2017. Sydney. I am in Centennial Park. I’ve left work tired and frustrated. The job of CEO of the Ted Noffs Foundation can sometimes take its toll on my family and me. I’ve just heard that the Premier of New South Wales has refused to support pill testing, a vital Harm Reduction strategy that would have saved young lives at music festivals.
A lot had been riding on this moment. It’s cost me years of struggle. And now the struggle must continue.
I drive around the park. My hands gripping and twisting the steering wheel. My anger swelling inside me.
I feel like yelling. But what would be the point? My anger is like an internal tidal wave. A washing machine. Churning. Going nowhere.
I pull over by the bicycle track. Kids are playing. Two mothers are discussing yoga.
Should I give up? The group I helped assemble to make pill testing happen is fraying at the edges. We know there will be more deaths unless our State and Territory governments find the courage they need. Unless we can all work together.
My anger slowly subsides. And soon enough transforms into a dull boredom. I grab my phone. My fingertip touches the screen lightly, then its impression fades away like a mist.
I get out of the car and walk. My body slouched. My neck craned. My smartphone cradled in my left hand and my right index finger poking at its illuminated screen.
The sun goes down behind me. The sky - an Yves Klein blue - melts into pastel orange. The cicadas begin rhythmically chanting. But I have my back to the sky and my head in a grotto of light, amidst the darkening trees.
What am I doing? I’m distracted. Checking email, that’s it. No, nothing there… Oh, hold on, ‘Last update 4.15pm’ - I’ll refresh.
I look up. Someone is walking towards me but I’m blinded by the twilight. I go back to my email.
A new message! A moment of anticipation holds my heart in its grip. The subject line says: ‘Hey!’
Excellent! It will be good news! Perhaps a breakthrough with the pill testing? Maybe other good news from work? Perhaps a friend?
My finger presses the screen again, and the pixels are squashed against everything else. The light changes, a larger screen opens up and I see the message.
The email opens. Spam. I feel cheated on.
Another figure walks past the other way. My eyes strain as they go from darkness to light.
I notice the time. It’s the kids’ bedtime in half an hour!
OK. I’ve got to get home. But before I go, I just need to check Twitter. Make sure I haven’t missed anything. I think I have time…
Another window opens. Another minute becomes another hour.
Time isn’t even near me. I’m protected from it, here in the cocoon of LCD light. I am not time; I belong to eternity. Everything else can wait outside of this sacred space. This moment is sacred - isn’t it?
My wife calls to ask where I am. The kids are already asleep.
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