We can be heroes

In the classic hero’s journey—the archetypal plot structure of myths and movies—the protagonist reluctantly departs from normal life, enters the unknown, endures successive trials, and eventually returns home, having been transformed. If such a character exists in the coronavirus story, it is not an individual, but the entire modern world. The end of its journey and the nature of its final transformation will arise from our collective imagination and action. And they, like so much else about this moment, are still uncertain

If you could speak for that global persona—modernity as hero—what would his/her task be in this changed new world, the travel and trials, the treasure and its rewards? Have pandemic and climate change turned the kingdom into a wasteland, if so, what is it that can heal the aging king/queen and restore the land to vitality?

This extraordinary prompt comes from https://earthweal.com/2020/05/04/earthweal-weekly-challenge-humanitys-hero-quest/

The world is split in two.

There are those that yearn for change
and those that cry for a return
to the excesses that went before
this shift,
this rift,
this time out of time.

Out in the desert
the world’s aircraft are parked
nose to tail
in long lines on half forgotten tarmacs.

People tend them every day,
tuning this and that,
cleaning off the desert dust.
One day, they say, the planes will fly again.
It will be a long time, our PM says,
before Australians can take to the skies
and go off across the globe shouting
“Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy, Oy, Oy,”

No great loss there
you might well say as
back home
the great Australian hero
of everyman and everywoman
yearns to go to the pub
and murder a beer.

Outside in my garden
the currawongs sing their tuneful anthems.
Mystics say they are singing up
the spirit of the trees.

Their song transports me
to future worlds found in dreams
where people of many races
live together in harmony
in ways
we do not yet know.

We are all heroes now
and we get to choose
as we emerge
from our time out of time.
We can sing the old raucous cries
of mass consciousness
or we sing up
the spirit of the Earth,
the spirit of the new.

Video posted on Youtube 2010 – Joan Reddie

32 thoughts on “We can be heroes

  1. i love the aircraft in the desert gathering dust, the call of the currawongs singing up the spirit of the trees and how seemlessly our choices are juxtapositioned. Really lovely. And the birdcall is really spectacular too.

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    1. Thank you very much Lindi. I am so glad my poem spoke to you. I saw images of the planes parked in the desert on the TV news the night before. They looked so strange they found their way into my poem. The currawongs were singing as I wrote.

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    1. Thanks Kate. No it isn’t my video. I thought that the name of person who posted would show up when I copied the address but I see now that it didn’t I have now rectified my mistake and included their name. Thanks for pointing that out to me.

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  2. I love this for so many reasons — it’s first of all a great response to the challenge, asking which treasure there is for the hero(ic) to attain — soaring skies and foaming gold beer or a deep awakening into the green world we’ve lost and now become awakened to. Second, I love the local voice — earthweal is hopefully composed by that. Third, Australia was so much a part of our global awareness of the immanent impacts of climate change — such vast burning damage — to find it healing into the next season here is its own heroic comfort. Anyway, thanks for bringing it to earthweal and hope you come back. (PS, I’ve been reading Don DeLillo’s 1996 novel Underworld again and in it an artist paints abandoned B52 stratofortress bombers in the desert — the Cold War having burnt down–transforming doom into beauty. If only we could do the same with our present passenger fleet — leave it in the desert, renounce the skies, paint them the color of transformation …)

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    1. Thank you very much for your kind words on my poem. I felt it was a crude attempt at expressing complex thoughts. It’s good to know it reads ok. I will definitely look at your future prompts and have followed your blog. I really liked the complexity and thoughtfulness of your writing and your prompt. It’s a pleasure to read a combination of in-depth analysis and creative inspiration.

      As for Australia and climate change. The bushfires of summer were terrible then there was flooding rain in some areas that put out the fires but did further damage. Immediately following those events the Prime Minister shut the country down because of Covid-19. The dialogue about the bushfires has been largely forgotten as the current situation takes centre stage.
      I like your story about the abandoned bombers. I saw on the TV news that Singapore Airlines flew most of their planes to a disused runway in the Australian outback and parked them there a few weeks ago. The news report said they take a lot of maintenance to keep them flight ready and it is possible some will never fly again. The imagery stuck in my mind and found it’s way into my poem.

