Monthly Archives: May 2022

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #20

This time next week we will be waking up to a new Australia that we can all see. This Australia is already here but not yet fully visible.  

In this Australia:

  • thousands of women march and say enough is enough to gendered violence and sexism
  • flood waters rise
  • people sit in boats at sea, run into the ocean to escape flames as they watch a bushfire scorch the earth and destroy all they know
  • vast numbers get a dog for the first time, bake sourdough bread and create edible landscapes
  • young people strike for climate
  • we ingest the equivalent of a hard hat of plastic every month
  • algorithms match us to find new love, new music, new books
  • we know a single woman over fifty who is homeless or couch surfing and some of us are one of the 400,000 in this situation
  • we say goodbye to a friend or family member to COVID and not be able to touch them, and join a funeral via a small screen
  • ache from the separation from friends and family for significant life events
  • one in five of us join the global phenomena of the great resignation
  • the unlawful federal government raise of $1.76bn in debts leaves us numb and some of us dead
  • energy bill defaults rise as renewables energy use grows
  • a young member of the family learns a few words of an Indigenous language and passes them on to the rest of the household
  • two hundred million litres of hand sanitiser are used in the past two years
  • its unexceptional to have a trans friend and use they as a pronoun
  • meaning is found by walking in nature is healing
  • you join an online choir during the pandemic that includes past Prime Ministers, opera singers, dogs, children, nurses and lawyers, is fun
  • many are wishing shares in Zoom were in their investment portfolio
  • binging on a series set in Edwardian England or Korea is a topic of conversation
  • divestment from coal is a race being run by fund managers
  • on Monday 19th April 2022, 214,000 people registered to vote through the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on the last day to get registered on the electoral roll – the biggest single-day enrolment in Australia’s history, making 96% of us eligible to vote on May 21st.

It is an Australia that is emerging into compassion for First Nations and recognising colonisation is not past tense. It is an Australia that is ready to make peace with its past through voice, treaty, truth. It is an Australia that understands women’s rights are human rights and that rape culture starts with language. It is an Australia that is yearning for climate justice for farmers, coastal households, and highland towns. It is an Australia that wants to turn away from the shame of treating refugees as criminals. It is an Australia that is ready to shape up to its geopolitical responsibilities as a good neighbour in the Pacific.

This is the decade, our last possible one, to halt and if at all possible, turn the climate around. We have not got a minute to waste. The collective actions we take at the ballot box will make visible the kind of Australia we are at this time, facing our greatest challenges as a species. I am confident we are up for the challenge.

Next Sunday we will have new leadership, which will look more like us, more diversity in the Parliament, in age, backgrounds, gender, political parties.  We will be set for more debate, discourse, and discernment. More is going to be asked of us as citizens, this next period of governing Australia is not going to be a set and forget, or a suck it and see mentality. There will be in the famous words of a past Prime Minister, thrills, and spills.  And I cannot wait for what is ahead and what will be required of us all to get to the next stage of our development as a Commonwealth.  

March 2021 Parliament House, Canberra

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #19

Expectations are invisible and then when they aren’t met, they become visible by the oozing of emotions, sometimes publicly with the ferocity of projectile vomiting, other times with the gentility of a private sob. The word expectation comes from the Latin meaning an awaiting – and we all know waiting has an ache in it.  When you have been waiting a while, those expectations can build and take a life of their own encrusted with the aged desires and wounds. They have a blinkered quality and seem to screen out a complete 360-degree assessment of the facts of the moment. It is intriguing how expectations become visible without discussion, as by osmosis in the public space. 

For instance, we are in a national conversation as a country as we discern how to spend our vote and there is no doubt whoever we choose as a nation won’t meet all of our expectations – we will feel let down by our team if they get elected. They know that and we know that already deep inside of us.  We will have to renegotiate the relationship from opposition to government or failure to win government. I remember one time a government being elected and still acting like they were in opposition for a long time, not quite making the transition to their new role and the public not quite being able to let them – there was quite a bit of calibration before the new arrangements settled. So, while their new roles were clear and confirm, there was still uncertainty, a lack of practice and unfamiliar ways of being to be tested.

