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Today's quote:

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

I'm telling this with a sigh

Padma texting me last-minute instructions from the Bomaderry platform: "Drink plenty of water!", "Don't forget to eat your lunch!" "Wear your mask!" "Be careful!" "Let me know when you get there!" "Give my regards to Priscilla and Professors Clark and Milross!"


Oh, how good it feels to be back to my chai-(with vanilla-flavour)making and porridge-cooking morning routine at peaceful "Riverbend"! There's something very soothing about preparing, in Hopper-esque solitude, for a new day.

Not that there is much to prepare as one day is very much like any other. The joys of predictability, another fancy word for boredom. For someone who hates exercise, I've done a lot of running away but "Riverbend" - and I'm telling this with a sigh - may be Journey's End, right down to those words in J. R. R. Tolkien's eponymous poem.

Although I won't become metabolically-challenged just yet according to the professors at Sydney's Lifehouse who put a camera up my nose and down my throat and said, "Fine, fine, it's just fine" and "That'll be a hundred-and-forty-five dollars, please" and "See you in six months."

That's what it has come down to for this former jet-setter and reluctant socialiser: a medical visit to Sydney every six months, but travelling is not only defined by new sights but also by new insights, and long-distance travel on a socially-distanced train can provide many of them.

The rumbling diesel from Bomaderry to Kiama - and then a sleek electric all the way into Sydney Central - starts off as long(er)-distance and morphs into a commuter train as it gets closer and closer to Sydney.

There were doggy-training stickers on the seats. "Sit here" they begged. There were so many of them that I was torn between a window-seat and one near the aisle, and I did alternate to either view the Tasman Sea in the rising sun to my right or the rolling hills and escarpment on my left.

There were no people in masks - in fact, there were no people at all - as I began my journey but from Kiama onwards they all began to look like a bunch of halitosis-sufferer - tictac sales must have taken a nosedive - or, if not that, at least like girls with bad teeth and boys with weak chins.

No matter how short in time and distance, the thrill of travel, of being on the move soon had me under its spell again, and I realised just how irreversibly (pen-)insular I have become on my little bend in the river.

For me at least, "The Road Not Taken" is not a triumphant self-assertion but a realisation of the self-deception we practice when constructing the story of our own lives. "I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." Big sigh!

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