Witness at Circular Quay (Sydney)

My quiet corner, Sydney’s Circular Quay,

I write indulging my silent curiosity, 

An auditory observer this Sunday

As towards me waves wend their way.


A didgeridoo drones from afar,

Adults chide children who return laughter,

A wheelchair borne man draws near,

Nods at me knows why I’m really here.

I remain your waiting witness.

Walking Through Pendulums

A few weeks ago, I checked out Sydney Biennale‘s the Embassy of the Real at Cockatoo Island. Cockatoo Island is a now heritage listed former factory and shipyard and is fascinating in its own right.

Cockatoo Island Sydney

Cockatoo Island Sydney

But what I found fascinating were some of the exhibits of the Embassy of the Real including the dirigible on the left.

 

But then I walked through pendulums. Created by William Forsythe, Nowhere and Everywhere At the Same Time, a n open factory floor was filled with suspended plumb bobs (pendulums) slowly swinging from fishing lines. Mostly in the same direction and mostly in unison.

Walking Through Pendulums

Walking Through Pendulums

Which sounded innocuous at first and then looked foreboding upon second thought : I didn’t really want to be hit by those things.

Despite my misgivings, I nodded to the attendant and entered the open space. I really felt that I would spend the next few minutes or so dodging, ducking and weaving. But I was wrong.

The effect for me was like walking through light rain. It was as if I couldn’t get wet as I avoided each and every raindrop. And yes avoided the people going forward and backward. But for some reason that extra imposition wasn’t a worry at all.  And time stood still, until I found the exit.
I truth my overall sense of the experience was meditative : choosing your own destiny no matter what happened. I left with a gentle quiet surprise which still returns to me!
And perhaps some pendulums did change their swing for me?

From Melbourne to Sydney

 

One often says of oneself as a child, this is where I grew up.  But to me, at least, one doesn’t realise that one has grown up until one leaves that place and returns.
Yes I grew up in Canowindra (New South Wales). I grew up too in Kiama (New South Wales). And then Canberra and Brisbane (although I will never make it as a Queenslander!). And now that I have returned to Sydney that I realised I had grown up some more in Melbourne. And for that much like Mary Queen of Scots feels towards Calais I will be forever grateful.  For Melbourne will be forever in my heart.
That’s not to say I have lessons to be learned. I’ve learnt about the love and honesty (sometimes searingly so) of family and the support whether near or far of friends. I’ve learnt about friendship found false and true. I’ve learnt more about my own heart. I’ve learnt about resilience and faith. I’ve learnt how true it is that the universe both conspires to hinder you at every turn and consummate your hidden wishes once you turn towards it.
The last year or so has been difficult, financially, career wise, mentally and spiritually. Yet in the midst of those not so good times there was joy to be found, comfort within myself and people around me ultimately leading to a path of hope. The secret for me at least was to find out what was most important to me and step by step (in fact fingernail hold by fingernail hold) move towards it everyday. And in doing so, I had to be prepared to lose everything to gain that hope. For faith isn’t mere belief or suspended disbelief: it’s progress towards an unseen goal with absolute certainty that it’s the correct course with absolutely no certainty that it will happen.
But in the past four or so weeks I’ve seen my close family again, changed jobs, moved house, gained a glimpse of a new direction professionally and continued a current direction personally.  But I still have much to learn and still so far to journey.

3 Drownings

Thrice I’ve nearly drowned.
Twice as a child and once as an adult.
Beach
I recall little of the first time. For some reason, our family had stayed overnight in Parkes New South Wales. I’m still surprised I can remember. I was only 3 or 4. Maybe it was having my first shower before going to the pool.

I do remember that I had never seen a pool before. And without fear I jumped right in. And my mother jumped straight in after me to retrieve me. As she continues to remind me.

All I can remember is being totally relaxed. There was no fear. It’s best described as falling asleep under water.

The next time was at the beach. Christmas time we used to travel to Sydney and spend our holidays at a house in Newport.  I can remember playing near the edge of the water. Suddenly a small wave knocked me down. I fell over and remember just lying in the water. Again I completely relaxed. But this time the wave receded. I woke up coughing and spluttering. Waves
That’s how children drown.
The third time was brought to mind by the drowning simulator video. I glimpsed only a few frames and that was enough. I was utterly freaked out by it. Perhaps I had repressed the memory as it took many days to recall.

It happened while I was living in Wollongong. One day, a few days past Christmas, I took it on myself to visit South Beach. Alone.

With the king tides, the waves were breaking higher and stronger than I had ever seen them. But I felt I could take them on. And I did.
I swim out further than usual. The waves are moving and breaking quickly. I jump up to go over them. And now I’m being lifted off my feet by waves twice or three times my height. I’m weightless.

