I haven’t climbed any mountains, nor sailed any oceans solo. I am not a celebrity who has made it big. I have not travelled the world over to bring you a tale of many lands. I once survived a cyclone and wrote and made multiplatform stories about it and through sharing these stories tried to give others strength, but there are others who have done much more to make a difference in this world whose stories should be told because they inspire; why write, tell and share my life? Won’t it be boring without these elements?
That cyclone was a crystallising experience, which enabled me to see that stories when told well and with heart can be about anybody and anything and be significant. It made me decide to write my life, and how it connects to others, to bring forth the objects, scent, taste, personalities, challenges, virtues and victories of the life of a second generation migrant woman raised in many cultures and the nurturing arms of the Baha’i community on Australian shores. I do this because somewhere out there are people who I am sure have much in common with and who would feel empowered by these stories.
Life hasn’t always been easy, but the toughest times were in my childhood and youth and these experiences made me into the person I am today. I marvel at the strength of the parents who raised me, forgive them imperfections that we all have and wish that they could have had more strength, and more support. Writing these stories helps me to understand them and myself more.
Becoming a parent has been important as it has given me the compassion to write this book in a reflective, tactful and understanding mode that would not have been possible in my younger years. It has enabled me to see the objects that are described in these stories in new and healing contexts. It has given me a chance to see the core of an experience and turn it into a meditation, story or poem that can be shared and hopefully mean something to someone else.
The key ingredients to the stories that I love are the overcoming of adversity through the power of creativity. I realise as I write these stories of my life that I come from a long line of people who have been doing that. Those of us who do it best survive and thrive, and those of us who struggle are sometimes lost, casualties to the cruelty of experiences of racism, prejudice, and other human cruelties.
What is it about an ordinary life that we can find inspiring and extraordinary? What is it about human failure we can empathise with and feel sorrow for? Some of this book is about learning to let go of what we can’t change and focusing on what we can.
(c) June Perkins