I’ve taken myself off to one of the most beautiful places I can imagine, for a self-directed writer’s retreat. This is pure indulgence for me. I am essentially out of communication: no Facebook, few emails; I’m even missing out on a rehearsal tomorrow night. It’s this introvert’s idea of heaven: beauty, and quiet time, and writing time, and over the course of the day I have said maybe twenty words. Most of these concerned my breakfast and dinner orders. I’ve sat at the top of a rolling hill and watched a small flock of kangaroos go about their business; I’ve watched a wagtail dart in a stunning display of agility and virtuosity to catch probably the biggest moth I have ever seen. And all day, I’ve been writing.
I found myself writing – I’m not quite sure why – about vulnerability. I do a lot of thinking, and it is something that’s been in my thoughts lately. And sitting at the top of my hill, looking out over pastoral perfection, vulnerability was what my pen decided it was time to explore.
“From where I sit I can see kangaroos in the distance. Their fragility despite their strength. Vulnerable to so much: drought, bushfire, flood. The vicissitudes of the humans who control the lands on which they rely. Even the rain which must soak through the coarseness of their fur; the sun which beats them; even the midges and fleas which live on their flesh and feast on their blood. It doesn’t take much top snuff out a life, even one as strong as one of these muscular, powerful animals. Like the candle flame starved of oxygen, a gradual fading of its spark, its life force. Or the vulnerability of a flower. So easily crushed underfoot. The petals, the nectary heart, destroyed in a careless instant. Whatever life could have been sustained, too, by that flower, that tiny source of sustenance and sweetness and beauty, must now find succour elsewhere. Even the trees here are defenceless. Such strength in wood and water and foliage, such quiet endurance, such slow silent wisdom which dwells in those sheltering, sustaining branches – and yet, one man with a chainsaw can end the aboreal life which has stood so solidly, sometimes for centuries, overlooking the constant movement of the tiny human lives which pass beneath it. Or the grass, the water in the glassy, rain-fed dams, even the very earth on which and in which all of these things have their being – their fragility astounds me. And yet, we’re so rarely aware of it.”
I didn’t expect a ten-minute writing exercise – essentially a warm-up before I got into my “real” work – to take me into exploring a topic of which I’m slightly shamefully afraid. I blame my pen.