In my life I have a need for many things and equilibrium is one such vital requirement.
I, like many, have a daily struggle to achieve this sense of steadiness. Conflicting priorities, demands both self-imposed and external, all compete to throw the delicate balance into disarray.
At what point do you say ‘enough!’ and either succumb to a life of imbalance or take the helm in a way that you are in truly in control? I don’t really know, perhaps that is a rhetorical question, perhaps not.
I recently engineered some time-out for me. I use the word ‘engineered’ because it was logistically and practically a challenge. It should not have been. I needed a rest, some time to reflect and time to gather my thoughts in such a way as I might achieve equilibrium or at least know that it was achievable.
I spent a couple of days in Canberra. Some may think a strange destination but I have my reasons. I knew I would have anonymity, I would be in good company and I would have time to think and reflect, so it was a logical choice.
What I wasn’t expecting was to find was that my surroundings, with all their significance, symbolism and importance were actually what helped me find my balance.
At first it was the natural beauty which calmed my senses. Spring had clothed the deciduous trees in resplendent leaves of green. All around native and exotic flora engaged the soul and the spirit with wondrous blossom and flowers. It was my privilege to view our Nation’s Capital from aboard a vessel on Lake Burley Griffin. It was quite a different perspective to be on the water line and to be buoyant in the true sense of the word.
This is where my sense of balance began to emerge. The ceremonial precinct of Canberra is known as the Parliamentary Triangle. This was the basis for Walter Burley Griffin and Mary Mahoney Griffin’s plan for Canberra.
At the apex of the triangle sits Parliament House and the two bottom vertices are marked by the Defence Headquarters to the east and City Hill to the west. The land axis, best viewed from the water, sees a line of sight from Parliament House to the South and the Australian War Memorial to the north.
It would serve our elected members well to look down this line of sight from their respective Places in the House and be reminded of the core defining values the Australian democracy has at its heart. Those being; freedom of election and being elected; freedom of assembly and political participation; freedom of speech, expression and religious belief; rule of law; and other basic human rights.
It is noted that a subsequent government placed the war memorial where it now sits so that parliamentarians could look along the axis and be reminded of their responsibilities to the people of Australia. It is a pity that the House of Representatives and the Senate entrances are on the sides of Parliament House, a prescribed design feature or genuinely overlooked?
For me sights such as the War Memorial are a poignant reminder of the sometimes futile cost in lives and social infrastructure of war, of true loss, sacrifice and the delicate balance of freedom.
The High Court serves as a bold landmark from the water. The highest appellate court in the Australian judicial system, its main function is to interpret and apply the law of Australia. I believe we need reminding of its huge capacity to serve us well and its international reputation for judicial excellence.
The National Library holds in its care and custody many treasured documents from Captain Cook's journals to literary master pieces. They have the responsibility of keeping a copy of every book that is published in our nation.
Then there is the National Museum with its catch phrase being “where our stories live!”
I wonder what stories will be told and celebrated beyond 2014 and how many of those stories will be embellished beyond recognition albeit with the best of intentions. Most of all though, I wonder how many stories will have their narratives retold with a sense of shame and lack of national pride because future generations will look back as simply ask ‘what were they thinking?’
Have we lost our sense of balance in a most precarious world? Or is it that only our children’s children will have the benefit of hindsight to question the decisions we are making today.
Indeed, what are we thinking? We attempt to defy science and flout evidence which should be informing us to act to lessen the impacts of climate change. We are quick to engage in battles both metaphorical and real, without truly understanding the reasons why; but do it because it is perceived to be the right thing by our allies and to be politically popular.
Globally and locally a too greater percentage of our people live in poverty, have poor health and their education status is poorer still. Have we, as a people, lost our sense of social balance?
I believe I had lost my equilibrium so it was surprising that through this chance encounter that I now have a new mantra, ‘let it go!’
I have always known that there are things well and truly outside of my circle of influence that I cannot affect or change. And there are also the situations that can only be defined as ‘someone else’s problem.’
It’s only with the passing years that I now believe that I can and actually give myself the permission to ‘let it go’.
In letting go I have found an inner strength to embrace change like never before.
Whilst I have been able to readily adapt, revise plans and my way of thinking in the past, I now see the present and the future with much more acuity and clarity.
This piece is not about unveiling insecurities or disclosing fears but rather it is about accepting what I can influence and that which I cannot.
This piece is about being stronger, yet forgiving in a way which allows me to breathe and to live. I mean to really live, not just exist in a world full of uncertainty and paradoxically full of endless possibilities.
Love this life.