Without land, memory and place I am like the young trapped Helen Keller. Yet as I dive into the depths of soul’s identity, freed from senses that distract me from the next journeys I might take, I become that wiser older Helen Keller who feels through the darkness the soul’s journey.
I meditate on a pebble I hold and then I toss it into a deep well where it never seems to land. I feel it fall. It speaks to my heart.
What would it be to have no garments of memory, land and place to tell me who I am.
No sense of tall Kauri pines to stare at out my back window. No kingfishers sitting on the cricket pitch next door. No endless rainy wet seasons where I wish I had a drier.
What would it be like to not think about what colours like black, red and yellow meant on an Aboriginal flag- to not know what the Southern Cross is, and to be free of a collective memory of colonisation and slavery and boats with people chained crossing the ocean to look after somebody else’s cotton or sugar cane -to not be moved by words of sorry that come late but are not too late?
What would it be like to stand at my front door and the front doors of every home I’ve lived in and not remember the nearby streets, and market places of stone of Salamanca and St Kilda and an early childhood friend who told me ghost stories.
What would it be like to have not been a mother, not been a wife, a sister or a daughter. To have all ties of kinship stripped away and have been left orphan, with no knowledge of a family tree crossing Europe and the Pacific. To have not seen funerals, births, and weddings.
What would it be like to have no knowledge of holy lands, and places of pilgrimage, of the grave of those who sacrificed for their beliefs and tore away the veils of meanings bound by memory, land and place- to reveal that there is more than memory, land and place to make us who we are.
I walk without all my memories, we all do. How many remember their journeys in the womb, and then their first steps and the first hugs from their grandmother’s? I travelled far when young and lost the sound of their voices, the touch of their hands, their wisdoms and their customs. I also lost their fears, their prejudices and many of their stories. Patchwork stories come through from parents who once knew them well and yet left them behind on other shores. They share their understanding of the stories, and pass on what they value.
I stand outside all that might form my identity and find that I free fall after the pebble, plunging into the place where there is no identity, but there is the total immersion that first made the pebble.
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