7 Months Tonga Update

Pacific Verse Spoken Words Event

“A land where sure, people don’t care much for rubbish,
but just like coconut, if you fall..
you can always count on someone picking you up”

It wasn’t the most moving line, but it got some laughs. I wrote my full piece 30 minutes before the Pacific Verse spoken word event took place. I didn’t want the chance to go a drift with the many clouds that pass this little island daily (was that better?). Along with preforming my first live song, Tonga has presented me with a few opportunities to try new things – but it’s certain people who’ve really given me the encouragement and inspiration to do so.

Lee was one of them. She’s the fantastic and talented musician who organised this event. Making the journey from Hawaii, she came to open a new expressive outlet and program for the Tongan youth. Just like they do at other forms of art, they excelled. I was impressed  by the raw feelings and simple, yet moving, metaphors used. Most notably, the fact they were using a secondary language.

What I took away, was that we all start somewhere, and talent doesn’t negate truth. There is a deeper reason why we do what we do. To express – not just impress. I’m definitely going to keep sharpening my tall until it’s sharp enough to leave an ent (I’m either getting better or worse at this).  I’d also like to pay my respects to the late Robbin Williams with this quote from his character Mr Keating from Dead Poets Society

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion…”

His passing was truly tragic. It’s almost unfathomable how someone with a life that I’m sure many others adore, could succumb to the pressure to permanently leave it. I assume, that means, despite how ‘good’ things appeared from the outside, there was an inner world that was much worse.  No one wants to see a hero fall or a leader lose their way. But it’s a reminder of the common humanity and frailty that unities us – regardless of statuses held or lifestyles lived.

In my inner world, there’s been clouds of worry brewing. I’m nearing the end of my assignment, and the return to the life I left – which is what I came here to change – for the better. The task of job hunting is a narrow tightrope / ledge to walk. At times it definitely effects my ability to ‘just enjoy the view’ while I’m here.  Especially in comparison to volunteers who have their old jobs to return to.

An approaching birthday doesn’t help. I know from yours truly, I’ll get an another spot-the-difference mental image between ‘where I should be at this stage’ and ‘where I actually am’. Totally unwanted like a pair of two left-handed oven mitts knitted by grandma.

“I ain’t never found no place for me to fit. Seem like all I do is start over. It ain’t nothing to find no starting place in the world. You just start from where you find yourself.” – August Wilson

When I’m bothered, I just take a honest look at what I’m concerned about. Worst case, I return to Australia with no job and keep looking. I go back to living with my supportive parents and try to convince girls on Tinder about how cool that is, especially since the bedroom I grew up in is now painted pink. Or maybe I can share an oven mitt.

The truth is that there is no escape from uncertainty. I can just do what I can. Even if it’s organising a promotion with a telecommunications provider, but having them send out the incorrect message. Organising training workshops, but technology failing. People not returning phone calls or having no interest in your cause.

There is a strategy called working your circle of influence. Identifying what’s in your control   and making it the centre of your focus, worrying less about what’s outside of it. I bought ice-cream cones for a group of students and walked them to the bus-stop. I invited a teacher and his younger sister over for a movie night. Shouted the pizza for a friend who just left for a 3 month scholarship in Fiji. Rewrote parts of my book. Started going to the gym and eating healthier. Tried dance classes, martial arts, running group, playing touch, trivia. Amongst the clouds, these things are rays of light.

We’ll just have to see how the ‘wether’ goes. I try to avoid a centre of the world mentality by extending my sense of self and seeing how well it’s really going. I mean, I got friends and family doing great back home. Just an example. Today I hit 5 years officially single – but a friend who had a relationship end at the same time, just recently got engaged.  He organised to pose for charactertures, but he had the artist draw him proposing, which he did once the finished artwork was revealed. The story made me smile.  After I congratulated him, he shared this little gem:

“Call me a hippy, but I honestly think you find someone when the world thinks you’re ready” – Eric

I’d like to think there is a time and place for everything else too. Please, do call me a hippy.

Well that’s that. This weekend brought a sport day at school and an anti bullying concert in town at night. Once again, I’m blown away by the energy and laughter Tongans bring to make ordinary events so much more of an occasion. All you need is music and colour and you’ve got yourself some fun. Apart from that, I’m locked away in my room again. My new housemate asked me what I’m up to. It’s a secret and I can’t tell you either. But I will soon…




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