Resilience Personified


For a number of years I have steered clear of the Sydney Writers Festival ( SWF)

But for some reason, this year, I glanced over the program. I’m not an avid reader, I write blog posts from time to time but I love story telling, and listening to accounts of lives well lived.

The 2017 SWF seemed a good a place as any to stumble across autobiographical accounts of unique life perspectives.

And so I found myself in the audience last Sunday morning at Walsh Bay, surrounded by other curious souls, for a one hour panel conversation with Ms Turia Pitt.

For those unaware of Turia’s celebrity, in 2011, whilst completing an ultra marathon in Western Australia, she was caught in a grass fire, suffering burns to 65% of her body. The sheer grit, determination and resilience this young women has shown, to get her life back on track, on her terms………..word fail me.

Last Sunday’s audience laughed, cried and sighed in unison, as Turia walked us through her life story. She made it easy for the audience to digest the pain, suffering and trauma experienced in the 2011 grass fire and continuing recovery, by her unwavering sense of humour.

I was captivated by her spirit from the moment she walked onto the stage, till the conclusion of the hour-long interview, when she graciously accepted offer from the audience to go for a surf and to drink a beer at the local pub with another.

Resilience personified.

When it was over, and our clapping serenaded her off stage, I left the auditorium and wandered aimlessly for about 10 minutes. It was an attempt to process all I had just heard.Surrounded by Writers Festival patrons, I remained inward in thought.

On Wednesday Turia Pitt featured on Charlie Pickering’s show ‘ The Weekly’ on the ABC. I happened to watch the interview. Again, I was mesmerised.

And yesterday, I got the chance to chat with my Mum- about the Writers Festival and the Weekly interview. My Mum has seen Wednesday nights interview and in a three words she nailed it ‘ Turia upstaged him ( Charlie)’

Yes, that was exactly it – Turia upstaged Charlie Pickering on the Weekly, and she certainly upstaged the interviewer on Sundays panel at the SWF.

She had upstaged us all….been through the unimaginable, refusing to give in to the pain and trauma that to this day, has capacity to consume her.

It was inspiring to listen to her first hand account of what it takes to live a life, not one defined by an event, gender or occupation, but by hope, strength, determination and love.

Turia has chosen the harder option, and as a result we are graced with the gift of her tenacious spirit and insight.

She is resilience personified.

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