I knew it would take me there. To the place beyond everything, the place that shows me, really quite beautifully, who I truly am.
I can’t remember the last time I watched Legends of the Fall. A very long time ago. A lifetime ago, you might say, and if you did say that I wouldn’t argue with you. I last saw the movie before I had truly lived. Before I had truly ached. Before I had truly felt loss, and the echoing stillness of life’s fragility.
Last night I watched the movie through new eyes, and it tore me apart. Very beautifully, it tore me apart, but it tore me apart all the same.
It reminded me of the depth and softness of who I am.
It reminded me of the beauty of the human connection.
And it reminded me why I write: to feel and to help others feel, too.
This morning I was taken back to the year 1997, when I sat glued to the television, hoping with all of my everything that a man named Stuart Diver would be rescued from beneath a mountain of rubble — the devastating result of a landslide at Thredbo: an Alpine Village in New South Wales, Australia.
The landslide at Thredbo broke the heart of just about every human in Australia, I’d go so far to say. Stuart was the sole survivor of the landslide that killed 18 people, including Stuart’s wife, Sally, who drowned in the rising icy waters beside him.
This post has no direct link to Stuart Diver and his shining human spirit, but it does have a few indirect links to (and hopefully a few reminders of) the magnificence of the human spirit. So I’m writing these words in honour of Stuart, and also in honour of every human who knows how beautiful it feels to shine through our dark times together.
Right now, twenty three years after Australia came together so beautifully for the good of one man, humanity finds ourselves in the united states of everyone hates each other. Just when we need each other the most.
What happened all those years ago, however tragic, was the most magical shining human thing I’d ever experienced. Aching life had brought us together. All of us. Every Australian, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, personality type: we all became one as we anxiously waited to see if our mate Stuart would pull through.
We cried real tears as we witnessed the beautiful bond between rescued and rescuer. We winced at the thought of Stuart’s journey beyond the rubble (which, tragically, only got worse before it got better when Stuart lost his second wife to breast cancer.) My point is: we ached. And we ached together.
We’re not those united humans, anymore. We’re about a gazillion aspects of our oneness, bursting into about a gazillion fragments of hate and pain and judgement. What might happen if we take a moment to remember just how beautiful we are, together? What might happen if we sat in our quiet for a few moments and just loved each other fully?
Currently, humanity is healing from about a billion years of collective shadow trauma, so the mature part of me wants to be kind to us as we vomit up all the nonsense we’ve shoved down for so long.
But there is another aspect of me who wants to shout at us for being dicks, and say: ‘Guys. We’re not getting it. We need to just stop and see the bigger picture.’
Sorry for the cranky pants.
I suppose I might post a soft and fluffy poem on here tomorrow.
Years ago, quite by accident, and quite without me knowing why…I stopped crying after a lifetime of being a human river. I didn’t notice it happening, it just happened and there was nothing for me to do but keep living, wondering if this was the me I was meant to be all along.
I now know the lack of tears meant that I had lost myself. That I had been suppressing my emotions, either for the comfortability of those around me (to fit in) or just because the difficulties of life had closed my heart in order to keep me safe.
This morning, as I slushed around in that pile of dishes, I felt my wholeness again. For those of you who are new to my beautiful bloggy family, this reawakening of my spirit/senses began about two years ago, I’d say, and every so often I find myself reaching new milestones of truth, you might call them.
This morning delivered one of them, and every beautiful current of the river that once moved me was back, if only for a few moments. I’d just been told a story. A very sad one. A story of a man who had lost his wife and child in a car crash many, many years ago.
I cried those tears as though I was that man. I felt those tears as though I was that man. I ached for his pain. I cried for him.
I bounded out of bed. No, really, I bounded out of bed and bounced around my room, arms and legs flailing— a sort of contemporary dance concoction that would have won me the award for the most daggy morning-human, ever. ( Like, ever ever. )
I’m glad I listened to the quiet whisper that asked me to flick Spotify onto a super playlist of YES, and go with it. It started my day beautifully, and had me connecting to my heart and full energetic flow right away, which I struggle with from time to time, I’ll admit.
I’m feeling positive, at the moment, which feels empowering and wonderful on the back of the bouts of depression I’ve found myself wading through over the past couple of years. I’m probably a little odd in my take on the denser human experiences such as depression, but I believe it’s all there to frame life and to, ultimately, make it better. To show us who, how and where we are now, and to teach us who, how and where we would prefer to be.
Without times of imbalance, how can we possibly know and appreciate our body in equilibrium? How can we recognise the things in life we need to shift if we don’t experience a reaction to them? How can we feel deep empathy for others experiencing tough times, if we haven’t stomped through the sludge, ourselves?
Do I like being depressed? Well, no. It’s a journey fraught with many a winding road and impossibly steep hill. But do I see how it has grown me as an empathic human and broadened my perspective for the good of a great deal more people than just me? Absolutely. And I’m so, so grateful.
I am also grateful to able to dance about the house like an absolute loon and, rather than feel silly, fully LOVE the ways this body of mine can be all the magical things.
I’m devastated, I really can’t paint it any other way.
Melbourne, my home town, has gone into stage four COVID restrictions (the highest level: full lockdown, but for essential food/medical needs), which is very much necessary given the rising case numbers, but also very much a kick in the gut for those of us who are already struggling a little with life in general (hello to all the parents of sweet-faced three-year-old, terrorists.)
The struggle is a little more real for Melbournians, today. Yesterday, it felt like I’d been stuck in a mud-brick home with two small children climbing the same walls they have been climbing for months. Today all the windows have been boarded up. Considering I’m human, and not yet floating in Buddhist Monkville…I’m not living my brightest day. I’m aching at the prospect of the dark tunnel lengthening, and although I know It’s possible to change my thoughts in favour of more joyous ones, I don’t really want to do that, today.
I want to say: I know I will be okay.
I want to say: I know we will be okay, together, and a big part of me believes it— in fact the shining depth of me believes it. Still, it’s hard. And today I feel like I need to be the person that voices my pain, in order to act as a mirror for anyone else who is struggling with this. We’ll struggle together.
Empathy and compassion are my two favourite words on a good day, and these shit-storms of life are usually where those two traits are birthed and polished, within even the hardest of human hearts. So there’s one good thing. And interestingly, even with my natural inclination towards empathy, I’ve also been triggered to dive deeper into that aspect of myself in order to keep the peace at this tough time.
We all experience the world through our own focused lens, and my goodness it can be hard to understand the views and behaviours of others, sometimes, especially when they differ so radically from our own. But the last thing we need is to separate at this time.
So I’m here to say to those of you who are struggling: I see you. It’s so bloody hard to be human at times like this—really, so very hard to push through the dark curtains of life unknown, but we will. And when we do, we will be so proud of the growth and change we’ve produced as a society, I’m so sure. When looking back at the mountains we’ve each climbed on this COVID journey, we’ll very likely value our freedom and peace far more. We’ve got to see that as a win.
Lastly, I’ve been a bit tardy with my thanks to those of you who have pushed past your comfort zones in order to meet the needs of the more vulnerable in society, whether it be health care workers or those offering compassionate care to those in need. How beautiful you are.
No really. You’re beautiful. And you make me proud to human alongside you.