Lately, I’ve been saddened to the point of despair by the state of the planet, by the fear and divisiveness that abound, by the algorithm vortexes that contract rather than expand minds and gobble up the gullible.

I have no answers, but when I look at the wonder of the natural world it always gives me some solace in the midst of mayhem. 🌿🌺

Whales, pelicans and full moon rising

I try to take every opportunity I can to immerse myself in the healing power of nature. In the last month I’ve watched spectacular sunsets transform the sky into a shifting canvas of orange, yellow, red, pink, purple and everything in between; I’ve gasped at the mystical sight of the full moon rising over the ocean, casting a ladder of golden light on the water; I’ve marvelled as whales breached and frolicked across a secluded south-west bay on their annual migration south.

As I sat alone on that beach on a perfect spring day it was as if the breaching whales had heard my despair and put on a show just for me. ‘Look at us,’ they seemed to say, ‘look at our splendour. The world is such a beautiful place.’ I’ve been on whale-watching boat trips before but never have I seen such an up-close and personal display of their magnificence.

When the whales had danced their way across the bay a majestic lone pelican appeared as if from nowhere and circled overhead several times before landing on the sand in front of me. It stayed there for a while and I’m sure I heard it say, ‘look at me, don’t you see, the whales are right, the world is indeed a beautiful place,’ before waddling towards the thick seaweed at the water’s edge in search of sustenance.

Mesmorised, I watched the pelican going about its daily business, its simple life of flying, floating and finding things to eat.

Whatever happened to ‘one voice’?

There’s an Australian song, a kind of unofficial anthem much beloved of Junior School Assemblies, that contains the lyric ‘ … we share a dream, and sing with one voice …’

Recently, I don’t know what has happened to that dream and my head is throbbing from the discordance of multiple voices pushing their own agendas. I’m so tired of it all.

I don’t like to make political comment, and I realise how very hard it must be to lead a country or a state in times like these, but surely Australia can do better than this. I’m frustrated by poll-watching politicians who claim to be protecting us and to know what’s best for us while ignoring the ongoing pain caused by separation and isolation. Who prioritise the boosting of their own images over compassion for the people they purport to serve. Who bicker and snipe about which state is doing the best job of handling the pandemic. Who don’t allocate sufficient funding to the health system …

Time to open up

It’s time now, time for us to open up to the world and learn to live with the virus. As parts of Australia begin to offer international flights once more, the WA premier will still not allow me to travel to England to see my son or let him to come home for a family visit (we are all double-vaxxed) but will happily host the AFL Grand Final and allow football teams and their sizeable entourages into the state, with a keen eye on his popularity ratings.

Could someone please tell the WA premier that his intransigence does not mean he values life more than his eastern counterparts, as he recently claimed. And could someone please tell him that without physical contact with loved ones the quality of our lives is diminished. Like many, our family has been traumatised by separation and uncertainty about the future. For too long we have been denied the life-enhancing comfort that being together brings. 🫂

Collective responsibility

We need to work together so that we can start to live with COVID 19, not to eradicate it, not to live in fear of it but to emerge from the tyranny of the pandemic. We need to take collective responsibility to protect ourselves and others, to protect the weak and the vulnerable, the disabled, the immunocompromised, the young and the old. As a friend in the UK told me after overcoming her vaccination hesitation, it’s about the greater good.

Recovering from cancer makes me one of those vulnerable people, but I would have been vaccinated regardless of this, just as I was vaccinated against multiple diseases as a child. 🧸

I choose to be vaccinated, not to please the government, not because I am afraid, not because I have blindly conformed, but because I trust the science that has prolonged and saved millions of lives since Edward Jenner discovered, in 1796, that exposure to cowpox could protect against smallpox.

Interestingly, my GP told me the other day that cancers like mine are decreasing, now that a protective vaccine can be given in adolescence, and could soon be a thing of the past. 💪🏼

I choose to be vaccinated because should I contract COVID I don’t want to be so sick that I have to take up a hospital bed; because I want to travel again and live my life to the full for the duration of my time on this planet; because I want, I need, I ache to hold my son in my arms; because I want to him see his grandmother and grandfather, who suffered a stroke last year; because I want other separated families and friends to be reunited. Because the mental health toll of these last two years has been huge and will continue to grow until the whole country opens up again.

Comfort and joy

Rant over. It should be far simpler than it is. I have no answers to the national and international state of affairs other than to naively hope that one day we will learn to work together, share a dream and sing with one voice. And to encourage everyone to commune with whales and pelicans. 🐳

Travel ban notwithstanding, Western Australia is a beautiful place and I’m very happy to live here. The spring flowers are in bloom and the sun is shining. Nature is a constant companion, a daily comfort and the greatest of healers. It always brings me joy and a fresh perspective amidst chaos and uncertainty.

Love, Sue x 💡🦋

PS I start teaching again next week after my unexpected six months hiatus 😊.

PPS I’m so very grateful for the kindness and care shown by my employer, Scotch College, for practising what many just preach about workplace well-being, and for their flexibility in allowing me to ease back in to work on a part-time basis. More about all of this in another blog. 📝

PPPS Sending love and strength to two friends – one in the UK who contacted me after my last post to share a little of her own story, and another here in Perth who is facing her cancer fight with immense grace and bravery. You are both in my thoughts and prayers. 🙏🏼 💖

PPPPS Power and strength to anyone going through tough times. Let’s keep sharing and talking, Whatever challenges you may be experiencing right now, know that you are never alone. ❤️


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