I love sunrise and sunset simply because I love the infusion of colour.
That gate at Auschwitz 1, Arbeit Macht Frei – Work Makes You Free. But it didn’t, work was death, it was the act of dying, For Poles, Jews, Gypsys, metally ill people, gays, and others, the work was death. There was no reprieve from fear, starvation, malnutrition, ridicule, punishment, torture, experimentation, dehumanisation, murder by any means including the gas chamber. There was no reprieve.
And have we learned? I think not. I weep for others since: for the Jews murdered in camps under Stalin, for Nanking, the killing fields of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, for Srebrenica, Rwanda, Syria, there has been no reprieve from killing, because there is no reprieve from the faulty thinking that gives rise to the pathologies of nationalism, patriotism, flags, boundaries and the notion of ownership.
And then I think of the violence we all do, the hurt we bring to others in our lives, the violence we bring to nature. It reminds me that as I weep I am both agressor and victim, and nothing changes till I too change.
In the midst of this limestone formation, at the top of a cliff overlooking the Southern Ocean, in the D’Entrecasteaux National Park near a place called Windy Harbour (Northcliffe), is this wonderful sign of life. I wasn’t able to identify it, suffice to say that it is a native coastal shrub. It is a seedling that has begun life in the tiny amount of soil that has collected in the hollow of this formation, facing strong gusty winds, salty air and water, and a hot summer. Yet there it is, a survivor.
I love rainbows, as a child I was enthralled with them, and I continue to be, partly because they are so fleeting, they are gone before you’ve had time to enjoy them, they were a mystery and I could imaginatively play with them. This day was no exception, I was just fortunate to be able to snap this one quickly, and it was a complete rainbow. Though the intensity of the colour is lost i still have captured the memory. It probably lasted less than four minutes in real time.
That line from the song by Shania Twain , which often comes up in our house, “That don’t impres me much” comes to mind. I’m not easily impressed.
Yet nature leaves a deep impression on me. As my son Hayden is wont to say, nature is a (his) cathedral. There is a sense of the divine in what lives and breathes, in what is solid, or in what moves, in majestic forests and expanses of water, earth that is wet or dry (the smell, ah, the smell), in the power of storms, and yet just a drop of water on a petal can move me too. I feel at home at a party, but I am more myself in the bush. I can be present and mindful anywhere, yet I feel free in the bush.
Nature doesn’t war, it isn’t jealous, deceitful, or hateful. Nature is, even in death, life giving.
Nature leaves a deep impression on me.
I wonder if you’ve ever been thrust into something, a role, a responsibility, the limelight? Catapult means to be put out, forward, downwards, as if against one’s will. Some of you will resonate with that. So, you will get comments like, “He was catapulted out of Sydney at 20 …” (https://whiteleythefilm.com.au) a line referring to the artist Brett Whiteley’s journey to fame as a very young artist.
To catapult also means to take aim, and to fling an object forward. With the medieval siege catapults (trebuchet) it wasn’t so much a fine art as the quantity of rock you flung at your enemy. Whiteley had no control over his fame, he took aim and lived with what eventuated, and it was a rough ride indeed. His life was his work and he threw everything at it and fame came unplanned, though certainly not unwelcome.
Author Thomas Moore in his wonderful book “A Life at Work”, speaks of how we die inside when fail to honour our creative passions, our deep sense of calling, and the things that draw us to a particular way or activity.
Sometimes you just have to take aim, and allow yourself to be flung in a direction and see what eventuates, without worrying.
I happily come adrift when I’m bush walking. To change the context of that song by Otis Redding (Sittin’ on the) Dock of the Bay, the line “watching the tide roll away” changes for me to watching the stress roll away, and anything else that clogs the mind. I love the smell of the earth, wet or dry, the eucalyptus leaves, blossom in spring, the resin oozing from the Red Gums, the sound of Fantails, Honey Eaters, Wagtails, Magpies, Rufus Whistlers; the sight of butterflies, the trails of ants, water flowing in the creeks. Rain or shine it is a wonderful space to be in. And that’s it for me, to just Be. I can happily come adrift from all that normally holds and binds, and for a time, let go.
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