Category Archives: Thoughts & Opinions

Make It Count

When I sat down to write this afternoon, I felt overwhelmed by all I wanted to say. So much has happened, but where to start? What did I want this to be about? What did I actually want to say? What can you say that isn’t hollow and superficial after you’ve seen something incredibly traumatic?

I wanted to say how sorry I am for those taken hostage yesterday in Martin Place, and their family and friends, who are trying to come to terms with such a violent act.
How much it hurts knowing that two people died, and that the gunman clearly targeted women.
How thankful I am for those in the emergency services who put their lives at risk to help people every single day.
For the cautious reporting of the ABC and AAP.
For the backlash against that horrendous behemoth of a publication called the Daily Telegraph, and (more importantly) the total arseholey-ness of Rupert Murdoch.
And for the solidarity of Sydneysiders who are living the virtues of tolerance and respect through the vocal #illridewithyou hashtag.

Here’s a snippet from Tessa Kum, the woman who started the hashtag after seeing an act of kindness reported on social media:

‘It just seemed that a simple way of promoting that kindness would be to say if anybody catching public transport didn’t feel comfortable just because of what they were wearing, I would sit next to them, so they weren’t alone.

If anything, for any horrible reason should happen, they’re not alone. I don’t think it’s anything that needs to be restricted to Muslims or religious garb—this could go for anybody who has a visible presence which automatically singles them out for attention.’

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But the recent felling of a young cricket star — Phillip Hughes — in the middle of the SCG, and the emotional fall out from it, it’s always a timely reminder that we have no idea what is going to happen in our lives. And 2014 has been full of such events — losing two Malaysian Airlines planes, the Brown twins dying, Crimea/Ukraine/Russia, 276 girls abducted in Nigeria, the deaths of Robin Williams and Maya Angelou and Gough Whitlam — to make you sit up and declare “Enough killing time! Let me just get shit done for I may not have tomorrow”.

I scribbled that on a piece of paper this morning, and now I’m going forth and achieving the things I need and wanted to today in a city that is safe, capable and measured.

Life is short.
I’d best get cracking.

PS: He’s a beautifully writen tribute to Katrina Dawson, one of the two people slain in the siege.

How is it Almost December?

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As quickly as November was ushered in, it has been rushed out. Things seem to be moving faster now, and I find myself worrying again about time. Where did this year go? How is it possible we’re a month today from Christmas? I’m running out of time.

Healing

But recovering from this broken wrist has forced me to slow down, to sit. To ponder. I’ve spent mornings reading, enjoyed lunches at my mate’s cafe, afternoons writing and walking the dog, and casual dinners with friends. I tried to listen to what my body needed, and taking care of myself has reignited my creative spark.

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There’s a real buoyancy and energy I’ve felt as I’ve progressed through the stages of healing. I’m still months off regaining reasonable movement in my wrist, but it’s slowly coming along. Each time I am able to do something for the first time again, I take note. Three seconds of downward dog? Check. Putting my hand on my hip? Check. I am feeling reenergised in a way that had eluded me before. I can’t put my finger on why, but I’m not questioning it. More please!

The Land

This land recharges my spirit in a way that I so desperately needed. The overexposed summer days. The infinite blues of the sky. The cool green/blue waters. The smell of an impending thunderstorm. The purple Jacaranda flowers carpeting the green lawns. The searing heat with kiln-like winds blowing in from western NSW. The colours are the first thing I miss when I’m overseas. They cannot be duplicated, replicated.

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The New Year

I’m returning to the Bay Area in the new year, but not before I have my fill of blinding sunshine and roasting hot sands of summer. I am looking forward to going back, but know that it’ll be harder to leave Sydney, my family and friends this time around. It gets infinitely harder every time.

Early Morning Plane Spotting and Thoughts on MH17

Being a night owl, I rarely get out to the airport in the early morning. But on Thursday, I was on pick-up duty, so I dragged myself out of bed a little earlier to make it down to my favourite spot before I was due at the Arrivals hall. Vietnam Airlines Lost parcel Botany Bay It was the morning before we heard the tragic news about MH17. As I watched the stream of airliners touch down at Sydney Airport, I guess — in retrospect — I was happy.  I stood alone at my favourite spot, a rusting chain link fence separating me from the runway a few metres away. I silently thanked the person who had strategically left milk crates so I was able to get a clear shot of the beautiful machines between the fence and the recently added barbed wire on top. Without my favourite lens and shooting directly into the hazy Sydney light, these photos weren’t going to be my best, but I didn’t care. I was out doing what I love, admiring the grace of these planes as they raced by me in the pink-tinged morning light, past the golden grasses and the calm waters of Botany Bay. Yet another moment to bottle for posterity. Qantas747Sydney Tower Sydney Airport Korea777 Planes, for me, are inherent symbols of freedom and adventure. They’re stunning pieces of man-made technology and seem to have distinct personalities. I love to know where they’re heading, thinking about who could be onboard and what they’re all going to do at their destination. It’s partly an exercise in imagination, and it makes me appreciate these machines on a more human level: as a vessel for hundreds of tales of love, loss and adventure. Each of those on the flight leaves behind or are arriving home to the big, juicy hugs of loved ones. They’re all of varying age, education, social status. Some are mere babes in the safe arms of their parents, others are enjoying the twilight of their youth, others for business. Some travel alone, others in groups. But they’re all valid, and real.

