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Friday, 24 December 2010
Saturday, 27 November 2010
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Friday, 12 November 2010
|"I'm coming to get ya"|
Thursday, 4 November 2010
Monday, 25 October 2010
Sunday, 17 October 2010
Friday, 15 October 2010
Sunday, 30 May 2010
Sunday, 2 May 2010
The city still looks the same, except for maybe a few new buildings and minor makeovers. And life is largely unchanged. I joined the Monday to Friday Zombie March and within a week found myself wishing 5/7 of my life away, longing for the weekend, for time to myself to do what I really want to be doing.
My carefree life-style in Thailand saw me with tousled, messy beach hair, wearing the same few simple dresses everyday, always in flip-flops and comfortable in a more curvier body but in Melbourne, I quickly found myself feeling self-conscious, as if what I look like actually matters more than who I am.
I felt a separateness as life continued to go on around me as it did when I was not physically here and the lack of community connection from big city living. I easily slipped into old roles, sub-consciously re-joining old, tired dramas. I quickly decided that I didn’t want to be here and started to countdown my return to Thailand until I realised what I was doing and reminded myself that this is not what my life is about.
The gift of returning is that I can see Melbourne and my life with new eyes. There is so much about being here and living in this city that I love and most of it is simple joys;
- I love waking up on a crisp, cool morning feeling all warm and cosy snuggled under my doona.
- I love, love, love the abundance of fantastic coffee in this city.
- I love my brisk walk to and from work, past the Melbourne Cricket Ground, my blood pumping and warming up my body in the cool of the morning and evening.
- I love the green grass and autumn browns of Yarra Park and Fitzroy Gardens.
- I love watching the full moon rise high above the city lights.
- I love taking off my high heel shoes at lunch time to feel the tickly grass on the soles of my feet. And if the sun is out, I love lying on the grass and feeling the sun on the exposed skin of my face, arms and legs.
- I love being able to spend time with friends and family, coffees, brunches, lunches and being part of birthday celebrations.
- I love being able to drink my favourite wines at exactly the right temperatures.
- I love to go to my favourite book shops and spend hours surrounded by words
- I love walking along the beach, rugged up against the cold, feeling the sand on my feet and dipping my toes in cool water.
- I love the golden glow as the sun dips down towards the horizon , lighting up the Melbourne skyline in gold, bronze and tangerine.
Thursday, 25 March 2010
I scan the area around me for creatures of interest. Looking through the plankton into the murky distance, I hope to catch a glimpse of black tip reef sharks shyly cruising by. I see nothing. Disappointment creeps in and I start wondering why we are even diving here. Few fish and no pretty corals. Then “bingo”. I spot a small hawksbill turtle feeding on the coral just a few metres from me. I put one hand on top of the other and flutter my thumbs to signal turtle to my divers and point to where it lay on top of a coral boulder. Elena is looking somewhere else so I tug sharply on her fin to get her attention and point to the turtle. We watch her as she burrows her head under a rock, beneath some harp coral. I can’t be sure if she is trying to sleep, eat or hide but I love being so close to her. We spend 5 minutes with her and then watch her swim away towards the shallows whilst we happily throw ourselves back into the current and continue to drift the dive site. My divers give me puslating OK signals, happy with having seen the turtle, as am I. If I see nothing else today, this graceful creature has made my dive.
A few metres on, I startle a scorpion fish on a boulder just below me and I follow it to its new resting place on the sand beneath some low-lying table coral. I lie on the sand and signal to my divers to do the same to get a better view of this spiny, mottled pinky brown, poisonous fish. Christian takes a few photos before the current takes us further north.
We drift for several minutes without seeing anything much. I am gratfeul for the turtle and the scoprion fish. “At least my divers have seen something here” I think to myself. I still scan the waters around us, praying for a glimpse of black tip reef sharks but still none are to be seen and I am doubtful that we will see any today.
Suddenly, the current speeds up and the visibility drops a few more metres. Unsure of where the dive site ends and worried that we might be swept around the corner and off the dive site, I look for somewhere to shelter. In between two big boulders, I spy a school of ten cornet fish and guide my divers in behind them, the two boulders providing a stagnant place to rest. One of the cornet fish swims just centimetres from my face, eyeing me curiously. It’s long, slender body glides effortlessly past me, the long spotted blue stripes on its back flashing irridescently.
I turn around to make sure my divers are behind me and that they are watching this school of curious fish and signal questioningly if they are OK. They each signal OK back to me. As they do so, movement behind them distracts me. I adjust my focus to see more clearly behind them. My eyes double in size, showing my divers massive amounts of white eye balls and I hold my arm out directly in front of me, pointing behind them. My mouth would have dropped open in a shocked “Oh my god” movement if my jaw wasn’t locked around my second stage, my lifeline, supplying me with air from my tank. My divers look at me, puzzled by my reaction for a moment, then turn around to see what I am pointing at.
Swimming into the plankton-filled current is a gentle giant shark of the sea. Identification requires no guesswork. It’s size, it’s shape and it’s fluorescent white spots are unique. We have been graced with the presence of a whale shark. A 5 metre female.
