FPQ #52: It’s all about choice

Sunrise, Dempster Head, West Beach, Esperance, Western Australia

I’ve always enjoyed reflecting on Fandango’s Provocative Questions in the past but I don’t believe I’ve participated before, for a variety of reasons, mostly to do with lack of time.  But as we head towards the end of the year, Fandango’s prompt made me stop and reflect on the question.

What does living “the good life” mean to you? Do you think that you’re living “the good life”?

For me, ‘a good life’ is one of choice.  The ability and means to choose how one wants to live.  Having lived on a tight budget as a single parent with young children for many, many years, I am in a better place now.  Years of hard work and study have paid off dividends.  I can choose to work … or not.  The fact that I choose to work is a good life for me, because it is filled with the unknown and adventure.

From the age of eleven I wanted to do outreach work.  My mother’s mantra of giving back to the community still resonates strongly.  I’m now in a position to do just that.  And, yes, frequent travel is gruelling and believe it or not, I don’t like flying.

The State of Western Australia is the combined size of Texas and Alaska.  Although most of the two million plus folks live along the coast, there are areas where people live in the inland towns, and even desert.  I can work in uncomfortable conditions of extreme heat and less than interesting facilities.  My choice of food is limited in some towns to greasy foods only.   Salad and fruit belong to the exotic category.  Sometimes there is no time to eat all day, and a crumbled muesli bar in one’s pocket, is the meal of the day.  The beds are always clean, but ordinary.  The air con does not always work in hotels where the only stars that are associated with the hotel, are the ones in the night sky.

But …

The days of power dressing is a distance past.  I now dress for comfort and there is freedom in this.  I enjoy working with teams dedicated to providing an outreach service to families.  Our collective commitment and sense of humour in difficult conditions, is always a bonus.  Bumping into another team in the most unexpected place like an outback pub, has the warmth of family at Christmas.  I visit well known tourists spots like beautiful Esperance every month.  Or, the most amazing off the tourist track places. The folks we visit are always so grateful for the service provided.  It is rare for my colleague and I not to smile and say, “that was a good trip!” as we leave town.

Like most, yes there are burdens and sadness, for me too.  The city is where I feel ‘an absence’ the most.  I never thought I would be in a position one day where I would chose to be single.  But, I made the choice and I embrace it as all roads have led to here.  I love the wide open spaces best, be it coast or outback.  The feeling of being small in a big world is oddly comforting and lessens any burden I may have.  It is moments like this, when I know I live the good life.  And, it has come about because of the choices I have made.

Thanks Fandango … I needed to reflect on this.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird


‘The Dinner Tree’

There are many natural icons that are synonymous with the Kimberley region in the north of Western Australia.  Like others, I fell in love at first sight.  To fall in love instantly, is being bedazzled in, and, by the moment.  One returns to that memory, repeatedly.

The Kimberley region, is like that for me.

Of all the things I’ve seen and experienced there is one that stands out for me.  One I return to every time I’m in Derby.  It is a visit to One Mile Dinner Camp and a large, old boab, colloquially known as, ‘the Dinner Tree’.DSC_0680.jpgThis is a place of history.  In the early 1900s the drovers stopped here at dusk, a midway point before they walked across the mud flats with cattle, to the Derby Jetty beyond.  The journey must have been arduous for the drovers and their cattle.  As is now, the sun would have been blistering hot from early day to night fall.  Reflecting on their hardship what comes through for me, time and again, is the sense of community they must have experienced at night fall.  The camp fires would have been lit.  The talk muted.  The cattle satiated having quenched their thirst at the Myall Bore and Trough (another icon), before getting here.  What did these men talk about?  Did they miss family?  Is this the only life they knew?  I have walked around this site and come up with all kinds of scenarios and characters that must have squat around a campfire, their weary faces aglow with rest at last.  I imagine the dinner of some stew, damper bread and billy tea would have been standard fare.  I know this because I enjoyed a similar meal a hundred years later at a cattle station.  After their meal, the embers would have been contained in the campfire, swags would have been opened and weary bodies wrapped within only to be unwrapped before dawn, when the next day would begin.  These men would have worked and rested as one, they would have got the other’s back and watched out for mates.  They were community, friends and family on the road.  To do this, they had to stay connected.  They must have known, for the common interest, the common goal, they had to be.

Have you noticed how different we are a century later?  Even families eat their meals peering into a screen while advertisements in the background tout ‘stay connected’.  You may have guessed from this and previous posts, this is my pet peeve!

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird