Anthony W. Pahl

Serenity was invented on the Murray River at sunset
Serenity was invented on the Murray River at sunset

The great Murray River has been a haven for me even when it was thousands of miles away. I could lose myself in its meanderings, the calls of the river birds and cicadas, the frogs and the rustle of the grass as the animals made their way to water’s edge to drink and wash; the “plop” of the fish landing back in the water after jumping out to catch insects; the perfect reflection of the willows and river red gums on the glassy late evening calm on the water coloured red and ochre and yellow by the setting sun… Oh the memory of those scenes kept me sane and moved my mind back from the brink of the hundred foot red limestone cliffs that were so invitingly final – a move that transformed the cliffs from symbols of an attractive early death into a beautiful spectacle of nature and life.

The cliffs are real. It is the perception of their purpose and the symbolism that is placed on their reality that designates them as sinister or beautiful. Just as one can be drawn to, or step away from, the edge of those cliffs, so can one continue to deny the reality of PTSD or accept and incorporate it as a part of life. The alternatives are as black is to white, or death is to life.

Author’s Note: Excerpt from a letter to my dear friend and WW2 Veteran, C. Douglas Caffey