It’s not about living every day as if it were your last (in memory of Claire Brunner)

So you’ve heard the cliché exhortation to live every day as if it were your last. In practice we know that life has seasons and cycles, so treating each day as a stand alone ‘possible last day’ is non-sensical. The sentiment may be worthy, but it’s misplaced.

I was thinking about this because over the weekend, due to a school boy technical error I spent some time re uploading more than 1000 photos into the 400 posts on our yurting site. A tad tedious, and I started the task a bit grumpily, but once I got into it I totally loved re-living the incredible times we spent travelling, living and working in our caravan. Like looking through old journals and photo albums at the same time. They were, for sure, some of the happiest times of our lives.

Not because we got up every morning and decided to live fully … that bit was easy. When you wake up with the sound of the ocean outside and your work clothes are shorts and a tee shirt, the biggest decisions are already made. The hard bit was choosing to buy a caravan, not as a holiday escape vehicle but as a second home and then figuring out how to arrange our lives to make it work.

Well … actually … maybe it wasn’t that hard … risky, yes, but sometimes the path is so intuitively compelling it effectively ‘calls us’.

I met Claire Brunner just after she had made such a decision. She had (foolishly, riskily, crazily, insightfully, passionaately, inspiringly) put the winning bid at an auction to buy a largely disused heritage building in Melbourne’s CBD. But her dream wasn’t a property development one. Claire lived with a deep and relentless intuition that there were things broken about the way our society operates. She believed that passionate, smart, committed, ‘little’ people working outside the institutions of power, outside the spotlight, held the most promise for a better world. Her dream was what she called a ‘communiversity’, a space where people like this could come to collaborate, share resources, learn and experiment with new ways of being in the world.


That building is now donkeywheel house, an extraordinary gift to the innovators, social entrepreneurs and change-makers in Melbourne. It is a thriving hub of inspiration and innovation. Already, thousands of people have benefitted from Claire’s daring without even knowing her or her story.

Yesterday was Claire’s last day. She will be remembered, not because she lived every day as if it were some disconnected opportunity for pleasure or meaning, but because she refused to shut down that inner voice that challenged, rebuked and even rebelled against anything that smelled of the status quo. She will be remembered as one of those rare souls who’s light shone so intensely that a conversation with her always left you examining your own choices.

Outside her family and closest friends, the legacy she leaves is based not on her daily choices but on the courage to make those bigger calls, calls that set in motion a cacophony of opportunities for people to live better.

Vale Claire, and thankyou.

One thought on “It’s not about living every day as if it were your last (in memory of Claire Brunner)

  1. Thanks Col for your insight and reflections.
    It was a privilege to share in the donkey wheel journey, to be part of bringing the dream to life and see Claire’s vision of people collaborating at dwh and making a different difference a reality. Thoughts to her family, friends and dw crew at this time.

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