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We have become obese on privilege and have forgotten what moral fitness looks and feels like.

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  Entitlement: I didn't see it for a long time. Then I saw it and framed it as a part of a status worth aspiring to. Increasingly I sense it as a symptom of moral blindness. It is true that democratic capitalism has facilitated extraordinary social progress and has been the catalyst for hundreds of millions of people escaping the indignity of poverty. But that does not mean that its shadow sides, the cons, the risks associated with it, should be brushed aside, or worse, blamed on the character of those who for no fault of their own find themselves marginalised from the benefits of civil society. Just because it has served us well (arguably) does not mean that as its excesses start to crack the very foundations of the society it has facilitated, we shouldn't turn up the volume on the voices of skepticism so we can begin to build a more equitable community. So ... Let's leap out of the slowing boiling pot for a minute to think about it. Why are we  sooo  incapable of a living

Practicing contentment would be economically catastrophic

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  image from sproutsocial.com The Truman Show  was a scary movie. It wasn't designed to be, but it was for me because one of my recurring dreams as a child was that I was the subject of some elaborate staged reality where everyone else was in on the secret except me. I have an increasing and sometimes overwhelming sense that we (democratic capitalist civilisation) are living in this monumentally stupid reality. It's not a conspiracy theory because the leaders and advocates for this reality are just as blinded as we the citizenry are. (Although it is harder to excuse them because they are accountable and they present as if they are always smart and right when they are not.) We are not only  told  that the health of our society is enhanced if our economy is growing, we continually, relentlessly behave as if spending more is good for us. When have you ever heard a government treasurer deliver a budget designed to enhance the health and wellbeing of citizens? I don't mean by re

Freedom and discipline

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Late this afternoon we drove past a long queue of traffic heading (or at least trying to head) in the opposite direction. We've been out of Victoria for 3½ months, the period during which Melbournians have endured very strict COVID-19 restrictions. I felt like we were being lured into a trap, something like the way a lobster trap works ... easy to get in ... hard to get out. It coincided with having driven 1400 odd kilometres over the last couple of days. There is something about travel that infuses me with feelings of freedom, so the sense of entrapment was perhaps exaggerated by the simultaneous road tripping. It was palpable. I felt my mood shift.  ... and I started thinking again about freedom. People a lot smarter and more articulate than me have already pondered publicly about such matters in the context of COVID-19 so I don't claim to be opening up a new conversation, but it's my turn to muse. I really like what Nick Jaffe wrote recently about physical freedom and i

Sometimes good things happen

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We formulated our yurting (nomadic lifestyle) mantra with our kids to remind us of some important values when we were living in the van. The last line, 'what happens happens' was meant to protect us from the fantasy that life would always be enjoyable and convenient when on the road; in other words, it anticipated unexpected and unwanted circumstances. I have been thinking about that this week, but from the vantage point of life being extraordinarily good in the middle of a pandemic. How did it get to this? As has been our custom now for more than a decade, we had planned to spend a couple of months in northern NSW and on the Sunny Coast this winter. The difference this year was that Johanna was expecting a baby mid July, so we were eager to hang around a bit longer than usual. As it turned out, our first grandchild, Willow Iris, was born 6 weeks prem' in early June, so we left Melbourne a few weeks earlier than we expected. We were not to know of the restrictions associate

Respect and bodyfulness

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Under normal circumstances the prospect of spending a few months in Brunswick Heads would be super good. I've written before about how much I love this village. In reality, this time it is full of weirdness knowing what is happening in Melbourne and Geelong. But curiously, there is one thing about this place that is less than ideal ... Being in the ocean is one of the centring joys of my life. Notwithstanding the prevalence of rips on ocean beaches, many of the beaches that I have access to can be enjoyed safely with common sense and reasonable water skills. There are exceptions. The wild beaches on the west coast of Tassie are mostly best enjoyed from the coast line. And this little piece of paradise the top end of the big sweep of beach adjacent to Cape Byron is similarly deserving of much respect. Unlike many east coast beaches, there are troughs and trenches all along the beach that mean the ocean swells break a long way out and is almost always really heavy. I still jump in th

Pearl Bay

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Brunswick Heads feels like a yurting/caravan-ing spiritual home of sorts. That's overstating it, but there is something about this place that has drawn us back so many times since we accidentally found ourselves here in June 2009. Well not really accidentally, because we intended to be here, but then it was a random unknown place on the NSW north coast.   Our first stay here was memorable. It was the first stop on our first trip with our first caravan. We wrote about it in a some blogs  here . Whether the features of the town design were intentional or not, they work. The park between the main cafe strip and the river is more than incidental, it is sprawling and inviting. The Hotel Brunswick, with its outdoor dining area between the simple but grand hotel building and the hedge-lined street is one of the first things people note when they mention this town. Simpson's Creek separates the town proper from the main beach which is punctuated by the landmark breakwall alongside whic

no more

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It was this time of the year, 12 years ago that I first walked down this path. The concrete went for about 20m and then opened up onto a wooden deck, I'm going to say about 5m x 5m. All around the perimeter was a bench seat, but the top rail also had a wide rail so you could sit up another level if you wanted. The most obvious thing that made this deck special was that it looked out toward The Pass, one of the most famous longboard waves in Australia if not the world. But it was so much more than a place to assess the conditions. This was a community building piece of infrastructure par excellence. It was where people sat for hours, sometimes alone, often in long slow conversation. It was where we stood, drink in hand, looking longingly at the line up, swapping theories of wind direction and swell size with whoever else happened to be there at the time. It was where every day at happy hour we would meet and watch the sun disappear behind Mt Warning, where we would share nibblies an

tough gig

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It's a really really tough gig being born early. Willow Iris Houston bought tears of joy for Johanna and Luke and the rest of our family on Wednesday 10th June, about 6 weeks before we were expecting. It's impossible to imagine what it's like learning to breath and digest when your little body would prefer to still be snuggled up in the womb. So much beautifulness and vulnerability. So much tenderness and strength. So much love. It's a really tough gig being a parent to a 'premmie.' For nine months you imagine and dream, you plan and anticipate, you design and create. And then the experience of birth and the environment in which you spend your first weeks as a parent is as different to what you'd anticipated as possible. How can you hold so much love and grief at the same time? It's a tough gig being a grandparent to a premmie in the midst of a pandemic. We've run on adrenalin for a week now, having packed up and driven for two long days to get onto

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