notes from here and there


Something other than Australiana

I needed to take a break from thinking about Australia: what to do here; where to live here; how to live here; what's best here; which school here; which friends; and the why's...the many, many why's. I just couldn't take it any longer, the pain in the ass of it all, so instead I'm posting some images that aren't even mine, of a place I have been near but haven't actually been to, but because of it, I am here now...sort of, because of work and the need for sustenance.

In the beginning there was Tchad or maybe it was in the end. Or maybe the beginning was God but we have since forgotten. And still we wait to see which way the wind blows. From north to south or east to west? And does it matter, the knowing of this?  

I saw the earth spin on its axis once when I was a child and could still fly to the heavens in my dreams. The earth flies. The earth spins. And yet we remain in place. Not circular. But in place. 


I miss Africa or at least I think I do. Australia does that to you...makes you miss what you don't have. Or makes you miss what's been lost.  The animals here are strange. It's not normal to have such big hind legs and such small front paws. 


Nothing compares with a lion. Not even a tiger and especially not an emu...a most hideous bird. Although an ostrich is no less strange. 


They call this man a camel jockey. I think about that phrase. Who coined it.  A man crossing the desert, riding off into the sunset knowing which way to go, which sun to follow.


Yes, I miss Africa. And if you were born there and are not living there anymore, then I suppose you must miss it even more. Woe to you who have left your homeland even if it lives in your heart. It would be better to detest it and forget. But life doesn't work that way, at least not for me.


I miss the dust. The elephants and rhinos. The mud huts and giraffes. I miss the beginning of time sifting through my fingertips. I am hoping to find that same magic in this place...because they say dreamtime began here. And carbon dating agrees.   


Here there is no respect for the desert. Just coastlines and ocean. Perhaps therein lies the problem. An interior wasteland they repeatedly tell me is nothing. But all things lie in the nothing. The nothing is everything. The nothing is.


So now we’re in Tchad at least in these photos. A place most politicians would prefer to forget if they haven't already. A place that has largely been erased from our consciousness because there are too many problems to face and too much humanity we would rather forget. All things lie on the surface like an open wound. Festering. Waiting to infect. The disease of Africa.

If you want to simplify your life, go to Africa and you will quickly learn what is important. There are many of you who will disagree.  It's not for me to say what's wrong or right. I point my finger in a direction. It's up to you to decide which way to go. 


There is much song in Africa.  Have you ever wondered why? My favorite lullabies are African. I used to play them for Sophia when she was a baby. I have no idea if she remembers. 


My daughter likes to sing. She sings everywhere. I like to believe it's a sign of her happiness. If I am right, then perhaps I’ve done my job well. This mothering thing. But of course, it may have nothing to do with me which is usually the case. The blood of Africa runs through her so melancholy surely cannot be far. 


Sophia did not believe me when I told her that in Africa, the women carry things on their heads. She wanted to know if it rained there. She believes all of Africa is like Tchad. It’s all the same. Children without toys. Crops without water. People starving. I tell her that parts of Africa are not much different than here. She tells me she doesn’t believe me. “How can that be true?” 


We are all hoping to find our place. 


New questions arise. Sophia now wants to know what God we believe in versus other people. And then she wants me to explain all those other religions. And religion in general. What is religion, mom?


I read somewhere that if you want to know what you think, then talk to a five year old. All of the sudden you are answering your own questions about topics you haven’t considered in a long time.


Before having a child I thought I resolved a lot of issues. Now I’m not so sure. I think now, I just have more issues. But I digress…this is supposed to be a poem to Tchad.  


Something to take my mind off of me. Just for a minute. An afternoon, while the child naps and I can look out my window and dream, watching the rain dust the roads and the ferries traverse the river in a mist. Rain in Australia is heaven. It is gold. That’s true everywhere. Even in our dreams. 


The man sitting here knows the answers. The sight of him, surrounded by shrouded girls, it scares me. Intrigues me. The father of the herd. I wonder what he has to say. I wonder what he could tell me that wouldn't make my skin flinch.

Here's a story for you. A family, walking along the salt flats searches for water. Some kind of water. What if the water makes you sick? Do you drink it?

The family sings songs and tells stories. They find food. Somehow they find water. They play games with sticks and they walk many miles together. They wrap themselves in color.

Note: The source of the images are from friends of Carl taken while working in Tchad over the past few years. I would list their names but do not know them and am trying to track names. I feel a little weird about this but Carl gave me permission to use the I am. I think they are stunning.