The Ruminator

Come on up and grab yourself a beer.

Sunday, June 08, 2003


One of my favourite things in the world is spontaneous happiness. All of a sudden, for no particular reason, you just find yourself grinning. The other day I woke up feeling like that, and the first thought that struck me was ‘I am incredibly lucky.’

Above my bed is a set of shelves where I keep photographs and mementos. I woke up and looked at the photos – of me standing near a waterfall in Tasmania; surrounded by close friends at my 21st birthday party; with my parents and brother, all of us healthy and happy. Further on was a whole collection of photographs of my friends – I could remember when all the pictures were taken. I looked at the other things on the shelf – keepsakes given to me for birthdays, Christmas, Valentines Day. I saw the little stone gargoyle that I bought from a cart near Notre Dame. I remembered climbing to the top of the cathedral to see the real gargoyles, and the contrast between them and modern Paris below. I remembered how the setting sun made the cold, grey stone glow honey-coloured. Hanging off the shelf in the corner was the royal flag of Scotland, lion rampant. I remembered that I bought it on the Isle of Skye. The mist curled around the rocks, the castle, the boats in the harbour. I remembered startlingly sunny days in the highlands, sitting in the heather, drinking single-malt whiskey.

Looking around the room I saw the wooden box where I store other keepsakes. Bundles of letters from friends as they traveled after we left school. Cards given on special occasions, old love letters, sketches by friends with a talent for drawing. When I went to find some earrings to wear, I thought about the other jewelry I own. None of it is amazingly valuable, but a lot of it has meaning. A jade pendant from New Zealand, its design signifying strength, and safe journey over water. A necklace given by my parents on my 18th birthday, and another given by a group of friends on my 21st. The small, pearl necklace that was given to my grandmother on her 21st birthday.

It was an incredible feeling that I have been trying to hang onto ever since – to look around and see all the everyday items in my house imbued with special meaning. I think I have been more inclined lately to spontaneous, unreasoning grumpiness, so it was a nice change. What made me feel so privileged was not the material possessions themselves (although as a middle-class Australian I am doing way better than most of the world’s population in that regard) but that so much of it had special associations with people and places. So I am sitting at my desk, glancing at a photograph of my family, thinking of the friends who may end up reading this, thankful to have them in my life.