We are back at the Opera House to hear Annie Griffith share her story. I am especially inspired because she is one of the first female photographers employed by National Geographic. She has travelled to more than 150 countries and worked on 6 continents. I’ve only been to 50 myself but I one up on her when it comes to continents.…having photographed Antarctica myself :). Interestingly the audience today is mostly female….with a generous sprinkling of kids of all ages.
Annie is an incredibly gifted speaker and we listen enthralled by her story. So many times I am often confronted by people who say – “of course you can live an adventurous life…you don’t have the responsibility of kids!” It is refreshing for me to hear Annie’s story…and know there are many parents here today who are hearing that indeed you can have the life of your dreams…and still bring up kids. Annie took her 2 kids around the world on assignment right up to the point they entered high school.
They were exposed to an education most kids would kill for. There are two stories she related that stand out for me. The first is one about staying overnight in a ranch in the rural US. She was awoken by the sounds of horses outside in the paddock. She grabbed her camera and ran out to take some brilliant pictures in the early morning light before becoming aware of a couple of cowboys leaning over the fence in in curiosity. She then realised she had run out in her T Shirt and forgotten to put on her trousers!! She told us this story to highlight the fact there should be moments such as this in all of our lives….where we are so excited we forget to put on our pants. I reflect on the routine lives of most city dwellers…caught up in a rat race that locks them up forever in a gilded cage and wonder….will they ever find themselves so excited they run outside without their pants…?
The last picture Annie shared with us was one of her son as a little boy snuggled into the robes of an Arab man. She recalls how she got caught up in a dust storm while working on assignment in the Middle East. She had run in a tent with her daughter but her son had crawled under the robes of this Arab men. He continued to sleep there long after the storm had ended and Annie had caught a delightful moment…the look of shear contentment and peace on the face of her son, while he slept within the folds of this man’s robes. Annie then reminds us of the prejudice of the world we live in where this man would be branded a terrorist because of the way he looked and the clothes he wore despite being a wonderful and kind man. She shares with us her experiences in this part of the world where her kids spent a great deal of their childhood, riding camels and playing local games. She shares stories of her friends in places like Syria and her horror at what is happening in that part of the world now. I am reminded of my own travels there and the hospitality I too had experienced wherever I went.
At the end of her talk we have an opportunity to ask questions. Many kids line up full of questions, slightly envious of the lives her children have led. I wonder…is it stability and a traditional education that our kids crave….or excitement and adventure and time spent with mum and dad? What is more valuable…calculus and quadratic equations…or life skills and an appreciation of our planet? It is a valuable lesson of life on the road…and I leave convinced that the opportunities to live an extraordinary life is there for the taking…if only we have the courage to dream.