Recently I found myself profoundly lost - inside my head. A difficult decision had sent my mind running around and around on a mousetrap of pros and cons, all of them leading to the same dizzying confusion. Indecision turned into worry, then sleepless anxiety; inside and outside blurring into a featureless grey.
Within this fog I sent off an email to my agent with a new book idea. A few days later, I was shocked to receive her reply: ‘Claire, my 13 year old daughter died on Monday night in tragic circumstances. If you don’t hear from me, please chase me up next month.’
As if someone had thrown a bucket of iced water over me, I woke up as if from a dream, my petty worries dissolved instantaneously.
Legs shaky, I stood to walk, my bare feet slow as I struggled to imagine the grief of this woman.
With a long inhale, I drank in the smell of dew on freshly cut grass, my chest rising and falling in rhythm with the Merewether swell in the distance, the warm rays of morning sun like the brush of a shawl on my cheek.
No thoughts, just the raw truth of the preciousness and fragility of life; no worries of past and future, instead apure awareness of this moment.
A sudden single warble of a magpie rippled through my body in waves of melody.
Birds, it has been suggested recently in Tim Low’s Where Song Began, sing at dawn to announce their overnight survival. What a way to wake, celebrating with song the gift of one more day.
Another book idea sprung to mind. What if I were tolive as if I had only one year left? How would I spend my days, my nights, if I knew there were no more than 365?
My first thought was the friends and family I would seek to spend time with. The next was for time in wild nature.
I would visit places close I’ve never been – the migratory bird routes of the Hunter estuary, the sand dunes of Stockton, Polblue at Barrington Tops – as well as those afar – the red centre, the alpine walks of Tasmania, the Kimberley.
I would stay on friends’ farms and help them plant and harvest and cook and feast.
I would fill my car with nieces and nephew and go bush, teach them how to make fire without matches, track a wallaby, and sing songsas the billy boiled.
I would throw dinner parties and grind curry spices from scratch, have spontaneous picnics and campouts.
I would riseoften to watch the sky shift from inky black to dawn peach, a thermos mug of tea in hand.
I would delight in the first tinge of red in an autumn leaf, the crunch of a new season apple, the hint of spring in a blossom bud.
I would sit silent as the tree at my back and listen intently to life inside and out.I would dance, walk, write, meditate and love.
And, just like the birds, I would stand barefoot on the earth every morning andsing in thanksgiving for one more day on this planet.