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For book group tonight, we read Marlo Morgan's controversial novel Mutant Message Down Under. I have to say, that though parts of it were valid and interesting, overall I didn't really like the book. It seemed implausible and simplistic in too many ways. We had a good discussion about the book, though those of us who sat mostly silent were the ones who obviously didn't like it much, while those who talked a lot had apparently connected with it on a much different level.

Anyway, the gist of the book is that a white American healthcare professional in her 50s with grown children back home goes to Australia on business and while supposedly going to an award dinner at which she is the guest of honor is essentially kidnapped by a tribe of Aborigines and taken on walkabout in the Australian Outback for 3 months. The book is about the mental transformation that she experiences and the messages she believes the tribe and their way of life have for all the rest of us unenlightened types in the world.

Toward the end of the discussion, Geena asked us all, "So, if an aborigine was suddenly standing outside your door and said you were to go on walkabout right now for 3 months, leaving everything behind, would you go?" (She said "in Sweden" but substitute wherever you are for the purpose of the exercise)

The responses were pretty interesting. And the condition-setting started immediately:

"I'd have to call my husband and tell him."

"Maybe next year, but not right now."

"If I could take my family with me, I'd do it."

One lady said she would go. Two of us said we wouldn't (though for different reasons) but declared that our husbands would, without a second thought. Though one of us was proved wrong when he came in a few minutes later and said no he wouldn't when the question was actually put to him, much to his wife's surprise.

My answer was no. I wouldn't go. Not because the time isn't right. Not because I'm scared of leaving my comfortable existence. Not because I think I don't need to go. And not because I would mind going walkabout for several months and living off the land, though that's not really my thing, but because it seems that for the woman in the book, and for the ladies present who said yes, it was because they were or are searching for something. A purpose in life, a spiritual awakening, a reason for being...something.

I'm not searching. I don't know if I ever will, though my mother claims that most people realize they're missing something later in life, when the kids are grown, or they retire. I don't think I'm the searching kind, in that sense, though maybe time will prove me wrong.

I answered no right away, somehow instinctively responding to an answer in myself that said it wouldn't be necessary. I'm not searching for something. I have so much right here, and right now.

Would you go?
mood: thoughtful
music: Aha—We're Looking For the Whales


Erm, yes, mostly. I'd have to stock up on sunscreen.

Then again, no, I would miss my cats too much. I *hate* that about myself. My inner adventurer is locked in mortal combat with my inner homebody. My life's dream is to live this unfettered lifestyle riding horses in the mountains in all kinds of weather and bringing healthcare to the poorest, and my happiest moments are spent curled up with a good book and a purring cat.

A cat and a good book sound pretty damn good to me! :D

discovering self.

walkabout? in third world conditions? cold under the stars?

I see no need to renounce comfortable civilization to "find" myself. The search is in me, the confirmation must come from within me. "Pretending", or reverting, to an aboriginal level of living is not going to help anyone find themselves.

The journey must begin in you. (Which sounds suspiciously AA-ish)

Re: discovering self.

The question asked of us didn't stipulate third-world conditions, in fact, she actually said "here, in Sweden" but I did assume it meant au natural, so to speak. I think it was more meant in the sense of leaving your "life" behind and going out to "find yourself."

I like the idea that the journey must begin in you, AA-ish or not.

No. For the exact same reason . . . I don't read self-help books, I am not a Oprah watcher/Dr. Phil faithful, nor do I look for signs in astrology, tea leaves, or even throw coins in fountains. Nope I'm good.

Last week we ate some Chinese food and each of us opened out fortune cookies. Pete learned he would soon win the favor of influential people, and mine said something about a huge change in your life will happen soon. The kids were a bit puzzled so I tried to come up with a huge change and frankly, I didn't like the prospect of anything in my life changing. So I dropped the subject/explanation of the fortune lest the cookie's prophecy come true.

You're supposed to add the words "in bed" to the end of your fortune! :P

Also, I loathe Dr Phil. I never read self-help books, either. Meh.

Absolutely not.

Frankly, if it's going to take 3 months to reach some form of enlightenment, I don't hold out much hope of that enlightenment carrying through when I return to the people who need me.

Well, the woman in the book was older, with grown children, but even so, I found it incredible that someone would contemplate just dropping everything and basically disappearing for ANY length of time with no notice.

No for me as well. I enjoy too much about the modern world to want to go without it for three months. Not to mention that a walkabout sounds suspiciously chock full of living in nature and we remember how I don't handle bugs and lizards and things like that very well.

Which is not to say that I wouldn't like some change in my life, I'm just not searching for change. I know the changes I'd like to make already.

Your mom's comment strikes me as something that might be quite typical, especially of generations who went straight away into the world from school, and did what was expected of them. I think of my parents. They did what people did. They got married, dad went to work mom raised the kids. Then dad had the stereotypical male mid-life crisis and they got divorced. Years down the road I think my dad came to the conclusion that although he didn't like the life of father to six kids with all the ball and chain aspect of that, he rather liked that the six of us turned out to be great kids once he had some distance and saw a lot of not-so-great kids. He and his wife like to travel and go out to eat and honestly, they're just not that deep. They enjoy themselves, that's all there is to it.

I think it took my mother some time to not feel like she had really been dealt the short hand and why was that and why her? But I think that she felt like she had (almost single-handedly) raised six children she could be very proud of, she has good close friends and family who love her and that's what life's about.

How old were you guys when your parents got divorced? Your mom sounds like one heck of a lady :)

I agree, I think that desiring change in your life is not the same as searching for it, especially in this kind of way.

My oldest sister went off to college and my dad moved out within one week of each other. So the oldest was 18, the youngest 8 (I was twelve) but Dad had traveled for work so much of the time before that that it was always Mom who did everything. She sure is a hard act to follow!

I guess I'll speak for the other point of view: I would *want* to, but feel obliged to turn down the opportunity.

I am a seeker and have a constant thirst to discover new things about the world, about spirituality, about people, about myself, about places, about philosophies and styles of living... But as a wife and mother I feel I must satisfy that thirst in ways short of taking off at the drop of a hat and immersing myself in that quest for knowledge. I think that's why I read so much - a lot of things can be brought to me via reading vs. taking off to find it in person. I do find it a pale comparison, reading instead of doing, but it works (most of the time) within the structure of my life and within the context of other things that are important to me as a way of taking the edge off my thirst and make it bearable to live with on a daily basis.

I've never structured my life in a way which would allow me to give in to the thirst and I sometimes wonder if I ever will. It just seems as though what it would mean, given the personalities of the people I love the most, is that I would have to go it alone. And while I certainly could go it alone, the thirst is that strong, I don't want to have to. So here I am, taking sips and not great lusty gulps.

Actually, there were several people in the room who were of your opinion: wanted to but not right now.

I like discovering new things about the world, about people, places, philosophies and styles of living, too, but "dropping out" for any period of time isn't how I would chose to go about doing it. I agree with you that reading is an excellent way to search and discover...and you don't have to eat larvae, to boot! :D hahaah!


Heh. I thought maybe you Australians on my friends list might weigh in more about the controversy surrounding that book, but my answer was exactly the same as yours. Nope.

Not for a million dollars. Well, actually for a million dollars ;O) I am searching, but there's nothing I'm going to find in the outback except scorpions, and I've had enough of them, thanks.

hahahah! Well, you could always sell them! :P

Wow, I'd forgotten about that book. Seems eons ago that I read it...but I remember feeling rather skeptical about it all...even though part of what she was trying to convey I would agree is important stuff.

I agree. Some of her ideas were good (though a bit obvious) but it turns out the story itself was a lie. :(

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