It’s taken me a long time to arrive here,
At this middle,
At this beginning.
Fumbling into my own skin like a butterfly not yet ready to emerge.
Discovering in hindsight that there is beauty and grace to this imperfect journey,
A necessity to falling apart, staying still, trusting in time.
Learning that collectively, we are part of something far bigger than ourselves—
This journey to a place we have never been.
Learning to open up into the discomfort of the unknown takes courage.
It means putting down our heavy backpacks
At a time when its weight is never more felt,
When its imagined protection never more wanted,
When its ostensible truth never more fragile.
The backpack holds our stories of pain, hurt, loss, love, and hope:
The tale of the familiar, the well-rehearsed verse, and
It is what we cling to at times of fear and hold even closer to our chests.
At times of change, we are reminded that these stories are not ours alone.
They are intertwined like fabric into the lives of every being that ever walked before us,
Whose footsteps travelled the globe to make room for our own—
To make room for all the humans in this vast world.
For many, their walk was long and treacherous,
Yet they kept walking in the face of hate, chaos, and confusion,
Not knowing where they would find themselves—
Not knowing where we still may find ourselves—
But with only the hope of where they wanted to go.
Today and everyday, it is our turn, and we must ask ourselves,
What footprints do we want to leave on this young world?
How can we learn to let go of the weight we cling to at times of change,
And instead root our feet into this earth and all its fearful uncertainty?
How can we connect to a sense of love, belonging, and connection
that comes from trusting in our journey and not clinging to the stories of our past?
How can we learn to protect the place we have always been a part of,
And in our ancestry, collectively contributed to—
This world that belongs to all of us and none of us at the same time?
It’s taken me a long time to learn that progression comes not from separation,
But from listening to each other’s stories, and sharing our own.
Remembering particularly at times of change,
When fear and hate can close us off,
When love and openness can unite us,
That all of our pieces have been connected since the dawn of time.
How can we learn to start letting go of what we think we know, and be in awe of what we do not?
For it is not a weakness to be curious and open—it is a brave vulnerability
To realise that all we will ever hold is a small fraction of this life puzzle,
Which when you think about it, is a truly wondrous thing indeed.
How can we learn to let go of labels, which are arbitrary at best?
That the colour of our skin, accent, gender, geography,
Who we love, and who stands beside us at times of struggle and triumph
Does not define who we are.
When will we learn that identity is far more about the choices we make,
The ideas that hold meaning to us in this fast-changing world, and
Connecting to what matters most in how we want to live out our every day?
How can we learn to make room for difference and similarity, for me and you,
For surely it is the spectrum of our human lives that make it so remarkable?
Of course we learn in time too,
That life is far more complicated and messy than we pictured
When our feet were tiny and our imaginations boundless—
A realisation that is both enormously frightening and beautifully freeing.
That life gives us hurdles, obstacles, thunderstorms, and
It is through intention and courage that we learn to find our way back to what really matters.
How can we learn that to accept who we are, in all our glorious flaws and distinctions,
Is not a sign of “giving up” or “giving in?”
It is about standing on the precipice of change,
And being real, being accountable, being bold, being brave.
It’s about putting our hands up and saying, “I ain’t got all the answers here.”
It’s about letting down our defenses and looking inward and listening to our hearts,
Looking outward and connecting to one another and asking,
“Are you brave enough to come on this journey with me?”
It’s learning that no one has the right to say who is “in” or “out.”
This is about our simply being human together.
How can we find a way to connect to that in times of change?
Because if we listen—really listen—I believe we will find a shared language,
One that sings out in chorus
The sounds of honesty, compassion, and tolerance.
Author: Chantell Douglas
Editor: Nicole Cameron