I can hear the thump of my heart beat in my ears as adrenaline courses through my body. My arms are shaking with excitement. In fact my whole body is trembling. My eyes are still as large as the porcelain full moon as I watch, with awe, this magnificent creature hang in the current at 9 metres before slowly heading towards the surface. She hangs at about 2 metres before slowly heading back down and changing direction.
The excitement of this experience causes me to suck more oxygen down for fuel. I become conscious of my rapid breathing, as the extra dead air I have exhaled bubbles above my head and expands on its journey to the surface above. I check my dive computer. We are 38 minutes into the dive. I check my air which is plentiful with 140 bar. And then we follow her. Sometimes swimming with her and sometimes hovering in mid-water, swept along with the current, all the time watching her majestic snaking swimming movement, cutting the current with ease. She comes within a metre of me. I am so mesmerised by her, watching her looking at me with blinking curiousity. Then as her body passes me, in a fearful split second I am convinced she is going to smack me with her tail and I reverse thrust to put some distance between us.
My fun divers are also clearly in awe of this wonderful creature. I can see through their masks and solid regulators that they are happier than words can describe. And I am so happy for them. Christian has his camera in front of him trying to capture some of these moments forever. She swims right towards him, her wide mouth ajar and gills fluttering as they filter the water for air. I gasp silently as it looks like she is going to bump right into him but he moves to the side and she glides right past him. We watch her as she circles around us, ascends to 2 metres and then back down again.
Conscious of the current and decreasing visibility, I continuously check my divers to make sure we stay together and don’t lose eachother. Losing a diver now would mean an instant end to this experience as the poor visibility would require us to surface to reunite. The current picks up again and I see deeper water coming up ahead of us. I am worried that we really are about to be swept around the corner and off the dive site bringing a premature end to our dive. If she came off the dive site with us, then it wouldn’t matter to us if we didn’t see the rest of the reef. We were now swimming with a whale shark, a rare event and a diver’s dream.
Again she hovers effortlessly in the current just above a huge rock. I fin strongly into the current towards the rock and grab onto it and signal to my divers to do the same. Elena is a little distance behind me and struggling to fight the current. I hang on and reach out my hand for her to grab so I can pull her in safely beside me. We dip down and shelter from the current behind the rock, three mesmerised divers alls in a row with this 5 metre beauty hanging just above our heads. I signal to Christian to take video, hoping he understands my hand signals. We stay in this position until 50 minutes into our dive, she swims off into the current. We watch her until her massive body is swallowed up by the murky water and she is out of sight.
Christian signals to me that he is low on air so I signal for them to stay close to me and I give them the safety stop sign. I inflate my surface marker buoy and shoot it to the surface. Hanging onto the buoy line, we three happy divers, drift into the blue with big OK signs and drawing big happy smiles in front of our second stages. We will never forget this dive or this rare close encounter of a large kind.
It's a turtle, a green one not hawksbill, but it is a turtle :)
Her majesty, whale shark
Friday, 19 March 2010
I close my eyes and tilt my head back so the water enters my ears and blocks out most of the surrounding sound of people talking, laughing and splashing in the water. My long brunette locks stream like a furry halo around my head, Medusa style. I listen to the air gently enter then leave my body as my lungs perform their regular function. I feel so still, so peaceful and centred but full of life. I slowly scan my body and strain my ears to see if I can hear my heart beat. I cannot but in this moment, I could not be more alive.
I feel the waves of water gently surge beneath my body, lifting me skyward then earthward in a supportive rollercoaster embrace and I listen to the sloppy slapping sound the water make as it laps against my bare skin. Occasionally I hear a larger wave break against the shore, a crumbling rush of air and water and earth as these elements meld together. In between these sounds, there is silence, pure, magical silence. And in savouring the silence, there is a sweet and pure bliss.
Just metres away from me, in this often crowded paradise, lies rows of multi-coloured umbrellas and lounge chairs covering the whole expanse of the wide shore. It is peak beach time, full of holidaymakers from all walks of life sunbaking, swimming, walking, sleeping, talking and laughing, drinking beer and playing ball games. Amongst the throng of tourists, I have managed to find my own peace. Lying here in these tropical waters, I have found peace and love in a feeling that whole of life is supporting me.
My brain wanders from this moment, imagining a time in the not too distant future when I will not be living in this paradise. The natural smile upon my face vanishes and a deep sadness tugs at my heart. Just like the flow of the ocean’s currents, my life’s tide has turned and is very naturally taking me back to Melbourne. Once again, the process of letting go of my attachments to a place and time manifests as pain. As if tearing invisible roots planted where I currently live, I ache, as a plant must ache when it is uprooted from its space in the earth. My thoughts linger on what I will leave behind here, life in the sea, a dear friend and my Amore, my love. I feel my eyes pool with big blobs of sad and happy tears. The sadness of leaving is intermingled with the happiness of home-coming and reunions with family and friends.
Each day I have left in paradise is now bitter sweet. I dive into the torrent of emotion to embrace and experience every moment of it. This is my life. This is life. As much as I have accepted that the flow is leading me away, I knowingly and patiently wait for the tide to turn once more and bring me back to this place and life in the sea.
