Tag Archives: #humility

‘chicks bloody well can surf’

puberty blues

I watched the movie, Puberty Blues, the other night. I didn’t mean to, just found it as I was scrolling through for a movie to watch. It’s an Australian, coming-of-age movie made in 1981 about teenage life in the 70s on the coast — the beach, surf, sex and drugs. Not sure much has changed! It resonates with my teenage years and is one I watched many times over. That’s saying something for someone who doesn’t like to watch a movie for a second time, let alone a third or fourth.

The movie had already begun but a beach scene hooked me immediately, no doubt because of my love of the beach and water. However, what struck me about the movie was its ending. It finished on the ideal high that many storytellers strive for, that thought provoking scene that’s interpreted through book, song, movie, music or any other creative means. It’s that hook that catches you inside, pulls you to kind of do a double take.

The movie’s ending shows the two girls, Debbie and Sue, buying their own surfboard and carrying it together down to the beach where their ‘friends’ tell them that girls don’t surf. The scene is brilliantly set up to evoke the idea that the surf board is too heavy for one girl to carry, and requires two. Defiant, Debbie takes to the surf to catcalls and scoffs. The scene unfold with the two girls soon laughing as they swim out and surf the waves laying on their bellies. Their friends watch on in deriding disdain.

Until Debbie stands on the board, that is. Suddenly, Sue’s boyfriend is smiling as Debbie rides the waves as a professional, which actor Nell Schofield does so well as a former teen surfing champion. The friends with Sue’s boyfriend, both boys and girls, are gobsmacked and watch in awe. You can almost see the penny drop in the girls that the impossible of girls not being able to surf, is possible. What’s more, the boys see it too. It’s such an empowering scene, for the female and the male, set up so beautifully by director Bruce Beresford and cinematographer Don McAlpine: Debbie in her skimpy yellow bikini showing the boys how it’s done, defying the unthinkable.

It encapsulates a spirited rebellion that rises and leads to freedom, a liberation of the stereotypical of men and women in the 1970s. Baby steps, of course.

Around the time I was watching the movie, I had just spoken to my cousin in Austria. The tremble in her voice was something I didn’t usually hear in her. She was exhausted and in bed early with a headache that night. The limitations and isolation imposed because of the corona virus were getting to her, symptomatic of what’s happening all over the world.

It highlighted to me, that we’re all in this together. The whole big, wide world.

We’ve become one. While vast lands may be separated by distance and water, we are one community facing a virus which threatens us. One united community. And together, we’re doing what we can to minimise its impact on us. We’re carrying our surfboard together, no matter how rich or poor or what colour our skin or religion we may follow. We’re sharing that load. Sure there are some that don’t. There are always going to be those that don’t, those that live on the fringes of any community, for numerous reasons. That seems to be human nature.

It’s so heartening to see and experience the world uniting though, the kindness that’s been extended by so many, and the genuine care and help for one another.

It’s humbling. It’s courteous and modest, sending us back to basics. While we’ve grown into a human race that is rich in materialism, we’ve been thrown back to basics where food, medicine and water are all that matter. And it’s happening to all of us.

We’ve been forced to return to our homes and families, our friends who are our families, whether in physicality, online or over the phone. We’re thinking about elderly people and looking after them. And for those that have them, we’re spending time with our children.

Sitting outside in the glorious sunshine with two of my sons last week, we wondered how some parents and children who don’t often spend time together may be coping with this new togetherness. The eternal optimist in me believes the intrinsic fibres between parent and child have no option but to reconnect, to strengthen relationships and homes. The problem will be, in the homes and relationships that are broken. Time will tell on that.

It fills me with such warmth when I sit in my spring blossom and peacock chair in the sunroom at dawn and feel the quiet and peace outside, with the French doors open to my Chinese Elm and birds chirping good morning. Only an occasional car drives by compared with the many that normally stream past on their way to work. Dawn in peace is a grounding gift.

