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The Greatest Lessons

The greatest lessons can be learned from nature and the deepest wisdom can be unearthed during the darkest of times. The floods in Queensland and the ensuing public response speaks to us of impermanence and reminds me of all that I cherish about this place I call home. I admire the fact that the vast majority of Australian people do not like to bignote themselves, preferring to go about their daily life with minimal fuss, no stage, no fanfare. Our political leaders (especially the premier of Queensland) have spoken with genuine emotion, compassion and empathy. The main message has been about uniting together to survey the damage and rebuild lives. No cue cards, no rehearsed speeches, no false hope, no attribution of blame, no references to the role of prayer in saving us. Australia is essentially an egalitarian, secular and inclusive society. I will fight to retain these qualities for as long as there is a critical mass fighting alongside me. I admit that I lack the internal fortitude to fight this good fight alone. As I watch my fellow Australians begin the task of rebuilding their lives, sweeping mud from their living rooms, clearing debris and salvaging whatever possessions they can, I wonder if I could do the same under those circumstances. And then I see the lesson. We are always having to rebuild, to sift and sort through the clutter of our lives, to discover what is most important. We go about our daily lives, fretting over petty things, accumulating wealth and objects as if they define who we are. We attach to these things, as if to lose them would mean a loss of self. And then nature kindly intervenes, to remind us of what we probably already know, in some deep place. In my previous post I expressed pride in the fact that no looting had occured as yet. Perhaps I was naive to expect this would not happen and indeed, there have been only a handful of cases. Today we received news that one looter almost drowned and had to be resuscitated. We all respond to circumstances beyond our control in ways that reflect how we feel about ourselves and our society, and these feelings are essentially a product of that society (contrary to the beliefs of certain vocal US politicians). Nature is the greatest equaliser, it does not discriminate between class, race, religiousity, gender, age, sexuality etc. Nature also reveals things we should see, yet sometimes do not wish to see, about ourselves and the world we have created. If we paid more attention to nature, we would understand so much more about our fragility, interconnectedness and immense power. Our individual and collective humanity would be better for it.

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nature and security

Your post reminded of that famous quote from Helen Keller

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.

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Overcoming Suffering

I am pleased that you found something in my post that reminded you of such wisdom. And in turn your Helen Keller quote reminded me of the following (from the Yeats poem 'Stolen Child', that was incoporated powerfully into a song of the same title, by The Waterboys)

“Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild
With a fairy, hand in hand, For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.”

I recall some years ago, being inspired by the album (Fishermans Blues), and shall write about it one day soon. One of the wonderful aspects of receiving feedback on our writing is the tangents that we then take, and how our ideas can subsequently flourish and deepen.

Thanks Mark.

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Impermanence is one of the greatest things we must accept in life and one of the most misunderstood, I believe. So many monuments have been built by kings and pharoahs to proclaim the opposite, but the pulse of building and tearing down that is seen everywhere in nature truly does offer us a lesson about our own selves. Not to say we are exempt from trusting and helping one another. Just that we are much better off when we work with nature rather than against it.

I have been keeping a close eye on the news from Queensland. I would imagine the severe shock of having ordinary routines disrupted in such a powerful way will be difficult to set aside for many people. It is very heartening to hear that citizens all around the area and the country are extending help and support to one another. The premier of Queensland was admirably direct and sincere in her comments.

I hope you are safe and well.

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Trusting and Helping

A much belated thanks for your response and your wishes, Christine.