The Bridge Over Troubled Waters.

It’s nearly Easter. Or, if you’re part of the more traditional church, it IS Easter – Maundy Thursday, although I forget what Maundy means and I forget why it’s significant these days But I don’t want to blog about that, anyway. I should blog about Easter, but I’ll get to that later. Today it still feels like days…decades even…away.

Because Today I am going on an areoplane (Megan claps hands with joy like an excited toddler)! I LOVE travel. I LOVE airports, and I LOVE adventures. This particular aeroplane isn’t taking me particularly far, just to Melbourne. Well, not JUST to Melbourne, it’s taking me to see Alison, my very favourite sister-in-law (yes of course I’m allowed to say that), Simmone, my long-lost primary school buddy, and…wait for it…Paul Simon.

YES, I said PAUL SIMON. As in Simon and Garfunkel. As in Graceland. Bridge over Troubled Waters. THAT Paul Simon.

I’ve never been to a concert in Melbourne before. It seems to be some kind of rite of passage for Tasmanians. The first step is seeing your first concerts locally, getting all dolled up when big name visiting acts come, and then, when you’re slightly older and slightly wealthier, when the big name artists come to the mainland you fly over and see them there.  Not me though. I missed U2. Didn’t bother with Duran Duran. Didn’t think Pink. It’s not necessarily that the desire wasn’t there, but the cost of the airfare on top of concert tickets was prohibitive. Bass Strait, the stretch of water that separates Tasmania from the Australian Mainland, is expensive. Bass Strait is my troubled waters.

Bass Strait

Paddling in Bass Strait

Some people don’t feel that. Some people travel it all the time for work, for pleasure, for any number of reasons and they don’t think twice about it. I used to be a little bit like that – over for work twice a year or so – I always thought about it though. I always, however much I kept it hidden, felt the joy of freedom, of escape from island living, the awe and wonder and sense of incredible privilege that I was one who could go. Even though I had to come back, even though it was only for a few days at most, I was one who could go.

The feeling is always there, buried deep in the back of my skull. The One Who Can Go. The One Who Can’t. Everything about me defined by those troubled waters.

While this is far from my first time off the island, it’s my first time off the island for anything like this. It feels good. It feels fitting that it should happen on an Easter weekend. I first encountered God on an Easter weekend, many many years ago. And it was every Easter weekend, for many many years that I went away, and remembered that thing that God did for me, that whole death of Jesus on the cross, rescuing me from my island living, being my bridge over troubled waters.

And so, today in the frantic busyness of packing precious little in a bag for an aeroplane and the joy and wonder of family and friends and last-minute chocolate buying and making sure I’m there on time, today I will stop, and say Thank You. And remember.

More than what it seems

I had a big weekend.

Well, okay, as far as weekends go it was kind of uneventful – I did loads of housework, groceries, lunch with friends, church. I washed, dried, folded and sorted three loads of washing. I prayed like crazy for a friend in hospital, and for another friend who’s just been forced to sell her house. I checked out how my new computer operates…

Yeah. That’s it. Right there.

You heard me.

So Saturday was busy, but the fact that I found it hard to concentrate in church on Sunday,  could barely hold my eyes open at lunch afterwards, and had a nap instead of cooking dinner last night is indicative of something big. Really big.

I’ve had new computers before. We all have. You transfer (okaaaay, I get my technical genius husband to transfer) all the stuff over, you choose a new background, you ooh and aah a bit, then you move on. So why was this different? Come on Megan, you’re going to tell us it’s different because this one’s a Mac, aren’t you? Ha. Cat and computer

I’m sorry. Yes. That’s exactly it. Well, yes it’s a Mac, but it’s not that I’m just worshipping at the feet of the late Mr Jobs after all these years with Mr Gates, it’s something more. It’s processing power enough to deal with these large photos I’ve been uploading. It’s Photoshop. It’s a screen as a big as a small canvas, and suddenly it’s the memories of the girl who went to art school, who spent weeks building up layers of colour on canvases in translucent paint and who hasn’t had an art studio in twenty years. It’s ideas flowing through my brain of how Photoshop can translate what I wanted to do on canvas into photos, and even better than I ever dreamed they could be.

  • It’s not just a new computer. It’s the reawakening of a long-dead dream.
  • It’s not just a house, for my friend it was the loss of a dream, an era, a closed door.
  • It’s not just a piece of jewelry, it’s a wedding ring and a promise of a lifetime
  • It’s not just an email sent, it’s reaching out a trembling hand in the hope that someone is hearing
  • It’s not just an old table, it’s the place where old friends once held communion and built memories
  • It’s not just a computer, it’s an art studio without the bad memories. It’s a fresh start where there needed to be one. It’s a chance, finally, to step out and dream again
  • It’s not just a computer. It’s hope.

