In response to Fandango’s Provocative Questions #152
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” Rabindranath Tagore
In my teens and twenties I worked as a secretary, mostly in research settings, later finding myself working as an assistant to the Executive Dean at the local university. A few months into my job, the professor I worked for insisted I enrol in an undergraduate degree. I was accepted into university the day I found out I was pregnant with my second child. The next few years were a blur with a busy job, young family and a marriage that was soon falling apart at the seams. Studying gave me the anchor and focus I needed during some very challenging years. I went on to do a doctorate in my field and like all new graduates hoped to get a tenured government job in mental health.
That was my plan. The universe had a better one.
I went out on my first practicum, paired with a physiotherapist, to a family who had a young toddler with special needs. He was profoundly disabled and not expected to see his fifth birthday. He was a ‘surprise baby’ for a family that had older teens. They basked in the light this child brought into their home and hearts. I left their home, with some of light in me.
Working in the area of special needs was never in my career plan. I knew little about it and to be honest, the university curriculum skimmed barely a unit in this complex area. I went on to work in mental health and other areas including rehabilitation for those with spinal cord injury where sadly most of the patients were once active people who faced a new reality. My much yearned for job came about finally but due to a restructure I found myself working with minimal staff to support people with complex mental health issues (schizophrenia, psychosis etc). It was a stressful job.
Around this time I was on a brief holiday in Broome, stood on the hotel balcony with a camera, my first camera incidentally, and took over 300 photographs of the sunrise over Roebuck Bay. As the sun rose, I recall thinking, “leave the ordinary behind”. When I got back to Perth I found I had taken this photograph. It remains an inspiration for me. A moment caught, not a moment too soon or too late, much like a golden opportunity.
I never walked away from special needs. I continued to have a small private practice in the area from the time I completed my degree. I returned to Perth and went into full time private practice.
My work takes me to the whole length and breath of Western Australia. I have travelled to remote outback to communities and experienced Australia not many get to experience. This lifestyle is addictive. I yearn for those wide open spaces, the red dust, the starry canopy at night, the acres of wildflowers that bloom in spring. The utter breath taking moments watching a wedge tail eagle, big as an airliner, fly alongside my car on an empty highway, watching a lone dingo hunt for breakfast among spinifex, collecting shells on remote beaches where just a single set of footprints crowds the sand.
My city colleagues are always curious about my love for what I do in rural and remote areas. They are office bound clinicians. The complexities and uncertainty of travel is not for them. For me, I thrive on the excitement of the unknown.
The reason I love what I do is quite simple. I provide an outreach diagnostic and therapeutic service, mostly to families of children with special needs. The joy this brings is like no other. The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore’s quote resonates deep within me.
And that’s my story …
Until next time
a dawn bird