The Dreaming Path


I can't remember how I heard about this book (I suspect it was mentioned on the radio) but it's a dream come true -- a combination of two of my favourite subjects, self help and Indigenous thinking! Written by Paul Callaghan with substantial input from Uncle Paul Gordon, The Dreaming Path places its main emphasis on two areas, connecting with country and focusing on strengthening relationships, two of the foundations of traditional Aboriginal society. The Dreaming Path also highlights the importance of story in finding structure and meaning in life, and encourages us to discover our own story.

It's refreshing, after being brought up with a lightly Christian emphasis on sin and guilt, to read that we are all 'born into love and surrounded by love.' The two Pauls encourage us to go out into nature, to stand barefoot on the ground and feel a connection to the place where we live; they also share the healing power of walking country. It occurred to me that my morning bike rides around my neighbourhood, begun during lockdown, and the neighbourhood walks that many of us undertook when we were restricted to a 5 km radius from our homes, are versions of this slow, healing local travel.

Uncle Paul Gordon's introduction brought a lump to my throat:

In our stories, everything started from Country and our people went out throughout the world, and over time their skin changed, language changed, Lore was forgotten. 

In 1788, some of the forgotten children came back.

Now, children, you are home... It is time for you to learn what you have lost.

The Dreaming Path succeeds on both fronts. It's filled with practical, sensible advice for people feeling lost or overwhelmed -- slow down, draw strength from Country, lean on others for help. But it also serves as a wonderful introduction to Indigenous narrative and philosophy: the interconnectedness of all people, land, nature and story; the security of belonging in a web of family and society, and the strength that comes from clear reciprocal responsibilities as well as rights. Well worth reading.

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