Dear Inner Circle,
A relationship exists between humour and suffering. It’s not that suffering is funny, but that there is something awesome about the human spirit that learns through suffering to recognise the humour. It’s the joy of declaring that the “emperor has no clothes,” or the joy that comes from just the sheer presence of others. At Wayside, it is among Aboriginal people that you will most often find sharp cries of pain but also the resounding sound of laughter. This week I was invited to our ‘Mob Lunch’, run by our Aboriginal Program Manager, Mon. This weekly event is so much more than just an opportunity to eat a meal, it’s a marvellous exercise in community development and brings together rich diversity of stories and people sitting side by side. I ended up next to a fellow with a dry sense of humour who began to tell me how to cook an emu. I’m wasn’t sure how seriously to take the cooking advice but I asked questions like, “How do you catch an emu?” A detailed explanation was given about how you entice an emu to come to you. He then described how to leave the animals above the fire, so that when smoke emerged from its mouth, you’d know it was cooked. Still unsure if any of this was serious, I asked how the cooked emu tasted. My mate said, “Oh, it tastes just like wombat!” I think when I left the room, I might have been the joke.
Minutes ago, I was in our café. I began a conversation with a lovely bloke who started to share how deeply he’d been in the grip of depression. We were joined by another lovely old fellow who jumped into the conversation. His voice is rather loud and so it was not a contribution that could be ignored. The new fellow to the table was not in any way psychotic and yet his contribution bore no connection to the conversation into which he jumped. I asked several probing questions in the hope that there might have been a connection that I couldn’t quite make out. There wasn’t. We were then joined by a couple that I’d not seen at Wayside for some years. I was glad to see these two, even though I had multiple separate conversations happening at the table already. The couple each tried to catch me up on several years of history that I’d missed. Within just a sentence or two, it was clear that each of them had vastly different stories to tell, at the same time.
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