August 2016 on the Great Barrier Reef

Captain Trevor Jackson

Hanging from a hook on the lounge room wall at home there is an old sextant…..ancient one might say, corroded almost beyond recognition, black and green and pitted. There are no markings or brand names, no sign of its origin bar what I remember of it and from whence it came. The sextant has been in my possession for a score of years and prior to that lay undisturbed some 6 score till I happened upon it. Plucked from the sand, an ancient treasure billowing a plume of dust and rust…..and before my startled eyes it appeared to take shape as the cloudiness cleared; and there it was….the navigation instrument that had taken the ship SS St Paul around the globe on countless voyages, till she met her fate on a rock she was surely not fated to meet. The ship, the sextant and her captain had laid there in the depths until an exuberant youth came along and wretched it from its sandy cocoon.

I lay there staring at it the other night wondering why it had appeared so enticing to me all those years ago. Why had my younger self been possessed with that seemingly insatiable desire to rip old lumps of metal from the withering bones of old almost forgotten shipwrecks that should probably just have been left as they were? And it didn’t stop with the sextant; the house is literally scattered with old trinkets and keepsakes from that former life, a compass here, a telegraph there. Interesting stuff to say the least but soon enough those bits and bobs will find themselves in the care of someone who doesn’t care and they will end up as landfill, or melted down for profit.

I couldn’t escape the thought that ‘current me’ would have left in place what ‘former me’ simply had to take for himself. And so it is with all humans…young, greedy and stupid eventually makes way for old, thrifty and wise. But I’m wondering, actually I’m hoping, that the whole human race will go that way. For us to collectively become thrifty and wise. Lest our entire world of greed and avarice eventually lead us to an abundance of landfills and wastelands. All created because we are, as a whole……..still so…’must have now’.

I stared for a minute or two at the sextant, hanging there in the vastness of the pale wall, a symbol of the earth itself, hanging in space, a victim of the past and present….and hoped for a world where the ‘young greedy and stupid’ were a thing of the past….and that sensibility and maturity, might one day, soon prevail.

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