The pandemic has taken its toll, even for those who have kept their jobs. Perhaps the worst affected are health workers. Tragically, many have died in the line of duty. Overworked, in dangerous environments, these front line workers have also had to sacrifice precious time with friends and family. We owe these people–from doctors to hospital cleaners–a debt that will be impossible to repay. How do we repay days, weeks, months of someone’s life freely given to keep us alive?
Donald was so beloved by his students, yogis who had followed him for years. I was fortunate to be given a place in what turned our to be essentially an Iyengar-type class. However, Donald’s approach was inquiry based: ‘How does it feel to do the pose this way? Where does your effort come from? Might you do the pose in a way better-suited to your body?’
I wish I could tell you what is so attractive about our women’s reunions. As they say, you’d have to be there. And be there over years and years as layers of trust and love are built. I can describe how our meetings make me feel: like a swim in the gentle and warm waters of a tiny sheltered bay. The reunions feel healthy and refreshing. Together we women create a pool of energy that we continue to dip into long after the reunion has finished or the ‘leave meeting’ button has been pushed.
One of the blessings of this quiet Corona Time is my long-established yoga practice. I’ve always thought of my yoga practice as an investment, as good as superannuation. Nearly 50 years of practice, and I can call on my investment deal with the stress of self-isolation. There are other solid regular rituals, too: walking on the beach, dinner with my housemates, phone calls to the kids and to my family in the States.
Recently I’ve been thinking about healthy ageing yet again because I’ve been included as a photographic subject in the NSW Government’s ‘Art of Ageing’ exhibition. It was launched at Parliament House in Sydney this week and will be featured prominently there for a month. Then, the exhibition will go on the road for two years, showing in 46 locations across the State.
The stated aim of the exhibition is to improve respect for and social inclusion of older people and to recognise older people’s contributions to their communities.
Here in Australia, impossible to ignore, there has been the continuing cruelty of a nationwide drought. And the resultant drying up of rivers and loss of biodiversity.
Then along came the winter bushfires. Winter! Not the ‘normal’ season for fires to occur. Even less ‘normal’ for the rain forests to burn.
And now, there are massive rainfalls, flooding, storms and perilous tidal surges.
Julie and I have been looking at the trees and vegetation of Saltwater National Park for green signs of rebirth. They’ve been hard to find: tufts of grasses, epiphyte-like growths, occasional new leaves. The enormous heat generated by this fire seems to have nuclear-blasted the paperbarks and grass trees. Some are burnt-out trunks with branches intact, still standing. Others resemble resinated black statues.
As the pace of our lives continues to accelerate, driven by a host of forces seemingly beyond our control, more and more of us are finding ourselves drawn to engage in meditation, in this radical act of being. We are moving in the direction of meditative awareness for many reasons, not the least of which may be to maintain our individual and collective sanity, or recover our perspective and sense of meaning, or simply to deal with the outrageous stress and insecurity of this age.
Even now as write, I don’t know what words to describe my uneasy feelings about the climate. Maybe it’s because there’s just too much to say.
Earlier this year, the on-line Sydney Morning Herald would run one or two stories on climate change. Now, and especially since Australia’s monstrously extensive bushfires, there are a half dozen or more each day.
To a large extent, the local fires have abated…for the time being. Yet the BoM site still informs us of ‘smoke haze’. The air we breathe is badly polluted. But there’s something worse in the atmosphere.
We are restless, somewhat distracted and very much looking for the comfort of each other. Haven’t you felt it? Some of us have lost sheds, fences, homes, friends, pets. Wildlife populations and vegetation have been decimated. The worst is the loss of security, of safety. What will life be like from now on if the air we breathe is uncertainty?
It’s not often that I am at a loss for words. But over the last week, I’ve felt unable to ‘put pen to paper’.
In retrospect, this is as it should be. The Australian bushfire losses we’ve experienced are too big and one’s feelings still so raw.
The climate crisis is no longer a future problem. We need to grapple with it now. In an increasingly accelerating way, life on our planet as we’ve experienced it is changing. That means we are being called on to change, too.
Time is running out. The patient is critically ailing. Every day matters.