We were so fortunate to go on a ten day trip to the Northern Territory in August. We flew to Darwin and then toured by car to National parks, lagoons, waterfalls, through flat country dotted with termite castles and through a landscape of canyons which glowed red and orange in the early morning sun. It is expansive savannah country up there. Everything that grows has to be hardy to withstand long periods of dry and then deluges of rain and humidity—and heat all year round.
We saw rock art underneath stone ledges that was thousands of years old. I visited a cultural centre in Kakadu and read about the indigenous way of life in that area. We also had an indigenous guide on one tour, who told us of the traditional uses of some of the plants, trees and ways of the local people. What struck me was how intimate they were, and had been, with the land—and everything in it. They survived and flourished for at least 30,000 years. What seemed to me a harsh place on first sight was full of riches—food, lore and connection.
I am reading ‘Dying, a memoir’ by Cory Taylor. She writes with great clarity and intimacy about her dying. The memoir is her testament to her life and her loved ones. Every word is poignant and the writing is very graceful. She says, ‘You do reflect on your past when you’re dying. You look for patterns and turning points and wonder if any of it is significant.’
This is slender book with nothing extraneous in it, no unnecessary ballast. It has an indigo blue cover. The same dark blue hue that I’ve focused on for a year or more. The colour that became a vehicle for me to be more intimate with feelings of melancholy, sadness, grief and loss. I am now more at ease with these darker emotions, even treasure their softness and respite from the ever greedy lust for life, movement and colour. Blue also reminds me of resting and slowing— bywords for being intimate—it can’t be done in a hurry.
I don’t really know what reflections would arise in my time of dying. Cory writes about her slow decline, ’And so it goes the endless list of pleasures I can no longer enjoy. Pointless to miss them of course, as that won’t bring them back, but so much sweetness is bound to leave a terrible void when it’s gone. I’m only grateful I tasted so much of it when I had the chance. I have had a blessed life in that way, full of countless delights. When you’re dying, even your unhappiest memories can induce a sort of fondness, as if delight is not confined to the good times, but is woven through your days like a skein of gold thread.’
I have the last sentence weaving in and out of my mind and it shimmers as does Cory’s writing.
‘….as if delight is not confined to the good times, but is woven through your days like a skein of gold thread’.