Three themes

I know it’s all quiet here. As usual, back in Australia, I don’t have too much too say. I have to look much more carefully for the delightful and the ridiculous and the provoking. I am more blind here. That, or I am just too disinterested in this society. But I do, now, find myself observing a few themes that rile me, that characterise our lives here:

Fragmentation, trivia and distraction.

We live fragmented lives: I drive 15 mins to drop our daughter at a family day care centre, in a place where she does not know the carer, nor the other two children, and with whom she has no contact, the rest of the week. We drive 10 minutes to a church, where we join with around 80 other people, again, with whom our lives do not otherwise intersect. I drive 25 minutes to work, where for three days a week I work on development effectiveness theories and planning, with three guys, all of whom I have known for years, and whom I like a great deal – but whom I see pretty much only at work. Our son has piano lessons from a stranger 10 minutes away. And so on. Thus it is that I have a fragmented life, with the different groups of which I am part – school, church, work, child-care, friends, family – rarely overlapping, barely intersecting.

We live trivial lives. Twitter, the X-factor, celebrity diets, junk mail, 15 TV channels, background noise, pop star birthdays, magazines Princess Diana’s new love child, Madonna’s third boob, Youtube. There is endless opportunity to turn away from what matters.

And so we are distracted. Life has no continuity, its rhythm is broken and made shallow, daily and hourly by many, many interruptions and disruptions and eruptions, by the glare and the glitter of trivialities, start-stop, park the car, deliver the child, get back in, go shopping here, see friends there, visit the sister or the grandmother, go to the bank or the post office, get the thing, drive home, do it again.

We have lived a life that was not fragmented, that was not trivial, and where distractions were few. It had a rhythm and a continuity that was right, and how we live here, I am convinced, is wrong.

One really good thing is that I sold all my Nikon gear and bought a Leica. A beautiful move in photography.

These three shots are all from Margaret River, slowly recovering from the fires of a year ago. First up is a Giant Spider orchid – these come back well after fires, and many of these are found on our land. They are a declared rare species.

Then two shots from the beach at our place. All these with the 90mm f2 lens, later cropped to size. It is taking me a while to adjust to using a rangefinder, but I love it.



3 thoughts on “Three themes

  1. Hi Phil,
    Mark Irving, reporter on The West Australian here. I understand you’ve recently returned to Perth and I wonder if you would like to contact me about the possibility of my interviewing you for The West about your most time in Afghanistan. My phone number is 9335 6873 and my email, Cheers, Mark

  2. In 1990 we moved from Perth, WA, to a small town in Tasmania. Here we have found that life is much less fragmented, people are closer to each other and care about each other more. Our lives are not consumed by trivia – or if they are, it’s the trivia of shared lives, common interests and neighbourliness. We belong to a tiny church with a congregation of 25, but we see each other almost every day in one way or another, even if it’s only a brief chat in the post office or the supermarket. We’ve lived in Sydney, Perth and Cygnet, and we know which we like best:)

  3. Me again! I just finished reading ‘From Under a Leaky Roof, which is an amazingly honest, balanced and compassionate summing up of the plight of the Hazara people. Even though you were writing of the Howard era, nothing has changed. It’s so sad and so disheartening – but we keep on chipping away and are determined that one day there will be a more informed and compassionate Australia. Actually, that’s another reason we’re glad we live in Tasmania. Overall, the response to asylum seekers in the detention centre at Pontville has been positive, supportive and caring.

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