Those who know me, know that I like to go exploring in the morning. It is part of my quest to #startthedaywithsomethingbeautiful. On the mornings that I can’t find a photo where I walk Kevin and Rosie I tend to go for a drive, no fixed plans, just wherever takes my fancy. Then if I find something beautiful, whatever it may be, I will try to take a photo of it. I have been snagged on barbed wire, climbed windmills, waded through waist-high grass while trying not to think of snakes, and wandered along the side of highways while almost being blown away by semi-trailers. Recently, after being told of a lovely little track to go driving on, I ventured down Zakky’s Track to see what I could see.
Thankfully Archie and Rissie were away because after a few metres, I realised there was nothing lovely about this nifty little track and I was asking myself yet again, “what the fuck do think you are doing Lara Flanagan?” One big pothole made me realise I needed to get off that god forsaken track and I made the executive decision (probably the wrong one) to go ahead to a small clearing so I could turn around rather than risking reversing. 30 seconds later I was hopelessly bogged. I then did what always helps when you are hopelessly bogged, I revved the engine and watched the wheels spin. I even left it in drive and got out and tried to push it. I am not sure what I was expecting to happen if I did manage to push it out of the hole – was Kevin going to drive? But it was stuck solid. I rang roadside assist and after a 10-minute conversation that involved me reassuring the lady on the phone, that no, I had not been four-wheel driving, she said she would try to get someone to help me, though there was no guarantee that they would. I hung up the phone, thinking what the hell kind of response was that?
Thankfully a lovely man from NRMA/Holden Assist/Sexton & Green turned up. We discussed whether I was four-wheel driving or not. No, I was not four-wheel driving. I was attempting to go for a lovely early morning drive to take some nice pictures. He looked at me like I was an idiot and said, “On Zakky’s track?” I nodded and told him that someone had told me it was a lovely little road. He then said he would have to get another bloke. I felt like I was in Jaws and someone had just told me that they needed to get a bigger boat. I felt like Dora the Explorer. I wished I was wearing my safari suit and pith helmet. My rescuer returned with another bloke and after some discussion and reassurances from myself that I was not four-wheel driving, they managed to winch my car out and drive it up to the very same clearing that I had been heading to, to turn around. I wandered down the end of the track to the main road to get myself and the dog’s out of the way. Standing there watching all the fuss was a lovely old country bloke complete with a piece of straw in his mouth. He must have thought I was an early morning walker watching the fun as well. He shook his head and said to me, “Only a bloody idiot would drive down that track.” I said, “Yes”. The pause felt rather pregnant, then I fessed up, “Well actually it was me.” He looked at me like I was an idiot, shook his head and wandered off to wherever it was he had come from.
My rescuers dropped me home, then took my car to the shop and no doubt had a laugh at my four-wheel driving efforts. As I showered off all the mud, I thought to myself, it could have been worse. I could have punctured something vital underneath my car. I could have got bogged in quicksand. I could have got bogged somewhere and had no phone reception. Roadside assist could have said no, they would not come and help me. A million things could have happened. You see things could always be worse.
Last year when I was lost in a world of hurt after losing Tiney and battling craziness and a grief that threatened to consume me whole, I would often get lost in the bottomless wormholes that you can find when you Google. I become obsessed with reading about people who had suffered great tragedies and survived. It became so important to me to find people who had been through worse. I am talking about the Holocaust, Pol Pot, the Boxing Day Tsunami, horrific traffic accidents that claimed whole families, mass shootings, fires. You name it. If it was an almost unthinkable tragedy I wanted to read about it because if people had survived it, then a part of me wanted to remind myself when I was howling at the moon from a broken heart that I could survive it too.
My little trips down the tragedy wormholes taught me a few valuable lessons.
Firstly, it is almost egotistical to think that you have been through the worst thing that can happen to you. It is impossible, because no matter what you have been through, someone has been through something worse. No matter how great your pain, someone else out there is going through even more unimaginable pain. What you went through, wasn’t the worst and you can survive it.
Secondly that we should always be grateful. If you realise that someone else is going through something much worse, then be grateful for what you have got. There are worlds out there that are difficult, violent and frighteningly cruel, so regardless of what we go through, always find something to be grateful for. Even when it feels impossible, find something that makes you say thank you. Even if it is the simple ability to breathe.
Thirdly, no matter how bad the world seems to be or how many people say that the world is a nasty place filled with nasty people, don’t believe it. The human spirit is an extraordinary thing. To even have an inkling of what people go through and what they are capable of overcoming is a truly humbling and incredibly beautiful lesson.
I always think quietly in my head of these lessons when the kids are worried about some sort of tragedy that might befall them. What is the worst thing that can happen Archie and Rissie? I am not talking about world tragedy in this instance, just trying to find out what it is that can make them so upset. Whether it be someone laughing at them, forgetting what they are trying to say, not making the school team or not getting their homework in on time. I just want them to remember that those things in the general scheme of things are not things worth getting upset about. Life is too short and too precious to be worrying about stuff that simply doesn’t matter.
Sometimes I think they get what I go on about. Sometimes I think it sinks in. Occasionally I think they have learned to ignore me while nodding eagerly and saying, ‘yes mummy’. Other times I think they are a little bit too clever for their own good and I worry about the teenage years ahead of me.
Late last week I decided that I would go for a drive around the showgrounds. The show was almost upon us and I spotted a gate that was open. So, one morning I went for a little drive. Both were quite vocal about me not going into the showgrounds. Rissie told Archie to duck and then she told him to watch out for the police. I thought it was all a little bit over the top. So, I said to her in frustration, “For god’s sake Rissie, what is the worst thing that could happen.”
She stared at me mutinously as she muttered, “We could get bogged…….. in the Showgrounds.”
For once in my life, I decided to shut up.
If me shutting up was the worst thing that could happen, then we were all pretty lucky.