"Get off your computers." I thought we should do something uncharacteristically wholesome so I took the kids for a walk along Hobson Bay walkway.
Although when I say walkway, it is more like a long bridge running under the cliff and over the mangroves. It feels hidden, secret even, in the middle of the city.
The kids instantly forgot their computers. They loved it. Then they didn't. "Look mum, there's a bottle. There's another bottle" "So many bottles." "There's a Kinder surprise egg. There's some polystyrene." "What's polystyrene?"
They couldn't enjoy the walk because they were too disconsolate about the rubbish. With the balustrade, and the tide in, we could not reach it; only stare at it. " I am running into a wall of pure rage," said my son, who is nine, as we left.
When we drove home there was a story about North Korea testing missiles and the children were worried.
"There isn't going to be a war," I said. There were stories about rape culture, natural disasters, bigotry, whether Jacinda Ardern illegally replaced her loo. For heaven's sake.
I switched it off. Sometimes I'm not sure I can bear very much reality. I know we need to bear witness to others' suffering. But sometimes it Is overwhelming. You feel helpless.
The writer Mona Eltahawy told a PEN gathering concerned about the world's political direction: "I think it's really important right now to not be polite." (Confession: I rather think the opposite)
The New York Times: "Ms. Eltahawy expressed exasperation over the number of people...most of them white, who made claims of exhaustion and asked for advice on how to keep up unflagging opposition" Ms. Eltahawy's reply was "Fight harder."
I'm afraid I disagree with that too. How do you make your already melancholy-prone kids - or yourself - feel safe if you are also constantly boiling with rage?
Woody Allen said life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. He could have been talking about the Trump era, although he said it ages ago. He (or his character Isaac) also made a list of things that make life worth living (Groucho Marx, The Second Movement of the Jupiter Symphony, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Flaubert, etc.)
Nick Hornby did the same (Music and girls and drugs and homeless people who have heard of Pauline Kael and wah-wah pedals and English potato chip flavours)
So this week I have switched off the news and I would like to proffer a list of some of the good things that have been making my life worth living lately, because, no matter how far astray you feel, goodness can always be restored again. And again. And again.
1. Bethells Beach
Walking on this wild, wonderful beach. Pure joy.
Shush! Don't get me started on the pollution in the estuary. This supposed to be an uplifting list.
2. This salad
Watermelon, mint, feta and pumpkin seeds. Try it.
3. Playing cards
Two handed 500.
4. The poetry of Elizabeth Bishop
"My crumb, my mansion, made for me by a miracle,
through ages, by insects, birds and the river,
working the stone. Every day, in the sun,
at breakfast I sit on my balcony
with my feet up, and drink gallons of coffee."
(From A Miracle for Breakfast.)
You don't look at a sunset and go "Gee, but that orange is a bit off and it would look better with a bit more pink" A sunset is perfect as it is. Mindfulness writer Steven Hayes suggests we bring "sunset mode" to our difficult. self-judgmental thoughts.
6. Hip Hop Evolution Hip Hop Evolution
Remarkable HBO documentary which showed how the darkest rage and brutality can be transformed into art. Also, for veracity, Russell Simons: "We want cocaine and pussy."
7. Kathryn Ryan's Nine to Noon show
I may have switched off the news but I am a fangirl of this show which gives me goosebumps and that kissed and tucked in feeling, that the world is going to be okay because we have Kathryn's fierce intellect and humanity.
8. Power Plant in the Domain
The children stayed up far too late and took off their Ugg boots and twirled round and round under the disco balls in the trees. They said they never wanted it to end.
9. Neighbours who play the piano
I live in a great street and have lovely neighbours all the way up and down the street. Even the ones I don't know well say hello and it is cheering. Some of them play the piano. It sounds beautiful.
10. This plan
I have decided I'll take the kids back to the Hobson Bay walkway but this time I will borrow my friend's pool scoop. We can scoop the rubbish out, to try and dispose of in some better way, and then we can look at the beautiful harbour, and maybe even watch the sunset. Goodness can be restored.