For local Aboriginal people, the Anangu, a person’s spirit can be disconnected from the body, causing sickness. You can even see the healer — the ngangkari — looking for a person’s spirit, finding it under a bush and restoring it to the sick person.
Why wouldn’t you want to have your breasts tenderly and thoughtfully painted with ochre for inma (ceremonial dancing)? And feel a connection between your breasts and the earth around you? Our bodies all come from our mothers’ bodies and breasts and the earth is our continuing mother.
Whether slim and brown, pale and gothic or covered in overdeveloped muscles, nerdy glasses or gold jewellery, young people need to find a way to identify themselves, to the extent they know themselves. In mainstream society, we have nebulous rites of passage for our young people — getting a driver’s license, travelling with friends, drinking alcohol ’til you’re sick.
In the cool piriyitja mornings the flowers are full of honey. Even at the height of the day the flowers cover your fingertips with abundant syrup if you touch them. They are bracingly delicious. The Anangu kids call them lolly flowers.
I tried to change my mind about Tuesday. I did not succeed. In fact, I’ve given up trying for now. I like where I live and work and I like my routine, except for that lumpy bit at the beginning of the week.
Insidiously, the work undermines a caregiver’s self-trust and self-love. This is a danger inherent in the work itself — you have to deny your own needs and desires twenty times (or a thousand times) a day.