Then I’m smashed. Two breaking waves hit me in a row. I resurface and I’m bobbing up and down. I’m a yo-yo in the water. I’m shocked. I’m trying to stop taking in water. I’m silent. I’m mesmerised and again enveloped in the moment. But this time by panic. And unable to raise my arms for help. It just doesn’t occur to me.

Waves

Then a quick breath. I push myself slowly towards the shore. Closer and closer until my feet touch the bottom. I walk back to shore and don’t return. Not for years. Even now I still hate being out of my depth.
That’s how adults drown.

To Strengthen That Heart We All Share : After the Sydney Siege

Like many others, I was following the Sydney siege crisis on and off last night through mainstream and social media.  When I heard the conclusion this morning, the gunman dead and two hostages killed, the others and a policeman injured, I was numb.

But only at first. It wasn’t until  I walked past the Lindt Chocolate shop in Collins Street Melbourne that I stopped and couldn’t walk anymore.It was then that the tragedy was really brought home to me.

For there were flowers. People had put them as a small token of remembrance. For them and now for me, this tragedy wasn’t far away at all. I have lived in Sydney, I know Martin Place, I’ve almost walked into that Lindt chocolate shop. In that moment, I felt I had lost neighbours and friends all at once.

Flowers at Lindt Collins St Melbourne

My heart goes out to the those whose lives were so sadly lost,  the hostages who were injured and traumatised, their families and loved ones, the police, paramedics, and the rest of us : all of whom were and are involved.

At some stage, all of us in our various ways will deal with the aftermath. But please let it not divide and weaken us as grief and anger can.

We’ve heard and will continue to hear the security implications. Hopefully the Federal Government will show restraint in dealing with this situation and not inflame or exploit it.

We’ve heard that the gunman was subject to superficial bail conditions. That has implications for the N.S.W. legal and judicial system and is best left in time to the community, lawyers, judges and politicians.

We’ve also heard that it was a terrorist act.  There were headlines claiming the gunman was linked to Islamic State when in fact he had no such links. The flag displayed was not an Islamic State flag. Sadly this shows the incredible lack of fact checking that pervades our media especially in crisis.

We also heard also about the gunman’s criminal past including being an accessory to murder and possible sexual offences. It was clear from his past that the gunman wasn’t ideologically driven. He committed a criminal act and masked it as a terrorist one.

We’ve also heard that Islam is the problem. Simple statistics save us here. Islam has over one billion followers. Despite its divisions and schisms, most of those billion followers actually aren’t practising terrorism. Funnily enough neither are most Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus,etc. Despite what we may read or hear, the religious extremists are tiny in number. So statistically, Islam or any other religion for that matter isn’t the problem at all. It’s the people that misuse it.

Most importantly, we’ve seen and will continue to see ordinary people pay their respects to those who have lost their lives. We’ve seen ordinary people just reach out and support those who are hurt and injured whether friend or stranger. One example is the amazing solidarity of the #iwillridewithyou and #iwillwalkwithyou campaign which I hope will continue.

This response shows the incredible depth of compassion and strength that a community can provide. To strengthen that heart we all share.

 

Don’t Ask Tony These Questions!

We’ve seen quite a lot of Tony Abbott walking away from questions…

Here ‘s how to make him stay. Don’t ask about:

Of course this is not an exhaustive list!

Of course, it will be added to to ensure that Tony Abbott does stay and does answer questions.

 

Tony Abbott’s Director of Policy Is No Spy

Much has been written and said about the incident between Peter van Onselen and Dr Mark Roberts.
But there is another side to all of this.
It isn’t that we’ve found out that Tony Abbott has a Director of Policy. That’s way too trite.
It is the offer allegedly made to Peter van Onselen. According to his twitter account the following conversation took place:
Capture
No secret meetings, dead letter drops, microdots, intermediaries, just an open admission to provide information in exchange to hush up a conversation.
John Le Carre would describe his tradecraft as appalling. He is no spy. Peter van Onselen made a wise choice.

First Gig

It was a quick stop on the way from Melbourne to Sydney. We pulled off the highway near a small country pub.
We parked and left the car then entered the pub. Of course, after the long trip most of the party had things to do. Except me. I was transfixed.
At the back was a girl, her guitar and her song. And she was singing her heart out. Maybe it was her first gig. Who knows? But that didn’t matter. Then she finished. The whole pub clapped and cheered. And we all caught our breath and held it. Then very slowly the original singer/guitarist returned and started tuning up again. For some reason he couldn’t get started. He knew : what we knew.