6 billion stories
Take off your headphones! Stop the texting…for a moment, and look around your immediate environment. Move out of your comfort circle of colleagues, associates, friends occasionally…I recommend it to all writers-artists-folk-everyone actually. Where I am currently doing my professional practice I make a genuine effort to talk to everyone. I get here early, usually an hour or two before I’m meant to be here, so I can sit and write and observe. And everyone has a story and if you give them enough space and listen with an open mind they just might tell you a few things. I’ve recently met Diana, who cleans the library and has been working here for 25 years. She is from Macedonia and she has four daughters with beautiful oceanic names. Her husband who she loved very much recently passed away from a heart-attack and she visits his grave and sometimes she puts on music and dances around in her wedding dress and thinks of him. As she tells me I start to cry. He was from Egypt and he was very kind and intelligent and was studying engineering at a university in Melbourne. I wonder as she tells me, how many people in this huge institution have ever really given Diana the time of day, how many people have just assumed she is a cleaning woman with no stories?
And what about one of the security guards I had a conversation with, I shall call him ‘Edward’ He told me he was in the Royal Navy and that once, many years after his Grandma died, she appeared to him but at the time he didn’t think it was unusual. She was ‘solidified’ in front of him walking across his field of vision and at the time he said he forgot she had passed away and only after realised the strangeness of the experience.
I also spoke with a Librarian, I shall call her Peta and we had a discussion of body image and aging. She told me she lived alone and that meeting men her own age had pitfalls since most of them are stuck in their ways with prostrate issues and a lifetime of disgruntled opinions. I told her to date someone younger but she doubted whether someone younger would be interested in an ‘older lady’. She told me her body didn’t look good naked, and we talked about how so many of us are plagued by our feelings of inadequacy.
And if you get here early enough…you might catch a librarian reciting Romeo and Juliette across the reading room at her fellow librarian descending the steps. Librarians getting off on Shakespeare.
It is curiousity and a love of connecting and learning from others that I would like to bring to any teaching practice and to share this love with my students. Maybe I can give them the space that all curious beings need without expectations, agendas and outcomes to just simply (complexly) absorb, and be completely present with their senses. Working here affirms through a far more esoteric and deeper level what learning is for me.. and it’s not when I’m ‘guided by observing and told what to teach and encouraged to reflect’ It happens outside of what I”m supposed to be taught or guided towards. I guide myself….by curiousity….I cannot remove the writer-the artist from my blood..it is instinctual-primal-powerful. My urge towards creativity, towards finding stories, making connections, digging in the dirt, finding the seeds sprouting, getting dirt under my nails is a potent elixir of life-giving sustenance. Dig! Climb! Stand in the rain everyone is trying desperately to get out of! The indoctrination of ‘responsible and justifiable activities and occupations’ has left the curiousity and playfulness that all children have as a by-product of earlier years. I don’t want to give it up. I just won’t do it! And you know what….neither should you.