No sooner than I’d finished my letter to Australian poet, Banjo Paterson, I received a reply. Moreover, it wasn’t some lame: “Out of Office Autoreply” either. He actually wrote to me.
Thank you so much for your philosophical letter. It’s been such a long time since anyone has asked me for advice or even been in touch. Your letter really made my day.
While you asked me what it means to be a man, what I say holds true for both boys and girls, men and women.So, I’m addressing what it means to be a man, a woman…a person.
I understand that the Man From Snowy River has been held up as the ideal Aussie bloke but that was never my intent. So, I guess I should warn you, in case you ever decide to get something published, that once it’s out there, your work gains a life all of its own. You can’t control what happens to it or how the public might interpret it. It’s very much like watching your children grow up and move out in the world. They do what they like and you’re just a by-stander.
Anyway, getting back to your letter, this is the very first thing which came to mind…
There is no prescription. No “one size fits all”.
Tell your children: “You are who you are”. We each need to spread own wings to follow our dreams, wherever they take us.
They need to pick up the pen and write their own stories. Don’t let someone else do it for them, even if that means losing a friend and walking alone for awhile. It’s not worth giving away your soul, your very self. The price is too high.
However, as their Mum or Dad, you’re also quite a guiding light. As individuals, we don’t always see ourselves all that clearly and a bit of a reality check is a good thing…especially when we sell ourselves short and don’t see ourselves in all our technicolour beauty.
Keep venturing beyond what they know, exploring all sorts of nooks and crannies instead of simply staying between the lines. One of the very first things children learn at school, is to stay between the lines. Conform to the rules and only colour in between the lines. Be contained. Don’t venture out or break the rules and restraints which confine you. Rather, stay put and do as you’re told.
Why is this so important and has anyone ever truly learned anything sitting down? I learned so much out on the horse’s back.
Being an individual is important. After all, nobody has the same fingerprint. We are our own unique self.
At the same time, there is a commonality among us. Something which unifies people. Makes us human. Goes beyond our DNA. Somehow, while we’re all individuals, we are also Human. As the saying goes: “The geese go barefoot everywhere.”
So I guess that leaves us with quite a conundrum. We each have our own unique fingerprint and yet we are one and the same. How is this so?
Unfortunately, dying hasn’t made solving these conundrums any easier.
So, on that note, I would like to wish you all the best for your remaining travels. However, I should warn you that I’ve met a few of these dead poets at poetry readings and cafes up here. Quite a few are rather intense. They’ve been keeping me rather busy but somehow a good horse ride through the bush calms them down…the magic of horses!
On that note, I’d best be off. Monday’s poet is trying to push me off my perch!
That was quite a reply with so much food for thought. I guess that what he’s saying is that there isn’t some ideal prototype which we should be striving to become. That, as tempting as it might appear to walk inside someone else’s shoes and even become them, that we need to resist. Be ourselves and follow our own path…even when it heads cross-country, seemingly disappearing in the bush. That’s the fun of going bush-bashing! Exploring the great unknown!
What I am struggling to understand is how we can be unique individuals and yet one human race. Is it like all the difference pixels coming together to form a picture? There’s that diversity and yet when it comes together there is unity.
Anyway, as Banjo said, all of this is a conundrum.
One of those great questions which only generates more questions.
What are your thoughts? Any ideas? Look forward to hearing from you!