Inspired by a house with a dirt floor
My mother, who has three bits of wisdom to impart to you which are worthy of being New Year's Resolutions, grew up in a house with dirt floors, and walls made of hessian bags. There were no windows, just gaps where blow flies flew in and out. The ground outside was baked hard by desert winds from the east. It was too hot to walk on in the middle of the day with bare feet, which was all she had.
There was gold hidden in the nearby hills that kept itself hidden very well.
As the eldest of four, Mum swept the yard and shooed the flies. When her mother grabbed the rifle and leaned it against the hole in the wall where a window should’ve been and peered inexpertly down its barrel, my mum hid behind her with her younger siblings. The rifle was meant to be a warning to Aboriginals passing by in the distance, a string of humanity who knew their way across an expanse that drained most white men dry. The rifle probably had no bullets but there was no need for them. The indigenous people followed their own tracks through a landscape that coursed through their blood.
My mother is eighty-eight years old now. She’s lived in homes with parquetry floors, waltzed in stilettos and travelled the world. But her three bits of wisdom have an earthy ring from her early life that give them lasting power.
She tells these three things to anyone who will listen: people at bus stops; someone sitting next to her in a cinema; the woman in a wheelchair she helps at the Senior Citizens Centre that she goes to five days a week – “to help the old people” she says.
1. Do what you love, and love what you do.
There are no excuses here. If you’re not doing what you love, well, go and find out what it is and do it! This sets a cycle in motion for meaningful living.
2. You make your bed and you lie in it.
You’re responsible for your life. What you do, say and think produce results you have to live with. Stop complaining. Stop sulking. Make a decent bed for yourself!
3. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, but there is a best way.
Think things through. Do your research. Ask questions. Don’t just rush in and hope everything turns out well.
So now you know my mother pretty well.
Her sayings are packed with mindfulness.
They're going to be my New Year’s Resolutions.
With love from her and me, Marlane