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.
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: