Writing Place

rounded corner
meeting place graphic element

Magpie and the Stars

By Heidi Everett

It was a magpie that got me up at 5am one morning. An old bird with an Elvis hairstyle and Bjork’s voice, probably sitting on a highwire across the street. At that time of morning, magpie spirit travels where light doesn’t, so it reached into the darkness of my lounge room, to the pit of the floor where I laid for the past three months, and navigated the maze to my heart like it was running water.

Many of us know what terminal sadness feels like: it’s like realising they don’t make light globes any more, so you resort to candles and when the candles have all melted, you wait for the stars and when the stars don’t come out, you hold the memory of light, which like all universal laws, eventually separates out so far you can’t hold the atoms together anymore. It takes far less energy to let go than to hold on.

I’d not considered magpie’s much before this morning, and one thing I’ve learnt about the mental health system is that it doesn’t have time for magpies either. In fact the only time I’ve heard a skerrick of magpie was an Indigenous duty nurse who asked me ‘how my spirit was’. The out of place question shocked me. This clinic stunk of disinfectant, pheromones and a hundred thousand tonnes of fax paper. This was no place for such truth. His out of place question unearthed tears trapped in bedrock. I answered: ‘broken’. My case worker hurried me out of the room to the waiting psychiatrist, unaware of the light that had flickered.

Magpies haven’t been to University; they breathe the universe. Where 2000mg of antipsychotic juice and twenty years of case workers hadn’t put so much a dent in my armour, a magpie swooped in and stirred the air in my cells in one song. I listened to her; more powerful than U2 yet less tangible than clouds. This magpie was doing what it did every morning and every evening of its life, yet for the first time in such a long time, I felt her heartbeat of life. She will never know.

The mental health system focuses on symptoms needing treatment, the grief and grieving. It loves to deep dive in dark matter, seeking out asteroids to explode and neutrinos to study and harness. We become conditioned to believe our redemption, our recovery, is learning metaphysical hieroglyphics with the rosetta stone buried somewhere deep in our psyche under geological layers of metamorphic rock.

Magpie teaches us that healing space is indeed hidden in dark matter, but like fish in the sea, we cannot see what holds us until we come out of the water. less tangible than clouds. This magpie was doing what it did every morning and every evening of its life, yet for the first time in such a long time, I felt her heartbeat of life. She will never know.

 

About Heidi Everett

Heidi Everett​ is a Melbourne multimedia artist and producer with living experience of schizophrenia and aspergers with thirty years in the mental health system.

Heidi founded and directs Schizy Inc, Mojo Film Festival and Qualia Theatre, enabling many people with diverse mental health space and resources to tell their stories and affect real change. Heidi and magpie live and work on Wurundjeri land of the Woi wurrung people.

 

Back to Writing Place

rounded corner graphic

Subscribe to Newsletter

Sign up to receive news and updates about Meeting Place

Host

Supporting Partner