Only God Knows Why


Jung’s Archetypes

I just got home from a party, and it’s 3am, so this post is likely to be quite raw (in all the dirty, open, bloody, vulnerable, uncooked senses of the word.) 

I heard this story some time ago, and for some reason I can’t seem to get it out of my head.  It sits in my mind and gnaws away at me asking for some reason for being there.  I have a total, nonsensical, childlike attachment to this story.  And it’s not even really my story to tell. 

On my more self-critical of days, I tell myself that its a stupid meaningless story that’s stuck in my mind for no good reason except that I want it to mean something.  Other days I let it’s ambiguity flourish.  But, without meaning to sound harsh, I still don’t know the reason I’m so fucking attached to it.  It tickles the edges of my conciousness, asking for me to assign it some purpose in my life, but I haven’t yet been able to. 

It isn’t one of those heart warming stories of great love, sacrifice or beauty.  It’s a very Australian story, coated in the red dust that seems to coat all the stories that come out of this ridiculous island.  I hate that that is the case, I feel that we have allowed this dust to permeate our culture to a sickening degree where, in literature, Australia and this red dust are interchangeable.  Nonetheless, I will continue this bizarre literary tradition.

I think that maybe it’s tied to one of those stories from Plato’s world of forms or perhaps one of Jung’s archetypes.  But just wait two hours and I’ll be rejecting it’s importance at all.   I just want to share it to see if:

a) It’s just me

b)  If it does resonate with someone else, why?

Anyway, here it is.

Some time ago, I met a boy who was living in the area where I had grown up.  I grew up in the little ‘l’ leafy suburbs of Melbourne (eucalyptus leaves, outer north-eastern green-wedge suburbs ie.  Nillumbik Shire, not unlike the more famous “The Shire”) as opposed to the big ‘L’ leafy suburbs (Oak trees and hedges ie. Kew, Hawthorn, Camberwell, Balwyn, North Balwyn, Toorak etc.) 

I remember my brother making a joke about having to go to school with kids from the Leafy suburbs who could afford to pay their way in.  At the time I would have only been about 5 or 6, so I replied, “But we have stacks more leaves here, surely WE live in the leafy suburbs?”  to which he said, “Yes, but we’ve got the wrong kind of leaves.”

Surely Melbourne is the only city in the world where your class is easily determinable by the kinds of leaves around your house.  In the second most liveable city in the world, the wrong side of the tracks becomes the wrong side of the foliage. That was, incidentally, the same brother I mentioned earlier who deserved his own post, but, once again, not this one.

Anyway (I would apologise, but it would be empty since I’m quite obviously a serial digresser.).  This boy was explaining to me how he came to be living in this area, since he had moved around a lot since he was younger.  I think he was about 20 at the time I met him, but I can’t remember for certain.

The story is about his parents.  His mother and father grew up in Bourke.  If I was a DJ, this is where I would scratch the record in order to explain Bourke to anyone who hasn’t ever been there.  I have had the experience of visiting Bourke, and I won’t pass any judgement on it except that say that I will save you the bother.  It is basically the absolute middle of fucking nowhere.

In fact, his mother grew up OUTSIDE of Bourke.  Bourke just happened to be the nearest town.  She lived on a cattle farm with 11 brothers and sisters in a small community of farms.   She was, as a young woman, exceptionally, exceptionally beautiful. 

She knew everybody around there and spent the first twenty years of her life forming strong ties to her land and to the others around her.  She knew herself, her space and her community as deeply as we could hope to know anything.

And then she met, and fell in love with, a young priest.  They stayed in Bourke for some time, until it became clear that he would have to move at the request of the church, to a city posting.  (I believe somewhere in Sydney at this point, but I could be embellishing.)  She would have to leave her farm outside Bourke if she wanted to stay with him. 

 She spent a long time considering it, to her, her only life was where she was.  But, at the age of 21, she said goodbye to the only people and the only life she had ever known: one of stability and deep connection to a temperamental land, and married him. 

Each posting only lasted 7 years, and being unable to abandon her upbringing, she would become involved in a community, come to let it fill the empty place of her first community and then have to uproot and leave it again.  For 30 years, and several children, she repeated the pattern of filling up her life and emptying it back into the well.  Her husband would come home and tell her that they would have to move again, and she would quietly pack up her ties and move to start once again.

And then this particular family was posted to a church in my area, where they were when I met this boy.  So they stayed there for 7 years, and his mother loved it there.  The place, in my opinion (and hers) is beautiful, and she began to, once again, quietly build a life for herself.  She made friends with the people, she came to tend a much smaller but important plot of land and let herself get comfortable in this new place.

And then their 7 years was up again.

(That’s the part of the story where I always wince, for some reason.)

So, her husband came to her and told her that they had, predictably, been asked to move to a new church in order to follow his path of spreading the word of God as effectively as possible.  She had always been a cheerful, friendly, stoic woman and I guess this is why her words have so much gravity.

Her husband told her that they would have to move again.  She considered it, his devout dedication to a cause he believed faithfully to be the greatest and calmly told him:

“I will move again if you tell me that you must.  But, I truly believe that if we move one more time, I’ll die.”

And so, he quit the church and they decided to live in that area.

So there you go.  Is it just me?  Does that seem to pull at the tiniest of synapses within you, begging for understanding?  Or is it just an empty story that I’ve taken too seriously?

At this point, I would also like to offer my apologies if this was your story.  I’m sorry to say that I don’t believe I ever saw this particular guy again, and I may have misremembered what he told me.  I’m also sorry for stealing what is obviously an important story to you, part of your life, and appropriating it into my own life.  How arrogant.

But now you know.  Make of that what you will, Jung.

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3 Comments so far
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Vicki, this blog is the most beautiful thing I have ever been blessed to read.

Never ever, ever stop being wonderful and never, ever, ever stop writing.

Love your work, muchacha!

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Comment by Laura

I’ve never met you, though I’ve heard about you before (I’m a friend of Kara’s). That is an incredbily beautiful and resonating story – I think it affects me deeply because I’m from a small country town – I moved to the city for uni five years ago, and I still miss home nearly every day.

Please, please keep writing and do something with that story!

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Comment by Jess

Amazing story. On Jungian archetypes, I mentioned some in my last post http://mrtaurus.wordpress.com/

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Comment by mrtaurus




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