I was pondering what to write tonight, when I began to think about all of the things create so much joy and happiness. It’s very easy to write about stuff that presses my buttons and infuriates me, probably because those emotions are so well defined, and often push their way through to the fore.
And then I began watching 60 Minutes here in Australia. The first story tonight was on Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut who has brought space into our lounge rooms. I think what struck me the most, was his obvious joy and excitement about the wonders of our world as he spoke. The interview was tinged with sadness when he spoke about the Challenger disaster, but his descriptions of earth from space were amazing, and really, who could possibly resist “Space Oddity” sung from space by a real astronaut?
Apparently when you reach zero gravity, everyone laughs because everything floats around, and everyone laughs again when re-entry occurs and the parachute deploys and the astronauts get slung around “like dice in a cup.”
When he described seeing Australia from space, I was reminded of the first time I saw the Pilbara from the air. The Pilbara region of Western Australia is very hot, and very dry, and I first visited when I was in my final year of physiotherapy at Curtin University. I had the good fortune to do a “country prac” – what would currently be known as a country placement – in the little mining town of Tom Price.
From the sky, the red dirt landscape was utterly awe inspiring. Tom Price is situated in the midst of the Hamersley Ranges, and from the sky, the ancient landscape is a mass of ochre, divided by huge buttressed rock faces and splattered with spinifex clumps. Some of the older spinifex clumps are so huge that they’ve formed massive rings.
When I took my first step outside the aeroplane, I smelt the smell of spinifex and red dirt for the first time. I’m the kind of person who is sensitive to smell. You know, the person who can track down the funny smell in the fridge that no-one else can smell, and discover the piece of meat that’s on the turn. Anyway, back to the Pilbara. The Pilbara has its own smell – spinifex and mulga is how I like to describe it. It intensifies when the rain comes, and is completely unforgettable. Even now, I can smell it in my imagination, and it brings a warm feeling to my mind.
Other things that bring that same warmth are now running through my mind. The sight of a star speckled sky on a cold night, with the Southern Cross glowing brightly, and the Milky Way stretching from horizon to horizon. The memory of our children tucked up on my lap asleep, long eyelashes resting on their cheeks. Hearing our kids’ adult voices raised in laughter as they make some silly comment. The feel of snuggling up to my husband. The warm purr of a cat on a lap. Voices raised together in song, harmonies meshing, just as they did this morning in church.
There is much to enjoy in this world. There are moments that are more defined than others, but if we sit and think, there are simple things that can be enjoyed when we just take the time to appreciate them.