Ch01.Blog29 Why stories matter
I consider myself a pretty lucky person.
Luck. What does that mean?
Roman philosopher, statesman and dramatist Seneca said “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. On one level I agree but, however prepared and opportunistic I might be, that does not account for my wonderful family, my high school education, the roof over my head or the fact that I have the great fortune to call this amazing country, Australia, home.
Home. What do I mean by that?
It’s Saturday and I’m parking my car outside the nursing home when it occurs to me that we are at our most open when we are full of love. Falling in love, sharing love, saving love, or doing whatever we can to help the ones we love. I am lucky enough to have a supportive, loving family and, as much as there are places that fill me with the completeness that only the sense of ‘home’ can, it is these people who allow me to feel my most open and safe.
Let me tell you what I mean.
I’m visiting my grandma. I’m not sure what to expect when I visit; will she know who I am? When I enter her room she has just awoken and I surprise her, but I can feel in the way she hugs me that she remembers me. Remembers the way it feels when we are together.
And I hug her like I am a solar panel and she is my sun. Cheesy perhaps, but I hug her and it makes me feel open and alive. Like she is my life.
She is. She’s my mother’s mother. She is showing the way; the vicissitudes of life; the highs and lows. The pain and all the beauty of sharing a moment knowing that in the end no one will remember it, which in a funny way makes the moment all the more important. It’s what we live for. To share moments with the people we love. I leave feeling. Feeling full of feeling.
That’s what I mean by open.
We get so used to shutting off or shutting down. We take away our own permission to speak. We try our hardest to avoid feeling like a failure. Sometimes we try to avoid feeling anything at all.
Recently I saw an insightful and thought-provoking production of Swedish play Fucking Parasites, directed by Melbourne dramatist, Adam JA Cass, at La Mama Theatre. Created over a decade, the play intertwines stories from interviews with police officers, health care professionals, politicians, interpreters and more, told through the voices of two young girls in a detention centre. In the first lines, they try to determine if this place they are in is their new ‘home’ and over the next 90 minutes we see them grapple with the potential dismemberment of the last thing they really have that is their own, their family.
Their needs, fears, joys and dreams are not so different from my own. But they have not been lucky, they do not feel open and they are prepared for the possibility of being returned to situations where they have to fear for their lives. Of her ode to the plight of asylum seekers, Oh Canada, Missy Higgins has said ‘it’s not about preaching anything, it’s simply my attempt to make sense out of senselessness”.
And I hope that that’s what my family has given me the strength to do; to share stories that attempt to make sense of the world we live in, to understand that the life I lead is a gift and to use it wisely, and to do what I can to create a world in which the concept of a ‘safe home’ is a reality for everyone.
You can help provide a little bit of ‘luck’ via aid, legal and health services to people seeking asylum in Australia through the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre.