"everything is connected in life. the point is to know it, and understand it."
-words framed in the artists treehouse in australia.
i have to admit, i felt like a badass today.
after a flight from sydney to cairns,
i drove for 70 kilometers
on the lefthand side of the road (!!!),
in a car with the steering wheel on the right,
down a winding australian ocean highway.
i was driving to port douglas.
the great barrier reef on my right.
80's music blared from a local station
as the dj shared news of indigenous peoples
and an update on the latest science on climate change.
mustard-yellow highway signs
warned of hopping kangaroos.
i arrived to the artist's treehouse
where i am staying
just in time to watch
hundreds of bats the size of large seagulls
fly out of the jungle across the street
and off into the expansive pink sky.
they reminded me
of the surfers i watched in manly last week
glide through an ocean of pink evening light.
they made a graceful, hushed swishing sound.
at first i didn't know what they were.
my hosts were greeting me at my car, though,
and i pointed up and asked
"are those pelicans?"
australia is an amazing place.
i just spent the past week in manly,
learning the lingo.
everything has a nickname down here
australians are "ozzies"
tasmania is "tazzie"
mosquitos are "mozzies"
breakfast is "breakie"
sunglasses are "sunnies"
oh, and chickens are "chooks"
made new friends,
walked the breathtaking manly spit walk,
took the ferry to sydney several times,
saw "sculpture by the sea" at bondi beach,
bought some art,
watched four 6am sunrises,
and drank probably a dozen flat whites and one cold drip cacao.
(they like their hipster coffee here in oz. i do too.)
things are a bit backwards down here.
it's summertime in early november,
apples cost more than mangoes and kiwis,
and the moon hangs differently.
it is so high in the sky that sometimes
you have to arch your neck
all the way back
just to see it.
but i think the real magic
may have started
i sat next to kathy on the plane
from sydney to cairns.
she was flying home
from a conference
of anesthetist technicians,
which she is.
she works in a hospital in cairns.
i didn't ask her age, but guessed sixties,
because of the wisdom in her eyes
and the wicked combo of
reverence and irreverence
in her laugh.
i told her about moving into light,
and the work i'm hoping to accomplish
with this project.
she nodded knowingly,
and then we talked for the rest of the flight.
she assists anesthesiologists with a lot of
some of the patients are young guys in their twenties, she says,
who were drunk and fighting each other.
but the majority of the facial surgeries she sees
are for women
who have been
i know domestic violence is a pervasive problem
all over the world
but i still stop breathing for a few seconds
when I listen to real people
tell me truths like this.
simply what she has witnessed.
simply what she knows.
we talked about
how intimate partner abuse is a complex problem,
and a sign of the much deeper issue facing the human race,
the precariousness of existence
on this paradise we call earth.
"its about power"
she asked my story,
and so i shared some of it with her.
then i asked about her,
and that is when i learned what a badass she is.
and i was inspired.
among other amazing life stories,
she recently told her (darling) husband she was going to
save up for two years,
and then go to rwanda
to see the gorilla sanctuary
set up by dian fosse
because the book, gorillas in the mist,
had always inspired her.
"he thought i was nuts, but i like to be where the action is."
he wound up going with her! ha ha!
and they visited uganda, and egypt
in 2011, when the government in egypt
was being overthrown
and most people
were heading away from there.
"it was lovely to see the nile and the pyramids without any tourists,"
she laughed (the irreverent laugh) and looked me in the eyes.
i felt like her spirit was giving my spirit a high-five. not that i wish to go to rwanda anytime soon. but the thelma & louise-ness of it all was palpable. it felt like we were sharing an acknowledgment of the thrill and good fortune of being independent and female, and able to explore parts of this amazing world. and also sharing an acknowledgement that there is so much work left to do.
"you'll have a fabulous time in port douglas," she said. "but watch out for the saltwater crocs, and stay focused when you are driving. i don't want to see you in my hospital."
she wished me luck with my work.
she said it's important.
she said so many women get stuck being victims and they identify with that mentality forever. others get stuck being survivors, and they identify with that mentality forever. the part that comes next - living life fully - she told me she thinks we all need to see more about that.
then, more laughter. the reverential kind.
xo from down under,