What about you? Have you ever had a reaction to a “small” thing that you discover is more laden with meaning than you realized? Do you have a light hold on the things around you or, like me, is everything significant? 

Dear Son…

Me and Son

(Honestly, if I’d known I was going to take a photo of us at lunch yesterday and then put it on the internet for all of posterity I would have put on a bit of makeup! Oh well. There’s something quite fitting in the fact that I didn’t, considering how little make-up I’ve worn over the years.)

So how are you today? You know there’s a lot of people who’ll read this thinking I’m writing an open letter to one of my boys. People, this is Sonya. She’s been my best friend since we were twelve. It’s about time you met her. She’s wonderful.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about what we were talking about, about my blog, and I AM sorry I haven’t been blogging more. It’s a tricky balance, really, between blogging and novel-writing. And Facebook…and now everything seems to be pointing to me getting a bit more active on Twitter to promote my writing a bit more. LIKE I HAVE THE TIME! I will. Eventually. We’ll see.

But I do need to be more consistent again with blogging. I do so enjoy it. I think twice a week will have to be my limit though, because last year so little other writing got done. So I will commit to blogging on Monday mornings, and Thursday mornings. Is today Thursday? It is? Oh good. And if I get a fabulous new idea, instead of breaking schedule I’ll save it up in the queue and blog it next time. And yes, you can hold me accountable to that. You can call me up and yell at me if there isn’t a blog on your inbox on those mornings.

It’s a funny old world, the blogging one. Everybody has different limits, personally, on how much to share with the world at large, and what’s public information vs what’s private information. What IS “too much information”? I think the answer to that changes from culture to culture, and time period to time period too. And there’s the weirdness of finding out what your closest friend is thinking from reading their blog. And I’m sorry about that. Although it may help to know that sometimes that’s how Tony knows what’s going on in my head too – and he’s my husband! I’m beginning to think I’m a product of my generation, I blog to “be”. But if I were an artist in 19th Century Paris, say, I’d probably hang out in cafes and make sweeping political statements, to “be”.

Does that make sense to you? Nah, I thought not 🙂

But I like this idea of writing to friends. If I don’t know what to say, I’ll pick someone I know reads my blog (yes I am thinking of you Theresa!) and write it to them. It helps me think. And it feels nice. And maybe, with a bit of thought and practice, I can grow this idea into something bigger.

Thanks for being my friend. Thank you, more than I can say, for your loyalty, and for putting up with me/sticking by me through all my ups and downs and wild ideas and craziness. And stupid clothes choices. You are the best. I’m glad everyone on the internet can know that about you now, too.

Love you, always.

Megan xox

Dear readers, teach your children this: to love their friends, especially when they are young. Be kind. Be loyal. Don’t forget the ones who support you. They are the ones you’ll find in your adulthood, the ones who you pick up with as if it’s only been a week since you saw each other last, not a year or two, and who’ll feel like family. Don’t burn those old bridges, because they are the roads back into your deepest heart, your childhood dreams, your sunniest memories.

And, dear readers, if you have a friend from your early childhood, fond memories (maybe of frogs, cows, and early morning rides to school in a police car…thinking of you, Simmone), come on. This is the days of Facebook and Twitter. Find them. Say hi. You never know how happy they may be to see your name again, or what joy may come.

Go on, do it. I dare you!

 

A Change isn’t as good as a holiday (unless it’s a big one).

Yesterday I took my Ginger Ninja out for some Mummy-and-Me time. We went to the newly-opened, freshly refurbished Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. It’s been closed for about three months, and before that huge sections of it were closed for refurbishing, redeveloping, rebirthing. We missed it. The museum is always a good place to go to with kids.

TMAG

(Yeah this dinosaur is made of balloons. The balloon artist there was REALLY impressive!)

We didn’t spend as much time there as I would have liked to, because in the exhibits where there were heaps to see and do there were also heaps of people seeing and doing, and the boy was hungry, and isn’t a big fan of Colonial art really. I’ll go back some other time and explore in more depth, at my own pace.

Afterwards we went down to Mures on the wharf and bought a basket each of calamari and chips, and he read his Lego catalogue while I read the brochures from the new look museum, and after a while we put our literature down and chatted, and I asked him what he thought of the new museum, aside from “Good” in a sing-song lilt.

