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Friday, 28 December 2012

49. NOT the end of the world

Up until a couple of minutes right before the last heartbeat of 21.12.2012, I had been feeling a little out of sorts.  For weeks I had felt an uneasy stranglehold over my heart as I grappled with the possibilities of major earth disasters, galaxy-invading planets hurtling along predicted Milky Way alignments, problems all over the earth caused by the flipping of the magnetic poles, and/or any sort of apocalypse bringing about an ultimate end of the world.  Mind you, I didn’t rush out to stockpile food nor did I reserve a spot for my family in the French village of Bugerach (located in the foothills of the Pyrenees and rumored to be one of the spots to be spared in an apocalypse).  Instead, I just felt despondent.

Melancholy over all the possibilities my girls would miss out on if the world did come to a grinding halt.  Of all the milestones that would be eluded and all the journeys that would never be made.   Not wanting to look the fool, I kept this torment to myself, all whilst scanning the Internet for all sorts of evidence and arguments of what might happen on the 21st.   And of course that was a big mistake as the media hype and hysteria only kept mounting as the day drew closer.

But wait!  That’s just TWO days before Matt got to FINALLY hit the BIG 4-0!!  That just wasn’t fair!  I had been throwing him all sorts of celebrations since January and I wanted to see his face when he opened his presents the girls and I had hidden all over the house!  And speaking of hidden presents, what about all the Christmas presents for the girls?  Not to mention how Tia was not going to get to start at the fantastic new school she had just had been offered a place at.  Hmm.. maybe I should hold off buying her school uniform until AFTER the 21st.  I was beginning to sound like a raving lunatic to myself as I worked myself into such a state I started losing sleep over the impending day.  My self-torture continued and I found myself swinging between being logically sane and emotionally unhinged.  My biggest fear was that I was being an irresponsible mother and failing my girls by not preparing for this possible doomsday! Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and one night, as we lay in bed, I unloaded all my concerns onto Matt. 

“Matt, what do you think of all of this Mayan business?  You know, I have been reading all sorts of reports and watching lots of videos about what is going on.  Its not really the end of the world..”  I was rewarded with a look.  I pushed ahead.  “But just in case it is, I am grateful the girls will at least be with me and we will be together.. but I am sad you will be playing golf with some people you don’t really know very well and you will be so far away from us..”  I took a breath and waited for his response.  Now, Matt is one of the most pragmatic people I know (and luckily), also incredibly patient with me and one of the few people who can make me laugh in spite of myself.  If anyone can put my heart and mind at ease, this man is it.

He started by pointing out a couple of facts about Mayan history (which I won’t repeat) to make me question the validity of what was being reported; and then finished his argument by pointing out that the actual 'moment' was not meant to happen till much later on in the day – meaning he would be home by then and should the world end, I would get my wish and have us all together.  Okay, okay.  I know a few people might be chortling at my thought process here!  But ANYWAY..

When the day arrived, I confess I kept my eye on a Mayan countdown app a friend posted on FB as I went about my day, running errands and taking the girls to the movies.  And the moment came and went.  At first though, I thought the app was faulty when the countdown appeared to have increased when I went back to the page.  It took me a few ‘refreshes’ to figure out I had missed the 0.00 deadline and what I was seeing was now, in effect, a tally of how much time had passed since the world had NOT ended!  Yay!

Its been some days now since the 21.12.2012.  I am happy to say Matt got to open his birthday presents on the 23rd and we got to celebrate Christmas on the 25th.  Looks like I’ll be around a little longer to amuse my husband with my ruminations on life and love!  Lucky him!


Monday, 10 December 2012

48. Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving came and went without much fanfare in our household last month.  Not because we are not thankful for everything we have, but more because as Australians, its not a ‘holiday’ we naturally celebrate.  Which is not to say we are not grateful; after all, they don’t call Australia the ‘lucky country’ for nothing.

So, Matt and I just got back from a running event in Cambodia.  To be honest, beyond preparing for my run, I had given little thought to precious else. Additionally, I am ashamed to say, my vague knowledge of Cambodia and her besieged history left me ill-prepared for the reality that clawed at my senses – the poverty and the remnants of a civil war that literally hacked apart what was once a thriving empire, and left the country a broken shell.  And yet… the people we came across were so gracious, earnest, and for the most part, happy with their lot. 

But, the image of the woman who followed our little boat as we toured the Tonle Sap Lake, with the child who lay asleep under the blazing sun on her makeshift boat is forever burned in my memory.  As is the one of the woman with the snake-bearing children.  Both were petitioning for money.  And I could look neither in the eye as I followed our guide’s instructions to deny their requests.  “For their own good,” he counseled.  But my stomach turned inside of me as I put myself in each woman’s place and considered their reality and that of their family.  Of the life that awaited these families who lived in the water village and the limited options they had available to them.  And I was awash with guilt at my charmed existence.

But before I drown everyone with my melancholic aria, I should point out the sorrow was mine, not theirs, and quite possibly overly melodramatic on my part.   After all, the guilt was mine to bear alone and who was I to poison someone else’s reality with my doom and gloom.  In fact, from what I have seen here in Singapore, Cambodia’s future could very much be an ascending star as a multitude of schools and associations here work together and separately to raise funds to build schools and houses for the Khmer nation.  Even Faith, my eldest at 13, will be heading there next year to participate in building sturdy weather-proof houses for the Cambodians.  And so, I give thanks for the time to come and the promise of hope for this land.

Getting back to giving thanks, I often talk to the girls about how incredibly lucky we are, beyond the superficial and the materialistic, that we have each other, our health and to be able to enjoy the reality that is our’s.  Of how it is through pure fortuity we were born unto a country not drowning in warfare and the resulting opportunities that actuality alone presents us with.  And I could go on.  But instead, I will record my top 10 in my “thanksgiving list”:

1.    For the health and safety of my children and husband
2.    For the gifts that are my children and my husband in my life
3.    For the opportunities we have been blessed with
4.    For the kindness shown to us in our lives
5.    For the friendships that make our everyday richer
6.    For the ability to go running to clear my head
7.    For the life I have
8.    For the ability to see good even when the view is a little murky
9.    For being able to remember there is so much to be grateful for
10. For the freedom to make my own choices 

I am grateful.