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  3. I thoroughly enjoyed the video clip of the Currawong song, Suzanne. Aboriginal names are so magical. I let it run several times to get the full effect and felt like it was in my garden here in the depths of the English countryside! It’s so true, that the world is split in two. I like the way you’ve made that point in the opening stanza, and then emphasised it with the short, sharp lines:
    ‘this shift,
    this rift,
    this time out of time.’
    I also like the shift to the following stanzas about the planes in the desert, a sure sign that the world is standing still, and some people are taking a breath, raring to fly again. I don’t care if I never board another plane. I’m content to stay put for a change for the better, a healed planet, singing up ‘the spirit of the Earth, the spirit of the new’.
    By the way, I’m reading a new book by Kim Kelly, an Australian author I discovered on The Pigeonhole. I’ve read quite a few of her books, which are mostly set in the past and have given me some insight into Australian history and attitudes. I would have loved to have visited, having friends and family in various parts of Australia, but it’s a fair distance and possibly too late now. At least my daughter has been.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words on my poem Kim. I feel like I am terrible at writing poetry but that it gives me a vehicle to say things that I find hard to express in prose. I always think my poems are crude, heavy handed things. I’m glad they come across ok to other people.
      Yes, flying around in planes and visiting other countries does seem like it’s a long way off. I don’t particularly like flying but always hoped I might somehow get to visit Japan one day to see something of the scenes depicted in old woodblock prints and Basho’s haiku. Maybe it’s all gone now anyway… best to read the haiku and look at the art in books. 🙂

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  4. Alli Templeton

    Eloquently put, and very appropriate, Suzanne. Here’s to singing up the spirit of the Earth. Something good has to come out of this. And I love the sound of the currawongs – that seems a good song to start with. 🙂

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    1. Yes the currawongs have a beautiful sound. I agree, lets hope some good things come out of this. Just recognising that not every one has access to adequate housing, good food and health services would be a great start.

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  5. I’ve been thinking of you. I had a past life regression yesterday, which ended up being rather strange and sci-fi, but it had to do with present-day events (which it turned into) and rather than go into the strange stuff, I will share that the vision I was given was very similar to the one you shared. I saw a large group, basically endless, of people sitting together on the earth of all different colors and creeds. It was filled with peace and harmony. If it moves you to join in on the vision of manifestation, I was told to help bring in the rainbow light (which is actually something I was given years ago too), specifically into our DNA, as well as clear the “clouds” blocking the light on Earth. Hummingbird was the bird medicine/guide they also brought forth to use. Sharing in case it resonates with you ❤

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    1. That’s so beautiful. I love the rainbow light meditations. Yesterday in a guided meditation I was directed to call in ble and pink light – as I did this a whole lot of colours cam in at once – blue, pink, green, violet, gold – a veritable rainbow! The hummingbird is special to me too. I was drawn to that bird years ago. We don’t have them in Australia but have the Honeyeater instead. This bird is often with me and there are many living around my house. So yes, count me in on meditating on clearing the clouds. I like the idea of drawing the rainbow light into the DNA. Thank you so much for sharing your vision with me. Love – Suzanne

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      1. They are no where near as pretty as a hummingbird and have a funny squawking cry. I once read they are shamans in disguise. 🙂 I did a meditation on the rainbow colours this morning.

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  6. Sherry Marr

    Your beautiful poem lifts my heart. I LOVE the currawong’s song, and mystics singing up the spirit of the trees. It felt like a quick visit to Australia reading this. So glad to meet you at earthweal. I hope to read more of your wonderful poems.

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  7. O thanks for the song! Noisy creatures, yet reassuringly alive.
    You lay out our choice quite clearly with refreshing new images..
    I especially enjoy the parable of the planes parked “on half-forgotten tarmacs.” Calling us all heroes is to share the responsibility. This concept could-should take us far.

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  8. I can’t speak for the rest of the world, just based on experience here in Canada. The devastation of COVID-19 deaths in retirement/nursing homes has been extensive. Close to 50% death rates in some homes and all occupants infected including workers. My hope is that there will be a formal enquiry and new measures put in place to protect these vulnerable seniors. While celebrities have retired to their gated abodes, underpaid front line workers in the supply chain have been working around the clock to ensure everyday staples are available to households. We have taken so much for granted in the worth of certain professions in our economy and perhaps a new way of looking at an individuals contribution to our economy is warranted. Just two thoughts on this complex question. Nice poetry Suzanne, good to communicate with you again.

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    1. Yes, we are in very similar situation over here. The pandemic has highlighted a lot of injustices in society and have overlooked the contribution of front line workers. My postman and the guys that deliver me my groceries are some of the best people I know right now as I’m staying home due compromised immunity.

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