A few years back someone very close to me wanted to have "a talk". It was obvious it was about something serious. She came to say she was sorry. She was at Step 8 of the 12-Step Program "Make a list of all persons we had harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all". She said her piece. I looked blank. The fact is, I had no memory of the incident. This was not emotional baggage I'd been carrying around for decades. This was not even emotional baggage in the overhead locker, securely tucked away for the moment but always able to be pulled down. This was lost luggage. And the weird thing is I could list many, many other things that had happened between us I still hold in my carry-on emotional baggage. The whole business of forgiving, of saying sorry, of seeking forgiveness, of making amends is a complex and emotionally charged space. This was the subject of an extraordinary piece of theatre I witnessed as part of The Brisbane Festival tonight. The Brisbane-based production company The Good Room took to the world wide web to ask people to submit something they would like forgiveness for or something where an apology or attempts to make amends might help them forgive. They wove the responses into a piece of verbatim physical theatre held together with the story of Vitaly Kaloyev and his battle to forgive the unforgivable. Kaloyev's family was killed when an air traffic controller's mistake led to the death of his family. Using dance, perhaps the longest choreographed theatrical fight ever, smoke, 70,000 pearls and bags and bags of emotional garbage, the audience was taken on an emotional journey into what it is to forgive and to be forgiven. It gave no answers but raised a lot of questions. It shook me from start to finish. Now I just want an apology from the makers of the piece for seriously disturbing me.
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We hear a lot about wildlife being injured by eating things or being tangled in things left behind by careless or uncaring humans. Indeed, one of the strong arguments for the banning of plastic bags in supermarkets from next year involved just that. I've seen the pictures. I think we all have. But I've never actually seen it first hand until today. I was taking a stroll through South Bank after my ABC slot. The beach was pretty crowded given it's day one of the school holidays and it was picture perfect weather. I strolled to the water's edge vaguely considering putting my toe in to test the water but my eyes and my camera were drawn to the seagulls flapping about. I rather like photos of seagulls splashing about in the shallows. I've taken hundreds in my time often from almost exactly where I was standing. But today one was splashing and flapping more than the others. So that's the one I took most photos of. It was really bright so I
couldn't review the pics while I was on the beach. It was only later that I really understood what was going on. There was something, possibly an elastic band, around its beak. Perhaps it was from a sushi pack. Perhaps it was something else all together. And my response was to take photos. Well done me (not). The photos on my camera suggest it freed itself, although it may be I started focusing on another bird. At the risk of sounding like a bigot, all seagulls look kind of the same. But I feel bad, probably not as bad as the seagull.
While I might occasionally, sometimes, frequently whinge about my job, I don't really hate it. Education isn't actually about the 3Rs at all. It's the 3Ms I hate (marking, meetings and moderation). In all honesty, I know there are far worse things I could do. I don't build roads, I don't have to stand on my feet all day asking people how their day has been and I don't have to throw fire or knives at myself (even if it feels like it sometimes). Also, I get paid every fortnight without having to beg for it. In short I don't envy James Martin AKA Stuntman Jim. James was busking at South Bank when the dogs and I arrived late this afternoon. All the street performers I have seen at South Bank say pretty much the same thing at the end of their act. This is their job, they don't get paid for being there, they live on what audiences give them, please don't walk away. At least come and say thanks. And then the show finishes and most people run off without making eye contact. I went up and had a chat- and gave him the entire contents of my wallet which was $5 in gold coins. And then it occurred to me. There are lots of things that get harder in a largely cashless society and street performing has to be one of them. I don't carry cash. Swiping or tapping is my thing. As soon as my bank gets on board it will be my phone and that's it (until a chip is inserted in my arm). I'm not sure what the digital equivalent of passing the hat around is. Right now it seems like it's refusing to make eye contact and running away as soon as the show ends. This is a shame. The world would be a much duller place without the likes of Stuntman Jim.
Margaret was discharged from hospital today. Again. She was so excited, happily telling everyone how much she was looking forward to sleeping in her own bed. I wish I could share her excitement. At least when she was in hospital she was unlikely to fall and end up in hospital. And as day turned to night my concern grew. I kept thinking I could hear her calling. Every car that came down the street I thought was an ambulance. Honestly, she is an accident waiting to happen. I'd take bets on how many days it will be before she is back in hospital if it wasn't so politically incorrect to do so. But sometimes you have to laugh or you'll cry. Today is one of those times.
Talking with your hands is a thing. To be truthful it is often a thing that people see as a bit of a joke. As a hand talker I don't find that very funny. But here's the joke on the jokers. Hand talkers are charismatic and passionate leaders. As one study says"Hand gestures are really a powerful aspect of communication, from both the speaker's and the listener's end," Well isn't that a bit of good luck. I saw quite a bit in the name of hands-on communication today. Kate Jones, a former QUT Journalism student and now a Minister in the Palaszczuk government, was a special guest in an investigative journalism lecture this morning. She was good with her hands. Later there was a Fame concert. After 15 years of sitting in the audience of Fame concerts, I am very familiar with more than a few of Fame's signature hand moves. Message received loud and clear.
Whenever medical staff enter my neighbour Margaret's hospital room, I always get up to leave. She always says "you can stay" in a way that is clearly more instruction than invitation. So today I witnessed the wound being dressed again. There was a lot of scrubbing going on. The wound care nurse explained that healing was improved if blood supply could be increased to the site. You have to be cruel to be kind, he said. Okay then. Like everyone else entering Margaret's room at the moment he was wearing a mask, gloves and disposable gown. Margaret's room-mate until yesterday has been diagnosed with the flu and moved into a private room. Until the swabs taken on Margaret are returned, she is also treated as an infection risk. The last thing a hospital needs is more flu patients. The last thing an 89-year-old woman being treated for a leg wound needs is a dose of the flu to go with it. Hospitals really are the simultaneously the best and worst place to be when you are sick. I'm told the wound is healing nicely. I guess not weeping is an improvement. Managing not to weep while watching all this is also a big tick or Susan. Let's just hope it works