Sometimes I have days when I fantasise about packing my family’s things and going away to live in the secluded wilderness, escaping from modern life. It’s a terrible idea in reality because I struggle with camping at an overpriced and over equipped camping ground but I like the idea of it. I can imagine myself as some sort of earth mother – sitting peacefully among trees, living off the bounty of the land and bathing by wading gracefully in rivers. The reality of eating bugs, falling into muddy creeks and sleeping in wild rain and wind keeps this fantasy as a fantasy and that’s okay with me. It’s enough for me to sigh deeply at the dream and then focus back on living in the here and now.
Ultimately, this fantasy is an escape and it doesn’t serve me. I feel this way now and then because sometimes it feels like humaning is too hard. In particular, I’m referring to human relationships and how they can sometimes feel like a minefield to navigate. I’m the sort of person who values deeply relationships that are built on trust, open communication and honesty delivered with compassion. I know I’m not getting it right all the time. I know that I’ve probably done things and said things to people that have perhaps caused a fantasy of living in the wilderness to play in their minds.
I guess it’s a matter of reminding myself that sometimes people do sucky things but they don’t necessarily suck. For example, one day a long time ago I was running late for work (a common occurrence for me) and trying to get my daughters to daycare. As I drove along I saw in the distance a car sitting idle in the middle of the road. As I got closer to the car, I couldn’t understand why they were stopped. Their hazard lights weren’t on, no one was crossing the street, I was worried they were going to cause an accident least someone who wasn’t paying attention drove into them. I really didn’t have time to sit behind a stopped car so I went around them. It wasn’t until I drove past and they honked their horn angrily at me that I realised why they were stopped. A mother duck and ducklings were slowly making their way across the road. That’s when I noticed the duck crossing sign. It turned out that I was that person, the person who didn’t pay attention and almost caused an accident. I’m very glad to say that I didn’t run over the mother duck and her ducklings (see the wilderness and I just don’t mix!) but it was a moment that carried significance for me even to this day.
I did a sucky thing but I don’t suck (not all the time). I was just caught up in my own agenda under modern life pressures. So if I can give myself some slack for my lack of awareness, my lack of thought and my lack of consideration at that moment, I really ought to be able to extend it others. Because even though there are moments when I wonder why I bother, there’s almost always a moment later when I’m reminded why I do. Because yes, human relationships can be complicated, but I still believe with all my heart that doing what I can to help foster community and heart-based connections is how I can make the world a better place for my girls. And I do that by reaching out to others and asking them to take my hand again, and again and again because the desire to deepen my connection with the humans around me makes the sometimes difficult task of humaning worth it.
Bronwyn Bay (human)