Monday, 22 September 2014

Break and mend.

We moved from the city to the country eight months ago. Well when I say city, we lived on the fringe, on the side of a mountain, and the edge of a lush national park. Not much in the way of the concrete and steel that epitomise most cities. We moved to the land of wide green floodplains dotted with black and white cows. Dairy country. There are also goats, sheep and an amazing amount of alpacas, but it really is dairy country. The odd patch of red gums stand sentinel over their bovine charges. And the aged grey skeletons of their massive kin dot the long tamed paddocks that surround. Three rivers collide here, and the land is lush. Thick green grass and vibrant yellow swathes of canola. Turn South and this country changes quickly to sandy scrub lands. In about 20 minutes you hit the coast, and the wild seas of Bass Strait.

In eight months we've never made it to the sea. We've talked about it. We've thought about it. But my health has meant that it just hasn't been a possibility. 20 minutes to the sea might as well be 20 days to the sea, when you can't sit up without gasping in pain or your body trying desperately to pass out. It's been sitting there just out of reach since we moved here. Golden sands and salt laden winds remembered from other times we've lived in the area. Time's rose coloured glasses morphing those previous experiences into some sort of beach Nirvana. Compounding the frustration of knowing it is both so close and so far.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday a moment of spontaneity hit. The point was reached. I dressed and made sure I was well medicated. And we headed down. All of us. Me, Mr Grumpy, the youngest, and Freyja. It was both exhausting and exhilarating (another post on that to come).

While we were wandering on a sandbank, in between the sea and a riverlet, a shell on the beach caught my eye. A giant amongst all the other small shells dotting the sands.

From a distance I could see it was a beautiful Conch shell.

Upon closer inspection I could see it'd been broken. Multiple times.

And healed.

Break and mend. Break and mend.

There's a poetry in that. A beauty that is more apparent for it's imperfections and resilience.

Each break, the owner of the shell, now long departed, had not given up. Instead they had rebuilt and reworked. It had remade it's home time and again. Undeterred by what were obviously large injuries.

It reminds me of the quote from A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway:

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.

When I look at the shell. When I run my fingers over the breaks and the thickened scars, I can sense the hardiness of it's owner. New and old colliding to create strength. To continue. Again and again.

Nature does it instinctively. And as I look at the shell I get a sense that I need to trust to nature. I fight and writhe, trying to control my fate. But in truth crises have arisen and been weathered, and I keep going. The scars to my spirit are many. But the strength they create is also great.

Just like the conch that I brought home to remind me,

I am strong at the broken places.

In Buddhism, the Conch is an emblem of power, authority and sovereignty, whose blast is believed to banish evil spirits. I like that. I like to think that this imperfect shell, with breaks and scars, which has lived and weathered tough times in an unforgiving sea, has the power to banish evil. To chase away fears. That it is powerful and strong.

Just like me.


I've heard multiple interpretations of this PJ Harvey song, but I like to think she's singing to herself, or at least when I sing it that it is about believing in myself. After not trusting my body for a long time thanks to this disorder I am slowly making my way back to seeing the amazing gifts and strength I still possess. That's the thing about music you can interpret however you want. The fact a song has meaning for you, whatever that may be, is a gift from the artist. It's You Come Through, from The Peel Sessions 1991-2004.

Remember to head on over here to donate to my Clicking My Heels For Dysautonomia, raising money for the Greg Page Fund for Orthostatic Intolerance and Dysautonomia research, at The Baker IDI. Thanks to the generosity of many we've already raised over $2,600, keep donating and hopefully we can reach $10,000.

1 comment:

  1. Uhmmmmm.... I have always been fascinated with people's thoughts.... You have a beautiful mind. Like the metaphor of the sea shell, with whatever comes at you, eventually you turn it into a beautiful word of art. Words are powerful, kind of like waves in the water. Both never fail to create change.

    Glad you made it to the water. Change is good.

    Sometimes it is easy to spout off encouragement, and off the cuff remark. Not so easy to find the words to comfort someone in the midst of all hell breaking loose in your body... I wish I had good comforting metaphors when hell seems to be spinning your world when you have a downward spiral with dysautonomia.

    My cynical side says bottoms up

    My compassionate side says... This too will pass... It won't always be so bad... Yeah... Eventually we learn to cope with new levels of illness and we learn to cope with whatever remiss ions come to our bodies..

    So glad to hear that like the sea shell your moving thru be able to venture enjoy beautiful things.

    I guess again ... You rock...



All who are lovely enough to comment should be showered with cup cakes, glitter and macarons. I promise to use my spoon bending mind powers to try and get that happening for all who are lovely enough to share their words. Those who go the extra step to share posts should really get a free unicorn. Or at least the gift of finding the shortest and quickest line at the supermarket on a regular basis. xx

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