The Things We Miss…
I miss touching. I keep thinking of shared things we touch. Handrails.
Board game pieces. Door handles. I miss not being suspicious of
surfaces and how unconscious I was of the ease and innocence of
touching. I miss hugging my mom. - Susan Burns 2020
If I allow myself to wallow, I can identify a number of things I am missing during this time of Corona. I’m missing the freedom to drive to Wellcamp Airport, board a plane without thoughts of hand sanitiser, face mask or physical distancing and find myself at my parents’ house in Sydney in under five hours. I’m missing my daughter in Melbourne who I would have seen twice in the past three months if not for Corona. I’m missing my planned leave this term to travel to Glasgow to see my son – who is back in Australia, not surprisingly. Yes, if I allow myself, I could easily delve into a state of feeling sorry for myself – especially if I add the exhaustive list of things I’m missing at Fairholme.
I’m missing Friday afternoon conversations with Boarder parents as they pick up their daughters; I’m missing a full class in 10.4 English; and despite Zoom and Microsoft Teams technology, I’m simply not enjoying that challenge anymore. Like a teenage girl I could say, ‘I’m over it’. I’m over the holding pattern, I’m over contradictory information about how to ‘do COVID-19 safely’; I’m over restrictions! I’d like to be standing on the sideline of a Netball Court at Nellie Robinson even in a howling wind, or on the edge of a Touch field at Kearney’s Spring where the brisk chill of winter perpetuates for most of the year. I’d like to share my trivia with the Junior School in L Block Assembly, rather than in a pre-recorded message, and see the faces of those girls who love the challenge of a question. I’d like to sit with my colleagues in a meeting and take a tour of the school with a prospective family – always a great excuse to see classrooms in action. I’m grieving the Junior School Musical and the absence of our Art Exhibition – Facets. And, when I hear the faint sounds of violins or brass sounding from the Patrea O’Shea Building, I’m craving orchestras and bands and choirs. Yes, there is a lot to miss…
But, on Friday just passed, I was invited to watch the Year 12 Drama class perform a scene from the Greek tragedy, Antigone, written by Sophocles in the year 441 BCE. An eclectic group of students and staff sat together in the Amphitheatre and watched our Year 12s in action. It was a joy to be in an audience again. I realised how much I’m missing the creative boost of the Arts. I’d forgotten how much drama, dance, acting and music feed the soul, or certainly mine. Be-masked and full of focus, this class of seniors placed their viewers in another time, another place, and transported us into the world of Greek tragedy. It was a formative task, but it was executed with conviction and character and what a rich diversion it was from the mundanity of too much technology.
The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performed on Friday evening at Vienna’s Musikverein to a masked audience of 100 – with no interval and for just 70 minutes. I’m sure that Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 have rarely been played with such passion and to a crowd so thirsty for the balm of music. Conductor, Daniel Barenboim, spoke about the delight of beginning again after a period that has seemed so long. ‘We only have 100 people in the audience. It’s not very much but it is a beginning, and this is how music can and should be experienced...live,’ said Barenboim.
Yes, there is a lot to miss and probably a lot to mourn. I am reminded (when I have a swift meeting with myself) that there is a lot to enjoy in this time that is slow and different and perplexing. We are living in modern history, we are forced to be creative in our thinking, and we are led, each day, to appreciate the things we so often take for granted. Leunig (2020) wrote of the complex tragedy of the bushfires that horrified our nation in January. He recounts a conversation with an older woman in a small country tow who remarked at the time, ‘Don’t pay too much attention to all those loudmouths. Just remember the ordinary people – the quieter ones – they’re like tea bags…’ When Leunig looked at her blankly, she continued, ‘They’re like teabags because you discover their goodness when they’re in hot water – and we’re all in hot water, you know.’
And we are all in hot water at the moment; for some, it’s been scorching. But here, at Fairholme, I have been struck by the goodness in many people; those who, despite being steeped in discomfort, have risen to the occasion. When I think of that goodness, I think of our teachers who have done just that, our students who have just got on with things and our parents who have persisted with learning from home, when learning from Fairholme is much more palatable – and I am grateful for our community, despite the things I’ve missed, or am missing. For now, I’m relishing the ‘Antigone’ moments and patiently anticipating the return of things I love, the things I might not have loved enough – before Corona struck.
Agence France-Presse (2020). ‘Vienna State Opera reopens with just 100 guests per show’
Burns, S. (2020). ‘All the Things We’ve Missed During Quarantine’ Sarastosa.
Leunig, M. (2020). ‘Humility and Common Decency is what our Nation needs most’