In the weeks following the devastating floods that struck Lismore last year, impacting thousands, including my own family, I had the opportunity to contribute some meaningful words to a public art installation in Surry Hills known as “Village Voices.” This public art project has been ongoing for approximately six years and showcases short pieces of text from locals, each reflecting on various aspects of their lives. Today, I joined other contributors in revisiting those words as part of the “Surry Streets Festival.”
As I recited my contribution, a lump formed in my throat, and I nearly shed tears when I thought about what my family endured last year and in the time that has passed since. When people inquire about how I’ve managed to maintain a positive outlook in the months following my personal challenges, which included losing part of my leg and relearning to walk, I often cite the trauma my family endured. I also share my encounters with people in Cambodia this year who had lost limbs due to landmines. I frequently say, “As tough as it’s been, others have faced far greater hardships.”
Even today, I recognize that my family likely worries more about me and my well-being than they do about their own situation. I now speak with my sister, Pat, every day, a shift that has only occurred in the past few months as opposed to our weekly conversations before.
It was heartwarming to reunite with fellow contributors to “Village Voices” and to learn that the artwork will continue to receive support from the City of Sydney, and despite a nearby development application to redevelop the accompanying building.
I took my time strolling through the festival on Crown Street, spanning from Cleveland to Fitzroy. I observed the various market stalls with more attention than I might have in the past. I paused for a leisurely lunch, enjoyed a cup of coffee, and indulged in some frozen yogurt.
Some of the positive outcomes of this year’s experiences is that I’ve learned to embrace a slower pace of life (which I’m loving), and I’ve kept my sense of humour.