Today is a sad day in the Torres, Cairns and beyond. Soon the funeral will begin for eight children killed by their mother last month in Cairns. There are no adequate words for such an unimaginable event. There is no easy way to make meaning of what happened. Sometimes the work of making meaning has to be suspended and grief must be expressed in all it’s many forms. Today is such a day, to grieve for the children, for their fathers, their families and their mother. To remember and stand by all the people in the helping professions that have been involved with this happening over the past weeks and into the future. May we be generous and kind in our grief to all these people. Our minds and lives can be much more fragile than we realize in our busyness, none of us are really super heroes, we don’t know how we would react given the “right” amount of pressure and we don’t really know what’s going on in the minds and thoughts of those around us, even those closest to us. This is part of what it is to be human, to not know. Let us grieve today and be sad in our own way for what happened in Cairns and may it lead us to be kinder and gentler on ourselves and the people around us.
I’ve been reading “The Creativity Book” by Eric Maisel. I recommend any of his books, he’s a creativity coach and understands well the link between creativity and human well being. He’s also written a book called “Rethinking Depression…How to shed mental health labels and create personal meaning.”
The book I’m currently reading starts off, “When you become an everyday creative person you instinctively solve problems more easily (I have a fridge sticker that says ” What else is possible?), see the world as a richer place, and enjoy life more. You get to use capabilities and skills that may be hidden under a barrel right now. If you’re a writer or would-be writer and begin to unleash your creativity, you write more deeply and more frequently. If you’re a painter or would-be painter, you paint more personally, passionately, and authentically. If you’re self-employed, you see your options more quickly and make changes more fluidly. If you work in a large corporation, you become more self-directing, confident, and aware. Whatever you do, creativity helps you do it better; whatever the details of your life, you feel more alive. Creativity improves your work life and enriches your life in general.”
I can’t add much to that except to underscore it by saying I’m happiest when I’m making something, and how much more creative can any of us get than finding meaning in our lives.
To name something or somebody is to imbue a sense of meaning, to call forth into existence and to welcome with belonging. There are different naming customs among Indigenous Australians, at birth and at death. In Aurukun when a person dies their Christian name is replaced with a generic name, Tarpich. Anyone else in the community who shares the same name is also known as Tarpich. It is a tradition of un-naming, of letting go of meaning, existence and belonging and encouraging the spirit on it’s journey to freedom.
My first day of work in the Aurukun clinic I read local surnames on medical charts and repeated them to myself like a mantra, feeling the shape of them in my mouth. It seemed important to know those names. Now, years later, they are as imbedded in the landscape of my psyche as they are in the history and geography of the Aurukun community…Yunkaporta, Pootchemunka, Owokerun, Wolmby, Pambegan, Ngallametta, Ampeybegan, Kawangka, Kerindun, Koomeeta, Kowearpta…their syllables flow in a stream of meaning and belonging.