We had a picture book when I was growing up that told creation stories from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples. I don't know which nation the stories came from - or maybe they came from many nations - but I loved the stories. They had been illustrated by children and the stories were all about explaining how the world came to be. Stories like "How the echidna got his spikes," and "How the emu lost his flight."
At the same time, we had a Little Golden Book that told the story of The Three Sisters. If you live in New South Wales you probably know this one. The story according to my Little Golden Book went that there were three sisters and one day, the youngest sister dropped a stone over a cliff by accident, which woke and angered an evil bunyip. Their father, a witch doctor, couldn't reach the sisters in time to save them. Instead, he pointed a magic bone at his daughters and turned them into stone, so the bunyip couldn't harm them. To escape the bunyip he then turned himself into a lyre bird. But in the process he dropped the magic bone. To this day, you will see the lyre bird searching through the underbrush in that bush to try and find the bone to turn himself back into a man, and turn his daughters back into girls.
The little girl Naomi was powerfully influenced by these transformation and creation stories. I was fascinated by the idea that something that seemed "ordinary" to me actually had a back story and had experienced grand adventures and great metamorphoses to get to where they were today. It made them the very antithesis of "ordinary." I used to entertain the fantasy that I had once been someone - or even something - else, but that after my transformation into a little girl, I had experienced an amnesia and had lost the true history of me.
And not to get too philosophical on a Tuesday morning but I feel like I have been transforming and recreating myself ever since. There are the obvious metamorphoses: the transformation from girl into woman (that one took a lot longer than I had anticipated); the transformation from Independent Adult into Mother. Sometimes when I reconnect with friends I knew in school or university, it hits home how much I have changed in other ways. We still connect on many levels but many of our interests, our core beliefs, have parted ways. My friends will pull out the old music that we used to love, the books we used to read, the shows we used to watch, and be surprised that they no longer hold special meaning for me. They'll remain loyal vegetarians while I now order the beef carpaccio. They'll worship a god I no longer believe exists. They'll breed horses while I couldn't imagine life lived away from the city.
It all comes back to the "back-story" of those childhood creation tales. I don't think I'm a different or new person to the one I was back then. I'm just wearing new layers. The echidna was still the echidna before he had spikes. I had straight hair my whole life but since Harry was born it's gone curly. I'm still me, just a curly-haired version of me. And I'm sure I'll undergo more transformations, in every corner of my life. Things would get a little boring if we stayed the same all the time, don't you think? Maybe you'll bump into me in a decade or so and I'll be living the vegan lifestyle on a farm somewhere. Which isn't actually so far from where I started, to be honest. But that's another story for another day.
What about you? Have you undergone any radical transformations? Do you feel like the same person you were back then?
A little while ago I wrote about the hours I would spend on the floor of our family room, writing stories and creating "books." This is the only surviving story I have from those days and, not surprisingly, it is one of creation and transformation. Let's hope my spelling has transformed for the better since then.