Today is not a special day. I am sitting at home. Its cold. I’ve cleaned the house and I feel depressed. I’ve lit the fire early cause it comforts me. I can’t seam to warm up. I feel overwhelmed by police shootings, racial injustice, politics in the world, the Standing Rock situation, The Okinawa situation, Syria, Australia’s treatment of refugees, local injustices (markets being taken from the community minded as they now represent profit). Too many things going wrong.
And in that large world of injustice that circles and surrounds my awareness and my family, I experienced a moment of beauty this week. So I will stop and write about that. I want to restart this blog to share a moment of beauty…
I run a weekly storytelling session at a mental health recovery centre. I go in for one hour and share folk tales, fairy tales, myths and more.
Typically this elicits a discussion about the story, the places it’s set, its country of origin, personal experience. Well – it elicits discussion and story sharing for approx. one hour. I have grown to love these sessions. I enjoy the stories and interests of people in the group, the discussions are candid and feel very real, we go beyond the niceties or politeness’s very quickly. Stories can do that.
This week an Aboriginal elder came to sit in on the session with me. We will call him Unc. He is awesome. He is a dedicated leader and worker in his community. We have interacted and worked on different projects over the years. It’s fairly safe to say I admire, respect and love him and his wife very much and the fact that he drove up here (about an hour) out of interest and support was extremely honouring.
Every person in that centre responded the same way I internally felt. Honoured. From the moment he walked in it was palpable. The energy in the room was buoyant to begin with, there had just been singing and choir participation filling the space. As soon as I began to introduce Unc one gentleman immediately took him on a tour of the centre, its facilities and program. Grabbing as much personal contact time as he could.
Next we all sat down to share stories and questions. Well not all – its not that orderly a process. Some people sat down, others joined when they sensed what was going on and that they wanted to be a part of it. Some people walked by numerous times and joined later.
The introductions lead to conversations and questions straight away. Questions and comments that seek connection, recognition of similarity. I love the way we do this as humans – “Ohh you grew up there. We camped there every summer/my mums from there/my brother lives down that way…”
Who are you? Who are we? What about all this Aboriginal people and alcohol talk? What happens after death? Do you know your stories? I have heard… I was told… Is it true… I’ve had experience of that…I know that feeling…
“How do Aboriginal people treat mental illness?”
Sometimes a question is so honest and from the heart that everyone in the room stops. This was that moment. We all stopped. If it was a movie, this was the slow-mo part.
And Unc’s answer – “Well, by doing what you’re doing here. We share stories, time together…”
We shared stories, bad jokes, we laughed, we honoured a father recently passed, and we created a space of friendship and wellbeing.
The time slipped away and we went 30 minutes overtime and could have gone longer. Some of the centre workers were able to stay and sit for a while (they are usually ridiculously busy) some of the people forgot their smoko break (small wins).
There aren’t any photos, no recordings or podcasts for me to put here. It was a moment in approximately 15 peoples lives.
I wish for a world of many of those moments where we are validated on our journey for health (individual and community).
You’re OK. Keep doing what your doing. Share stories, connect, listen.