Wednesday, February 1, 2012
The man says a lot about our trip.
When I was very young, my father showed my sister and me Roeg's 1971 film "Walkabout." The walkabout is an aboriginal rite of passage, marking a young person's transition into adulthood. The walkabout is a journey the child must take alone, into the desert, with very few possessions other than the knowledge that he has learned through his elder's stories and lessons. His only objective is survival in his natural habitat--which is the same aim of all his culture's developments and intellectual progress over the course of its existence. The idea of an ultimate test for the entire scope of our upbringing and education has resonated for me at various crossroads in my life ever since I watched the film.
I have found that in my culture, which wants much more than survival in a lifetime, it is possible to remain a child indefinitely. The significance of a strong community in aboriginal society is that it makes the individual safer and stronger, ensuring health. We have perhaps skewed the purpose of community in our Western culture--community is also a money-maker and a money-saver, in the same way the promise of happiness is used to stimulate our economy. It is possible to place money and the ability to earn it at the foundation for our lives rather than a deeper knowledge and understanding of ourselves and our relationship to the land, to our family, etc. In this way, we can continue through life in channels and safety-nets exchanged to us for skills or labor that often does not result in our own growth or wisdom. We have the option of not growing, to entrust our personal well-being with someone else.
My companions and I have spent a year together now, learning about ourselves and each other, looking deep within to discover our minimum needs and greatest dreams. We have put all of the lessons and truths of our various upbringings and educations in a big pile on the table, and have begun to sort through them together. What do you know that I don't? What have I accepted without real examination? What is love, really? What is family? What does my society expect of me, my family, my community... and how do those things compare to my goals, strengths, weaknesses, direction? What part of my education thus far is useful, and what do I wish to shed? This is the mentality with which we set out on the road tonight. We will put all of these questions and knowledge and so much more to very direct tests as we confront different communities and lifestyles, the legal and social infrastructure of our general culture, the diverse landscapes of our country, and each other.
Our own walkabout starts now.
Keep in touch with all your ideas and insights!