I notice some people pulling up the covers and hiding there for a while hoping by the time, they pull them back and jump out in the new world it will be ready for them, and they are ready for it. An invisible metamorphosis protecting them from harm, it is a false promise though and the practice is still needed and the lack of exposure to the new conditions just means the conditions have been more consolidated and not had the benefitted of being shaped while under the covers. Others have stepped into the breach and now a new world order is emerging, and you have to live with it, unpractised and clumsy, until you have applied your navigational skills to find your way.

Making visible expectations is a partial inoculation, understanding you have them and their place in your invisible world of meaning and circumstance, rank and status requires a level of insight that may not be easily accessible. Your spot in the food chain may be disturbed by others’ expectations and your lack of insight may cut a deep wound. The relationship between communications and experience blend in expectations, we’ve read the room, read the reviews, been here before, wired ahead … yet we can still get disappointed and hurt due to a failure of this relationship not being fully visible to ourselves and others. Coming to an alignment around expectations requires testing both the communications and experience over and over again because managing expectations is best as a visible action.  

I had a very hard lesson in visible and invisible nature of expectations. There is no magical thinking that will bring the situation we want into being, it requires learning and unlearning our experiences, communicating for alignment, and making our expectations explicit so they can be negotiated in or out of reality.  It is an act of empathy and self-compassion to arrive at the new place with the new relationships .. and inevitably another set of expectations.  

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
The laundromat in Santiago de Compostela went beyond expectations and was filled with art, poetry, plants, quirky artefacts and beauty.

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #18

For the past month I have been treated to writing prompts (#halcyonwords) which have given me time to reflect on little moments from the past. A few of them have opened up wounds and who would have known that two or three words could be so powerful? The prompts have invited me to revisit longings, losses, celebrations, community, family and travels. The role of a prompt is to encourage something to be said.  The origins of the word mean, brought to light.

We are surrounded by prompts. Prompts move us to action. I notice some of my invitations are prompts trying to activate someone to take a step in a direction that will result in step forward or at a minimum a gesture of goodwill. I also notice I retreat from prompting; else it be seen as nagging. A prompt though is not harassment it does have invitational qualities and the same prompt can produce a plethora of actions depending on whose ears or place it lands. I like getting prompted, I do not like being nagged. I like being invited; I do not like being told. I like being encouraged, enabled, and emboldened. I do not like being manipulated, ambushed, or shamed into action.

When you are on stage, a production team usually includes a Prompt – the person who cues the actors if they forget their lines or miss a move they are meant to take, the prompt keeps things moving out of sight of the audience but in earshot of the actors. This role is often not needed when the production is smooth and well-rehearsed, but everyone knows they have this safety net to hold them regardless, and they can trust they will be held and helped, if need be, with no visibility to anyone outside of the stage. We all need a Prompt sometimes to tell us what words we have rehearsed over and over again that can be deployed at the right moment. Someone to quietly remind us where to situate ourselves on the stage, what words to use that we may have rehearsed a thousand times and lost in the moment when we find ourselves in the headlights.

We can be prompts for one another to remind each other that we do have the words, we do know when to sit, run or stand. We need to be prompts for each other – to invite well with a question to bring something invisible into the light. And when we find ourselves in this light, deliver our message or action with clarity and confidence for all kinds of audiences. This will take courage, practice, discipline. I need to be prompted often to go where I may not want to go. I like my prompts to come announced as prompts. Announced prompts, feel less judgemental, less risky, less acts of recalcitrant compliance. This approach helps me find my way to the light and uncover something new, and to move from invisible to visible.   

Brought to light at Standley Chasm, NT May 2021