook group in a long time. At least I was out there, doing SOMETHING.
I thought about where else I could take the ironing board. Someone suggests Maroondah Dam. Someone else postulates Flinders St Station at rush hour. Hmmm. Maybe. Would Flinders St be classed as Moderate Ironing, perhaps?
I am at a personal development seminar. The speaker is talking about visioning, of marrying one’s top values to wealth. It’s all about building wealth, investing in self, using positive affirmations, deciding that you deserve to be hugely rich and abundant.
I struggle. Every time I’ve done a five year plan, I’ve immediately screwed it up and thought: “Oh dear gods, what a regimented life.”
I like a life that takes weird twists and turns. If you’d asked me at 18 where I saw myself, I would have perhaps said: “Reporting back to a newspaper from Cambodia on the political situation. I live out of hotels, and am a lone agent.”
Instead, I’m living in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, a tutor of belly dance, reader of tarot cards and palms, meditation teacher, writer, and mother of two teens. I can’t imagine anything worse than being a political reporter on my own.
The speaker wants us to envision a future for ourselves and write it down. For a long time I sit, sifting possibilities. I have a number of passions. Which one to build a whole future on, and which ones do I let become hobbies? Tough choices, and ones I’m not prepared to make.
I get myself in a tizz. All around me are people madly writing their futures on paper, getting excited, seeing the next step. I have doodled a pair of lips, a musical clef, an elephant, and a snake.
I ask myself the question I often ask my tarot clients: “If I were to magically come into your house and wake you up, and say: ‘Tell me what you want to do, now. No thinking,’, what would you say?”
The words are out of my mouth: “I want enough money to travel the world and do dumb stuff, and then write about it.”
I am astonished. Really? That’s what I want?
Then I realise how much this suits me. It’s varietal, it’s not boring, and I can be my own boss. I can even follow the speaker’s dictate of: “Don’t ask ‘how can I afford this?’; ask ‘how can I get paid for this?’”
My favourite travelogues contain a strange element: travelling around Ireland with a fridge; having one’s fortune told in each city visited; reporting on goat races.
I could write about my travels, which would include belly dance classes worldwide, reading tarot in foreign countries and having tarot read for me, and just indulging in stuff like Extreme Ironing.
I get excited. This is my mission, then. To live life, to explore, to seek out new experiences and new civilisations, to boldly go where few have gone before! No wonder I’m a ‘Star Trek’ fan. Captain Kirk got to travel around the universe, armed with interesting companions, and do weird and wonderful stuff.
I come out of the seminar with a sense of purpose. Armed with curiosity, water pills, travel insurance, and a sense of the ridiculous, the world is my playground.
Oh, to iron under the Aurora Borealis! To iron under foreign skies! To boldly iron on the bridge of the Enterprise! Have iron, will travel.
Satya Priya lives in Melbourne, teaching yoga and meditation. Her mentoring work is based on the works of Barbara Sher, Stephanie Dowrick, and Dr John DeMartini. Satya Priya believes in a big, juicy life.
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