Conversations with the Universe

Have you ever had a moment where the universe seems to grind to a halt, and stand before you like a bemused but slightly impatient best friend, tapping her foot and pointing to a path? She's beautiful, and her eyes are so sincere and so completely full of truth that for the first few steps, it doesn't even bother you that you have no idea whatsoever what you're doing. You can even ignore that it feels oh so slightly like being sent to bed by your mother.

That's what this month is turning into for me. I've had the divine 'aha' moment, began walking down the path, and then ground to a halt with the realisation I have no idea what I'm doing. I can hear her foot tapping behind me. I want to turn around, argue. I want to say I don't have the vaguest clue how to get from here to there, that I don't know how to do what she's telling me to do. I want to run (possibly shrieking) back to my safe, boring, soul wearying path, because this one?

This is, without doubt, the sort of path that millions of cartoons have taught us should be avoided at all cost. It's dark and foreboding. There are creepy trees with patterns shaped like faces, with arms that seem to reach out to catch clothing and hair, arms that seem to move without wind. There are creepy noises that stop whenever I turn around to investigate, and it makes my overactive imagination conjure up all sorts of evil just waiting to attack. The only constant sound is the tapping of an impatient foot, the occasional huff of frustration.

A wolf howls nearby, and just as I'm about to start running (screaming), there's a slap to the back of my head, Gibbs style.

"You like wolves, dork." She presses her lips tightly together, struggling not to grin. "You really are odd, aren't you?" She takes my hand, leads me back to the start of the path. When she turns us back around, the wolf is sitting there, tilting its head quizzically at us. "You like wolves, I thought you could use some company. And speaking of company, stop being rude to the trees."

"They're trying to rip my hair out!"

I'm pretty sure she's just insulted me in a language I don't even know. "All of the trees wanted to hug you, to wish you well on your trip."

"But they kept catching at my hair..."

"They're trees, love. They don't exactly get much practise moving around like that. And it's not dark and foreboding, dammit. It's easier to walk when it's cooler. Unless you want sun heating up your trip, your choice was twilight or driving rain." She sighs, the sort of long suffering sigh that only mothers ever seem able to pull off. "You're scared. I get that. But did you fall and die before you stopped? Did some horrible creature rip off a leg and beat you to death with it?"


"Then why is it scary?"

It takes me a while to figure that one out, and I'm pretty sure she's itching to smack me upside the head again when I mumble out a reply and she makes me repeat it.

"Because I don't know if I'm ready to be that, yet. I'm not sure I know enough to make it work. I'm not sure I'm enough to make it work." She looks like she's torn between hugging me and slapping me.

"This is a path, not a teleporter. You don't need to know right now what you'll know at the end of the path; you have plenty of time to learn as you go, to find stuff out and explore on your way. And who says you need to be ready to arrive before you've even started? Didn't you study hero journeys in school? Maybe you aren't enough right this second. But through the journey, you learn what you need to learn, you grow and change and become the person you want or need to be. Wouldn't literature be dull if all the heroes went 'I'm not enough' and stayed home? How many imaginary worlds would be destroyed because the people who could save them doubted themselves? This path can't hurt you. It can grow you, it can change you, but it cannot hurt you. Only you can. If you try and run the path in an hour, you'll hurt yourself. If you spend your time walking backwards, trying to see the path you left, you'll hurt yourself. But if you throw yourself into the journey, if you embrace the chance, seek out the beauty, and believe you're right where you're meant to be, doing exactly what you're meant to be doing? What bad can come from that?"

She smiles softly. "There's one last thing you need to know."


"These woods are filled with fireflies, but they're shy little things. They'll light the path but only so long as they think it's safe. If you're panicking around, thinking there's death behind every rock or tree, they'll think there is danger and stay hidden. But if you believe it's safe (it is), and ask them nicely, they'll light your path. There's magic all over, happy to help you along your way. The problem is, you are the only one who can be open enough to receive it. So open up your heart and start walking."

