Heroes At The Seaside
16 – 19/10/15
Cycling and bodysurfing – Illawarra coast
The first afternoon we cycled up the coast. Past beaches, round bays and over headlands. From our camp at Bulli to Thirroul, Austinmer and Coledale. A beautiful cycle path. And later a swim in the still wintery cold sea. The caravan park was nestled between the ocean beach and the cemetery which commanded a wonderful view. Fullish of grey nomads with caravans and a few families. Even a hipster couple towing a vintage caravan beautifully restored.
Then down the coast next day. This was training for a big cycle trip next year down the Danube – beside the river from it’s source in Germany through Vienna and on to Budapest in Hungary – 1240 km. Past more beaches. Flatter heading south. Saturday morning buzzed in Wollongong. Great views from the headland off to the heavy industry of Port Kembla visible beside smokestacks and belching flames at the steelworks. Skydivers parachuted onto a park behind the beach. The whole place was going off – surfers, joggers, skateboarders, swimmers, walkers, paddleboarders, sailors, fishermen. I took a tumble trying to mtb jump up a too tall gutter on the way back and lost some skin and self-respect. We watched the surfers at Bellambi Point on a slow long board wave. Another cold swim. In the evening we wined at the restaurant on the nearby headland and explored the rock shelf below.
Sunday. Another lap back down to Wollongong. We met up with Rita, a friend of Cath’s, for lunch looking out over the main beach. I have four heroes. She’s one of them. Just as described by Joseph Campbell in his studies of the hero myth she has undertaken the hero’s journey. Without knowing all her personal details I surmise that she grew up in an ordinary family. Some time early on she perceived a call to service, a challenge to serve and joined the Good Samaritan order of nuns. In her communities she has dedicated her life to helping others and serving her God. She saved my neighbour’s marriage and family in times of distress and reaches out to countless people who struggle day to day. I can only guess at the number of lives she has made a difference in.
“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself”. Joseph Campbell
I’m no Christian but I strongly believe that “there are more things in heaven and earth Horatio than are dreamt of in your philosophy” (Shakespeare). Myself and others in my family have experienced important premonitions. I have seen, unaffected by drugs, a person’s aura at a time of heightened perceptivity. I try to tune into intuition when it surfaces. Jung’s idea of a collective unconscious or Bucke’s cosmic consciousness is deeply attractive. ”Mysticism, then, is the perception of the universe and all of its seemingly disparate entities existing in a unified whole bound together by love.” (Moores) I love the science of the universe and the big bang but struggle with the question of what existed prior. My mind bends in its attempt to wrestle with quantum physics and systems theory and it seems that at the cutting edge of understanding there are may be endless possibilities. So while not quite an atheist I keep an open mind on the existence of some unifying spirit in the world. For me this is closely tied to landscape and the natural world. I feel a strong empathy with Aboriginal relation to the land. I was deeply moved in witnessing the strength of belief of hindus at Varanasi as they burnt the bodies of their kin to release their immortal souls. I would love to believe in angels like Muslims and Christians. I find the notion of a compassionate God too difficult in a world of much distress. I see religion and “churches” as the source of much war in the world based on conflicting belief systems much like patriotism and the arbitrary nature of borders between countries.
Rita is over 70 now and it was a privilege to spend a lunch time with her, go for a short walk and have a coffee. In a less chauvinistic religion she would be a spiritual high priest or bishop as well as a living treasure.
On the return ride we stopped at a small outlook. As I watched the swells sweep over the rocks I thought of my Mum lying small and broken in her bed in her last days. She’s another of the 4.
“When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.” Tecumseh
What makes a hero? – Matthew Winkler (TED Ed)