Musical genius David Bowie may well have known something that the rest of us didn’t when he left this Earth in January 2016 because from that point on, everything in the world went seemingly pear shaped......
There were terrorist attacks in Europe, mass bloodbaths in the Middle East and Africa. Refugee numbers surpassed post-World War II numbers. One could have been forgiven for feeling like the world was teetering on the edge of madness! In America, police killed civilians, civilians killed police, civilians open fired on each other, and Americans were faced with an appalling choice to make between two supremely flawed candidates in their November Presidential Election. At home, Australians were forced to face the shameful truth of our appalling detention regime and substandard treatment of our Indigenous population.
Indeed, so much of 2016 felt like humanity was being pushed - no, bulldozed - into confronting its collective inner darkness, its shadow. Feeling helpless in the face of extreme global discord, I found solace in my own cultural diversity and comfort in my family.
Right about this time every year, I like to look backwards over the past 12 months, do a review, and see how far I've come. As well as acknowledging the challenges, I celebrate the highlights, which almost always coincide with our travels. Here's how the good times panned out:
The first few days of February were spent with my son, Justin and his lovely wife, Maryanne in the little coastal town of Manyana, in New South Wales’ scenic south coast. Staying at a charming holiday cottage, we spent our days walking along deserted Bendalong Beach and duck diving into its pristine waters. Back at the cottage, my son would put his Chef’s skills to good use and cook us up a storm. The unpretentiousness of sharing a lovingly prepared meal in the most tranquil of surroundings reminded me that it's the simple pleasures that bring us the most joy.
In April, I wholeheartedly embraced my spirituality by attending a series of lectures and blessings by the official Gyotu Monks of Tibet on their annual visit to Bondi. Over the week, the Monks’ philosophical insights and teachings of the universal values of love, kindness and compassion was like oxygen to my soul, a lifeline in the midst of today’s schizophrenic world.
In May, we discovered one of Sydney’s little secrets, Cockatoo Island, a UNESCO heritage jewel that has been sitting patiently under our noses, just waiting to be found. Also in May, we were grateful for the weekend of wining and dining in Orange in central NSW together with a small group of very special friends.
As Australian Ambassador for the Real Madrid Foundation, I helped to organise a "Paella Trivia Night" at the end of May, a fundraiser which enabled 20 Aussie kids from Wellington High School to fly to Madrid at the end of September, where they would be the guests of international soccer organization, Real Madrid. The evening was a resounding success, thanks to the 70 generous souls who attended the event.
July and August offered a short respite from travel as we focused on family and friends closer to home. No great hardship, I can assure you. Our crazy, beautiful blended family creates many opportunities for chaos of the warm and loving variety.
The end September/ October saw a dream turn into reality when I accompanied 20 Wellington High kids and their teachers to Madrid. As guests of Real Madrid, they attended the much-coveted Real Madrid match against Éibar, watched a first team training session, met some of the players, went a tour of the magnificent Santiago Bernabéu, trained at Real Madrid City, played several games with students from other Madrid schools, and engaged in various cultural and leisure activities. All in the course of one week.
While October belonged to beautiful Berrima (NSW), where we attended the fairytale wedding of our dear friends’ son, November was for Mollymook (NSW), where we gazed in wonder at the Supermoon, the closest a Full Moon has been to the Earth since 1948 .
So here we are in December, having clocked up another year and feeling tired and somewhat dazed. Who knows what 2017 will bring? Best not to project too far forward. What we can all do, however, is continue to raise our own awareness of the plight of the less privileged around the world and do whatever we can within our own families and communities. The ripple effect will take its own course.
On that note, I wish you all a happy a peaceful Christmas/ Hanukkah/ holiday season!