Calamari and chips at Mures

It took a bit to access his thoughts. I tried very hard not to lead him into repeating my own, but at the same time help him to put words around his experiences. In the end he said to me “Actually I didn’t like it as much as the old one”.

I felt the same way.

All that change, all that wait, all that money, and what he and I really wanted was that wonderful, familiar experience of the animal room just the way it was, with the Tasmanian devils and the Tasmanian tiger, and the possums and the wombat and the buttons you press to turn the lights on, and the killer whale suspended from the ceiling. I can put into words better than he can, but I suspect it’s what he feels: we either wanted something unchanged, something that, to go to, is familiar and childhood and home and nostalgia and love, or something so radically different that we would be blown away by its excitement and newness and wouldn’t miss the old at all.

Now, I’m a grown up. I understand about heritage listed buildings and budgets and government funding. I do. And I understand about big dreams being cut short because of big lack. But I still wanted more. I still wanted different. I wanted either no change at all, or bigger change.

Funny, that. Either one would have done. But somewhere in the middle is nothing but disappointing.

Mures Lower Deck

And then we walked back to the car in the rain, and realised that museum or not, we have each other.

“That”: or Why Change is The Most Important Thing of All

People often say that change is hard, and it’s true. The things is though, change starts in your mind. The thing is, once you’ve walked something out in your mind it’s easy to do in your body. Once you start thinking something it naturally starts slipping out of your mouth. And the more you talk about a thing, particularly to other people, the more natural it sounds, and the easier it is to then go and do.

This works for both good and bad. I’ve seen people slip, through the babiest of baby steps, into life on the streets, hear stories of people slipping into drugs, into prostitution, into obesity, poor hygiene, poor nutrition, bad relationships, bad choices. It’s like you choose a path, and the only choice you get after that is how far down it you want to go. That’s a scary thought.

Now don’t get me wrong, staying on that path is never a given. I’m a born-again bible-bashing Jesus-loving proof that lives can change – but that kind of change takes a lot, sometimes nothing short of a miracle. Me, I was on a path once, and not a very nice one. Maybe we all have. Maybe we can all point to the time, the memory, and think “oh yeah. That”. That relationship. That decision. That job. That place. That. I tend not to think about it much, mostly because there’s no time to and no need to, and That is so far removed from my current reality that I don’t have to, for which I am deeply and eternally grateful. It’s come up a lot recently though, and the smack of it, of those memories, against the direction I’m walking stings.

I’m on a new path now, and those baby steps we all take every day, of choosing to buy a better microwave or deciding to throw out the odd socks in the laundry basket, those baby steps have become circular-legged sprinting strides for me, or so it feels. I don’t know, many people might look at them and say “oh hon, they’re just baby steps”. I’ve had a professional photo taken (see? All that stress about my hair going fluffy, and…four or five different products later, bingo!), started a Facebook “author page” (oh HECK, I’m calling myself a WHAT??), and am about to send my first novel off to an enormous writing competition (the ACFW Genesis competition, for anyone who’s wondering) and prepare myself to go meet agents and editors and sell-sell-sell myself to them in six months.

Megan Sayer: professional woman without fluffy hair.

Deep breath, Megan.

People do these things all the time.

Yesterday a man from the carpet shop came through my house to measure up for new carpets. Well, for carpets. We don’t have any. Today I’m going to buy paint for the walls, and fix the holes in the plaster that have been there for years. My husband is encouraging me to go to the computer shop in town and look at new laptops tomorrow.

People do these things all the time. Deep breath, Megan. It’s okay.

Once and for all, it’s time for me to let go of That. I’m not That person any more, and I haven’t been for a very long time. I don’t need to let That define me. I need to let it go once and for all, to cut it loose, before I find myself pulled out of new-carpet-author-photo-novel-writing land and plonked right again in the middle of That. Not physically, but in the limitations of my mind.

Because that’s exactly what happens. That’s why today That has to go. And if you see me crying in the carpet shop today then you’ll know why. Be nice, okay? Change is harder than it looks.

Stay

For anyone who doesn’t know, we’re doing the insane and slightly radical thing of packing up our family of five and chooffing round the US and Canada for eight weeks or so later on in the year. Needless to say, we’re very excited.

Just to recap, I’ve been dreaming of travelling like this for as long as I’ve known it was possible, that people do such things – since I was about five years old. I’m now quite a lot more than five years old. It’s been a long wait. My first ever overseas trip was November, where I discovered that Americans are, in fact, wonderful, and I didn’t get shot. Not even in Sacramento. Not even walking by myself in a forest in Sacramento. Nor did I see any dead bodies in said forest in Sacramento, which is terribly unusual for anyone who watches The Mentalist as much as I do.

