Literal Narnia

Last Saturday I was sitting on a plane. I was looking out of the plane window at the clouds, which loomed huge and monstrous. I thought about the first time I caught a plane, when I was fifteen. I remember thinking that it was like a whole other world up there, among the clouds. Sitting on the plane, looking at those clouds, I quietly started to cry.
Sometimes I can’t quite believe that this is the life that I get to live. There are so many variables, so many obstacles to happiness. Aside from anything else, I am incredibly lucky that I live a life where I am safe and happy and have access to so many privileges. On top of that, I have wonderful friends, family, and a lovely boyfriend. I have a job that I adore, doing work that I believe in. And then to all this, I add the increasingly large number of moments in my life where I’ve been able to have surreally wonderful experiences. I am lucky.

Part I
Last week, I went to Canberra for the annual Heywire Regional Youth Summit. Heywire gives me hope. It reminds me that young people are worth believing in. If you listen to them they will say things worth hearing. If you give them the power to, they will change the world for the better.
This year Heywire also reminded me that I am capable of so much more than I give myself credit for. I solved (often ridiculous) problems calmly and quickly. I got things done. Without stopping to wonder if I was capable of it, I pushed myself. I am capable. It’s important to let yourself acknowledge that.
Despite being exhausted and stressed and weighed down by the weight of a dozen lanyards, I laughed a lot. The people who work on Heywire are such an incredible bunch. They are clever and they are impressive and they are funny. All of them really, genuinely care about Heywire. Everyone who works on it. Isn’t that incredible?

I work on the program year round. Not that long ago, I was desperately unemployed. 2014 might be two years ago now, but emotionally, it’s still biting at the corners of my mind. In the depth of that year I couldn’t imagine ever getting any job, let alone that the job I would eventually get would be one that I love this much. I have had jobs that I did not like, jobs where my work felt less than valued. I know a lot of people doing jobs like that. Meanwhile I get to work on a project which I care deeply about and believe in completely. I try not to take that for granted.
Part II
After we put all the Heywirers on planes last Friday, I went to Jackie French’s house and she made me eggplant parmigiana. Jackie French is my childhood hero. She wrote some of my favourite books growing up, and is an author I’ve followed into my adulthood.
Four days before this, the Heywire Group (dressed to the nines) were a bus on our way to visit the Governor General. I was sitting next to Katie and we were chatting about writing. She mentioned that she was staying on in Canberra an extra couple of days and I asked why. She told me that she was going to visit Jackie French. “You should come,” she said.
A week before, Katie and I barely knew each other. Then suddenly I’d changed my flights and we were driving a hire car through a breathtakingly picturesque rural valley to “literal Narnia” as Katie kept calling it. During our 24 hours at Jackie French’s property, we saw damp wombats, phosphorescent mushrooms and almost every fruit you can imagine growing wild. It really was like travelling to another world.
At the end of the weekend, Katie turned to me and said “I guess we’re friends now?”. I told her that of course we were. Together we’d been to Narnia and back.   

I am very lucky. Somehow, through infinite quirks of chance and circumstance, I ended up on the last plane out of Canberra on a Saturday in February. And the clouds were very pretty. And I was very tired and just so happy. And grateful. Grateful to be so happy.

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year