Monday, October 03, 2005

Family myths

A myth is not necessarily something untrue. It's just a story we tell in order to understand the world around us.

One of the exercises on Saturday was to identify the myths told - in words or not - among our families when we were about seven or eight. Here's my attempt:

Cultural myths had more resonance for me in my early years than family myths. (Dr. Who, Star Wars, the Smurfs, Popeye, the list goes on...) My sister, seven years my senior, was a teenager, struggling with the things teenagers struggled with. My mum, not long widowed and fighting an illness she didn't know existed, was surviving, putting out my sister's fires and trying to give us both the love, care and attention we needed.

We were part of a church, and that provided context, but wasn't strong on myth, not the sort that really strongly grabbed your imagination. The Open Brethren are fairly prosaic in their approach to Scripture. Generally speaking. Which is a pity, because in the pages of the Bible are some of the most amazing images, stories and mysteries. Thankfully I met people later in life who could help me see some of that amazing stuff. But when I was seven or eight, it was all very grown up, with hymns and family lunches.

The prevailing unspoken message I got from within the family - and I dont' think any of us realised this was the message - was that you fit in with whoever you're with at the time. You can be fully yourself at home. You simply adapt to others when you're with them - whether at church, with extended family, school or anywhere else.

Creativity was also an unspoken but very important part of life. Whether it was mum's painting, embroidery, lacemaking or myriad other handcrafts, my sister's writing or my drawing, to be able to create was a given - a right.

I'm still shocked when I meet kids who don't know how - or aren't allowed - to play, learn and create. I wouldn't be me if I didn't have that.

Nature was there too. We lived in the bush, and regularly went even further into the bush to walk, socialise, and again, discover.


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