It's been a horrible last couple of years for people all over the world, and not all of it is due to COVID.
But the world is still a beautiful place.
And for Canberra scientist David Lindenmayer, it's the ash forests of Victoria - as well as the countless tracts of bushland closer to the home - that give him hope.
From ancient rainforests that have sustained First Australians for thousands of years to massive gliding marsupials, these areas are under constant threat, but continue to fill him with awe.
So he has written a new book about them, accompanied by lush colour photography and a sense that maybe the world isn't so bad after all.
"We have a world where we've had bushfires, we've had floods, we've had all these diseases, we've recently just had Afghanistan, but I just thought, the world is a beautiful place, and there are still beautiful places in it," he said.
"The psyche of it was to give people some hope, because this place is stunning ... I just know that there are so many Australians just hanging out for the end of lockdowns, and to get this thing under control so that they can go and visit places and be in places."
A professor at the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, Lindenmayer has spent a large part of his career in these forests, and has been inspired by their ability to renew after natural disasters.
He was working there after the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983, Black Saturday in 2009, and the recent Black Summer of 2019-20.
The Great Forest shows the area from the ground up, from the point of view of a mushroom, right up to the great gliders in the treetops, thanks to drone technology.
"As part of learning about those forests, you have to learn about the different species, and then how the forest responds to disturbance, how the forest changes as you go up and down the landscape, and then how landscapes are built from these mosaics of little pieces," he said. "The streams, the ridges, the rocky outcrops, the old forests, the patches of open areas, the young forest. I liken it to looking at a mosaic in a church where you look at all the little pieces ... and you can see how they fit together."
He said he wanted the book to take readers on a journey.
"I wanted to tell people stories about how the landscapes work, how the geology works, how the trees work, and the ground layer, and talk about science, but decorate the science with these amazing images to draw people in," he said.
This is his 48th book, with all proceeds going to a trust fund to help develop the careers of young ecologists.
His wife is the best-selling author and Canberra Times contributor Karen Viggers; he says it's a family joke that she has sold more copies of one book than all of his combined.
But he was committed to helping the scientists of tomorrow.
"I think it's important, given everything that's happened, and how hard it is for young people, to make sure that some of us old farts can make sure that we create opportunities for the next generation to keep coming through," he said.
- The Great Forest, by David Lindenmayer, with photographs by Chris Taylor, Sarah Rees and Steve Kuiter. Allen & Unwin, $49.99.