Thursday, June 23, 2011

Let the yarning begin, whats your deadly story?

The first week of July celebrates National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander week, when all Australian’s can celebrate our countries first people and their positive contributions to our culture past, present and future.
I always look forward to the announcement of the THEME and this year I am very excited by the power of it and the opportunity it provides.
“Change: the next step is ours” is the 2011 NAIDOC Theme
I hear so many people talking about what changes need to occur; to close the gap; to help make the change for this country and all of our mob. Government’s and bureaucrats are talking. Policy makers and politicians are talking. Shock jock DJ’s and bleeding heart hippies are talking. A lot of talking is being done but is it the type of talking that is going to facilitate the change?
In thinking about this, I thought, “if the next step is ours, what is it that we can bring to the table, what next step can we offer that is different, is truly ours? Then I read a blog by my mate Tom Hearn from Bush TV who asked the question ‘could the art of yarning be the secret?’
As a performer, and an opera singer I understand the power of the human voice. I also know that there is nothing more incredible than to be heard, to have your voice listened to, to have your words resonate in another, to express heartfelt emotion and be heard.
In the wider spectrum of human nature, whether from a baby’s cry or giggle to an elders wail or body shaking bellow in hysterics there is nothing more precious and unifying than the sharing of raw human emotion. 
Now lets think about the history of this country. Our ancestors couldn’t speak the Queen’s English; they had no way of yarning with the invading ‘settlers’. Families were torn apart and moved all around the country. Their languages were outlawed, their children taken away from them. Crippled by this and many other atrocities, generations were torn apart and so much culture was lost including our ability to yarn in our way, in our time and on our land to our own mob, let alone the ‘settler’s’.
Now I hear you thinking, “Wait up Don, Donnie, Donald. What are you suggesting here? You want me to start yarning with them bureaucrats, with them politicians, with them shock jock dj’s and bleeding heart hippies?
And my answer – If you have the opportunity – YES, do it!
What I really think each of us can do today and for the rest of our lives is start yarning amongst ourselves, with our friends and families. Taking the time to sit down and truly yarn and share positive things and simple truths to share our deadly stories. The Qld Government, Dept of Communities has launched a site and social media campaign around exactly this.
Think about it, who do our youngsters get to yarn with about success, positive choices, bouncing back from wrong choices, persistence, and honesty? I am sure many of us remember being told “People are always watching, expecting you to fail simply because you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.” 
I don’t want our kids to NOT fail, I want out kids to be successful in all areas of their lives. To do that, we need to be yarning about SUCCESS. We need to be sharing how we succeeded, how we battled and won, how we helped someone else to become a success.
So let the yarning begin and be the change you want to see for our community, our country, because Change - the next step is OURS!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Judged on your moment of weakness

Each day's mistakes explode into the continuing nightmares that then entwine into the next day's distractions causing more defeats. The constant nagging and pulling away of my focus and awareness. I want to cry, to run away, I want to yell and scream. I want to stop, to press pause and give myself time to recover, to find my rhythm, to be at peace, to wash away the crap. I can't recall the last time I awoke ready to enjoy the day ahead.
Last night repeating over and over in my head not allowing me a moment to sleep was Better Midler, singing 'I think it's going to rain today' - is it a metaphor, is there something in this song for me to hear? Some words are clear others get lost in the general head banter. I don't know. I just want it to stop!
Lonely, lonely. Tin can at my feet, I think I'll kick it down the street, that's the way to treat a friend.
Bright before me the signs implore me: Help the needy and show them the way. Human kindness is overflowing, and I think it's going to rain today.
Constantly having to better my last efforts, to find the missing piece, to expose my flaws and relentlessly ask questions of myself that I have no answers to and then have the fortitude to engage with all of those in my life, as if I am 'normal'. I simply can't, it's too tiring. I am moody, I am exhausted, I am drained, I am at a loss and I am sick of being kicked around like a tin can.
So, I am left exacerbated, pondering why? Why sing? Why opera? I mean I understand why I started but why do I want to continue with the day in and day out of it all. Some days my choice overwhelms me and I hesitant; is the sacrifice, the daily cost, going to be worth it? Have I achieved enough?
"I believe there is a price tag on everything worthwhile, but it is seldom a monetary one. The price is more often one of dedication, deprivation, extra effort, loneliness. Each person decides whether he or she wants to pay the price. If you do, you achieve beyond other people." - Jim McKay
I have the love and support of amazing family and friends though even those with me in Melbourne seem like they are millions of miles away. I know I am not alone yet, I am lonely. The dedication, the extra effort and the loneliness are taking their toll and impacting my commitment to the daily grind.
In three month's, I will again deliver the role of James in Pecan Summer on stage at the Playhouse within the Arts Centre here in Melbourne and I am scared of failing. I am scared to let down the cast, the community and most importantly, Deborah.
“Half the failures in life arise from pulling in one’s horse as he is leaping.” - Julius Charles Hare
I write this as I want each you to feel safe, to know you can share your story of pain and sacrifice and be heard. Not judged on your moment of weakness but instead supported in your hour of need. It is the plethora of human existence that gives each of us our shades, lines and contours that makes us truly unique.
"May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, Enough trials to make you strong, Enough sorrow to keep you human, Enough hope to make you happy." - Cheryl Creed (my cousin)
As for me, hope gets me through. Hope that one day, my childhood dream is manifested. I stand proud with all I have already achieved but know there is more within me still not realised. I will not pull back but instead I know I must take the leap of faith and jump into the abyss of possibility by fully committing to the daily grind, and let go of knowing why or whether it will be worth it, because it already is.