This holiday season I joined my family on a trip to our Great Barrier Reef just off the coast of Port Douglas, north of Cairns. It had been twenty years since my last visit and I was keen to get a better look and to talk to locals about the reefs health and future. I’ll discuss that in another post but for now I want to draw your attention to this, a book that I was captivated by on my travels.
Here’s a very quick review for you:
Amazing book, just brilliant. Fantastic historical accounts of commercial reef exploration entwined with sometimes deeply embarrassing and saddening, sometimes joyful and heart warming stories of encounters with first nation family groups. Great reading as another Australia Day draws near, a time when I like to encourage my family to take a good long minute to reflect on what arses we culturally were and still are in some cases.
May we have the insight to steer our present and future actions on a path that rights our historical wrongs.
So there you go.
I’ve always had the impression that Tim Flannery is a nice bloke, the kind of hard-working, intelligent, diligent, thought-provoking chap you want on your team. A fact that Australia’s government of the day shared when they set him up as Chief Commissioner of Independent Advisory Committee – The Climate Commission in 2011. The love affair was however, short lived. The government shafted him and his team back in 2013, sacking Tim and shutting the committee down after less than two years. Thankfully, Tim and his team secured crowd funding to re-open as the Climate Council proving just how popular and needed they were and how out of touch the government continues to be.
But that’s another story.
So it was with an air of excitement that I purchased and got stuck into this book, keen to find some nuggets of information to help drive me forward in what can often seem like bleak times environmentally.
The book was good but it was obvious from the first half of it that Tim is still sore over what the government did to him and who can blame him really. He must feel like he is shovelling muck up hill here in Australia, the country still funded by dirty mining. Tim didn’t miss an opportunity to say ‘I told you so’ and ‘look suckers, I’m still here’ to those who have scorned him and that didn’t make for a great reading experience.
That said Tim doesn’t just know his stuff he is enthusiastic about it. The great thing about Atmosphere of Hope is how it points you to all the good things that are being funded around the world (often through private enterprise). The big ideas, out-of-the-box thinking and new perspectives. This does give me hope although I must say that after reading about some of the initiatives I do question the sanity of the sponsors but hey ho.
That brings me to one last thought on this book and it’s title. Hope is a curious word and one that can often be said with passive intentions especially when being used as a noun:
But I prefer to interpret hope as a verb – a real doing word – and take ownership of my future:
I came across this deadly snake on my path and walked past it carefully, all the time hoping that it would let me go without a fight.
So I’ll end by saying this. I actively hope that people like Tim Flannery continue to be able to do their work, to be heard and to drive positive change and for that reason I was more than happy to help him on his way by reading and appreciating his work with this book.
And yes, the snake did leave me along. Thank goodness.
I would have never have guessed that I have A.D.D or even A.D.D tendencies but it turns out that I probably do. See, it was towards the end of last year that my sister questioned whether that might be a possibility for me, whether maybe some of my awkward traits, my slip-ups and foibles were clues to a brain that prefers to work another way and struggles with predictable order. I decided to follow it up.
I’ve always been aware of the possibility that maybe, just maybe I do see things very differently to most people. I have an extraordinary capacity for work sometimes, as if I am being driven machine like ever onwards. I can go through periods of time where I literally buzz like someone who has taken waaaayyy to many uppers as I speed through work, writing projects, walking challenges and travel. But then I crash.
My crashes are more physical than mental. Mentally I’m always either in a state of excitement/ amusement or asleep. I became aware of my ability to bring pain onto myself somewhere between my 35th and 37th birthdays when, while driving to work I realised how tightly I’d been gripping the steering wheel. I honestly could have strangled it. That time also co-insided with a traumatic slowdown of my digestion and a slump into what felt like chronic fatigue. I won’t go on in any more detail and yes, I’ve worked on and fixed my guts but looking back I think I had burned through the next five or so years worth of brain chemicals by just being me leaving me flat.
I had to change and I did.
Anyway, fast forward back to last year and I took myself off to a psychologist specialising in adults with A.D.D. I was interviewed, filled out the questionnaire and got my hubby to do one too. My results came back as a high level of A.D.D (self-assessment), my husband ranked me lower (borderline A.D.D). Neither result came as a surprise. As I didn’t see the point in paying extra for the psychologists written assessment because a) I didn’t want medication and b) for me the dots had been joined, the psychologist could only give me so much – a professional opinion – I left it at that. Just knowing that my brain was wired in a way that sometimes had it skip a step or two was enough for me.
One never knows what goes on in another persons head, what pathways they walk to get to the conclusions they draw but I have to say that I wouldn’t change mine for the world. My A.D.D tendencies have caused me grief, that can’t be denied. I am prone to mixing up words when I write, to mis-spelling the same word in the same piece at least three different ways (much to the utter dismay of my past teachers), to being seen as careless or not interested, to being physically clumsy, awkward and a bit rough around the edges and to being judged as erratic at times (although my motivation and energy reserves usually see me correct this pretty swiftly), boisterous and dis-organised. But I still wouldn’t change a thing.
On the plus side I have a brain that is beautifully networked. I visualise myself as a tree with many branches feeding off sturdy limbs and rooted by a trunk that is stands firm, that is nourishing and strong. My energy highs are like the springtime where growth is directed upwards and outwards, producing fruit, flowers, greenery. In the summer I stall, shaded by the efforts of my spring, quietly but steadfastly working underneath to hold up and stand tall until the heat abates. And so it goes on, cyclical, natural, beautiful.
After living unlabelled for 40 years I now find myself in a state of relief, of comfort. It is easy for those outside a mental health box to think that A.D.D, A.D.H.D, Autism and the rest are modern inventions to classify people who just can’t toe the line or ‘be good’. I know myself that I’ve had fleeting thoughts along those lines, especially when viewed against the figures for our medicated youth. However, my own reality has given me a new perspective on the issue of mental health and more specifically the up-side of being labelled.
Relief, complete, utter and total relief.
I can stop hating myself for forgetting things, for knocking into the furniture, for not being able to spell even though I try SO BLOOMING HARD and for everything in-between.
Relief that I don’t have early onset dementia – another theory I had as to why my brain couldn’t get it together.
Relief that I was actually quite normal. Just a different kind of normal.
For me, A.D.D isn’t a disease it is a difference, an alternative wiring loom and one that requires slightly different management but I’m cool with that.
I like different.
I like trees.
and I finally like all of me.