.. about the ability to turn your own hands to making something. Anything! Even more so, if that making has meaning. It might not have actual practical use in today’s modern world on some levels – but your involvement in the making of it, reminds you of some of those things that make up who you actually are.
(Filmcip courtesy of FTI WA and Youtube)
Living in Western Australia’s capital city, sometimes removes you from those things that connect you to the place where your family and stories come from. It’s not an unusual story – it’s one that we’re experiencing all over the world. Today the nature of global upheaval is such that we’re experiencing a level of displaced peoples and refugees – the likes of which we’ve never seen before. People are being forcibly removed from those important places and expeirences that informed them of who they actually were / are as a peoples – who they belonged too, where they came from and all of the who-was-who /what-was-what business a person needs to know – just to feel like they belong.
For me – when I was a boy – the ‘simple’ act of being taught how to make a fishing spear by my big brothers, my uncles and my grandfather, was an amazing experience. To be taught this in a place where you could actually use this immediately to spear a fresh feed of fish, made it all the more richer – but it was the story telling that happened as you did it – as you took part in the whole experience that made it the ultimate of experiences for me. Lighting a fire out bush (or at home for that matter – because I do) and the smell of smoke – takes me right back to that day. It puts me right there – rolling the spear wood in the fire – treading on it and bending it to get the kinks out, the smell of the burnt bark, the feel of the heat trapped under the bark and deep in the wood as you handle the spear.
Today, a very long time after I was taught those things as a young boy, I find myself teaching my boys. We live in a city suburb, far removed from the place where I was first taught these things – so the context is somewhat removed I know – but the expereince is an important one. I need to teach my boys these things, they need to know how to light a fire safely, need to know that a big fire isn’t a smart fire and that fire is a tool – not a toy. They need to know how to go and select the right spear wood and feel the young tree in their hand. They need to thank the country they take this wood from and be mindful of taking only what they need, not what they want.
They need to learn how to be safe and responsible with a sharp tool. They need to know how it sits in the hand and feel the heft of it, adjusting the way it sits and is gripped, so that they can use it safely and not chop their toes off! They need to understand the continuity of such an experience: right from the getting ready to leave part, to the cooking of the fish you speared – right there on the beach. So sure – I’m not going to be able to give my boys this full experience here in Perth (they’ll have to bring their fish home to cook it) – but with my help, they’ll eperience the essence of the this little lesson in their life and they’ll learn to adapt it – like I have – when they pass on this experience to their children or their children’s children.
In a world that is changing so rapidly, where every day, hundreds of thousands (millions) of people are being uprooted and bumped aside from those places that were once their homes, people are forgetting – on a daily basis – the importance of making with meaning and how it connects you to a place. This is a world problem the likes we’ve never experienced before and I’m wondering how long it is, before we begin to see the long term effect of such things – as our young people forget where they come from and – as a result – struggle to determine where it is, they want to go…
Belongum – Out