As I processed these photos, I thought about what is left after a tragedy like MH17. What it means for the people involved, but also for those on the ground and those left behind. What society will lack without these people. SydneyAirport34L JapanAirlines777 Over the last few days, we’ve heard a handful of the stories of those onboard. The half dozen of notable AIDS researchers aboard the flight, men and women who had devoted their lives to helping others. A grandfather ferrying his three grandchildren home from a family holiday in Europe so the parents could have a few days to themselves in Amsterdam. Six members of a Malaysian family who were relocating back to KL after living in Kazakhstan for three years. And a Queensland couple who — through enormous odds — lost both their son and daughter-in-law in the disappearance of MH370 in March, and now their step-granddaughter and her husband on MH17 this week.

Each of these passengers on MH17 have had their stories cut short in a most brutal and tragic manner. Their family and friends are left to grieve and to close their stories as best they can into a neat little bow. Though such an ending could never be classed as neat. The macabre details and images that have been documented serve to remind us that these people existed, but none have taken the time to put the tragedy into context, preferring only to reveal gruesome photos for shock value. We’re doing these people a disservice by only reporting part of their story.

I feel we should be trying to understand that each of these bodies unceremoniously strewn in fields thousands of kilometres from home represented a person, a life. Events like this ask us to consider what is important to us. And it’s also a not-so-subtle reminder that we — just like those passengers on MH17 — could be taken at any time.

Memento mori: remember that you will die.

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The Creative Catalyst

I’m not someone who has a lot of faith, but the little faith I do have, I put into searching for moments. And occasionally the moments that I seek, and that I desire, arrive.

Since returning home to Australia, my creativity has flatlined. Life has taken up the space where creativity grows, numerous half-finished projects before me with little insight into how they will be finished. Images of never achieving that to which I aspire gain greater clarity with each passing day. It’s as though I feel the gravitational spin of the earth more acutely and have a greater awareness that time is running out. But the act of writing something, anything, lately has brought me pain and I’ve wanted to avoid it. So, for the most part, I have.

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The catalyst

The last week, I watched a short film. But it was not the subject matter that inspired me, but the experience. It stirred something in me. Like an old car – coughing, spluttering – my creative soul awoke. After hunting around for it, finding something that truly inspires me gives me such a thrill! Great ideas were released, unleashed, and my hand struggled to keep up the pace as they poured forth.

Inspiration = elation, energy, excitement

This new inspiration has produced great feelings of elation, energy and excitement. By opening myself up to new experiences, it proved a catalyst for unlocking the next layer, one that I had been labouring in vain to unlock for myself.

For me, creativity doesn’t work like that — something you can flip on with a switch. My creativity needs external input and action and laughter and sadness and elation and moments of brevity. Maybe that’s what it is I seek when I travel: Moments of magic, moments like this.

And so I dance: a choreographed movement of starting and stopping, of being inspired and searching for the inspiration, of squandering time and trying to improve my inner discipline. I’ve not known anything different. Only with each sequence comes greater urgency, greater force.

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A new period of creativity

But right now, I am in tune with my own ability to create and I am celebrating being back in this space and being inspired. But this is not the easy part. Actually harnessing the energy to sit down and write is tough. It requires moments of reflection, development, problem solving, projection, discussion, revision. But it’s what I love to do. It’s what drives me. And I know I’m not alone in finding the whole process challenging.

I opened my ideas book to see I’ve already had at least ten other ideas of varying degrees of awesomeness, and they’re all worth pursuing in some fashion. So now, I’m switching off, plugging in to the world of my characters and trying to see where they will take me.

Signal by Coffee Cup

I think there might be spies in my building.
Spies who communicate with other spies through the placement of coffee cups left on security checkpoints.

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And what makes this really odd is that there’s no McDonald’s even close to my work.

Bouncing Back

One minute, you’re walking along making to do lists in your head and planing out the rest of your day, then suddenly you’re falling down a drain and sprawling forward, unable to even get your hands up in time before your head kisses the concrete. That was my Friday.

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I spent the rest of the afternoon visiting multiple doctors to assess the extent of my injuries and following up with the HR department of the company who owns the car park. Instead of tofu tacos and drinks with friends last night, I was wrapped up in my PJs on the couch icing my knee and bathing my grazes. It was where I needed to be.

But even in the middle of the maelstrom, I was thankful. I was counting my lucky stars that I didn’t break any bones or suffer any greater injuries, like tearing my ACL or getting a head injury. I was thankful for the kindness of strangers like the two nurses who helped me and I remembered to thank them in the moment. And in a strange way, I am thankful that it happened to me and not people who would have been less able to weather such an experience. Under strain, I was able to practice all the things I’ve been working on: clarity, breathing, gratitude and mindfulness.

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And today, I am feeling better. Still sore and suffering from lack of sleep (from my left side being too tender to sleep on), but okay. I have been plodding along not expecting something unexpected such as this to happen to me. It’s a good reminder for all of us to expect the unexpected. 

So now, I am sitting outside on the deck, a cuppa in one hand and the sun warming my face. I am thankful that I am okay in the grand scheme of things and that I can get on with life and know I am heading in the right direction.

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