I’ve also now (I’m sorry. True confession time) fallen hopelessly and completely in love with anyone with an American accent. Or a Canadian accent – and (oh aren’t I a clever clogs!) I’m learning to tell the difference.

So that’s the backstory. Most of you knew that…except the bit about me being hopelessly in love with anyone who talks to me in an American accent. By the way, TV doesn’t count. Not even if it’s Kevin Bacon. Not after Sleepers…

ANYWAY…

(This is, of course, why I haven’t blogged for a while. My brain is spitting out random sentences without any kind of art or design. AND I’m drinking tea, and it’s not helping.)

But here we go. Here’s the point of all the backstory (and the tea). My husband said to me the other day something along the lines of “we could have done this years ago, before we had children, but we didn’t know that we could“.

It made me ache with sadness.

I ached because for so many years I held that dream in my heart, the yearning to go, the desperate longing to see a world that was not mine and meet a people that were not like me, and everything in me rebelled against staying. I hated being here. I hated staying.

And then one day there was a day, a voice, a notion, a thought, a feeling. A sense. A word from God, and it was this: Bloom Where You’re Planted. Stay. Grow. Relax. Give it up.

I cried.

I said yes, because there’s nothing else to say really, but I gave the condition of only-if-I-can-go-to-the-mainland-at-least-once-a-year. I live on an island. Sometimes it feels like a prison colony still.

And that was that. I went to Melbourne pretty regularly, usually once or twice a year. Usually for work. I didn’t care why, or what I did there. I just wanted to go, and I did. And then I had kids, and the trips off the island got harder and more sporadic, and the need to go lessened, and then eventually I forgot the need at all, the need to see the world that was bigger than me.

I still don’t like to look at the ache.

We talked about it last night, my husband and I, about what he’d said and about what I felt, and we came to the conclusion that although physically it was true – we could have travelled years ago – mentally and psychologically it’s completely untrue. The walls that held us in were invisible but very, very real.

It was, in hindsight, good to learn how to be able to stay, to bloom, to grow, and to be happy.

Staying so long made walking out so much sweeter. The anticipation mixed with the ache and spiced with memories is, in fact, a delicious cocktail. I can’t say yet that I don’t regret not having gone earlier, but I’m sure one day in years to come I will.

But I never, ever thought I’d love Americans this much.

How about you? Have you ever had to give up a dream, only to have it given back to you? Do you understand the ache? Do you ever wonder if, with all the pain it causes, dreaming is still worth it?

The language of transition

Childbirth

Childbirth is, believe it or not, actually quite hard. I know this. I’ve done it three times, each with varying levels of success. Well, quite a lot of success in that I now have three delightful children that I love dearly, but in terms of textbook births where the baby comes out in the right direction and at the right time without the intervention of countless medical professionals then I tend to think only of my last time. That one, comparatively speaking, was easy.

That one, in real terms, was also extremely painful.

Now the last time I gave birth was some four and a bit years ago, and the memories of how difficult it really was tend to fade in that kind of time, and no I’m NOT about to announce another pregnancy or anything crazy like that (ACK!!), but a friend brought it up recently, just how hard those things are.

My friend was talking about her own journey, and I think this was something that someone had pointed out to her, and then she pointed out to me, so it’s not new information. I didn’t realise at the time how pertinent it was though. She was talking about the language of change, and the difficulty we experience in facing big upheavals in our lives. She reminded me of childbirth, and how that transition phase – when the baby shifts down in your pelvis and you get ready to start actively pushing – is the time when your words tend to change. I remember it myself, “I can’t do this”, “it’s too hard”, “I want this to stop”, “I can’t do this”, and the classic line from a memorable TV show, “GET ME AN EPI !@#$% DURAL!”

Been there? Maybe not in childbirth, but in other areas. The renovation you decide to give up on because it’s too hard living in a house with no walls. The friend that’s…the child that’s…the experience that’s…

That’s where I was. I didn’t know it at the time. I didn’t recognise it in my language, or in all those thoughts of “I don’t want to be here” and prayers of “God this is too hard”. It never occurred to me that I’m generally a positive person, that this was a different language, words that were not mine. It didn’t occur to me at all until suddenly POP! A revelation, a click, and I’m out the other side again. I’d been in transition.

I can’t say I was brave and fearless and stood my ground and bashed my way through to the other side. But I can say I closed my (metaphorical) eyes and held my (metaphorical) blankie and I didn’t run away. It was worth it.

Change IS hard. Hang in there. It’s worth it.