My sons had commented on the lack of traffic in our street too, as they tuned into the stillness outside. This calm that shrouds us, us as in the world where we humans have been forced to stop. Our busyness has subsided and work isn’t as important as it used to be. It’s as if the world is on pause for a chance to catch its breath. It’s been so wacky busy, it needed to catch its breath. Yet as each day passes, it pants more slowly and less so.

Many are anxious about where we now find ourselves. I like to see it as being in another stage of life that’s in a constant state of flux. Life is full of those, cycles of change, of difficultly and ease, challenge and triumph, and joy and sadness. Change is one of the few reliable constants in life. The key with any flux, flow or ebb in life, is to ride it out for it will shift. Take the action necessary to make the change, to come through it and be patient to believe that things will improve. I see many who are patient and accepting of this.

Some panic in change and adversity. But that’s the polarity of life, of the spectrum of experience and people — positive and negative, pure and filth, disgust and captivating. Even that needs acceptance, of life’s adversity and polarity that is building now as a collective adversity, a world adversity.

In any polarity, change and adversity, life continues. It’s a short life that we have and making the most of it and any situation we’re faced with is all we can do. Love. Kiss. Confront. Forgive and move on. And laugh, don’t forget to laugh, even in times like we’re in now, and especially in times like we’re in now.

Babies are born, people die. Love blooms, relationships end. Some are still at work while many have lost their means to earn an income. People are stressed, some are panicked, others are unperturbed.

And yet in all that, has come one of the greatest revelations: that of kindness and compassion extended to those in need, and to those that aren’t earning an income. Such fortitude emblazons. They won’t be beaten.

It really sends my heart gooey when I think of the compassion around us right now. Yes, there are some desperate and hoarding and only thinking of themselves. But the giving out number them and in reality, compassion can only be extended to those in such panic for they’re in fear.

Fear can be so consuming and at the moment, it’s consuming millions. Eckhart Tolle describes fear as thoughts where people project themselves into some future moment.

If we try and pause with the world, sit in this quiet time to plant our feet on the ground and not get caught in the madness, we may become less fearful. Accept that this time now, is a pause in life. Plan for the future but it’s not possible to think too far ahead as these are new times unfolding in ways we’ve not experienced before. It’s new for everyone. Deal with each day as it appears. Plan for the future but live in the day that exits. More easily said than done for some, I know. Compassion and patience is called for those struggling with fear and panic.

Compassion and patience is giving, as the driver coming out of his truck to share his toilet paper with the elderly lady weeping when she couldn’t buy toilet paper, and in the tray of mince and bread left on an elderly woman’s fence and toilet paper left on a door step. It’s in the man asking people that had congregated after playing soccer at the local sports oval to move on and disperse, and those people doing so. And in the phone calls and facetimes, messages on every app possible, of people checking in on friends, family and neighbours, on those alone and isolated. It’s in the support groups and services established to help people unable to go out and buy food or medicine or simply can’t move from their home for anything at all. Organisations are making extra funding available to help people who have lost their income. Even businesses and banks are showing compassion, providing extra services without cost and deferring mortgages for those who have lost work. Business partners are supporting one another, offering jobs to those working for partners who have lost theirs.

People are helping people. If you ever thought human kindness had left the planet, look around for it’s galloping in right now. Even my niece offered to help me. I giggled at first, then that gooey heart got going again. Such care. And love.

The fragility of life has been waved before us. But flapping madly in front of that is the human spirit. It’s strong, alive and kicking, just as it was when Debbie and Sue surfed those waves at Bondi. We are a singular community bound in belonging by a virus threatening us, bound by a humanity that comes with humility. It’s a humanity emerging within humanity.

I’ll finish my rambling in the spirit of humanity loving to laugh, with Lulu taking the piss out of Corona

 

We won an Oscar

killing_fields

‘AB.’ HK’s next, I know it.

