There is an important story behind this song…

In the time my husband and I were living in Australia for three months, we often take spontaneous planned weekends to retreats or nature parks to try and have the fullest experience of a place so far from home. This one particular weekend we decided to head off to Phillip Island – a small island on the tip of Australia that is full of wild life and fun things to do. After a four hour whale spotting trip that was amazing but made me feel a little sick, we stopped by an “eco-zoo” to have time with some indigenous animals and our feet on the earth.
I spoke to the lady at our entrance and I asked, after seeing all the many wallabies and kangaroos around me,

“Do you set them free when they are well enough?” I said – assuming they were all there, in such numbers for rehabilitation.

“Oh no – we’re not allowed to do that. We breed them”. She looked at me blankly.

“You breed them? ” I said too loudly – astonished. “But there are SO many in Australia already” _ sputtered “Even dead all over the roads! and so many are injured, baby’s without mothers…” I couldn’t continue. I was starting to feel sick. We moved along once the admission lady got that glazed look in her eye like people who can’t stand to be around people like me because we cause them an internal moral disturbance with these obvious observations.

Entering the eco zoo, we could see that all of the animals were very well cared for. Cages were clean, and animals were all friendly and approachable, most of the Kangaroos and wallabies were in free pens we could visit them in. A swan began tailing us right away, and we fed it and chatted happily as we played with baby wallabies. But as this wondrous little adventure went on, we moved further into the park, and closer to the birds.

It was about 4 o’clock by this time which is when all of the birds and huge flocks of free cockatoos and parrots come out for their nightly romp, screeching joyfully through the air in massive flock numbers, littering the trees with their colour, like flashes of magical white appearing suddenly where before there was only 200 shades of green.

Suddenly over our head there was a massive chaotic explosion of screeching birds – maybe 30 or 40 cockatoos all flying darting from one tree to another. They were obviously addressing the dozen or so cocky’s in the large enclosure cage, which sent them all reeling. I stood still for along time and watched – one leader free cocky in particular who found a tree and opening his 3 foot wingspan began to call to all the cockatoos in the area in his massive voice – he looked incredibly regal like a King of the birds calling his troops. In immediate response, all of the the zoo birds went absolutely hysterical, screeching, wide eyed, calling, and bounding around in their cages.
Then through all the cacophony (and I really know where that word comes form now) this one little sweet voice cuts through very gently and I hear;

“‘ello Poppet”.

I see him right away – on the opposite side of the cage, looking straight at me.
“Hello poppet ” I respond trying to smile.

He rushes to my side of the enclosure, and I feel him melt against my chest into my heart through the mesh wires, warm and soft and gentle. That’s when my heart simply broke.
So I did what I only know how to do when I am terribly sad…I began to sing. And I sang him the only song I can when I am so sad…Three Little Birds by Bob Marley.

“Don’t worry…about a thing…cause every little thing, is gonna be alright”. My voice was choking there was no way to sing this without crying. This must be my go to song when my heart is breaking – the last time I sang it was to my mom as she was dying.

He stayed and stayed, quiet, listening to the soft cadence of the song, concerned with my tears looking into my face with wonder. I sang it over and over like a mantra for us while absolute insanity happened all around us. For a few minutes – I really don’t know how long – we were happy he and I there in the sun together. Really happy like we were in a bubble of love, a protective space, and I am sure he knew how much one person cold love another thing then cause that feeling bounced back and forth between us.

Suddenly he did the most awesome and terrifying thing…all at once.

Remaining in front of me he moved back just a little, shivered all over and spread his huge wide massive white wings, like angels in front of me. He raised his awesome golden crown and began to SCREAM AS LOUD AS HE COULD, holding my eyes like steel. I could feel the warm air of his breath going into my own open mouth. I was completely rooted and equally transported. Holding my eyes with his unblinking – it was the most frantic display of emotion I have ever seen. It washed over me, through me and into me. I felt it vibrate in my throat, in my head – and I was completely unable to step away. I recall some funny voice in my head – the “Josee” voice saying – “wow dude, it’s really ironic you’re going to go deaf from a bird and not your band…”

But we stayed together, because I didn’t want him to have all of that inside him alone. It felt like I was taking “it” – the sadness, frustration, fear – for him. I felt it with him.

