Nothing is permanent. Everything changes. The undeniable truth of impermanence.
Still, when change blows in curling up the edges of my life, ripping the carpet out from under me, the shock of it catches me unaware. Grief and loss curdle my insides, anxiety begins a chatter so loud its hard to hear beyond it.
The past nine months having been a gestation. A new life, and a new world. I’ve been touring wild places, having their history spoken to me by ancient men and women. Their faces a maze of dark folds and sparkling eyes, wild white manes, and hands that still, after everything that has passed, will reach out and embrace mine. They’ve told me in the different languages that wind through this country, who was born where, taken to which mission, returned to which country, gathered now in which community. They’ve mapped a history with their tales, of traditional life in the bush, of settlers, cattle stations, missions, land rights and Aboriginal Corporations. I’ve been getting an education, sitting in the dirt, eyeing the cheeky dogs for trouble. I’ve a lot to learn, and nine months in, I’ve just gotten started.
Its felt so abundant, and rich. Learning these stories, seeing these places, becoming known to these people. I never gave much thought to what would come next. Like most people who work in these parts of the world, I’m on contract, my position linked to funding and the mood of governing parties. But like most people who work in these parts of the world, I want to do a job most other people don’t, so optimistically operate in the belief there’s another contract around the corner. I sit down in the dirt, and in the present, to listen and learn. To connect. Mind, body, and soul. I let my heart sit in my eyes, and listen with my spirit. With so many barriers of language, culture and power, I bring the strongest connection I have- my humanity.
So when change comes, out of my control, to pull me from these places, I almost collapse under the weight of grief. Like a miscarriage: the stories that were just beginning in my hands, the people and places I had just begun to know and dream with, slipping away from me. I stare at the policy, paperwork, and contracts, typed neatly in Times New Roman. I hear the financial arguments, the ‘new direction’, the ‘continual improvement plan’. I try to backtrack through it all to find the place where I sat down next to Nancy, and she taught me about giving birth in the bush. I told her about my husband, and shared photos of my wedding. It wasn’t in my job description to do so. But afterwards, Nancy trusted me, and we talked about her health.
Change is coming, decisions made in meetings I’m not even part of. Not me, not Nancy. Its unclear yet, just how these lines will fall. My own heart, body, mind, is so wrapped up in anxiety and grief, I’m lost and disoriented with no idea which direction leads up and out of this storm. So I remind myself to do the only thing possible. Stay present. Ground my feet to this red earth, feel its gravity press through me. Breath catches on shards of anxiety, the mind plots and plans schemes that will never come to be.
Change. So rocky. So inevitable. My consistent teacher.