Flash Forward. 2040. After Damon Gameau

Flash Back. 2006

In this place I’m house-sitting, you know where, down by the beach where I grew up, there’s an old copy of Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree. I hadn’t read it in years but my prep teacher, from the school just down the road, read it to my whole class. On Book Day, she came as Mrs Washalot. I came as Cinderella.

Flash Forward. 2011

When my dad bought a property 20km outside of Ballarat, I scoured its bush-land for a faraway tree. Something tall, yes, but mostly something magical. When I found a tree that suited, I sat and read there often. I detoured from trips to check the bottom paddock, so I could walk by it for a few passing moments. I had my first kiss under it. When I told my parents, they suggested we put a picnic set up there. Maybe some chairs and tables.

Though it seemed the kangaroos liked my faraway tree also.

When I found out that the kangaroos used the soft soil beneath my tree as their resting place, I halted my plans for a table and chairs. We’d have to share the tree from then on.

While I’d like to think that my ability to coexist with nature without stepping on it, is a sign that I was an environmentally-aware 11 year-old, it could just as easily have been my knowledge that kangaroos always win in disagreements that stopped me from placing an entire empire under that little, but oh so special faraway tree. I’m glad that I didn’t. It probably would have ruined the magic.

Flash Forward. 2019

“Scrunch your eyes as tightly as possible,” says the young voice of a friend in my ear. The wind and rain are flying at my rosy cheeks. “As tightly as you can,” he says again, “That’s how to force yourself to remember this place. It’s like taking a photo with your mind.”

We’re in Halong Bay in northern Vietnam. One of the seven wonders of the world. It is beautiful. Overwhelmingly so.

I think I’m going to forget this. No, I know I’m going to forget this. It is too beautiful. There’s no way my mind can store an image like this.

Photo by Jamie Brown

I’ll remember the plastic in the water though. The water bottles thrown overboard by other tourists. I’ll remember the places you can tell we’ve interfered.

But the beautiful parts? Those mountains sitting so delicately above the water? No. I’ll never be able to remember that. I’m just not sure I can comprehend it.

Flash Back. 2009

I do not have a green thumb. My flower growing experiment has failed.

Flash Forward. 2019

I just saw Damon Gameau’s ‘2040’.

It’s for his daughter. He envisions the world he wants for her in 2040, when she’s 25 years old. The privilege of being a child born in the millennium is that I don’t need any math to figure out how old I’ll be. I’ll be forty.

Flash Back. 2013

They say you need an action plan for bush-fires. Well, my plan is to keep a keen eye on the CFA website at all times. Send a text to Dad and make him get out when the smoke hits the property border. Stay in my suburban classroom and think of rain. Hope it works.

Flash Forward. 2019

The movie makes me wanna do something. It’s so hopeful and right now I feel like moving. Doing something.

I want to catch a train down to Ballarat. Walk until I find the old street with the long driveway. Stroll around the dirt road that lines the property and break away from it when I find the worn leaves and twigs that formed a makeshift path right through the centre. I want to find my faraway tree and lay down in the kangaroo bed beneath it.

I want to promise the tree that I won’t let it burn. And I’m buying a copy of Enid Blyton for my bookshelf.

Flash Forward. 2040

Mia Boonen

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