IT’S been a hell of a week for me. Many things have gone wrong, with one drama snowballing into another. The only thing that’s kept me above water was hanging out for an amazing trip we had planned for Christmas. Even though I’m a travelling gal, it was to be the trip of a lifetime, trekking across the Sahara to a festival called Festival in the Desert, in Timbuktu, Mali.
Being a great lover of African music, in particular music from Senegal and Mali, it was powerfully exciting to imagine being amid the indigenous peoples of the region who come each year for the festival — from north and south on camels and by foot in their traditional costumes, carrying instruments. And then to sleep under the stars surrounded by crackling fires and song.
Warnings on government websites of al-Qa’ida activity in the region did not deter us, so strong was our passion for the music, the dance. Then at the end of my nasty week, the news. Six foreigners were kidnapped from or near Timbuktu — one executed.
Money lost; and a lifetime opportunity lost. We lay in bed feeling dreadful, particularly after the week of all those other problems: money, family, work issues. “Give me a break,” I railed at the uncaring universe.
The next morning I read the paper for more news of the attacks. Instead I found Mrs Flannery. Her son, Jake, had just been electrocuted in Bali. She said she had been anxious about his first overseas trip but he was very excited about the holiday to celebrate his graduation from high school.
“I’ve been so stressed out about him going out there,” she said. “He’s just such a good kid. He’s a lovely kid with everyone. He was very close with his sisters.”
Reading her tragic interview was heartbreaking for me and, I suspect, every parent.
The story underneath it was of a three-year-old child who had been washed down a drain and killed in NSW floods. I thought of the parents who had lost these children; and the families of the people kidnapped in Timbuktu; and those poor kidnapped souls now living in torture, in some hideaway.
There aren’t words to describe it: the urgent need we all have to put life in perspective. Our daily losses and griefs are normal. Living is a process of pain and loss as we naturally lose battles, friends, our power, our youth. But some losses are just too hard to bear; and just remembering they exist has to make us wake up to the silliness of fretting over trivial things.
More eloquently put: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Please share your views Press “comment” above.