Sometimes good things happen

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 associated with the second wave outbreak of COVID-19 in Victoria, so we have stayed here in the Northern Rivers while the shenanigans go on down south.

And so we find ourselves here in one of our favourite places on earth, Brunswick Heads for a few months. Not only that, we get to live in our caravan which fuels our love of life. We have felt awkward and even guilty as we communicate with family and friends and work colleagues ... we have ended up not with a silver lining but a silver encasing!

Hypothetically, imagine we knew the second wave of infections were coming and we had the opportunity to design a fantasy way to ride it out. It would probably look something like we are currently living.

  • Not being in Vic means we are removed from the lived inconvenience and even trauma of the restrictions. Apart from sharing zoom-fatigue ...
  • Our van is parked on the banks of Simpsons Creek, which is stunningly beautiful, and consistently soothing. 
  • Every morning we walk a couple of kilometres along the beach, mostly in silence as our bodies and minds wake up to a new day. I prefer to go sans shoes, to feel the earth on my toes, but sometimes the cold sand means the crocs stay on. More often than not the morning sun warms our bodies. Then we sit on the sand and do some simple yoga before I jump in the ocean to finalise our morning ritual.
  • Cooking and eating in the van is a joy. Most mornings our breakfast is eaten outdoors in the morning sun.
  • I have had enough work to do to keep me feeling productive, but not so much that I am resentfully busy.
  • We have given local cafes good custom, and have travelled into the hinterland in search of cuisine worth travelling for.
  • When we are here (rather than up the road with Johann, Luke and Willow), the day will include another session at the beach and/or a few laps of the river.
  • Twice a week we head to the farmers' market to have breakfast and stock up on produce: Tuesday to New Brighton and Fridays to Mullum.
  • Every afternoon we walk out onto the breakwall to watch the sun set. Peace.
  • We read, write, talk, sleep and sit in communal silence.
  • And best of all, every couple of days we get to hang out with little Willow and our hearts sing, all the while anticipating the arrival of Heidi and Alex's baby in early October. Such grateful anticipation.
The truth is of course that peace and joy are internal affairs. Circumstances or activities like the ones I've described do not cause satisfaction, let alone happiness. It seems to me that one of the catalysts for peace is contentment, which I have written a bit about in my Manifesto. For whatever reason, it seems that Maria and I have managed contentment through most of our living together, indeed it has been one of our shared commitments ... and that, I think, has been the foundation for making the most of whatever situation in which we find ourselves.

Privilege and opportunity? Indeed. In spades. Gratefulness? Overflowing.

Sometimes I look at Maria and say, "Babe, it's not fair. How did we get to have this life?"


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