Lake Titicaca

It all began on Friday morning when my Opa said to me “I’m not well. I’m feeling dizzy.” I held his hand. He was freezing. I called the Doctor, and then the ambulance. I put a blanket on him, the heater next to him and lay his chair flat. He was getting colder and more faint – as if the life force was slowly evaporating. He’s 94 and I’ve lived with him for two and a half years. “You’re ready for this” I told myself as I I held back the tears and then tried my best to hide them when I could hold them back no longer. In my mind this was it.

But it wasn’t. A quick ride in the ambulance and a long day in the Emergency Ward, the colour returned to his face, his life-force returning to circulate his blood and animate his bones. He is still in the hospital recovering from some strange infection that managed to lower his temperature to 33.5 degrees. The doctors still can’t identify where the infection was, or where it came from. Life conquered death once again. Apparently this 94 year man still has enough reasons to kick on a little longer on our dying planet and inside our funny little human reality.

In the time that has passed since Friday’s scare, my life has shifted from photographing 150 people full-of-life live life to the full at my sister’s engagement party; to creating systems and designing database reports for various departments of my Dad’s business;  to today’s adventures riding horses along the Hawkesbury River (one of the myriad prizes my Mum wins in random magazine competitions) which unfortunately included a very disturbing image of the longest pee ever spurting out of the hugest penis I’ve ever seen (not that I’ve seen that many)… ewwwwww!!! I really didn’t need to see that thank you Pluto (my horse for the day that definitely had no sense of decency.) Following two hours of trotting through rain forest the five of us hobbled as if we were my Opa’s age back to our cushioned car seats for a far more comfortable drive back to Sydney.

Strangely enough I found the experience enlightening for the essay I’ve been working on in every moment in between the above (ahhh it’s due in less than a week) on the relationship between agency and structure of the World Political Economy. I’m trying to identify how the structure of our economic and political system causes poverty and who has the power to do anything about it – to which I’m hoping hoping the answer is you & me.

Praying to the universe it wasn’t my day to fall off and break my back I dug my heels into the innocent horse’s sides and pulled tight the reins and using my stern voice so he knows “who the master is” as I’d been instructed and I found myself comparing human’s approach to animals to human’s approach to humans. I guess it came down to a few things: 1. Slavery  2. Self-determination and 3. What was my part in all this.

If I was a horse I would want to be a wild horse where I could gallop where I liked when I liked, free to be me. Self-determination. Similarly if I was born in a country of the “developing world” I would want to be able to live my own culture or choose to be part of the global culture, whether or not we actually want to “develop”, and whichever we choose I’d want it to happen in a way that wasn’t positioning me in a global economy that effectively takes from the poor and gives to the rich. Slavery surrounds us. Not only these people in “poor” countries who work for nothing so that people in “rich” countries can work less and get all the materialistic things they want. But even the “not-so-rich” in the “rich” countries are slaves to mortgages and dreams about the joys of retirement that by the time we get there we are too old and sick to enjoy. What does it come down to? Self-determination. Empowerment to make choices for oneself. Self-determination is even the answer to my issues with religion. Education rather than indoctrination so to empower individuals to articulate and question rather than accept and blindly adhere to.

To say my mind is a bit scrambled with these juxtaposition of events is an understatement but strangely enough rambling about it to the world helps, even if just a little. The very strange thing about all of these things that have happened in the last four days, from near-death to life-commitments to slavery of humans and horses is that they have one thing in common: they all surround us. We may not be conscious of all these things all the time, but they are all existing simultaneously, side-by-side.

So what is my part in all this? Well at least on the political-economic landscape I’m hoping my research will point to people like me –  individuals living in the developed world – who actually do have the power to, together, stand up and make a difference. I think with all issues, be they empowering individuals (human or animal) the ability to make choices for themselves we together can change anything. I’m not saying, per say, that we shouldn’t train horses for us to ride them, but I do feel a certain empathy towards the horse destined to walk tiny trails with 80kg men hoisted on their backs and never fulfill it’s dreams of being wild and free. I was once a tamed horse living that mundane existence where every day was determined by someone with greater power. I am now a wild horse. I have (at least in some small part) escaped boundaries society dictates and I feel free (at least in some small way) to determine my own destiny. If a horse wants to run away and be wild there is really nothing but it’s mind, the way it has been conditioned to behave, that is holding it back.

All in all I have had a good weekend: my Opa didn’t die, my sister is happily engaged, I didn’t fall off my horse, and my essay ideas are slowly evolving in exciting ways. Now I just have to write down these ideas and reduce them into the tiny 3500 word-limit within the 6 days… keep your fingers crossed for me…