Sunday, July 26, 2009

dear sir

Sometimes days drift by, one foot in front of the other, routine and monotonous, without anything giving me pause or leading me to examine myself - why I do what I do, who I am, where I'm going. Admittedly I'm given to frequent self exploration but still, days blur into one and meaning is lost.

Which is why I'm writing to you, to say thank you for fuelling reflection. Not that it was a good moment for you. I recognise that. Sliding off an isolated, winding ride, narrowly missing the rock face before coming to a halt over a drain which trapped you doesn't make for the best day by anyone's standard. But you were alive (I checked that), walking around, assessing the likelihood of a quick recovery. My passing observation was that your chances of this were slim. Think lengthy waits and tow trucks... I've been in a similar crash on an isolated road myself and the car was inextricably compromised. I was therefore very sympathetic to your situation, although you'll never know that because I drove straight past without so much as a wave.

This is the moment that gives me pause. Why? Why did I drive on by? I don't think it's because I am callous and cold hearted. Like I said, I have a great deal of sympathy for you in that situation. It came down more to pragmatics. I was acutely aware of travelling alone on a back road. Being male perhaps you have never had to think about this, but I don't go anywhere on my own without at least subconsciously considering risks and safety and vulnerability. It seemed unwise to stop and get out of the car to assist a man in the middle of nowhere. Believe me, I thought about it. I slowed down. Like I said, I assessed the situation. When I saw that car pulling over from the opposite direction I realised you would receive help. And let's be honest... what could a woman in a small hire car do anyway? I'd hardly be able to lift you off the drain! Towing wasn't an option and my mobile company offered no reception at that location - I couldn't even call for help!

I know it seemed self absorbed of me to drive straight past, as if my schedule was more important than your well being, and I have to confess I was thinking about the time. It's a long drive alone. I don't like driving in the dark, and the closer I get to Newcastle before dusk the happier I become.

Maybe my motives were less than admirable, but in the end I think I made a good call. If you'd been hurt of course I would have stopped (goodness knows what I would have used to help... hire cars don't come with first aid supplies!) but since others could offer better assistance than me, I left them to it.

I hope your wait wasn't too long. That everything worked out OK for you in the end. I imagine it was a shaking experience. I hope you are recovering OK. And me? I'll be more prepared for next time. Better equipped to make the call on helping or driving by.

Again, I wish you well.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

shaping the future

I still remember the day my little brother was born. We called Coonabarabran home. Mum had been wearing pastel Princess Diana style maternity tents for some time and I was in grade 3. I can't fill you in on such facts as the day of the week or the weather because twenty six years are quite a stash to blow the dust from. Besides, I was momentarily disappointed at having a baby brother rather than a baby sister. Tears were shed, and while I think perhaps I might remember grey sky, this probably has more to do with the perceived upset to my sibling dreams than the true state of the weather! Dad collected us from school and off we trundled to the local hospital where we all fell in love with Luke.

Actually I have only the haziest of recollections of the hospital and I cannot remember anything of my first glimpse of Luke. It must have happened, but my memories are more around his impact at home. He was a delightful cutie, more so because I didn't share a room with him - there were some spin offs to not having a little sister.

I remember wondering how Luke would sound when he started to talk. What would his voice be like? It never occurred to me that his gurgles and chuckles and goos and gaas were the precursor to his voice; that gradually the sounds would be moulded into words, then phrases and later, sentences; that his voice had been there all along, if only I had listened.

Twenty six years later and Luke's still talking, only now he sometimes uses a camera as well as words to express himself. My baby brother is a grown man on the cusp of fatherhood, and I'm proud of him. I love our lengthy, spirited conversations on msn and his quirky sense of humour. I'm still coming to terms with his dress sense, but hey - he is who he is, that is part of him as surely as the sound of his voice, and I honestly wouldn't swap him for any sister in the world!

I don't have to wonder any more about the sound of my brother's voice, but I still wonder who people will become in the future, not least myself. Already there are ingrained habits, ways of being, methods of doing I perform every day. I might call myself a free spirit but I like the bed made a certain way, the saucepans in their place and the towels hung neatly. I can imagine myself an old woman not unlike many of the patients I have nursed, fussing over the way my teeth are cleaned or how my singlet is tucked into my undies. Sometimes I allow my wondering to touch more on deeper themes of who I will be. Will I be gracious and gentle, or a querulous old bat, hell bent on making my carers lives miserable?

It seems to me the answer to these musings is found in the story of my brother. Just as his voice was there all the time, waiting to be turned to vowels and consonants, the old woman I will become is already here. The makings of who I will be and the legacy I will leave are hidden in my being. The difference is that while Luke's speech development was guided by genetics, instinct and developmental drives, I hold the keys to shaping who I will become. The choices I make today are the building blocks of the woman I will be. This is sobering and liberating all at once.

There have been a number of occasions recently where I have stopped and thought 'is this who I want to become?' Like the evening at the cinema when the woman behind us complained loudly and clearly 'Why do they have to sit there?' as Frank and I selected seats in front of her. I turned and said 'Because they are good seats. Because we can.' Or the day I observed a school girl throw a plastic bag on the grass at the park - I walked straight over and asked if she had finished with the bag before picking it up and telling her it wasn't OK to just throw rubbish on the ground. When I noticed the lights on at the local sports ground two days in a row I phoned the council and asked why they were on (they were being serviced in readiness for an upcoming football match), since they were creating an expense to both my tax dollar and the environment.

Three almost inconsequential moments. Three opportunities to respond. Three events that shaped the woman I am still becoming. Do I like where my responses are taking me? Assertive (yes, I like this); passionate (may I always be someone who acts on the strength of my convictions); making a difference (please, please let me be a woman who makes a difference); gracious... hmmm, maybe not. On no occasion was I rude, but were these points worth making?

I like that these three cameos saw me respond to situations that troubled me. It would be so easy to let life sweep me by, disempowering me in the force of its flow. Here were three occasions on which I chose to respond to my concerns. I had a voice and I like that. But let me not raise my voice for the sake of it. Rather let me become a thoughtful woman who steps forward with ever greater confidence and gentleness, softly but with strength. Those traits are already hidden within. Now is the time to let them grow.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

the best little place in tasmania

This is my ninth year of living in Tasmania, and I'm still trying to pinpoint my favourite location. Last month I swear I found it... at least until the next trip!

We decided to spend a quiet winter's weekend in Mole Creek. It might not sound like the most attractive destination, but this little hamlet tucked in between two gentle mountain ranges is a real gem. Only forty five minutes from home, we entered a parallel universe of slow moving time, wood-fired cottages, untouched nature and home made bread. There were soggy pub meals, fog, mist, dells and vistas. The perfect antidote to traffic and grime. (not that we have too much to complain about on that point, but grime comes in a variety of forms I suppose)

It was a beautiful, relaxing weekend and here are the pics to prove Mole Creek is worthy of being counted amongst Tassie's best.

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