By Gareth Andrews



Towards the end of 2020, those of us living in Victoria, no matter where, suffered through lockdown. For Melburnians, it was one of the harshest lockdowns in the world. For much of it, we were restricted to not travelling more than 5km from home. For the entire lockdown, we were unable to leave town itself. Quite simply, we were not able to go anywhere, see anyone, care for family, or take a break from life.

The essence of life is connection and touch — a hug, a kiss, a shoulder massage, a foot rub, and it was all gone. We momentarily lost what it is to be human. We were fully masked and distanced!

Last winter, I spoke about the wonderful power and positive influence of nature. I was urging  everybody to hit the world of nature and to get a good mental “fix” by doing so. Judging by the traffic I’ve recently experienced when heading down to Geelong and beyond a couple of times, we are all now behaving like escaped lions. We are getting our fill of Life Again (which is exactly the reason I chose this name for our Foundation eight years ago).

Nowadays, we need to focus on what changes we are going to make now that we are emerging from our COVID bubble — and praying that we don’t go back there ever again. The word that comes to mind for me is WONDERMENT. I love other powerful words such as awe, curiosity, fascination, amazement, marvel… but none captures the humanness of wonderment.

It’s almost like watching the world through a child’s eyes and imagining all of their first experiences.

Their womb has been their lockdown and suddenly they enter the world and start to look around their environment and “see”. Maybe they don’t say “wow” but I do expect they feel it!

Sadly, as we grow older, we have too many conflicting experiences weighing us down to be able to recapture the power of this early feeling of wonderment. We have stopped looking, or actually stopped really opening our eyes. We have become blind to what’s beautiful and too rational to rate its specialness in our lives. As I suggested in the previous article, nature is the perfect first place to look.

In my last year of school, I received a prize on Speech Day – a beautiful copy of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. I knew nothing about it, and it looked far too heavy in content to interest me at the time. I placed it on the shelf, but I kept hearing about the impact it had had on man’s contact with nature. When I finally read it, I found myself taking more of an interest in the broader world. I had travelled but never dug deeply enough into the essence of where I was: the ultimate nature of a thing especially as opposed to its existence. Superficial observation rather than immersion.

Carson wrote a further book, The Sense of Wonder, where she said, “Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties or mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life… Their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” 

It’s not just about getting out and about, but trying to soak in everything you are seeing.

And it’s not just about seeing things, it’s experiencing them. Go into some of those areas that were fire ravaged last summer and learn more about how and why it occurred. Would adopting some of the fire-controlling techniques of our First Peoples have made a difference? Marvel at the first golds and reds in the autumnal leaves. Reflect on this for a while and realise that this will go on ad infinitum, long after we have gone from this world. 

Rediscover your childhood and play games with your kids. Read them Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Even your young adult kids. Teach them, and yourself, to never get so buried down in life that you can no longer see the forest for the trees. Meander along beaches and rivers in wonder. Find shells, crustaceans, cuttlefish, snails, jellyfish. Go home and learn about them.

Lie on your back under massive Mountain Ash trees on Maits Track in the Otways, west of Lorne, seeking glimpses of the sky through this mighty majestic greenery. Wind down your windows and breath the nakedness and freshness of it all. 

As Rachel Carson told us, you’ll never weary of life if you seek and find life wherever you are. Netflix, Facebook, Instagram and Zoom might have held us together through a hard lockdown but they don’t necessarily inspire us. Be inspired and filled with wonderment and never let it go. Otherwise, it’ll be too late.


Author’s Bio
Gareth Andrews – Founder and Director of Life Again, a registered Not for Profit charity that educates and helps men to change and lead more fulfilling and purposeful lives. Through writing, public speaking, taking men to the Outback and working with Aboriginals, workshops and personally challenging men.