Today started with a red sun, burning against a pale grey sky.
At first, I thought it must be a trick of the light. I opened my back door and stepped out onto the deck to get a closer look. It’s odd, that I was so surprised by seeing the sun as a ball of flame. I mean: that’s what it is. But normally, that’s not how it appears.
On the train platform, I looked around. I couldn’t believe that no one else seemed to notice, or find it odd. A little boy skipped by. He had tousled curls and a Bob the Builder backpack, and he stayed one step behind his immaculately suited father.
‘Daddy,’ he said, tugging at his sleeve. ‘Why is the moon in the sky? It’s daytime!’
‘It’s not the moon,’ said his dad. ‘It’s the sun.’
And he quickened his step, forcing the boy to skip faster.
That’s when I noticed: everyone was deliberately avoiding the ominous red sun. I looked again at my fellow commuters, and saw the woman closest to me glance at it, then return her gaze to her feet.
My eyes began to sting. I realised that I was staring directly at the sun, and remembered it wasn’t a good idea.
I remember an old folk rhyme: Red in the morning, shepherd’s warning. What exactly is it that we’re being warned about?
I’m afraid that it’s not just one hot summer, or the worst fire season on record. And I’m well aware that what we’re seeing in Melbourne is nothing compared to what’s happening in the bush.
My feeling is something akin to when I woke up in the middle of the night to find my flatmate transfixed by a crappy disaster movie about terrorists flying into the World Trade Centre. Or so I thought.
The world is changing.
And the natural world is a far more formidable enemy than Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda. Or rather: we are our worst enemy. A cliché, but true.
I don’t know if we have the courage to do what is necessary to stop this. I don’t know if we’re unselfish enough.
It seems to be far harder to make the decision to go without than to send troops and bombs to obliterate far away countries.
By the time that we accept that we need to drastically change our lifestyles it will very probably be too late.
It’s probably too late already.
I have a seven-year-old boy who I love more than I ever thought I could love anything or anyone. And I’m worried that he will not have the life I’ve had. I can’t bear to think or write anything more drastic than that. I just tried, and I literally can’t. A mental barricade goes up.
It’s much easier to be cynical about my own life than my child’s.
I don’t know what to realistically hope for anymore.
As I rode my bike to the train station this morning, towards the burning sun, I couldn’t help but think: What if this is the last year that we live the way we do now?
Will this be the time we look back on as a turning point, the moment when the world changed?
Maybe that could come true in a positive way. Maybe this could be the year that we collectively wake up?