Jan 022018
 

 

“Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows fall behind you.”

Unknown

 

The unknown is good for us.

I know, right? It’s terrifying! At times, anyway. Even those of us uncommonly drawn to the Unknown, and its life partner Change, suffer moments of holy f***, what am I doing here! Or, its sadder counterpart, ‘why me?’

Walking and writing are leaders, both. Where one leads us through the landscapes of the physical world around us, the other leads us inwards, through the landscapes of our own interior. The knowable unknown. The unknowable known.

Journeys, either way.

It’s no surprise to me that many (most?) of the people walking The Camino, the mystical road across Spain, are women and most of them around or well over 50. The children gone, their lives shaped by this and other losses, the longing to walk the turning wheel of life becomes greater than the need to ‘stay home’.

It’s equally no surprise that most people who come along to The Write Road writing workshops and courses are women around or well over 50.

Whether walking or writing, the interior is calling.

Whether walking or writing, there are a hundred, a thousand, a million reasons to ignore the call. As many reasons as you need, actually.

And then, whether walking or writing, take one step towards the longing and what you most fear will come to pass: everything changes. It has to. Because, whether walking or writing, you have opened the door to an inner strength that previously held no sway, has been silenced, has been patiently biding its time for the light.

Walking and writing lead us into the unknown and for this reason they change lives. They change lives precisely because in one moment a decision was made to step forward, rather than hold back.

Courage, either way.

And that’s why the unknown is good for us. It makes us brave. It brings us to life. We have no choice but to surrender. No choice but to meet what’s right before us in this moment. No choice but to call on all the personal resources we’ve gathered along the way through this life and put them to work on our own behalf.

Through walking and writing, we meet beauty.

We meet life.

As it is. As we are.

 

Stephanie DaleWritten by Stephanie Dale, author, journalist & traveling writer; founder of The Write Road and Walk and Write.

Stephanie Dale is an award-winning journalist and author with a fondness for walking and writing. She is a passionate advocate for the visibility and voices of everyday people and focuses on supporting new and unpublished writers to write and keep writing. The Write Road is dedicated to empowering people to tell their stories, their way.

 January 2, 2018  Tagged with: , , ,  Comments Off on Walking and writing are great acts of courage
Sep 302012
 
If I am going to live in fear, let me fear what is real. 

I do not generally speak of fear, choosing instead to tell a different story, one that I hope inspires women to shed the darkening cloak of stay-home paranoia – and choose life.

Jill Meagher’s murder last week has shaken the hearts of Australian women. Mine too.

But this I found last night; a private diary, it was written three years ago . . . when courage failed me, exhaustion claimed me and I sped home from an endless journey to rest.

The call to Morocco blew softly in my ear, the touch of breath, sweet and small, grazing skin. I wonder . . . I will be in Europe after the Middle East . . . I will have many weeks to fill in before my flight home . . . Morocco . . . the wind blew a little harder . . . I do not have the courage to cross the sea from Espana to the tip of Africa . . . still the wind blew . . . Morocco . . . I do not have the courage . . . men, angry men, hard men . . . a woman alone in a cruel, furious world . . . Morocco . . .

The call of the wind. I have dedicated my life to answering the call, the call of the wind blowing through my heart.

Morocco . . . desert, camels, stories . . . Morocco . . . billowing robes, date palms, water wells . . . Morocco . . . golden sands, sun on skin . . . Morocco . . . mint tea, pretty geometry, earthen colours in the walls . . . Morocco . . . I do not have the courage to cross the sea.

I stop at the bookshop in Mullumbimby and buy the only two books she has on Morocco. I don’t notice at the time, but they are by the same author, Tahir Shah. I begin to read the biggest one . . . storytellers . . . magic carpets . . . a thousand and one nights . . . Sheherezade – my favourite word in all the world! . . . the Berber tradition – find the story of your heart and a doorway opens . . . Morocco . . .

I will go to Morocco to find the story of my heart.

I seek other doorways – I google ‘woman traveling alone in Morocco’ and for every ten that say ‘yes’ there is one naysayer. I run with the yeses. Doorways. I find the doorways, I step through. I find the pathways.

Morocco . . . I find the courage.

*********

Being brave? It is more than this . . . it is learning to be brave. And it is more than this . . . I cannot bear to live with fear. When fear of the unknown takes hold of a heart before you know it, you do not have the courage to leave your own house. I can imagine no worse fate than to live in fear of what might happen and to never enter into the world of the living – what if . . . nothing happens?

There is nothing to fear but death . . . and that’s not a matter of if, but when.

I wrote to my friend whose husband had died two years before. Death is random and it is blameless, I said, acutely aware that my thoughts had not been forged in death’s fire. 

She said: I agree that death is blameless. But not random. Death says ‘you – but not yet’. 

*********

I will ride the desert wind to Morocco.

What are we doing here on this Earth at all if we are not finding the story of our heart?

If I am going to live in fear, let me fear what is real – not the stories others tell to make sense of the fear in their own hearts.

*********

One day, a few months back, I asked myself what I would do if I had three months to live. The answer startled the blood in my veins: Arabia! I would risk all that I am and all that I have and I would go to Arabia. I borrowed Lawrence of Arabia from the video shop.

********

I did not go to Morocco on that journey; yet the breath of the desert wind blows still in my heart.

Tomorrow, I sail for Morocco.

When women all over the world hear I am going to Morocco, their first question is ‘will you be safe?’

My answer has always been a quizzical frown, as if I do not understand the question.

My confidence of the week past has been rattled by the murder of Jill Meagher. Now, as I witness the passionate, intelligent fury of Australian women in their outpouring for Jill, my confidence is reinforced.

Here is one such: How many metres can I walk alone at night? Others include Clementine Ford (above) and this poster (below).

Am I safe?

As a woman I have no country; as a woman, my country is the whole world.

Emma Goldman, the Russo-American revolutionary said that. It is as true now as it was at the turn of centuries past.

And so I turn to women in the west and I say ‘are you safe?’

I take a deep breath.

For in truth we do not know.

What I do know is I am going to Morocco.

What I do know is we live in mysogynistic times, and as always we fail to recognise it until something dreadful forces our hand – and then we must battle all over again against the idiot fearmongers whose only response is to tell women to go home, stay home. Like that protects us.

Well – I am going home, home to the warmth of the desert wind:

Morocco.
 September 30, 2012  Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »