Many of the stories I tell are ‘Journey Stories’ – because we are, all of us, on a journey through life. Some of those stories are based in myth, in story, in invention – and others are based on experience. Some of those stories make an obvious point – and some of them mix metaphor and hidden meaning. Those of you who’ve been part of an event I’ve taught at will know what I mean…
When I was out in Tasmania, I took a walk through the Larmairremener tabelti aboriginal cultural walk in Lake St Clair National Park…
Now, sometimes, you know exactly what to expect on any journey – and sometimes you don’t. But often it’s the things that we don’t expect that we remember. Sometimes, we can’t even put our finger on what was so amazing about the journey, but something, somehow, has changed at a very deep level inside each of us.
Throughout the Larmairremener tabelti walk, there are panels, here and there, little signposts to give us some history and explain the walk. Some of those panels explained the way that people can live in harmony with the land. Some of them tell of the pain of their experience – of imprisonment, sickness, of feeling lost, alone. There is a panel that tells how the aborigines used fire to regenerate the land – how seeds would remain safe and hidden throughout the fire, and would grow and blossom once the fire had passed – and without the fire, nothing would happen, and the land would remain barren.
Yet it wasn’t what we read as we travelled – not what we experienced, but an inner voice that spoke to us and said “Listen, with all your senses. Hear what is going on around you. Feel what is happening in your heart. Enjoy the experience, and still remain open to learning, to hearing. Sometimes that voice will be evident – and sometimes it will be a quiet whisper deep in your heart, a gentle touch on your soul.
As we journeyed round the trail, sometimes the path was easy to follow… and sometimes it wasn’t immediately obvious which way we should go. Sometimes the route was paved, or a wooden boardwalk had been constructed for us to walk on – and sometimes we were left to make our own path over gravel, or over the bare earth. Sometimes we could raise our eyes to the sky – and sometimes we had to concentrate on every step we took, to avoid tripping, or falling as an unexpected rock, or a straggling tree root threatened to upset us.
Sometimes, even, it felt as if the forest was closing in – as if we were alone on the trail, with only the birds for company.
Our road led us up hills where we felt as if we were scrambling, and down easy slopes. Sometimes we could see little but the trees and branches in front of us… and sometimes we could see for miles, as suddenly the view cleared and revealed a beautiful sight. Sometimes we just wanted to stop and take a closer look at something that occupied us – and sometimes we wandered off the trail to explore something else for a moment.
And sometimes we could hear the faint echoes of other voices – people who had travelled this path before, who had lived here, who knew more than we did, who had lived at peace with the land..
And as we journeyed further, as we walked more and more down the trail, we seemed to go deeper and deeper… and I felt myself becoming still and quiet inside, as if a voice was speaking to me. And where that voice came from, I don’t really know. Was it from deep inside our beings – or was it the voice of God? Was it the voice of our souls – or did we simply make it up? But something in that voice created a new peace, a new tranquillity and a new calm.
And something in that moment said “It’s time. It’s time to take what you know, deep inside, and share it. It’s time to open up to others – to become more transparent, to let people know what you feel, what you know. It’s time to live from a place of freedom, and a place of power.. it’s your time.”
Sometimes, a journey is more than it seems. But as we learn to listen to our inner being, then somehow the journey will change us.