- "The Rain Song", by Led Zeppelin
Two words: Guinness Pie. and Cheese. Okay 3 words then…
Cheese, as in: the best cheese I have ever had [and the most in one sitting] at a roadside showroom for cheese made by a family-owned dairy whose 4th generation custodians smile innocent cherubic smiles from their milk cartons.
Guinness Pie, as in: the best damn pub food ever invented! Imagine - chunky beef stewed with Guinness Stout so that the bittersweet hunks of meat melt in your mouth, washed down with ...a pint of cold Guinness, of course! So good and hearty and satisfying after a full day's driving North-> South across the state - that I decide on the same meal for brunch the next morning too. Fan-TAS-tic.
The conversation on the road back was rich. There is nothing better than a road disappearing under you and a good soundtrack to facilitate reflection, sharing, and some good laughs.
Our time in Tasmania was wondrous, an escape into an alternate, past world when a families and communities bonded together out of a common need for survival. A time when the rhythm of life was dictated by the seasons of sow, harvest, stock, survive… and then the cycle would begin again.
There was such warmth in the household; it was clear that like all families, this family had been through its ups and downs and ins and outs and dramas and triumphs, and had come out stronger for the experiences. Their choice to live off the land was literally a choice to take their lives back into their own hands, and has created the bond of mutual understanding that a shared experience creates. The kind of bond that goes without words, that can convey volumes in a quickly shared glance.
The Canadian and I have also created a similar bond through the shared experience of the last few days, but through the sharing of stories: our lives’ journeys to this point. That’s one of the things about travel, it sharpens senses and heightens your experience another, because every moment counts.
How do I bring this back into my daily life, the one where I have bills to pay and phone calls to return and commitments to make? And keep. The life that has consumed the last decade of my life, the life I have left behind.
Through all of that endless mundanity, that terminal condition of western society, that syndrome that afflicts so many who walk around their lives fast asleep with their eyes wide open, that bastion of insanity, of doing the same thing over and over and over and over, and expecting a different result....
How do we keep alive our sense of wonder, and adventure?
We are alive dammit, ALIVE. And we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Or if it will ever come. But in this moment, we are alive, and we are here to savour every precious flavour, the sweetness of it all, the bitterness, the chocolate-and-coffee richness of it all. And then we are gone.
To sit with someone’s pain is a unique privellege indeed. To sit with someone’s pain and bear witness to their journey through to the other side is quite another. I have gone to the depths of humanity over the last few days.
There is a subtle melancholy about her, a deep sadness and even deeper pain that dwells just beneath her easy-going way. There is a sense of joy, of closure, of celebration that bubbles through in her smile. And in her eyes, you can almost see the twinkle growing brighter each day.
Some days the grief hits hard, and other days the sun shines brightly through her heart. And with each step she holds her head high, eyes up, smiling and laughing, and listening. With such dignity. With such genuine interest in what the other person is saying. With such an understated appreciation of enjoying this moment with a fellow human being. With a slightly bewildered amazement at this gift called life.
She is finding her way back to herself, removing herself from an old world full of memories and expectations and love. Finding her way in a world which has given her the most bitter things to taste, a world in which she finds herself wandering, and wondering what is next. And finding out that she has been given so many gifts, so much richness, so much LIFE…
Now, she pauses, a brief intermission as the next reel is loaded in preparation for the next act of her life. Only she gets to write the script – however she wants to.
No wonder our paths have crossed. No wonder our paths will diverge.
“If you can lose, and start again at your beginnings, And ne’er breathe one word about your loss…”
-"If", by Rudyard Kipling-
My losses seem to pale in comparison to what she has lost; yet there exists a mutual understanding of what it means to have won - big time - and then lose it all. Though my circumstance looks different to hers, the pain each has felt is very real.
Financial abundance is one thing; abundance of the heart is true wealth. I am truly blessed that the ones that I have loved, that I still do love, and that love me… are still here for me to enjoy.
From The Canadian, I’ve learned that:
- Dignity is carried, not given
- Pain can be beautiful
- Sweet tastes so much better after Bitter
- Every moment counts
- Shared silences are healing
- Everyone has a story
- Everyone's story has a gift for those who are lucky enough to hear it
- Listening to someone's story is a gift for the storyteller
Life is beautiful.
# # #
"These are the seasons of emotion,
and like the winds they rise and fall.
This is the wonder of devotion -
I see the torch we all must hold.
This is the mystery of the quotient -
Upon us all a little rain must fall."
-"The Rain Song", by Led Zeppelin-