Wednesday, 1 February 2012

It's a Writer's Life Part 5

So, 12 is coming along. We've checked the mirrors for traffic coming up from behind, accelerated smoothly into the road and moved efficiently into second, leaving Christmas diminishing rapidly behind us, a solitary fragment of tinsel dangling languidly from the passenger sun visor all that remains of yet another exhausted festive season.

Now it's time to roll up the sleeves again and get back to the coal face. Or at least the 21st Century politically correct version of the coal face, now carbon has become environmental enemy number one. Energy-wise speaking, after being the new black for so long, what will replace carbon?

Sooner or later we will have to get used to being without coal. I think we're getting better at dealing with changes. We used to have records, then we had CDs, now we have mp3s. Videos have given way to DVDs have given way to hard drives. We face so much new stuff, but it's good to see at least one thing surviving: community (and I'm not talking about the quirky pop-culture referenced American sitcom, as cool as it is.) I know this because the other day I saw a strange creature on the beach.

Glaucus atlanticus - a pelagic aeolid nudibranch

I didn't know what it was and had never seen anything like it before. It was suggested to me that I contact a marine biologist to identify it. Instead, I put it on FaceBook and asked if anyone knew what it was. That was at 1030pm.

What I saw after that was the diversity within my group of friends who then chose to comment. Jonathon (son of my best friend from high school) was the first off the mark, claiming it was a divine reincarnation of someone named Jesus. Sandy (former uni colleague from seventeen years ago now living interstate) asked me lots of questions about it. Nijole (friend of an ex-girlfriend) thought it was beautiful, Terri-Ann (grand-daughter of a man I wrote the biography Eddie's Country about) was curious, Rachel (partner of an old friend I also met at uni ) re-posted it on her wall, Rebecca (friend I've known for about fifteen years) was witty and shared my picture on her wall, Michael (ex-partner of an ex-girlfriend from twenty years ago) thought it was a sea slug, my daughter thought it would make a good pet, Jane and Ziggy and Nicole (people I also met through uni) thought it was beautiful as did Cindy (wife of best friend from high school), and Hugh (friend and former work colleague from over twenty years ago) who was also witty. Goknur (friend of yet another an ex-girlfriend) won the big prize though, formally ID'ing the little blue thing (as did another friend, Rose, a few days later). What was interesting is that Goknur (and possibly Rose) did her successful research via Wikipedia, the creation of another community.

Just 25 minutes after posting, I knew my brilliant blue water dweller was Glaucus Atlanticus, a bizarre animal that walks upside down on the underneath of the top of the ocean hanging onto the surface tension. It eats bluebottle jellyfish and absorbs their poison, which it then uses on anyone silly enough to be aggressive towards it. If that wasn't enough, it's also a hermaphrodite.

I was and remain very proud of my group of friends who contributed to the discussion and were also able to experience some of the joy of discovery. What a diverse bunch they are, and what a valuable resource they make - not just as a means to find something out - but to have on hand virtually to make me laugh and remind me to be amazed.

12 is going to contain its share of changes, these days, they all do. At least it's good to know that I should be able to rely on one thing at least. Scattered around Australia and around the world, their locations as separated as the reasons they came into my lives, this eclectic reflection of my own experience makes me both proud and humble at the same time. Thanks, everyone!

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