I hope you have enjoyed your celebrations with loved ones at this special time. We are celebrating a Christmas week this time around with meals at various homes and the family dinner later at mine. The new schedule for celebrations has created a relaxed atmosphere for us. We don’t have to do everything in a day. We have the whole week. Some may regard the message of this blog as an unusual one at a time of celebration. But it is also one of the most stressful times of the year, so I believe there’s value in sharing it today.
‘Resilience’ by Alex Mickle is a sculpture I particularly like. Just a couple of kilometres outside the mining town of Paraburdoo, it is large and as strong as the land it stands on and the people it represents. It catches one’s eye in big country. The back story is even more interesting and worth reading (http://five.org.au). It speaks to what I know to be true, personally and professionally.
As a single mother my focus was unwavering. I wanted to raise my children to have the ability to cope with whatever life threw at us. The word ‘victim’ had, and has, no place in my vocabulary. Nor does ‘survivor’. Happily, they are not words my now adult children associate with me or themselves. Financially we lived in a creative space for years. Life could not have been more challenging. The future was invisible. But, there was always a ‘today’. Our dreams were big, because they were stored in small spaces.
I now wake to bigger dreams. I live in the bigger space of freedom. Although the feeling is one of arrival, it is also the point of departure for the next adventure and the ones that follow. I no longer work. I live. I have a lifestyle. I don’t allow anyone to mess with that truth.
On a recent trip to the Pilbara I had to drive from Paraburdoo to Tom Price on my own. My colleague had left the previous night. Having travelled with her a day before, I was really looking forward to the trip. It is stunning country.
At predawn I drove out to the sculpture and watched the shadow take shape.
I waited for sunrise with raptors for company. I could hear movement in the scrub and in the semi-darkness, thought I was surrounded by them.
At first light, I heard them before I saw them. The call intense and visceral.
I was surprised there were only two, high on a tree some distance away. I wondered if they were still young ones.
A larger bird was in the scrub with crows feasting on it. Perhaps, the road kill was the parent? The raptors had vantage point. They could do nothing except call and call.
Eventually, one flew closer to my car than to the kill. We sat and watched each other, waiting for the next move.
until the crows chased it away.
There was something paradoxical about the raptors’ plight. Powerful in wing and flight, they appeared to be helpless. Later that morning I drove out of town under the shadow of raptors as they flew low. Too low. There was a lot of learning ahead and no teacher.
Life has been my teacher. Experiences, my mentor. Ironically, I’ve learnt how to be self-reliant by reaching out. I believe success in life is knowing how to ask for help and when and who to approach. It is a critical social skill.
It is in that fragile space of ‘a first step’ that resilience finds a footing and from where a new journey, a new normal, begins.
Mickle’s message of ‘Resilience’ is louder and larger than my life narrative. It captures the grandeur of land and people. The vulnerability of it all as well. It has a physical presence. An accessibility. It speaks in a dialect that all of us, at some point in our lives, should comprehend. It is okay to reach out.
May your presence, too, be accessible to all those who need it. Have a safe and blessed holiday season.
Until next time
a dawn bird