Whoosh. That’s the sound of 2020 starting. Did you ever in your life see such a start to a year? Is it just me or are you feeling a kind of impulsion, a driven energy to the year already?
I dreamed of an old village at night, where suddenly the lamps were lit and there was pandemonium and people running in the streets. “The horse!” shouted a man. “The horse is loose.” The horse was me. But the year feels like that as well: an immense gathering of energy as the horse begins to gallop.
Many people choose a word for the year. I’ve never done that before. I’ve always thought it a little silly. But in the past few days I’ve been thinking about how often we say, “I’m going to do X or Y” and then we don’t. So this year the “gonna dos” are dismissed. Thank you and goodbye to all the gonna dos, because this is the year of ACTION!
I talked about clearing space in the garden in December. Now I’ve started clearing space in the house and in life. I realised that I needed to junk a writing project I’ve been tinkering with for years. I had a love-hate relationship with it and could never finish it. Somehow I believed that I had to finish it before I could start creating anything else. It was holding me back, keeping me in the past, reinforcing old ways of thinking.
Well, the hard copy was torn up and put in the bin. And last night was bin night. Sayonara! I’ll keep a soft copy on USB just in case I can re-purpose it one day, but here’s to new thinking and new writing!
Another word I’m choosing for this year is WATER. Brisbane at new year seemed to be all about water. The grass was green. Shrubs and trees flowered red and yellow in the humidity. Mangrove roots poked up from the mud by the river. The river was reflected everywhere in the windows of the tall, shiny office towers.
I swam in the hotel pool and saw the Story Bridge spanning the river as I came up to breathe. We went to an art exhibition about water. In the hotel I took baths and tried not to feel guilty. On New Year’s Eve it rained. The outdoor dance floor was slick with raindrops but we kept dancing. It felt wonderful to dance in the rain.
Back at home, we had 10 drops of rain and I ran out into the thick smoke to feel the pinpricks of water on my skin. I need to work out how to get more water into my poor garden. Here’s one idea: ollas made from terracotta pots.
“We live in sepia now,” my sister said at Christmas, and that was before the New Year’s Eve fire tragedies. We thought it was smoky then, but now the air is a yellow blanket. The scale of the fires takes your breath away.
My friend F told me about a book she’s reading on language and landscape and about the importance of naming things in the landscape. Especially now, when so much of our landscape is burning, I see the value in naming what is there. Or what was there.
Last year F and I walked the Mount Banks track in the Blue Mountains. Even in winter, the heathland was full of flowers. Every metre or so, we stopped to exclaim over and photograph a new flower. That landscape is burnt now. The pictures in this post are all from that time. I wanted to publish them here to say: “You existed. We saw you. You were beautiful.
I don’t really know how to wind up this post except to say: if you’re in an area that’s affected by fires and/or smoke, stay safe, chin up and keep going. Don’t lose heart. People are doing extraordinarily brave things for each other and showing great kindness.
I saw a documentary recently about possible futures, many of which seemed scary, but one message over-rode everything. Someone said that we tend to think of the future as something we have to adapt to, when really the future is the consequence of the decisions we make today.
I can’t stop thinking about that. There’s the potential this year for great change—personal, professional, environmental, whatever we choose. We just have to take action.