Nassau island...beautiful people....May 2011 (Photo LP)
In the last four weeks my journey has taken me from the horror of the "rust bucket" vessel on which we "cruised" through the Pacific Ocean, and the wonderful people with whom I shared the voyage, to the islanders I met on the remote Cook Islands , to some members of Australia’s Defence Force with whom I shared a week in presenting The Ambassador Program. And finally to a day with a married couple who needed to spend some “quality time together” after the husband’s medical problems and chose to spend it talking about table etiquette with me.
And in between there was a funeral for a friend who departed way too soon.
Teresa on Puka Puka with her grandparnets (Photo LP)
Confucius wrote “All people are the same, it is their habits which are different”. And what a sage he was! On the "rust bucket" I shared a sometimes frightening voyage with a disparate group of travellers. However, our ability to share our concerns, to give each other the necessary space required when no private space was available and to laugh out loud when we had the appropriate moment, or to cheer out loud when Phillip or Steve landed a tuna on a line, resulted in a friendship which in fact knew no bounds – not age, culture, country or expectation.
My friends from the school on Nassau Island. May 2011 (Photo LP)
On our return to Australia my companion, Damien and I dealt with our minds reacquainting with an urban reality, after a month in remote islands. It’s never easy to return to “normality” particularly after a challenging adventure.
During the week I presented the Ambassador Program for some defence personnel. I was intrigued and fascinated to learn from them as much as I had from the islanders about adventure. And I was privileged to learn, as I had with the islanders, about a life which is never standardised. One of the army soldiers is married to a soldier who regularly undertakes tours of duty to remote war zones. And the isolation they encounter, emotionally, is exactly the same as that encountered by the remote islanders when their family members leave for New Zealand or elsewhere for education, or work opportunities. The tears still fall in the same way.
My soldiers after graduation with their Certificates and a glass of Champagne (Photo LP)
And so this month I have learnt far more than I have taught. I have learnt that Confucius was correct: all people are the same, their habits are different.