The re-emergence of courage

Tuesday 22 June, 2011:

I take Zion to his year 10 class. He actually trembles, outside the door. “It’s shaming,” he says.

“Do you want me to go in and talk to your teacher for a minute, and say you’re here?”

He nods.

I look at him, standing there gathering his resolve, but looking so scared. I say, “Hey Zion, would it help if I stayed in class with you for a while?”

“Yes, Miss,” says Zion.

“K then,” I tell him, very lightly. “I don’t mind.”


And so I go into class with Zion. He looks so relieved to not be on his own. As I sit there, listening to the teacher talk, my mind is thrown back two years – I haven’t had a 10 Social class since 2009. I remember my class and how I really loved them… such a funny class, I had all the gangstas; anyone who was anyone was there. And I remember how it felt to have Tau there with me, just solid, and resting, and snuffling when he felt safe. My heart aches, aches, aches for those days. And I feel tired about school; tired being there without my Tau.

And how’s it possible to go on? When your heart’s been prised open to let in these people and things you can’t ignore. You just have to go on, when you can’t possibly go back anymore. I just walk towards something but I haven’t got there yet. I feel so embodied, though, sitting in that class with Zion. I think: How’s it come to this? I never intended to… it wasn’t like I ever decided to.


Thursday 24 June:

The Mona Lisas first up. I get to class, and Kepaoa says to me, “Miss, you’re very quiet this morning. Did someone break your heart or something?”

I think to myself that that’s a good way to describe it. I just laugh at Kepaoa. But yup, I’m always willing to be heartbroken. I kind of accepted it, ages ago – just because I had nowhere else to ‘go’, you know.

Noa’s there too, today. He comes in, moaning and groaning to me: “Fuuck… I couldn’t even come to project yesterday, I had to work on the door all day, fuck it.”

Kepaoa grins, to see me not even bat an eyelid.

I say, “Oh well, never mind. I hope you got well paid for it, anyway.”

“No!” grumbles Noa. “I got ripped off…”

We three look at one another and snort with laughter.


Later I almost fall over in my new boots, teaching the class. I’m just standing there at the whiteboard, explaining something, when I trip on a cord. The kids laugh so hard, mainly cos I’m saying, “Ok, I just wanna go over this…” and then add (under my breath, as I stumble) “Shit!”, so it sounds like I’m saying “Ok, I just wanna go over this shit.” Kepaoa is laughing so much he nearly falls off his chair – there are actually tears in his eyes.


Friday 24 June:

I’ve been in some pretty high stakes situations, in recent times. I’m not surprised that I’m tired. But I also see that I’m not afraid when it counts. Oh, I still feel sad quite a lot of the time. But I’m not really afraid.

Loss of fear… it’s very interesting as a possibility. I’m getting used to being unafraid of what people think – at least when the pressure is on. And once you know you can handle that, then there’s no point of being afraid what people may think any other time. So this whole feeling is starting to percolate ‘down’, into everyday life.

Perhaps there’s coming a time when I’ll start to see all this in context. I’m so close to it that I can’t see the pattern, yet. But I think about it: it was only four months ago that I moved out here, to Municipal. And in that time, a lot’s happened. Circumstances I don’t think I could have even quite grasped or understood without being right on location. Events that have sometimes given me just a moment’s notice to respond. I think of Tau, Inia and Noa – and then Zion. I don’t know how I could have done anything at all, if two worlds hadn’t already merged to the extent that they have. Geographically as well as emotionally.


But if there’s a theme, I think it’s this: ‘The re-emergence of courage.’ Because it’s different from the simple courage that was required to step across the line, two years ago. I’ve said it before: I didn’t know what the consequences would be. I had no idea, as I walked over to get Argos and take him out of the library. Rules had not been clarified. I acted out of simple and ignorant courage, and a feeling of alliance, that I sensed even before it had really formed.

Now, I know – or at least I think I know – what kinds of things are at stake. So courage isn’t simple anymore. But it does exist, and you can find it and call on it, even in your weakest moments.


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