I just watched the news. I knew there was a reason I don’t normally do that. The fires across Australia are absolutely devastating; wild flames destroying everything in their path. We were given the “all clear” a week or so ago – the Hawkesbury had blocked the Gosper’s Mountain fire that threatened the Central Coast. To be honest, I felt like the real threat was from embers setting the bush behind our home ablaze – because I couldn’t imagine the fire moving through whole suburbs to get to us, or that the RFS would “allow” such a thing to happen. But ABC News really quashed those ideas tonight – footage of whole suburbs gone, people running to the beach because the water was the only place they would be safe, the only place they could go.
A few weeks ago my mum asked me “how do you feel bringing a baby into all of this?” And really, I felt reasonably okay. Every Summer in Australia we have bush fires, and sure these are unprecedented, but we’ve also got unprecedented access to technology – especially the ‘Fires Near Me’ app which updates every 5 minutes to tell us every detail about fires in NSW. Yes, I believe that global warming has lead to an unusually long and dry drought (I only need to look outside my own window to see the once lush green lawn crackling like straw in the sun). I do believe reports that shorter, warmer Winters have meant less opportunity for back burning, but I still had hope that these fires would end and we’d get on with life as usual. I believed I’d raise my beautiful little baby to stories of the wild bushfire Summer he was born into, and he’d listen to the tale with wide eyes and open ears just as he was hearing the story of ‘James and the Giant Peach’ or the antics of Harry, Hermione and Ron. And just as we’d close the covers of those fantasies at night, I’d finish the story and the closest he’d come to really witnessing it would be in his dreams.
But after seeing the news tonight I thought maybe I’m not so sure. Whole towns are being evacuated. Entire farms have been decimated. 18,000 sheep and cattle are so severely burned they’re going to be put down. An estimated half a billion native wildlife have been killed. That’s not just a few homes gone, that’s entire livelihoods – people’s lives as they know it changed forever. Nature as we know it, changed. Perhaps forever (although nature is always changing isn’t it, that’s her nature). Politicians, as usual, are responding with the same mumbo jumbo to media questions as usual, and as usual, they’re really not doing much to help. And yes, I’m about to bring a baby into this, and it does seem pretty scary.
But I don’t like feeling hopeless – I’m a problem-solver and an optimist. And I like to think something good is going to come from every situation (my husband has the word ‘Crisitunity’ – thanks Homer Simpson – tattooed on his inner arm ‘in every crisis there’s an opportunity‘ and I like to believe he’s right. In yoga, the three gunas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) are the qualities present in varying degrees in all energy, so in everything. Sattva is harmony; rajas is activity and passion and tamas is destruction. So, the energy of fire isn’t just composed of destruction. It’s also an opportunity for growth, for new beginnings, for harmony and activity. It is spurring up passion in Australians, demanding more from our leaders, and bringing communities together showing the strength of human spirit. These fires are being fought predominantly by volunteers – some people have had over 100 days off work, unpaid, risking their lives, because they have goodness in their hearts. Is that the world I want to bring my boy into? Absolutely!
It is also a stark reminder to be grateful for every moment with loved ones, for the calmness of my life, for the beauty of nature and the giant island wildlife sanctuary full of animals that we call home. Disasters do that – they remind us of the preciousness and fragility of what we have.
I am excited to bring my child into a world so beautiful and hope I can teach him to also appreciate everything we do have, not just because you never know when it’s going to be gone, but also so we can fight for it when it’s threatened. Because really, what is the point of life if we have nothing to fight for?