When I was a kid, like many of us in this fortunate place, I oscillated home to home with my parents' unwanted relocations.
In our village in darkest Sicily, mealtime choices involved every different kind of lentil, pasta, bizarre Mediterranean stock fish, and the altar wine rejected by the well-catered-for local clergy.
However, when in our village in northern NSW, options were limited to whatever Dad brought back from his afternoon job at the abattoir, accompanied by the veggie patch, the bream from the Nambucca river, and the somewhat unvaried produce of our banana plantation (it was very sweet to call 40 acres a plantation).
When the hippies moved in in the late '70s, lentils arrived too. I'm yet to thank them for that.
Anyway, the point is that you get choices in life, but they are limited by the vagaries of your circumstances - your wealth, your health and your geographical location, as well as what century, parents, chromosomes and gender, to name a few variables, the universe bestowed upon you at birth.
I grew up in a fibro cottage next door to Mr Cloutens' cordial factory. The chances of me consuming a Schweppes product were slim. The choice did not exist. Some of the rich kids, as defined by their parents having a second-hand Kingswood as opposed to our second-hand Datsun Bluebird, chose between Passiona and Pepsi.
To me it was like they must have sipped golden nectar at a grand table on Olympus, asking uncle Zeus to pass the salt.
We have quite a series of health-related social choices before us these next few weeks, specifically about how to emerge from a lockdown situation.
We can emerge cautiously from self-isolation, with every hour's delay possibly having a greater impact on our economy, as if Gailbraith and Keynes are looking down on us from heaven ready to take a scythe to our GDP if we dally any further.
Alternately we could fling open the doors and race back to the world, crowding beaches and shops and shouting at our favourite team, akin to naively running into traffic while re-enacting the second wave of 1919.
We get to choose.
With COVID-19 every single person... through his or her selfishness, thoughtlessness, or stupidity, can risk the whole thing - we are every one of us, literally, dependent on every one of us.
The federal government has announced a series of measures in the form of a three-stage plan, and, in an impressive acknowledgment that this country is indeed a federation, given the individual states a great deal of autonomy in enacting their own unwinding of these measures.
My memories of 1977 - defined by my personal trio of the death of Elvis (tragedy), a winning Dragons grand final replay (ecstasy), and the far-less-interesting onset of puberty (boring) - was the stark difference I faced in all my choices between Italy and Australia. And here it's happening again.
Today my family in Gela do not get to choose between several different types of lockdown loosening. Their choices, day after day, are terrifying and sad. Their options for income and employment, for what they eat and drink, for where they go and when they get there, are no longer their own.
When I watch Professor Brendan Murphy outlining options this country has for emerging from our isolation, looking at a set of incidence, mortality and morbidity data from the last couple of months in this country and around the world, I think of what a luxury it is for us to have this choice.
Our curve has not reached a monstrous plateau of hundreds of deaths per day. We do not have the social dislocation of people shamed into wearing or not wearing masks. We do not have doctors and nurses dying for the want of gloves or a mask.
We do not have masked men with machine guns on trucks demanding to be allowed to work, because their alternative is hardship many of us would not understand.
Yes, mistakes have been made. Yes, the system is not perfect, Yes, every one of the deaths and morbidities in this nation is an individual tragedy that is to be respected and mourned - not for a glib moment or lip service, but for always. And yes, we as a society could have done better.
But I'm here to say two things.
Firstly, the relatively easy choices we have are consequent to a period of fine leadership at a federal and state level. Scott Morrison and Greg Hunt, their opposition counterparts, and Andrew Barr and his team locally are to be commended. Their actions in listening to the scientists and health professionals, including but by no means limited to my group, the AMA, has been fantastic.
I'd like to make special mention of our Health Minister, Rachel Stephen-Smith, and our ACT health team, led by Dr Kerryn Coleman; their outstanding efforts have been informed by a daily learning, listening and decisiveness. The doctors and health workers in the town have been beyond impressive in their unselfishness and decency, and if crisis reveals character, then I'm pretty proud to be part of that group.
The media, with some few exceptions, has also been sober and measured, and it comes from, I'd like to think, the inner decency of humanity that is allowed to flourish when it is not terrified by bodies piling up in the street, as could have occurred without the leadership we've enjoyed.
Secondly, I need to urge everyone not to waste the success we've had.
Think of COVID-19 as a plane in an emergency. Regardless of the danger a plane is in, traditionally it is one single person who can save the 300 lives aboard - the pilot. Her skill and courage are the only thing that matters.
With COVID-19 every single person on the plane, through his or her selfishness, thoughtlessness, or stupidity, can risk the whole thing - we are every one of us, literally, dependent on every one of us.
That is an extraordinary situation to be in.
To know that all my elderly or sick with cancer patients are dependent for their safety upon every 20-something with itchy feet not congregating in a massive party in Civic makes me want to break distancing rules and hug every single youngster in this town and thank them for their self-discipline.
Well done our leaders. And well done everybody.
The relatively good choices we have today are thanks to you all. And although no one can rescue me from lentils this afternoon, the little old lady who delivered them is alive and well, and that's worth all the praise in the world.
- Dr Antonio Di Dio is president of the Australian Medical Association (ACT).