Thursday, May 22, 2008

The IRONY of it all....

Leaving Canberra was a big change. A very big change. I was saying goodbye to what I had known for along time. I was also confident that I was saying goodbye to certain people for the last time. After all, as much as you promise yourself that you will keep in touch with people when you move, the realities are that in many if not most cases the goodbyes you make will be the final ones.

Even with this in mind, when I left Canberra, I felt nothing but a sense of relief and happiness. I didn't want to be in Canberra any more. I wanted to start exploring new places and creating new experiences. As far as I was concerned, it was time for a new chapter in my life. I reasoned in my mind that my trip to Europe and the Middle East would be a way for me to create a clean break with the past.

However, nagging at the back of my thoughts was Lawrence of Arabia.

I wanted to go across to the other side of the world to see the places that Lawrence had travelled through, to see the places that he changed and that changed him.

.... and to a large extent, I felt I did much of what I had hoped to do.

I had gone to Damascus, I had sat in Baron's Hotel in Aleppo, I walked the streets of Jerusalem, I climbed to the top of Krak de Chivaliers, I wandered through the deserts in Wadi Rum, I had sat and drank mint tea in Aqaba.

So with all of this in mind, I was quite shocked when my brother told me of the exhibition that had been unveiled back in Canberra not too long after I had left.


Yes, that's correct.

Back in the place that I had run away from was exactly what I had run in search of.

My brother went to the exhibition and the reports he emailed me were glowing in praise.

It was with a slightly heavy heart that I found myself on the bus from Sydney to Canberra.

I couldn't miss this. TE Lawrence had been my hero since I was a child and in this exhibition were some of the artefacts most closely associated with him.

Early on Saturday morning, Tim and I drove out to the Australian War Memorial and I began to walk through this amazing exhibition.

Tim was correct. I was not to be disappointed at all.
Lawrence's robes were on full display.
As was his GUN!!! His name was even etched into the butt of the rifle.
And then my jaw nearly fell off in awe as I found myself standing in front of his ceremonial dagger. His famous golden ceremonial dagger that was presented to him by the Bedouin sheiks.

The sound of Peter O'Toole's voice circled through my head with the screams of "NO PRISONERS!" I could almost imagine seeing the dagger being used as the Turkish column outside of Dera'a was massacred.

I walked into the exhibition with a smile on my face.

And I definitely walked out with a smile on face.
Tim and I decided to walk through some of the other parts of the War Memorial as well. Major refurbishments had been completed since I last visited.

The place looked great.

The tributes to the soldiers who had fought in the post-WWII conflicts were sharp and well done.

Tim decided he wanted to have a bit of fun in the hands on section, re-enacting some soldiers dismounting off of a helicopter used in the Vietnam War.
So.... Canberra.... I found myself in the city once more.

It was a good lesson to me that plans never seem to last very long when they are subjected to the light of reality.

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