‘BC, DE.’ More applause. ‘DD.’ Oh no, he’s not going to get it. Breathe.

‘HK.’ Yes! A sip of air. A curl of a happiness-tear tickles the corner of my eye.

I watch HK walk on stage to shake the hand of the special guest. He’s presented with what I assume is a badge but it’s hard to tell from my seat rows back in the stadium. He walks to about ten or so outgoing and incoming captains and is patted on the back and hugged. I can tell by his cute swagger and clumsy handshakes that he’s happy, and nervous too.

Those curls begin to swell over my eyes and I don’t hear the announcement of the sixth school captain, only the applause and thanks for attending. School speech night is done.

I make a bee-line for my HK. It’s quite a feat getting to him through the hoards of around two thousand people moving at a snail’s pace and in every direction. My eyes don’t shift from my boy on stage as I creep closer to the front and I’m sure I’m passing people I know, but I can’t stop to say hello. Occasionally, I catch my boy’s glance and I know that he’s watching my approach.

I reach the edge of the stage to where my boy meets me. Our embrace is instant. ‘Congratulations,’ I say. ’Well done!’ Thankfully those swells in my eyes are barricaded well and I can speak clearly. He shows me his badge, a stately and honourable pin to sit on his lapel. His hands are clammy and trembling, a rarity in my calm and collected boy.

‘Can I wear it for a day?’ asks son two.

‘You can go and get …’ says HK, smirking like the Cheshire cat that has swallowed the prize bird.

Sons three grins in deep dimples and watches on quietly.

Dad comes up from behind. He shakes HK’s hand, beaming as the happiest of fathers. They hug.

Our congratulations are short as HK must leave to attend a celebration supper. We walk out together until HK goes his way and we go home. I pass people I now see who congratulate us for winning. I’m perplexed. We didn’t win anything. HK gained the right to be a school leader.

At home, the texts and Facebook messages come in congratulating HK and us some more, for winning and for being his parents. They continue the next day and over the week, from family, past teachers and old friends. Yet if congratulations are to be given to those that had a hand in forming HK, they should go to them too for they were part of our boy’s development, of who he is. As was the world.

Congratulations should go to the people of Cambodia for allowing HK an insight into their lives after the Khmer Rouge atrocities during our travels there, and of Vietnam for the life of poverty to understand and travelling challenges to overcome when he was only 11 years old.

Congratulations also to the people of Kärnten in Austria for HK’s chance to ski an Alps’ slope that tested his mettle and helped develop his courage and self confidence, and to the Venetians for challenging him to pull a weighted bag over the hundreds of steps of bridges and paths two years later. Thanks too, to the football coach for cutting him from the side that meant he couldn’t play with his friends at age ten.

One afternoon during that week post speech night, HK came to me and said how puzzled he was by the fuss. He said people had treated him differently since becoming School Captain. Many had congratulated him on his achievement. They spoke differently with him and were more interested in him, some treated him as more important and with more respect compared to a week ago. And then there were others who had challenged him when previously, they hadn’t. Is it an ego feeling threatened or a case of tall poppy syndrome where merit is attacked because achievement presumably elevates some above others?

HK didn’t understand the change in behaviour toward him nor what he had achieved. Perhaps that’s testament to who he is and the humility within his makeup that makes him a good leader.

We’re happy for HK as he is happy with becoming School Captain. We’re happy that he is happy. It’s his accomplishment in life. HK did the work. He saw the opportunity and applied for the role. It was his doing, his drive to pursue an opportunity that appealed to him.

HK becoming School Captain is not about ‘we’ winning anything. It’s about HK pursuing what he enjoys and makes him happy, and by doing that, he achieves. Achievement is subjective. One person battling domestic violence and subsequent depression and attempted suicide, to come through and gain a job, find a partner and have a child … that’s achievement that beyond any measurement.

All each of us wants is to be happy, doing what we love to do, what fulfils us in life. HK can attest to that.

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