Leaving Canberra

“Tell me ten things that you love about yourself” Victoria said as we sat together on the park bench. “I, uh, well…” I found it hard to give an immediate answer. “I love that, um, I’m lovable”, I already knew that wasn’t the answer I was looking for. I got better – “I love that I’m intelligent, I love that I’m caring” my mind all the while casting argument telling me how ridiculous I sounded – wait, hang on, was that self-sabotage? What’s going on there? This mind against me? I thought we were friends!

“Go on” she said with an encouraging smile.

“I love my body, I love my discipline, I love my vocabulary, I love that I love to write”. As I got on a roll the things became easier, yet the little mind continued throwing up reasons for self-depreciation.

It is hard to love myself, this exercise is simple proof. To love another? Easy, especially when they love you back – a lazy way out it seemed to me.

Victoria was the needed friend in Canberra, just as I was driving out of the capital we had a thirty minute catch up. A hug, oh my, such a simple act can bring so much comfort. I left in higher spirits.

After all these lessons it is time to practice, to slowly seep the understanding in, and in this case the lessons depends upon social contact. I couldn’t just have a cognitive understanding of something so emotionally important, this was a practical classroom now and over the next few weeks I would work hard to nurture this inner child and strive toward self-respect, self-love.

I look at those beings I know, friends, family, acquaintances and assume everyone has this self-respect already and they are doing fine, a skewed comparison. I am learning from recent interactions an outward act is maintained by all, subtly and not-so-subtly.

It is so scary to be vulnerable.

I make mistakes. I don’t know what I am doing.

I drove north to a campground and returned once again to my sanctuary on wheels, over the months living in a house I had acquired possessions that were now taking up more space than I desired in the van, such a small space for such a large life. I looked forward to delivering, disposing and storing that which I did not need on this adventure, some would have to wait until I was further north. A painting sits wedged in the front passenger footwell awaiting such a dropoff.

Mum was also experiencing freedom, she had set out from her home near Port Macquarie a few days earlier and we arranged to meet and stay at my camp for another night. The next few days we would convoy to Melbourne, an exciting premise for me, travelling with mum and sharing close moments of conversation and understanding. We drove ever south to reach Melbourne, toward a connection with my grandmother, who was unwell.

Nana struggles with dementia, from my short time with her she still seemed like the grandmother I remembered as a child but there was memory loss, particularly short term as was apparent in our repeated conversations. I saw fear in her eyes and tried to imagine what it was like to have such an altered perception, of a slipping grip of reality we all cling so tightly to.

After visiting this wonderful woman whom I feel such harmony with I took toward seeing some friends, Cecilia was living in Brunswick and we went out of the city to catch a glimpse of a meteor shower, a glimpse was it as the skies were cast with cloud, none the less I was fortunate to hear her play the harp and have wonderful conversation.

The following evening I would go to a Melbourne RAW artists show with Courtney, I arrived early and went inside the exhibition as it opened, my expectations reversed as before me in this grand venue were scores of creators, their nichework hung forming colourful cubicles of perception. A catwalk projected outward from a wall opposing a low stage where sound engineers set up equipment for bands. A trickle inward of diversity as ticketeers checked and sold to excited viewers.

Courtney arrived and we walked around the show together, she was here also to support a friend who is a visionary artist and was displaying her work for the first time – many were doing the same and I noticed a difference in this show – humility – such an air gave the place a loving feel which made for an awesome party.

The final friends to visit before I set for a warmer climate was Sharon and Duane, we had merry exchange of dialogue and drink and their companions Teddy and Sugar lavished their attentions, claws and teeth upon this being.

North, a secluded solo camp and realisation that I had not done this in a long long time – I revelled with a fire and listened to the trickle of a nearby brook.


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