The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
This was an excellent book to start the New Year. It was a random choice from the pile of books we found while cleaning up Chris’ old room. The author Bruce Chatwin led an interesting life and ‘Songlines’ is a window into his travels through Australia. It is also part of his continuous research into the nomadic nature of humans.
The first reason I loved reading it, comes from my introduction to the history of Aboriginal beliefs, specifically about creation. A beautiful account about the songlines, the invisible lines, contouring the surface of Australia and defining the existence of everything. The notion that music has a primordial role in creation, is a new and very exciting concept for me. This theory is not unique to Australia and there seems to be more research suggesting that our primary communication might have been more melodic than anything. Instinctively it makes sense if I think about the inspiration that would have come from nature.
During his travels, the author collects an impressive catalogue of moments, and people. Although very diverse, one commonality to most of the characters is the oscillation between deep sensibilities and bleak realities. I perceived an internal tug of war between their inherit connection to earth, nature and the exposure to a new lifestyle.
The book also had an impressive collection of quotes, and a compilation of paragraphs from researchers, writers, poets, and folk writings about our nomadic nature. The timing of this lecture is perfect. Chris and I have been moving around for the past six months and during this time there have been many times when I thought about settling down. While the majority of external opinions are that we need to stay put in one place, here comes a book to tell me that we are meant to move! And historically more violence and more problems are usually present in settlements. So many things clicked in my head and put my heart at ease. I was getting anxious at my incapacity to picture myself in the same spot for the rest of my life. My need of having a little corner where I can play however I want in contrast to my inability to feel that one particular place would bring me a feeling of complete contentment, was creating a state of confusion. Well reading this book, which I for sure will carry with me now, helped me understand that this is normal. It is natural for me to feel the need to settle for a bit, and then feel the need to move. And looking back on my life so far, I see that is the pattern I have developed automatically. Each move has been long enough to be significant and to bring changes into my life that helped me feel more at peace with myself. I hope I listen to my inner need to either settle or move around as my life continues to unfold.
One quote from the collection: “ It is good to collect things, but it is better to go on walks” Anatole France.