Buddhist monk and poet Thich Nhat Hanh wrote ‘Alone we are vulnerable and afraid. If we try to go to the ocean as a single drop of water, we will evaporate before we arrive. But if we go as a river, if we go as a community, we are sure to arrive at the ocean’.
This statement encapsulates the birth of my dream to undertake an expedition on the majestic Mighty Murray River from source to sea. Fear is a known feature of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or any other illness where unpredictability and uncertainly abound. If a single star were seen in the dark night sky we would hold little hope of finding other life force, perhaps feel overwhelmingly alone in the universe; however if millions of stars light up the night sky we are transformed and experience awe to the magnitude of our existence, hope at the possibilities of what we might find and courage to explore.
It is this exact sentiment I hold as we seek sponsorship, plan and embark on our journey on the 1st November 2015. Whilst we are a family of three travelling the length of the Mighty Murray River it will take a community of people, businesses, media and a generosity of individuals to reach the sea in the hope of raising awareness, funds and a cure for this insidious disease MS. Each a star in the grand plan, lighting the night sky as hope and courage lead the way through the many rivers and landscapes of this beautiful part of Australia – our longest river.
The Murray River is a location that always stirs my soul as I feel fused to its land with a passion for all it offers. From the smells of river gums that fill the air, wood fires from the paddle steamers as they release their black burnt smoke to propel forward and the fresh air, whether crisp from an autumn’s morning or a summer’s day inviting you into its river shores for a swim. Not to mention the sounds of the bush – kookaburras cheering on the day, fairy wrens, corellas, swallows and cicada as they form nature’s greatest musical orchestra. All of which offer considerable relief from the many demands of MS symptoms when visiting the river. My healing place!
Boating has allowed me the freedom with MS to delve deeper into the river and explore its earthly beauty and mysteries along with my husband and 12-year-old daughter. In those rare moments of solitude when we have navigated past the many deadened tree branches where they stand eerily as the keepers of the river when travelling to remote locations; I have experienced a sense of unity with its currents and land as I seek to absorb its life force as one with mine. Nothing feels more spiritually uplifting than sitting at the bow of the boat, hand in the water as the river separates through your fingers, wind in your hair and black kites soaring overhead, swallows darting along the river like little fairies of the bush and cockatoos larking in the tree top and water edges as you snake around the many bends desperately wanting everything the Murray River has to reveal.
For this reason it felt a natural progression and privilege to plan an expedition on this amazing river of ours to fundraise for such a worthy curse. Four Australians are diagnosed every day with MS with many being in the prime of their life and female. So please support and join me on this adventure in raising awareness and raising funds for MS research, better treatments and hopefully a cure. Will you be one of the stars that light the way giving hope and courage for those living with MS!