Friday, 5 February 2010
This morning, I watch Phuket come to life through weary eyes from the comfort of the dark, air-conditioned mini-van that is taking me to the airport. Tired from the early start and lack of sleep and unexcited about the day’s journey ahead of me, the sole purpose to be stamped out of Thailand and stamped back in for another thirty days until I can decide upon my next movements.
I stare out the window watching the morning unfold and that is when the horizon catches my eye. I focus my eyes on the furthest, tiniest point that I can see. There is a faint but subtle glow, growing by the second, washing away the stillness of the night. The glow on the horizon continues to grow as the sun continues to rise. It is almost like a changing of the guard with no fanfare, unnoticed, played to an oblivious audience. But this changing of the guard deserves attention, homage and gratitude as nature paints another magical landscape. Midnight blue becomes deep violet grey and then a rainbow of mauve, pinks, peach and soft apricots. Softening and warming the sky, the sun eases its way into view with majesty and grace, matching the gentle energy of the morning.
I wonder just how many sunrises I have slept through in my life unaware of the beauty that was occurring while I slept. I watch the Thai people get on with their days, seemingly unaware of the magic taking place. I watch men, women and children, piled on motorbikes in ones, twos and threes, wearily riding to school and work, looking straight ahead. I see people stop at roadside vendors to buy some breakfast, intent on the transaction at hand. I watch a lady pay homage at a shrine at Heroines Monument and I wonder if she has said a silent prayer of gratitude for this beautiful morning.Then I see a sight that makes me gasp. Rows of perfectly aligned, tall, skinny rubber trees, their trunks shrouded in low lying fog, standing meekly before a gentle rolling hill, all silhouetted by the peach light of the rising sun. I wish I could stop the minivan to savour, fully, the magical landscape before me. My fingers itch for my camera, left at home, so I can capture this perfect image forever. Instead I crane my neck and keep my eyes on the scene until moments later it is out of sight. I am abuzz with gratitude for the beauty I just viewed and a desire to observe the world at sunrise more often.
This morning I am reminded of how I so often tread through my daily life unconsciously, focused on myself and with lack of awareness and gratitude. This morning, the nature of this planet gently and lovingly calls me to awaken and pay attention to what is important in life and in this world. I promise myself to try and live my life awake and to try and see the beauty in every moment.
I look back to the horizon and see the sun come into view. This planet is awake. In this moment, I am awake.
Sunrise over Ganges, Varanasi
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Each day passes slowly. The sun rises, the sun sets, the moon rises and the moon sets and then the sun rises once more, repeating the daily routine. And every day, I watch the horizon, hoping that nature’s curtains don’t close early, allowing me, to once again, watch the sun set in its entirety.
My days are filled with nothing much but everything at the same time. I feel a contentment and peace I cannot remember ever knowing before. Not wanting to be anywhere else, not searching anxiously for something unknown. But at the same time I am wondering, what is on the horizon that I cannot yet clearly see?
Beneath my contentment is a subtle stirring reminding me not to get too comfortable. The world is calling to me in a way that I am still not wanting to hear clearly, just as I am not wanting to see, clearly, what is on the horizon. I am not wanting anything to change. I want to stay in these perfect days forever but life is drawing me forward, in a slow but certain way. Whilst I’m reluctant to move, I’m not resisting the flow, trusting that as I near the horizon, the haze will be replaced by beautiful clear light. In the meantime, I live each day with peace, patience and gratitude. Thankful to be in this place, in this space even with the haze all around.
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Read the news, email family and friends, skype calls and online chats. Connect with the world, near and far. Think about life, what is important to me, where I want to go, what I want to do. Dream.
Breakfast in or out? Sneak a peak beyond the curtains to see what weather the day brings. Blue skies, sparse clouds, blazing sun. Breakfast in. Shelter from the sun. Lady red papaya, banana, pineapple and mango, tropical fruits of choice. Breakfast perfection.
Grab the beach towels, pack the camera, jump on the motorbike and take a ride around my island home. See the sea, anchored yachts bobbing in the gentle swell, golden sands, multi-coloured beach umbrellas framed by forest green. Every view a postcard photo. Joy and gratitude to be in paradise.
Sweat trickling down my back from mid-afternoon sun. It’s time to swim. Head to Naiharn Beach. Wade into in the warm acquamarine water of the Andama Sea. Stretch out on a beach lounge under the shade of an umbrella. Watch the parade of culturally ignorant top-less farang women whilst speedo-clad men perform multiple crimes against beach fashion. Listen to the happy, multi-national cries of children splashing in the water’s flow. Hold hands with my beloved. Bask in happiness.
The sun begins a more rapid descent towards the horizon. Beer o’clock chimes. After Beach Bar, Heineken, and an uninterrupted view over the Andaman Sea. Nature’s sky show delights. Crimson, pink and orange intermingle and splash the sky fading into the midnight blue.
Dinner at a favourite restaurant with friends. Shared stories and laughter. Then home once again in the cool of the evening. Stretch out on the couch, love by my side and nature on my mind. Drift into a contented slumber, ready for another day in my endless summer.