14 August, 2010
You won’t be surprised that, in Kangaroo Valley, where I live some of the time, there are kangaroos. I come across them from time to time on the land around the house, as they jump over or through my fences and hop, hop, thud, thud, crash, crash their way through the vegetation. Or I see them in the distance, sometimes in small numbers, or sometimes in mobs of 16 or more. Sometimes just a single kangaroo, and we make contact.
Where there was nothing, now there is something, standing, looking or jumping. They give me a curious look, perhaps wondering why this whitefella is doing here. Then they blend back into the landscape. The word that comes to mind is vanish.
Place is never empty. Place is full of others. Place is full of stories.
When I embrace this place, I notice life, the full range of creatures that inhabit this place, either momentarily, as some of the birds do, or for longer, as the lyrebirds and wombats do. They are part of this place. And I could spend the rest of my life understanding and participating in their stories.
The modern world tries to and often succeeds in destroying place. Martin Prechtel says: It’s strange how modern cultures spend so much time trying to make the rest of the world look and act as they do.
The modern world tries to destroy the story of place, and replace it with the story of a placeless, homogenous, virtual world. It spreads the idea that one place is as good as another.
We are told that place does not matter.
When I am in and embraced by my place, I don’t need much at all. I don’t need anything to buy, anything to organise my life. I don’t need anything to fill me. Each moment is a discovery of the world unfolding before my eyes.
Is it any wonder the modern world destroys placed based societies? And the stories that bind people to place?
Living in place, being committed to place, creating stories of place – these are truly radical actions that can counteract the placeless modern society.