My home stands at the doorway of a mystical world. Occasionally, in the early hours of the morning I see a glimpse as the rising sun reflects off the mist edging open a window into the mystery. But once the haze is fully burned the door is hidden as sleep descends on the gully. Then, at dusk, as whispers are wordlessly carried on the breeze, hints of life stir and stretch once more for the night.
When my imagination usurps reason unfettering an adventurous spirit, I convince myself it’s well worth the effort to engage the tangled wall of weeds separating our worlds. I like to believe that once the initial battle is fought the rest of the way will be a walk in the park. This illusion merely perpetuates the lie. In reality, once the first barrier is crossed, the second of many await. Crawling and twirling my way through knotted vines, razored fronds and burred flowers, I curse myself for being gullible in undertaking this flight of fancy.
The war waged to break through the barrier of briars is disorientating enough to strip me of all excess baggage—no longer wife, mother, daughter, or sister—my hands are too full of vines, trunks, and rocks to carry anything else. I am fully focused on the moment and my survival—that is, attempting not to fall down the mountain. I also become preoccupied and acutely aware of the new cloak I have acquired; with every stab, jab and scratch, it quickly transforms into a coat of many bothers. In that moment, held hostage by the discomfort and disillusion, I am no one to anyone; just a lone intruder, mis-stepping and disturbing the peace.
With unsteady feet on the slippery slopes my progress is slow through the untouched, untouchable land. Waves of pungent, earthy spice are released with flocks of finches as I crash through crowds of lantana. Skating and sliding down sheer sides where rotting figs hold the mountain together, I notice that in this sanctuary nothing is as it seems. Snappy Cassia saplings offer more trustworthy support than sturdy vines whose roots are firmly grounded in thin air. Boulders that look to be one with the foundations of the earth are mere shingles and pebbles the tips of icebergs.
But sadly, most disturbing of all is discovering, when stripped of all my hats, I am not who I think I am. In my head, I’m a nimble bush ninja honouring the legend; silent, soft-footed, supple. In truth I resemble a rampaging herd of one; neither glamorous nor stealthy. Whilst striving to wreck as little havoc as possible, I spectacularly disturbed the peace. Ill prepared and over-dressed I am not suitably equipped to tackle the minefield of Golden Orb trip wires, sheer rock climbs, nor the network of vines, weeds, and roots. A nimble bush ninja I am not.
After descending depths that bury the sky and climbing heights that conceal the ground, I stand on ledges rarely tainted by human feet, isolated by an ocean of treetops, and contemplate my surroundings. From atop this rock outcrop elation erases the exhaustion. Yet a chorus of tweets, chirps and croaks echo up from below my island in the sky mocking my victory, “it is a long and weary way home.”