Let me explain. Yesterday was a stinking hot day when physical activity was severely limited. So, when a link appeared on our email to an Australia Day Address by the social commentator Hugh Mackay, it seemed a sensible, non-physical, activity to sit down and read it.
It proved fascinating. It was more than a nostalgic look back at the Australia of yesteryear, when people worked together and played together and seemed generally more contented. Rather it was an analysis of what has changed over the years to make us less contented, more individualistic and less community minded. There followed some suggestions, not for politicians and business leaders, but for us ordinary folk, to get things back on track.
I then had to walk up the road to the shops. On my return, very lightly loaded, I happened across a lady of roughly my age carrying two heavy shopping bags. Mackay’s suggestion to engage with people in the street seemed appropriate. “Hello,” I said breezily as I usually do. Then I added, “Not a good day for doing this, is it?” She turned to me with a look of surprise, astonishment and possibly even alarm. From the few sentences of some Eastern European language, possibly Russian, which followed, it appeared that she did not speak any English. Even the words “hot” and “heavy” seemed outside her limited vocabulary. We smiled and went our own ways. At the time, that did not seem like a “win” for Mackay’s approach, more, I thought, like a “loss”, although on reflection that might be too harsh a judgement.
The certain “win” was coming to Choir rehearsal. Another of Mackay’s suggestions for creating a more cohesive society is for people to join choirs, for their own benefit and that of the wider community. Of course, we in MWC know that he is absolutely right. And so it proved last night. After the break and my enforced absence last week, it was wonderful to be back amongst familiar faces, sharing experiences of what had happened over the past few weeks, looking forward to the next concert and sharing plans for the future. Some people who we had missed last year were back in good voice, making the evening especially enjoyable. And then there was the singing itself, using mind and body in a collaborative exercise, truly amongst the best of human endeavours
And now we have the whole rehearsal period to look forward to and the concert at the beginning of May. And from the experience of the first two weeks, what fabulous music to be singing!
If you would like to read the whole of Hugh Mackay’s article, click here.