this is a reflection on family. it is also part of a larger prayer that i write to honour my own desire for movement and growth. to mitigate my fear. to not give a damn. specifically, i want to reflect on what it means to me to be cutting free from a well-worn and very blinkered orbit, to finally be free from my family. i write this because some part of me has always felt like the migrating birds that bruce chatwin writes about. south to north to south to north, back and forth, somehow always trapped in the journey between two homes. a traveller? a nomad? i have always felt like a bit of a freak, lost between worlds. in australia, i am a ghostly apparition going through the motions of a settled life, what feels like the shadow of someone else’s life. yet, when i am elsewhere and living out of a bag, solace continues to elude me as i feel myself wandering about, ghostlike, rattling my chains, trying to create a space where i could just be.
i feel as if up until today, i was the counterweight in someone else’s story. i think of the moon, with its’ face turned forever to the earth, only visible when it reflects the sun. seen this way, it is a piece of rock that hangs there dutifully, beautifully, locked in a dance that it cannot escape from, as it is the only way it feels it can see and, thus, define itself. i was once the moon, rhythmically holding the earth in place as it danced around and around the sun. i coasted along on lines set up for me by others. i thought i had everything figured out. i was blinded by the seductive velvet curtain of routine, content with seeing myself reflected in the shifting light of another sun. arbitrarily decided-on numbers tell us how old you have to be to be considered a “grown up”. but nobody tells you that in reality, you only grow up when you can see the ties that bind and bonsai you, and you have the courage to accept that they need to be cut, and then you cut them. this is the beautiful and bitter inevitability of being a daughter and a sister, the trajectory of the new orbit.
something happened to me, and perhaps it happened to you too, at some moment in time. a meteor came hurtling out of the darkness, and by the time i saw it coming, it was too late, and there was nothing to do but watch it crash in slow motion. i felt it punch a deep hole into the base of what i know, and in that moment i felt myself go spinning off deliciously, uncontrollably, in the opposite direction to all that family history, and all those people i never knew, stretching back and back, blank sepia faces staring back at me from bits of paper glued into the dusty books that sit in a cupboard in my mothers house. i was knocked off one course, yet i felt safe in the understanding that i would be shunted onto another. there is always another! that is the beauty of deep space. it was divine, excruciating, necessary. this collision was the price i had to pay for something, although i am not sure yet what that something is. growing up, most likely. getting away from the infinite deadly quicksand of those blank, sepia faces, for sure.
the meteor is a metaphor for an idea, a learning, a person, a place, a word, a look….it is a hard existential projectile explosively thrown into space in the aftermath of a collision in a far-off galaxy. and now it follows its’ own chaotic orbit, sometimes causing havoc but always cleaning and clearing the way for the emergence of new movement. like a trojan horse, it carries within it the secret understanding that this is how life is, and it gives this gift to whoever intersects with it. the meteor flies confidently, propelled by the understanding that the day comes for every one of us when we have to cut ourselves free.
the collision has revealed a dynamic of micro-“corrections” and macro-“corrections” that support me walking on certain paths and in certain ways and will probably keep doing so as i wander from birth to death. on this new path, it has revealed with great clarity the constellation points of my own truth, things i couldn’t see before, blinded as i was by the sun. i now see their shapes, and can begin to orient myself. the collision tells me that we are all locked in a fragile dance, following seen and unseen pathways and that the awareness of all of this is riddled with blind spots and black holes. i must say that it is spectacular, the way existence constantly shifts and tilts at a molecular level, subordinate to only one thing: balance.
this is the anatomy of balance: in the aftermath of the collision, i now look down at hands that no longer feel like my hands, they are now the hands of another person. and when i lie in bed, where once i slipped gently into a soft fluffy secure sleep, i now have to elbow my way past the black shadow of absence before i am able to sink into the delicious velvet nothing. but that is ok. i now fly through the blackness of that absence, wearing deep space around me like a new, tight fitting skin. it is a little hard to breathe right now, but i am happy. it will stretch, and i will breathe easily again.
strangely, i am ecstatic in the aftermath of this collision, because hurtling alone through space, i know that things are bound to change and a new pathway will emerge. big changes? small changes? i don’t care. the collision was there all along, happening again and again, to all of us, and this has been true since before the day i was born and will continue this way long after i am gone.
i have learned that in deep space, the facts of life are a ceremonial unveiling. an initiation. an invitation, of sorts.