Reflections (from a week) of my life

Pond reflecting fall where I walk Arthur the dog in the morning

Some days I can forget what one week can bring. But when I reflect on the days and the moments that make it up there is always so much to be grateful for. Especially for that creator of people and landscapes that constantly flow in and out of our lives, forever changing and expanding the possibilities of what is and what will be. I love the following lines from philosopher Henry David Thoreau taken from his book Walden (1854).

"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour. If we refused, or rather used up, such paltry information as we get, the oracles would distinctly inform us how this might be done. 

    I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and havesomewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to "glorify God and enjoy him forever."

Out of the two philosophy units I completed at UTAS, Thoreau still makes the greatest connection to my sensibilities, to that extent of what is truly important. If things are stuffing up all around me, I can mentally and physically strip it back to what is essential and what is material hypnotism. There is always something about being in the presence of nature that money just can't buy. Whether I am sitting on a seat beside a pond swapping memories of my homeland with a stranger, walking beneath the forest colours of fall with new friends or looking out from the majesty of the sheer, sloping green of the Swiss alps with friends, totally disconnected from any other idea of reality, I am always at my best. Reflecting. My teachers used to call it daydreaming and that shows how much they never knew about me.

This week has been filled with interesting moments for Jo and I, many of which we shared together. We had Lubna, a young woman from the asylum seeker's centre, stay with us for the week. On Saturday, Layla and Lubna, two other women who have just been granted residency status in Switzerland after escaping from the war in Libya and spending eight months in a refugee camp in Tunisia, came over for lunch and to spend time with us. Sunday we watched the finish of the Lausanne marathon. Tuesday Layla and Lubna gave a talk to Jo's year 11 students about their experiences living in a refugee camp. Wednesday Jo took her year 11 students to work in a refugee simulation exercise for Medair. With the help of Lisa,Claire and Martha and dedicated students from ISL we took 16 children from EVAM for a cooking, play and sport afternoon.Thursday Harvey and I went with our friends Ron and Ariane to deliver wood to the chalet high up (2100 metres) above Sion to take them through the winter. And today Jo and I are heading off for a drive to Salzburg in Austria for the weekend to make the most of the opportunity we have been given while living on this amazing planet.

Layla, Lubna and Lubna at the lake near Lutry
Winner of the men's marathon Lausanne 2011

Winner of the women's marathon Lausanne 2011

Anna - a happy and random marathoner near the finish line

Marathon fallout

This is what contented determination looks like

And this Walter dug deep and did it for Buff
Lausanne Marathon - Oct 30 - Lausanne, Switzerland 
Hamid Mohammednur won the 2011 Lausanne Marathon in 2:19:37. Behrane Ogubit finished second in 2:23:51. Kay-Uwe Müller was third in 2:28:55.
Immaculate Chemutai was the first female finisher in 2:47:35. Lilian Koech finished second in 2:50:49. Catrin Jones was third in 2:53:28.

Lubna, Layla and Lubna in the forest near Jo's school

View from the chalet

Ron sitting in his favourite chair
The chalet
Sion in the valley below

Harvey getting some rock climbing lessons
This is another blast from my past. I bought the 45 rpm single of Ob La Di Ob La Da (an average cover of The Beatles original) by the Scottish band The Marmalade when I was in Sydney for the first time in December 1968. The B side of the single was Reflections of My Life. I liked it better than the A side then and still do.


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