Monday, April 02, 2018

A round life

Yesterday morning I stood before a small audience of supportive strangers and read a poem I’d written a couple of months ago. It was about connection, tenderness, anniversaries and the hole that is left behind when somebody dies. Reading it aloud, my hands shook but my voice was strong. Being vulnerable, and connecting with my audience, felt brave in a really good way.

Karaoke at the Bohemia - another little act of courage

This weekend has been all about bravery and connection and creativity for me. As well as the poetic recitation, I’ve danced with abandon to the tunes of a contemporary brass band, strummed on my ukulele with a new friend, listened to beautiful music, laughed uproariously with old friends, sung karaoke with the assistance of a backing ensemble, and slept peacefully on the grass. I found myself in deep conversations about leadings, learnings, gender equality in the hair cutting business, the search for love, bad legislation, time management, and the eternal quest for meaning.

It seemed perhaps even more important to be creative, connected and brave as this weekend marks the ten year anniversary of David’s death. A decade ago there was another gaping hole left behind, another grieving spouse, and another set of communities making their way through the fog of uncertainty and pain. Yet, it was also the beginning of a journey of self-discovery, deeper friendships and creative pursuits for myself and others. And at David’s funeral all those years ago, I read a poem by Michael Leunig about living a spacious and round life, not necessarily a long one.

Poem I read at the funeral
What I've learnt from the past decade, and particularly from the past few years, is that while we can't control whether bad things happen, we can control the way that we reach out to others, show our vulnerability, and provide support and kindness at those times. These are the true measures of our humanity. Simple acts of love that have meant something include attending a funeral for the grieving not the deceased, quietly arranging transport, being there waiting in the rain, offering a place to stay, being okay with looking at ashes, bringing soup, and taking long, companionable walks where nothing particular is said.

So, as I think of those touched by more recent loss, I realise that opportunities to be brave, to connect more deeply, to move in surprising directions, to explore creativity, and to live a round and spacious life, can arise from the depths of suffering. This weekend I honour all those courageous, vulnerable and strong people who’ve chosen to live their lives with integrity, filled with creativity, love and joy.

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