Without ceremony, the lives of many Aboriginal Australians would be greatly impoverished. ~Rusty Stewart
Be still my beating heart.
The ongoing conversation that surrounds everyday life and how we treat each other, not even just in the Aboriginal context that I am studying, seems to have started with a full thrust when white man landed in Australia. Do we ever get it right? Will we ever get it right? We seem to be challenged by the simple concept that something or someone could look different to us, be different to us, and still be respected at the same time. It is a fascinating concept that seems to be very human nature but I always wonder why. Simple fear seems an easy answer. Or in fact, many times, the easy way out.
Relatedness, as in meaning your relationship with the society around you, is as important to your well being as eating and sleeping. It leads us to thrive in our own space; to grow as a person and to feel comfortable that what we are creating is in fact, good.
Facing challenges I never expected to have at this stage of my life has been a big personal turning point for me. I recently turned to education, resigning myself to the fact I must need to learn more to fit into the new employment landscape, only to realise that at my age and indeed experience, a bigger barrier was presented. Here I was motivated to learn and yet I was rejected or rather, not readily accepted. I’m 48 in a 20 year olds world. It’s not as easy as it sounds to return to learn.
Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery
Our weeks task is to visit the museum; the Australian Aboriginal Cultures section of the museum to be precise.
The Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery celebrates the cultural achievements of Australia’s Aboriginal people, one of the world’s oldest continuous living cultures. This object-rich experience features over 3,000 items across two floors. The artefacts are from communities across the country, drawing from the Museum’s extensive collections.
Over thousands of years Australia’s Aboriginal people have successfully adapted to a changing Australian environment and survived the impact of European colonisation. This gallery shows how they have innovated and developed creative ways of life in one of the world’s harshest continents.
Walking into this dark foreign place, the museum (I have not ventured in frequently I confess), turned a psychological corner for me, as in, I was not in familiar territory but in that same moment, I was.
What an old fashioned place. My initial thoughts were “how on earth will I feel inspired here?”.
Many events and places of recent times have been unfamiliar and uninspiring to me. Looking at recent personal upheavals, then looking at this body of work from an entire culture who felt out of place in their own land after white man landing, I wandered and struggled until a feather on a piece of rope caught my eye and struck a chord. There was a connection. Was my connection the struggle of a race because I too am struggling, or was it something deeper, a synergy with my own thoughts and professional developments?
Strings of connection; Aboriginal groups are traditionally linked to several different strings of groups. These in turn have affiliations with other strings of groups. Overlapping and intersecting networks form webs of relatedness among equals. They remain more significant in Aboriginal societies than social clauses or large-scale political hierarchies.
Totemic string – malka (image to right); The string would have been hung between poles during ceremonies, burial rites and other occasions which brought related people together.
The Aboriginals ordered way; their sense of belonging and place in their own society is something I want to experience again.
While I pondered the relation to my own situation, the connectedness of the Aboriginal culture and society is what has inspired me on. Being an onliner for years, I see value in connected relationships. True this is not a connected relationship in a traditional society sense. But it is well known and documented that people with strong social connections, who are thriving in their community, have less stress-related health problems, lower risk of mental illness, and faster recovery from trauma or illness to name a few (important) things.
In retrospect, each generation, right or wrong, has tried to “work out” how to deal with something from the Aboriginal culture they don’t understand. We have done so through a way we understand, like adding “dots” to tea towels, re-enacting spiritual rituals in film, creating bark pictures… or like me writing these thoughts out in blog style, because it’s what I understand. Is blogging appropriate? Time will tell.
My research continues. The dots are beginning to connect.
As an aside; are there any Aboriginal bloggers? I will research.