REAL AUSTRALIA

This RU OK? day, remember it's OK to not be OK as long as you talk about it

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Before you ask, no, I am not OK.

The face which stares back at me in the mirror, lined and unkempt, I am not OK with that.

It's a reminder in my advanced years of the pummelling I have dealt myself through six decades. A reminder of my underlaying health condition - life.

A reminder, too, of the enforced but necessary inertia of pandemic lockdown and its ugly side-effects. Pandemic hair, for a start.

I'm not OK with the memories my smartphone cruelly presents every morning. The breakfasts in steamy Penang; the boat trips on the Andaman Sea; the char kwai teow at my favourite Malaysian restaurant in Campsie; Jack, the golden retriever, who passed at 17 years of age in April.

They're memories of a life which now seems out of reach.

I'm not OK with that.

I'm not OK with the daily press conferences out of Sydney. Not OK with the insincere "sincere condolences" for the people who passed, not OK with the "thoughts and prayers". And especially not OK with staccato "underlying conditions" which bookends the reading of the death toll.

Nor am I OK with the dreadful neglect of the First Nations people, now felt acutely in Wilcannia where an unacceptable percentage of the population is now infected. There just a few weeks ago, I met a delightful bunch of Aboriginal kids. Bright, energetic, curious and intelligent. Now, the dark shadow of COVID hangs over them. Their town should have been first in the vaccine queue but now the horse has bolted.

I am not OK with that.

Nor does the unravelling of the Australian federation sit well. The carping and sniping between premiers. The unedifying scramble to get hold of vaccines. The smirking at the very top of the political heap, from the bloke who said all those months ago this was not a race.

I am not OK with that.

Fires, floods, pestilence and plague - since 2019 they've sapped so many of us with an enervating disaster fatigue. Some days, just getting out of bed seems a challenge.

I am not OK with that.

The sense of community, the incredible generosity, we saw after the Black Summer fires has been replaced with suspicion and self-interest thanks to COVID.

Where once we welcomed strangers into our communities, we're now encouraged to report them.

Those awful Facebook community pages seethe with hostility towards perceived outsiders suspected of carrying the plague. Venetians are parted to check the numberplates of strange cars in the street. We've morphed into Stasiland.

I am not OK with that.

But you know what? I am OK with not being OK. And I am more than happy to talk about it.

So thanks for asking - and for listening. I mightn't be entirely OK now but I feel a lot better for getting all this off my chest.

Now, What about you?

RU OK?

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