Do you see Christmas as a time to buy a special book? To take time out to read for leisure?
To reflect on the year past and plan for the year ahead?
Is your new diary jam-packed with commitments, or is it a blank canvas, waiting for your special touch?
My Christmas books arrived at the beginning of the month. I couldn’t wait until Christmas. I have devoured them cover to cover. The cover of the first book depicts the place where most Australians want to be between Christmas and New Year – a long expanse of sand licked clean by a vast ocean.
Australia – our island home, the making of one of our best contemporary writers and champion for the environment
Tim Winton’s Island Home: A landscape memoir (Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 2015) is mostly filled with precious memory of places along Western Australia’s stretched coastline. Even if we have never been there, Tim walks us through with a clear vision, always passionate about his engagement with what is in front of, and around, him.
Interspersed in these deep-rooted experiences of place are reflective essays that draw the shapes of influence on Tim. Even at high school, Tim thought of himself as a writer.
He enrolled in Australia’s first degree offered in creative writing at WAIT (Western Australia Institute of Technology, now Curtin University).
Tim wanted to be ‘a player, a practitioner’, to write, not to teach or to be a critic. He learned that to be a writer, you also need to learn ‘by watching and listening and remembering and wondering’, as well as by reading.
He didn’t set out to be an ecowarrior, but as he observed the environmental changes wrought by industry, developers and increasing population, he stepped up to be a champion for the environment.
The opening chapter recalls a year away from Australia in Paris and in Ireland. In the middle of a freezing hailstorm, Tim knew why he had a sense of restlessness and agitation. It was time to come home to the wild spaces of Australia. This is a feeling resonating in many expats. While immersed in the excitement of exploring distant shores and making a new life, we ‘still call Australia home’(Lyrics by Peter Allen).
A matter of spirit, connecting to Ireland. Mary Robinson, champion for human rights and climate justice
For many, Ireland also represents our spiritual home.
The home of ancestors, sent as convicts, brides, or the poor escaping the Great Potato famine of the 1840s, seeking a better life in the New World.
In Dublin, Ireland, in Áras an Uachtaráin, (the President’s House), Mary Robinson placed a light in the kitchen window for the Irish Diaspora all over the world.
Everybody Matters (Hodder & Stoughton 2012), co-written with her daughter Tessa Robinson, is a startling memoir. Mary dreamed of becoming a nun. She did not dream of becoming Ireland’s first woman President. Her focus has always been on human rights, first as a lawyer, than as a Senator for twenty years.
Just as she thought she had the right balance of law and teaching and home life, Mary was invited to stand for election as President. During her term of office from 1990-1997, Mary shook up the staid conservatism of this role.
Gaining international recognition, she was invited to apply for the role of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Now a Global Elder, Mary heads up the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice! See http://www.mrfcj.org/about/mission-and-vision
Through focusing on what was in front of her and transforming expectations, attitudes and behaviour, opportunities opened up.
Tim always knew he wanted to write; Mary’s path opened up as she evolved, constantly maintaining her deep faith and concern for human rights, but refusing to be cowed by dogma and conservative tradition.
Instead of being anxious to find your ‘life’s purpose’, pay attention to your passion, your raised levels of energy, when you are at your best... and follow your own path less travelled.
Be. Then do. Patiently, persistently, and purpose will find you.
Happy reading, reflecting, and best wishes for the New Year!
As a gentle provocateur of positive change,