There's a book I want to buy. It's author is Jeanette Winterson and I've borrowed its title for this post. Despite the recommendations made by friends, I have never read any of her work......that is until today. An edited extract appeared in the magazine section of today's paper and it was this question that struck a chord. Except that I would (and have) asked it the other way around "Why be normal when you can be happy?"
It was this question that had me leave the corporate world and Sydney and move to a little town in regional NSW where no-one looks askance at hippies, ferals or any other non-normal person. Art and music proliferate and there is a grass roots movement to a more positive, sustainable, community centred approach to life. Yes, it's all very idealistic and the competition for who has the biggest income/superannuation fund/house etc has been replaced with who has the most sustainable lifestyle, who buys the most organic and how big your permaculture vegie patch is and whether you have your own chooks*.......(sigh) Nevertheless, I am happier here than I ever was in the city, wearing the corporate uniform and playing the role (which I think I did quite well) while in my quiet moments I felt lonely, out of place and living a lie. I wanted to grow my hair long and let it knot into dreads (not that I did), I wanted to wear tie-dye dresses and leave my face devoid of make-up, throw my basic black courts in the bin and run barefoot and wild along beaches and take dips in almost pristine creeks and feel that I had found my "tribe". To an extent I have succeeded.
So it saddened me the other day when I went shopping for an interview outfit to find, despite my stated intent to buy bright and colourful clothes that could pass for appropriate office wear, myself back in the corporate uniform and immediately feeling the heaviness and dread from memories of that earlier time.
Colourful is, I suppose, another word that could be used to describe this town - most of the time. As a result of visioning workshops run by Transition Bellingen we now have a new festival. One to celebrate the river that runs through our town. It was held last Saturday, a perfect Spring day. There were canoe races, entertainers, musicians, storytellers, interactive circus for the children and in the evening there was a loy krathong ceremony (which, unfortunately, we missed) and lantern parade led by carnivale style drummers and dancers. We had a great day and I for one hope they hold it again next year
*Chickens, for those not up with Aussie slang. Googs are what they lay, (Don't ask, I have no idea.)