We stood as one as the marching band lead the coloured floats through the main street. The enormous goanna was spitting out sweet hard lollies onto the ground. The children reminded me of my chickens after Dad threw in handfuls of grain into their pen. A sudden shamanic like ecstasy engulfed them for that exact moment in time when absolutely nothing mattered but the one piece of grain.
The old men were watching on intently from the balconies above as they smoked their log cabin tobacco. I could sense their admiration and contentment to see that their grand children were now one of those chickens, eating the same grain from the farmers shed. Their life was a struggle and although they are now too tired to fight they could die happy knowing their legacies are free.
My Grand Father stared directly into my eyes and bestowed onto me the most incredible gift. To see this old warrior, smoking his log cabin, smile so contently, was the strangest feeling when you are 7 years old. But now, after 25 years, to remember that exact moment in time when he understood that his life long war was worth every scar and every sleepless night is just, simply, magic.
You see Aboriginal Australians are the oldest surviving culture the world knows. We believe, we know that magic is real. We have been using it for over 70000 years. But as I start to understand the power of this magic I am also starting to understand the different ways it can be used. On this occasion he used it through a simple smile. A smile that he knew would stay with me for eternity, a smile that he knew would calm my anger, a smile that he knew would empower me to reflect and a smile that he knew would help me to transfer my knowledge into wisdom.
After all …
“I’m just a spirit trying to be human”
– Alexi Murdoch