Our cat is an inside cat. Back when we had two and they were tiny kittens, P and his Dad built a generous yard area on the east side of the house. It has bushes along the house wall and, between the posts which support the wire mesh, we strung logs for the cats to climb on and built platforms for them to lie on in the sun. To get inside the house, they follow a tunnel along the south wall and come in through a kitchen window.
But having the yard doesn’t mean they didn’t crave freedom. Of course they did. And, nearly 13 years on, our dear Mr R continues to make escapes. He’s not very certain what to do once he has achieved the great outdoors, though, and often drops to his side to roll in the dust on the pavers. Yesterday he did just that and the kids and I patted him and laughed as he rolled and rolled on the pavers, not wanting to immediately interrupt his evident enjoyment. However he suddenly got to his feet, leapt up the retaining wall and headed off down the driveway. I sprang to follow him but when I made the leap up the retaining wall (only about half a metre high) I must’ve caught the toe of my sandal on the top of the wall and I crashed face first to the ground. My hip caught a plank that was awaiting a spot on the new carport. My knee found sticks and prickles. My hands and arms broke my fall. I stumbled back to my feet and limped to catch the cat (who had paused uncertainly), my daughter enquiring anxiously if I was okay.
By any standards I was not badly injured. The only visible damage was on my knee – a graze which would be considered minor, even by my son. But today I ache. My shoulders and biceps hurt, the tendons in my forearm feel strained, my hip and ribs feel bruised and the graze on my knee is sensitive.
Every move reminds me of the fall. It’s like an obsession.
I looked up the definition of obsession. Wordnik says:
- n. Compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety.
- n. A compulsive, often unreasonable idea or emotion.
- n. In pathology, a constant brooding upon any subject, such as the thought of death, until the mind becomes dominated by that one idea.
Physically, you could say that my body is obsessed with the fall. Mentally, I know I am obsessed with Climate Change. As summer makes itself known with widespread fires and early heat waves, as I watch the park turn yellow (even the green patch is fading now that they’ve fixed the leaking sprinkler), as I hang out the washing and our back “lawn” crunches underfoot, as with every cool breeze comes the acrid scent of burning bush… I can’t get it out of my head. Nearly every happy thought is quickly clouded by some reminder of my fear and helplessness.
Imagine watching something awful happening to your children and being unable to help them. It’s a mother’s worst nightmare. Every day, I feel it is happening insidiously before my eyes. I recently wrote to a friend “I have to believe that everything will be okay or the guilt is too great.”
But, going back to that definition of obsession… what is reasonable? Are my fears and anxieties unreasonable? Is my anger with our Federal Government unreasonable?
I watch strangers and marvel at their apparent indifference as though my anxiety was written on my clothes or my forehead or in the colour of my hair. How many people worry like I do? How many people worry half as much? A quarter? A tenth? Not at all? I wish I knew.
Last week I received an email from the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald (I am a subscriber) in which she strongly advocates for climate action. She says, since Sydney has been swathed in smoke and since they have published a number of articles about the fires and links to Climate Change, they have been overwhelmed with correspondence from concerned readers. More than 17,000 words of comment on that specific topic on Wednesday alone.
I don’t believe that everything is ok. I want to swear and yell. I want to move to another planet. I want ScoMo and his fellow obfuscators to stay here and suffer.
I want my kids to be safe and free to live good, happy lives. It sounds like the wish of a refugee. A refugee from Earth?