Wisdom Through Wandering
Storytelling is an integral part of learning for Indigenous Australians. From an early age, storytelling plays a vital role in educating children. The stories convey wisdom: they explain how the land came to be shaped and inhabited; how one is to behave and why; where to find certain foods and remedies; they provide direction both physical and spiritual.
Then, as children grow into young adults, the lessons become more complex: more of the history and culture is revealed, more is taught about how things came to be and how others are to be treated. Many of the stories are navigational in nature, and are conveyed by means of what are called songlines, which are memorized instructions to traversing the ancestral terrain. The hearers, when they become adults, take responsibility for passing on the stories to the following generations. In this way, stories and culture are handed down over thousands of years. Many of the stories come from or are confirmed by wandering.
Indeed, there is something in the Australian spirit that motivates individuals to wander, to go for a trek without any real destination in mind. The Aborigines refer to such a journey as a ‘walkabout.’ An individual just “ups and goes” on a kind of spiritual wander. In a sense, their feet are like umbilical cords to the earth, nourishing their soul with each step. Along the way, they might encounter landmarks or have experiences that evoke stories, meet other individuals and share stories, then return to wandering alone. Eventually, they return to their home tribe as a more complete individual…with more song and wisdom to share.
In their wanderings:
They focus on the journey, rather than the destination.
They uncover the spirituality embedded in the land.
They share with others stories that embody the lessons they have learned.
They discover, through their walkabout, keys to wisdom, freedom and joy across physical, spiritual and mental domains.
Walker’s Walkabout progresses in the same spirit. As I wander through the organizational and human landscape, teaching, leading, learning and garnering experience, certain landmark events, spoken wisdom, encounters by choice and by chance will arrest my attention. Some of these, though very, very small in the collective scheme of things, will become songlines that may mean everything in the wisdom they might speak across the domains that both separate and unite us. These I will share.