We are asked for results. If we don’t come up with them we are branded. It starts at seventeen. What are you going to do at Uni and what job do you have in mind and, by the way, do you have a boy friend or girl friend? Some of us just don’t know – yet. How many of us have the courage to hover? How long can we hang on without knowing? Yet we also need a plan, some sort of road map for the future to materialise. In other words – a balancing act between two conflicting tendencies.
Later when we lose a job, a marriage, the same questions are asked. We have to be plugged at 220 volts into the very next thing. There is no gestation time where the new shoots can grow, where inklings can become possibilities. Like with grieving that time should be given to us. But so often it is not. I met someone today who had the courage to hover.
A young woman of seventeen, who is preparing her VCE like every other seventeen year old around her. She told me she had no idea what she was going to do next. I was impressed. She let the owl in her hover.
One of her parents has a very grounded job, the other a more philosophical one. Could this leave her somewhere in between? Most people are together because they have common beliefs. If you stay together after the first sexual flame has simmered, a common belief is the cement that keeps you going. This girl’s parents belief must work for them to stay together with such different endeavours. As a witness to a mystery, this must give their daughter a tendency to stay at one remove from the fray.
One of my dearest friends is Irish. Her name is Helen. Helen and I spent hours in small French cafés trying to find a person’s animal. It took a very long time, but we eventually found an animal that fitted exactly when we worked at it long enough. I had a gay friend with long legs, a fattish tummy and slim ankles. He was a deer. My father was an elephant. Once I went to the Brunswick zoo and spent hours staring at one. He turned round and stared back at me. A stranger approached me and said: ‘That elephant seems to like you.’ I am sure the animal in us must know when to hover and when to launch into action.
Could that girl’s animal be an owl? It’s hard to be sure without Helen. But that was my conclusion.