It was Jan 2, 2024. I was in beautiful Albany, Western Australia, that stunning coastal town I go to replenish, rest, restore and write. It seemed a perfect way to start the year. Staying in a beautiful home of a kind friend on Goode Beach, the view was so gorgeous it lifted my heart just waking up to it each day. And then there was the prospect of sitting and working in the beautiful Albany Library, which always fills me with unrealistic ideas of what I can accomplish. (I was armed with ten books, a bunch of my journals, my laptop, even the unfiled papers that are perennially in piles on my desk, which were all going to get magically sorted.)
I love the first few days of any year. They are so full of promise and possibility. Everything can be renewed and re-imagined. Of course we can do that at any time of the year, but those last few days of the old year, and the first few days of the new one are particularly sweet.
So, I set off from Goode Beach to the library that morning at 10am with a sense of gentle anticipation, feeling very much at peace with the world.
Nine minutes into the twenty-minute drive, a thought popped into my head, “Gosh, everything in this life can change in an instant… Literally in an instant.” Immediately, I started to imagine all the (not nice) ways that could happen … and then I stopped myself, deciding instead to say a prayer for my protection. I kept repeating that prayer, and when I was on my fifth round, a very, very large kangaroo suddenly appeared directly in front of me.
Collisions with kangaroos on country roads in Australia are quite common and can cause significant injury. Lots of kangaroos die this way, and sometimes, so do humans. My late husband Greg had drummed it into me for years – when driving in the early morning or late afternoon, be watchful for ‘roos’ cos that’s when they are active. If you swerve, your tyres will hit gravel and your car could roll. Or the car could collide into oncoming traffic. Either could be fatal. So, if you see a roo, brake hard, don’t swerve.
Now, at 10am, you don’t expect to see kangaroos. And in forty years of driving, I’ve never had to put his advice into practice. So I had no idea if I’d remember not to swerve.
“BRAKE! DON’T SWERVE!”
I heard Greg’s words in my head as the magnificent animal appeared at my bonnet. I did. Against every fibre of my being, I hit it.
Needless to say, it took me awhile to recover from that experience. I hated knowing that I had probably fatally injured a beautiful wild creature. But I was so, so glad that all that was damaged in my world was my windscreen and bonnet.
Not swerving may have saved my life.
Being a metaphor-aholic, I wonder if this event holds a bigger lesson for me? Without a doubt, 2024 is going to be a year of big changes in my life, some planned, some un-planned. I know this because if there’s one guarantee in life, it’s this: Everything changes. And the other guarantee is that some of the encounters I will have with Life will be difficult, and I’ll feel like ‘swerving to avoid them’. So I’m going to remind myself to ‘Brake, but don’t swerve.’
Getting older, (while a privilege denied to many including my lovely husband Greg), is not easy. Each step seems to require more effort, especially first thing in the morning. And these days, everything in my body seems to be more responsive to gravity – butt, boobs, face. I have jowls now, and I barely knew what jowls were ten years ago!
But with that slowing down, I’m also noticing the beautiful energy and promise of the precious youthful people in my life much more. And there is a deepening of gratitude for the lessons of my own journey, for the art, the challenges, the friends, the students, the support of family, the loveliness of dogs.
A wise bear once said, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem” and if it worked for Winnie-the-Pooh, maybe it applies to all of us.
So … hello 2024. I crashed right into you and I survived. I’m taking that as a good sign!
May we all slow down, (not swerve), and face our lives full on, no matter what.
PS My live, in-person workshops held in my lovely Perth hills studio have commenced. If you’re thinking of visiting your long-ignored creative self, or renewing an old relationship with it, do check out what’s on offer. We got off to a lovely start on the weekend, with this sweet feedback from a student, “the whole process allowed for so much freedom to play, take risks, feel into our heart… Thoroughly recommend Malini’s classes, she is wonderfully kind, skillful and encouraging teacher.” Thank you Kylie! check out what’s on offer here: My upcoming classes for beginners and dabblers.
PPS As many of you know, I held my 14th solo exhibition last October, and I got to meet so many of you in person. I also had the privilege of being interviewed on my journey from science to art, and some of the wobbly things that occurred along the way A few days ago, I received the beautifully edited video from that interview. Having had no control over the final product, I watched rather nervously, remembering, how very, very fatigued I was, and that my teeth were weirdly chattering as I was speaking at times! I was delighted that my forty-minute verbal meander in real life had been skillfully edited down to just TEN minutes, and I even sound vaguely coherent, with no chattering teeth in sight! I’d love you to watch it and let me know what you think. You might be able to relate to some of my story, as we all share such parallel journeys even if the actual circumstances are different. It’s called THANKFUL in ADVERSITY.
PPS If you’d like to leave a little reply or comment, scroll down, I’d love to hear from you!