Apologies for not posting: it just didn't seem appropriate when the horror of MH17 was unfolding in the Ukrainian fields. Today, a sliver of humanity was shown when many of the villagers expressed – rather eloquently, I felt, given their circumstances – their deep sadness at the falling bodies that had now created their 'village of the dead'. One 60-year-old, Inna Tipunova, contemplated the woman who had fallen through her roof: "I want to know about her, who she was, her name, these things, but they just call her ‘Number 26’..." Another local, Tatiana, confessed that "Everyone here cried for two days. But then we knew what we had to do. We lined up shoulder-to shoulder and walked through into the fields to find these people. They deserved respect. And we went to get them.”
It's stories like these that restore faith in people. Don't you think? In an age when society seems to be becoming more agitated and outraged, when the media seems to be turning more tabloid by the minute (although I have utmost respect for those war correspondents in Donetsk at present), and when criticism and bullies take over the Internet, it's easy to imagine we're all heading down a very dark road. Then Tatiana and Mrs Tipunova speak up about their concerns for the bodies staining their humble Ukraine homes, and who their families might be? And suddenly we realise: there are indeed good people in the world.
I want to hug Mrs Tipunova. She gives me hope for humanity.
Last year, I befriended a wonderful psychic called Sandi, who's been helping uncover the secrets of Picnic at Hanging Rock. She refused to accept money, saying "it was a honour to follow the story". Recently, she and her family stayed at a caravan park at Hanging Rock, huddling overnight under a shocking winter frost, in order to do some research for my story. How many people would do that? I hope she found the bushranger gold that's meant to be hidden there. She certainly deserves it.
Kindness seems to be so rare nowadays that it's almost a shock when it touches our lives. 2013 and 2012 were challenging years for me, made worse by serious illness, stress, unpleasant people, a house move, four books, a complex garden tour, four one-month overseas business trips, and some serious, life-changing decisions to work through. I can cope with stress, deadlines, decisions, illness and even an unkempt garden (!), but it's the unspeakably nasty people that really get to you, don't you think? We're all capable of being short-tempered – goodness knows I can snap under pressure – but the more I experience nastiness the more I veer right away from it. In fact, we're working on our Business Plan for the Garden Tours (I'm in charge of admin, which is much easier than being a tour leader), and one of the philosophies being put firmly in place is kindness. After all, who wants to travel with someone who packs their criticism?
The thing is, kindness is so easy to do. We are considering moving back to the inner city, to a 2-br in the new Emerald building on St Kilda Road. "Do you think our view of Albert Park Lake will be built out?" I asked the real estate salesperson, expecting a standard real estate reply. "You know, I suspect it will, in time," he acquiesced reluctantly but honestly. "Better to tell you the truth now, so you can make a wise decision for the future."
He lost his $30K commission. But he renewed my faith in people.
“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart