Monday, December 7, 2015

The year of living curiously

I was curious to know what it would be like to live in another place. I was curious to know what it would be like to have a husband who was happy at work and in his skin. Curious to see what cutting free from my public service moorings and courting uncertainty would bring. Curious to experience a different climate, terrain and tempo. Curious to see fresh sights, make new friends and have the time to write.

Curiosity led me to the bush. To the achingly blue skies, unyielding red rock and sinuous mottle-barked gums of the Riverina.   Curiosity killed my cat and rabbits. Curiosity revealed timid black-faced wallabies, spongy-toed marbled geckoes and neat little wood ducks as well as countless tranquil riverside walking tracks.  Curiosity led me to discover unimagined links to our new home. There was my husband's great grandfather, a Melbourne timber getter who tried his hand at taking the telegraph through Tarcutta to Gundagai and perished with a fractured spine in Wagga’s misnamed Hope Inn in 1860. There was the redoubtable, community minded manager of the Union Bank in Henty  and his wife, doyenne of the CWA and debutante balls, and their daughter, my enigmatic third cousin, Norma - they played golf, taught textile arts, judged flower shows and kept Shakespeare alive in the district for over 30 years.

Curiosity precedes uncertainty and is its companion. Once moorings are slipped and routines shed it is necessary to be open, to allow yourself the excitement and discomfort of the unfamiliar.  I hear myself maybe too often pronouncing on the differences between my urban and rural lives. I am noticing what I miss and what I welcome. No salt tang of Sydney Harbour in the air but the nutty smell of Wagga earth and grasses.  Fewer choices to get and to do things, yet such economy and ease of getting and doing.  The strangeness of knowing none of the people you see in the street then the excitement when you start to bump into and chat to new acquaintances.

It has been a year of loss and learning, of loneliness and privilege. I have yearned to see those I love who are now far away and cherished the rare moments I have spent time with them or talked to them. Rejoiced that the internet keeps ties strong and enables sharing of both the profound and the trivial. 

Someone’s momma once said ‘You can’t hurry love, you just have to wait, love don’t come easily, it’s a game of give and take’. The same is true of adjusting to change. Some if it is active pursuit and embrace but much is just openness and  can’t be forced.   A year of curiosity shows us our capacities and  limits, shows us when we baulk or resile  and how we can grow and bend.   It reminds us to continually reassess our perceptions and recalibrate our comfort settings, with compassion towards ourselves and others.  

As Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron says:

Rather than going after our walls and barriers with a sledgehammer, we pay attention to them. With gentleness and honesty, we move closer to those walls. We touch them and smell them and get to know them well. We begin the process of acknowledging our aversions and our cravings.  We become familiar with the strategies and beliefs we use to build the walls: What are the stories I tell myself? What repels me and what attracts me? We start to get curious about what is going on.

I expect and hope to get curiouser and curiouser.

1 comment:

Glenda said...

You have been so brave, Alice, and I love hearing your thoughts.