The log on the road

It was a late afternoon on a Saturday in summer. It was very hot. The horizon was lit in an astounding palate of blues, pinks and deep orange. The desert was so still and windless, the air so thick and palpable, it was like walking though honey. 

I was in the Troopie, windows down idling through the community after dropping off a patient who needed a lift from the clinic. Up ahead, in the distance, on the road back into the community, I saw a figure dragging what looked like a giant log. I thought I was seeing things and wiped the sweat from my eyes…

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Interrogating the unforgiving minute: The Unforgiving 60 podcast

Over the last couple of months, I’ve had the great pleasure of getting to know Tim Curtis and Ben Pronk, two former senior SAS officers, founders of Mettle Global and the hosts of the terrific podcast the Unforgiving 60:

‘Two ex-special operations guys armed with MBAs seek out people leading lives less ordinary, in order to find out how they fill their ‘unforgiving minutes’, and what helps them go, always, a little further. Like intellectual bowerbirds, we collect shiny little objects of knowledge that will help build better humans. Co-hosted by Ben Pronk and Tim Curtis.’

A while back, they came down and did some work with some of the boys at my boxing and fitness class.

I’m in the latest episode of their podcast where we talk about my potted history, their adventure at the PCYC boxing gym and the link between resilience, movement and creativity. We are also joined in the conversation by Rob Redenbach aka Sans Tattoo (Make sure you go back and listen to the interview Tim and Ben do with Rob about his extraordinary life).

I even sing a song at the end.

Have a listen!

The Unforgiving 60 podcast: find it on iTunes or your podcast provider.

The Unforgiving 60 podcast: find it on iTunes or your podcast provider.

Roads: sometimes you gotta go 'round.

‘Sometimes you gotta go ‘round,’ said old Mick, leaning over from back of the Toyota to whisper in my ear as I sat in the Driver’s seat. 

 We were way south of Walungurru on Mick’s country, stopped on the edge of a craggy, outcrop of red rocks. It was an important place-his birth country. Mick had asked me to take him back there. A few months previously, he’d been in hospital in Alice Springs, quite sick, with complications from a diabetes related illness. 

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Daily movers: the Landscape Architect

Francis:landscape architect, bike rider, skater, father

We’ve been in this house for about 8 months. We had a lot of extra bricks in the backyard, so we decided to bring them out front and create something the kids could skate on.

 There’s probably about a dozen families here with small kids and they generally play up and down the street. We’ve got nice big wide verges, so there’s lots of space away from the road that kids can play. The verges don’t really get used for much apart from parking cars. 

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Daily Movers: the South Beach Seals

I often head down to South Beach, in Fremantle in the early mornings for a quick swim and to greet the day. I often see a group of older people swimming, walking and running on the beach. They are always happy and laughing away with each other.

I saw these four fabulous women wading out waist deep, in the turquoise Indian Ocean waters.

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The Riff and why we sometimes get stuck Part 4: Reality


That’s what had happened to me. 


I had constructed a view of my abilities that was a fiction. In the TKD Dojo, I had learnt fast. I was identified as a ‘talent’. I was flexible, could high kick and had great fitness. Other students would tell me how good my technique was. Yet my intention was misplaced. In reality, I’d been going to the dojo and poncing about in front of the mirror. I’d become a show off. Yes, it was part youthful naivety and bravado but I had already got stuck in a riff of self-satisfaction and ego. This is why we have to keep practising, to keep learning, to keep striving, to keep taking creative risks and testing ourselves through ‘sparring’ in our respective arts, because no matter how long we do something for, that first lesson holds true- there is always a reality check coming somewhere down the road. The struggle never gets easier. I had constructed a view of my abilities that was a fiction. 

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The day after Christmas

The commitment to how you begin your day is a commitment to possibility. A daily practice of doing, of making a start, is a gesture of creativity. Working at something over the long term, at something you’ll never perfect, reveals the poignancy, grace and richness within life.

Christmas doesn’t mean we stop. It means we pause and gather ourselves. It’s a time of sharing and giving and reflection. The day after Christmas we get up and go back to our studios, our desks, our gyms, mats and sheds. 

 We get up to recommence, to start again and to seek possibility.

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Roads: when the road is obscured

I was back on the road to Walungurru heading into the deep west, to a place called Kiwirrkura. Time had passed and not much had changed. The road remained long and straight. The red, spinifex covered dunes continued their imperceptible march. The winding S-Bends of past journeys had been erased, the Department of Main Roads removing and replaced them with a simpler ‘safer’ straight line. 

Christmas was approaching and we were entering the peak of summer. Normally, I’d avoid travelling at this time of year. The ‘field season’ was in winter and summer was regarded as too dangerous for extended travel. Outside the vehicle, the ambient temperature was well into the mid-40’s Celsius.  The sky arched above me, a dome of pale blue, the sun so bright it bleached the colour from the sky and burnt through the windscreen. I zipped and swayed along the track, the Toyota Troop Carrier leaving the usual plume of swirling dust in its wake, my vehicle science fiction-like and alien as it flew across the landscape. 

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Roads: the S- Bends

I was nervous. Smithy Zimran had stopped by. He’d quietly appeared next to me in that disconcerting Pintupi way, standing as a Pintupi man does, hands behind his back, one hand clasping the wrist of the other. 

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In the western desert

We were 250km west of Alice Springs in central Australia. Our group had moved south from the salt lake that bordered Warlpiri country back towards the community of Papunya. We were camped at an outstation, a series of tin sheds that sat remote and awkward in the middle of a spinifex sand plain. Our sleeping arrangements were once again split into men’s and women’s camps, our swags haphazardly arranged around the campfires. 

A large space had been raked clear in the middle of the camps. 

‘Those old women,’ said Tjakamarra.

‘Might be, they sing’em that honey ant story tonight, might be, they dance that Wanampi one too, tjinguru.’

He pointed with his lips and a lazy forefinger at the large outcrop of granite boulders tumbled together in the distance. There was a rock hole amongst the boulders and the mythological honey ant dreaming was one of the major stories for the area. 

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