…you are probably wondering what this old man in “Downunder” is up to?
“Why don’t he write? (is one of my favourite lines from the film ‘Dances with Wolves’)”
Yes, why haven’t I written for a few months? I’m busy coping with life. I am active but everything takes longer nowadays. On top of it, the medical profession has taken up a big chunk of my precious time. They ponder the question of how they can prolong, or extent, my life. “Prolong” sound negative, doesn’t it? I’m sure I want my life to go on a bit longer.
The photo on the top was taken during one of my two recent stays in hospital at Wollongong, NSW. It is a picture of Mount Keira. A small hill, compared to all the big mountains in the world. But since it raises 464meters from practical sea level it is dominating the city. It is part of the Illawarra Escarpment.
And this is part of the view from the top of Mount Keira. It is breathtaking.
The region in which we live, the Illawarra, is as beautiful as it gets. Less than 100 km south of Sydney. It is almost unknown by the Sydneysiders. They rather go north on their weekends or vacations. And if they go south they bypass the region on the motorway.
During February we had downpour after downpour, resulting in local flooding in local areas. A boy, only thirteen years old, drowned in a creek. He was being swept away in the deluge while riding a boogie board with about twenty other children. That is what children do. When I was that age I played with my friends in the ruins of Berlin after the war. That too was a dangerous pastime. Luckily, nothing serious happened to me and I’m here to tell the story.
We live in a world of unprecedented uncertainty. I know, life was always uncertain but what we have now is on a scale that is simply frightening. People have lost trust in their system of government. And governments have lost trust in their voters.
Much of the uncertainty and the fear it creates is the result of modern communications. The global village is today’s reality and not only a thought bubble emanating from Marshall McLuhan’s brain.
For me, a frightening world is still an interesting world. It is an opportunity to learn. We are conscious beings, who are forced to learn or we won’t survive. We are craving “input” like the robot “Johnny 5” in the 1986 film “Short Circuit”. The problem with the majority of us is, that we are craving junk input too. To know what to learn and what not to learn then becomes the question.
At this stage of my life, I have to learn to deal with what my doctor announced with a stern face, “You have a tumour! You know, a tumour?” Yes, I heard him the first time. This is my reality now.
After a couple of invasive procedures and a six weeks treatment regime, I am free to spend my time in a more or less unstructured way. We, Aunty Uta and I, had time to go and see a couple of movies. The outstanding one was “Frantz” a French- German coproduction. It is an anti-war movie par excellence. It is shot mainly in black and white to express the mood of the time in 1919. Occasionally, the colour appears at some beautiful moments in the story. There is only one very short scene of what actually happened during a battle. Perhaps it was necessary to show why the main protagonist acted in the way he did. War not only kills people but messes with the lives of the survivors too.
Today, I’m happy to report that France and Germany are the best of friends. And this after hundreds of years of fighting each other. This gives raise to some sort of optimism as those two European nations, having seen the past, understand that the only way forward is through cooperation. The British on the other hand have pulled up the bridges and wallow in their insularity.
Last month was my birthday. The 82nd no less. I took my wife to downtown Wollongong and we had a cheese platter in a roof top restaurant. The sun shone and warmed us on the outside and the cheese and wine on the inside. We were in a life-affirming mood and were reflecting on our sixty years of marriage.
We had a great time and wished us both a long life together.
I hope, I will write another post soon.