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The not so subtle art of waiting

I am waiting for my landlord and his son (aka my bffs Dad and brother) to come grab a big, heavy armchair. The path is clear, though it's journey is right through my so called office (aka the couch and its surrounds). Until they come grab the chair, there's no point in me starting to organise the piles of stuff waiting for me.

Our art supplies are a mess. So chaotic, in fact, that every time we try and create something, we end up overwhelmed by trying to find what we need. A few more bags of stuff, and it's done. Those bags are sitting hidden in my bedroom, waiting until they can be dragged out and taken care of.

Yup, after the chair is gone.

Currently, the chair is sitting in my kitchen. No, really. Chalk up another room I can't do much with until the menfolk have been and gone. I'm impatient, waiting for the ability to get my stuff done. I've gotten focused on the me, and ignored the reality. The reality is that the son lives elsewhere, that it's a big deal for him to be back. His parents are savouring their time with him. They should savour it. And I, instead of bemoaning the loss of hours, should be savouring them. After all, life has gifted me some free time- something I've been sorely missing lately. For a while at least, all my 'should do' tasks have screeched to a halt. I physically can't do them.

Sure, I can't get photos done of my pages in progress. Sure, I can't paint or be creative. But I haven't been quietly wishing for those. I've been wishing for a break, and had I not decided to blog, I'd have never realised that I was getting my wish. I'd have sat, wasting this precious time, resenting the way my silly little plans were changed. I wonder how many wishes are granted that I never notice; how many times have I been so caught up in the frustration of changed plans and seemingly negative events that I miss the beautiful moments that come about?

For now, though, I'm going to do something I've wanted to do for days. I'm going to make myself a cup of tea, and I'm going to sit on the patio and enjoy the sunlight and birdsong. Eventually they'll come down, but until then, I'm going to savour this moment.

Crows and reality checks

As I write this, there's a choir of crows outside my home, cawing and circling. When one flies low enough, near enough, I can hear the pounding of wings in motion.

Most people don't like crows, but I do. My neighbours moan at the constant chatter- we live near a school, and the littering and not putting the lid on the bin properly means that the crows know it's a sure feed. They, as well as topnotch pigeons, magpies, butcher birds and honey eaters, wander around our home and make themselves comfortable. Over the school holidays, we'll sometimes have crows carry over mummified bread pieces, dropping them into the little bird bath in our yard and leaving it to soak. I'll give them this: they're incredibly inventive. And smart enough to know how long to leave the bread so that it's soft enough to eat, but not a soggy blob.

I think animals can bring with them a lot of wisdom, if only you pay attention. There's a lot you can learn by reading about symbolism, but the best way to understand the messages they bring is to listen to where your mind or heart instinctively travels. Crows, for example, a generally thought to be symbolic of wisdom, secrets and omens. But that's not where my heart went today.

For the last few days, I've been a grump. I've been focused on the bad part of living here; the part where as soon as I go sit outside, someone comes for a chat, or where the landlord lives upstairs, is related to my flatmate, and blurs the line between 'landlord not allowed to come inspect without advance notice' and 'family member bound to drop by'. I've been worrying about how the latest federal budget changes will impact me- and they will, negatively. They'll make life even harder. There have been miscommunications and sore spots all around this week, and I find myself more and more feeling the itching need to just go somewhere. Anywhere. My mantra has been 'I hate it here'.

Today, though, the sky is an ever changing, perfect shade of blue. Each window I look out of shows a completely different shade. There are crows chattering and circling, and the sunlight is hitting the leaves of one of the trees just so, and it's beautiful. I may even see one of the blue tongued lizards wandering the cement, enjoying the warmth. If they're anything like me, the drowsy warmth will be too good an opportunity to pass up. It's that kind of day, one that's been sorely needed. A reminder that I may not always enjoy the circumstances, and the social aspect of life here, but it's still a beautiful place to be.

Crows are social creatures, though not always. They regularly wander off on their own, needing time away from the crowd. They speak to me today of needing balance- of finding a way to balance my need for peace and quiet with the realities of where I live. But they also have a knack of turning bad into good. Where we see rubbish and chaos, they see food and survival. They've found the positive in the negative, and today, so have I.

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