The collective chirp of a multitude of birds. The distant sound of a motorboat punting through the oyster leases. A far-away roar of jets cruising from the air-force base.
They say things change, just to stay the same. Nearly thirty years ago, my grandparents bought a holiday house ‘somewhere’ north of Newcastle. They bought a quaint, two-bedroom weatherboard shack, overlooking the bush, with a secluded bay at the bottom of the garden. Those ‘in the know’ will have very vivid and happy memories of what I’m talking about.
‘The Shack’ as it was once affectionately called contains many mamories from my childhood, and perhaps one of the last ‘physical’ locations in which I spent time with my dad. As you can imagine, this is a very, very special place for me.
I have both photographs, recollections and a pocketful of legends of adventures (and mis-adventures!) of my dad being here. Needless to say, fishing ‘off the jetty’ remains one of the most prominent and happy memories.
Through most of my adult like, I’ve longed to bring my own family back to ‘The Shack’. I’ve longed to spend the days looking for crabs, licking ice-cream, splashing in the water and of course, fishing.
I expect any psychologists out there could label this behaviour – I guess I just wanted to recapture some memories from many years ago.
Over the last thirty years, this place has changed to stay the same. The two bedroom shack has grown to encompass a larger family. The place has had improvements – touch ups here and there, all little changes, all to keep the place the same.
In a similar way, I guess, I’ve changed to stay the same. To come back here now is a considerable drive – over 700 kms, which is no easy feat with two children (and a wife!). It’s been a change of holiday destination for me – all to have the same holiday that I had all those years ago.
This week, I’ve been blessed to finally bring my family back to ‘The Shack’.
In retrospect, I’ve focused too much on what this beautiful place ment to me in my past – childhood holidays with my amazing brothers and wonderful cousins. Days spent in the sun, on the beach, crabbing, fishing, digging sandcastles with our special uncle. Nights filled with wishing we had a TV, playing UNO and colouring in competitions. Perhaps, for a while, I focused on a memory that was unchanged, despite my changing.
You see, I’ve had to change, to stay the same. I’ve had to escape the mindset of childhood reminiscence, to a mindset of creating new memories.
This week, I’ve been blessed to have a dream come true.
I’ve taken my children fishing ‘off the jetty’! I’ve gone from being a passive recipient of memories to an active creator of them. I could of spent the week thinking about what was, and forgotten to admire the simplistic beauty in front of me – my wife, my children and these serene surrounds I find myself in. Yes, I’ve re-lived some beautiful, happy memories. I’ve shared stories from yore with my family, but more importantly, I’ve started a new chapter in this book we call life.
I received an email from my grandparents, just prior to posting this. They relayed to me the unexpected joy that ‘The Shack’ has brought not only to them, but to three generations after them!
The story changes, as it stays the same. Chapters are written in different styles, but the themes remain the same. It’s beautiful to flip through the earlier chapters and share past joys and it’s amazing to see how the story continues to be written, the themes of family, love and fishing ‘off the jetty’ remain the same!