Eventually my husband dragged me away, he didn’t like seeing me cry like that and he had spotted a massive eagle in captivity around the corner which he predicted would be my breaking point so he was rushing me out of the “eco-zoo” by then.

Walking away, leaving the zoo, didn’t remove this bird from me – it made him stronger in me. He stayed with me, night after night, until finally one night I simply saw his face again, like a flash in my mind – the spread out wings, wide open eyes and screaming voice – and I heard…


I felt like a warrior inside – a scream from a deep place I had not yet met. I felt all our Mowawk, Ojibwe, MigMAg – all our tribes inside me at once. It was incredibly power.
Like a mighty cry, I saw the faces of our Native family at home – the beautiful colours, the feathers and the respect we have for their wisdom of the land. I felt like it was MY war cry…from my heart.
Then I felt helpless.
What could ONE little middle aged housewife from Canada do about ALL the caged birds in the world?? In fact, what could I possibly do about ALL the caged animals that broke my heart all over the world?
Having boycotted zoos most of my life, including never taking my kids to one, just wasn’t enough.
Who am I? Just one person right?

So, I did what I do. I wrote a song.

The idea of it expanded. I wanted a song that represented the world need to “uncage ” EVERYTHING that is imprisoned and respect all of our native roots – the ONLY roots that will hold any hope for this planet. Australia is JUST on the brink of beginning to understand the power and importance of our indigenous people, and I wanted to be a part of bringing that beauty here. So, with my friends Dave and Regine at Devine Drum Studio in mind, who are bringing African drumming to our cold land back home, I integrated an indigenous beat and a rhythm that is also appropriate for drumming to honour our connection to the earth and to encourage people who are not usually musicians to sing and play drums, dance and be a part of this song.

What I want to say to YOU is – SING WITH ME! Don’t be afraid to get REALLY LOUD at the end…I’m sure cocky can hear your love! Or maybe they can hear you in Tibet or some other caged in place that needs our collective voice.


I wrote Cocky’s song, at least the majority of it, very quickly no edits. It was “one of those” – easy, simple and free flowing. Singing it makes me happy and cry all at the same time.
Our neighbour a local Aussie old hippie called Bruce, named the song “Cockey’s Song” – a very common expression in Australia – they tend to shorten everything into something fast and friendly. A “cockey” – is a beloved animal in Australia.
When I reread the lyrics I had written it struck me that Cocky’s song may not be unique to him only – It made me think of everyone who is stuck in a cage” – so many cages. Ones we build, ones we are given…we all have them.

You can decide what has happened to cocky by the end of the song – but inevitably, we all get out of the cage one way – or the other.

I would like to play this song everywhere – and hear all of the peoples voices singing with it.

Here’s to flying free in blue skies!

COCKY’S SONG (lyrics)

(Heyyyyy….hey yah! Heyyy yah Heyyy yahx2) x 2

I see my friends fly in the sky
I can’t go with them and I don’t know why.
I must have done something wrong,
Maybe someone didn’t like my song?

But I sang Heyyyyyy hey yah – get me out of here, get me out of here x2

I heard of freedom once in a song
It sounded so silly, I thought they must be wrong
Each day I try to spread my wings
But that doesn’t change much of anything….

So I sing.. (Chorus) hey ya – “get me out of here…” x2

My heart it aches to touch a cloud
I dream about it When there’s no one around
But I put on a show for all to see
All those blind eyes,
Staring back at me

And we sing – “heyyy get us out of here, get us out of here…” x2


She sings a song to the little bird
He seems to listen To every word
She told him we were very wrong
To keep him in And stop his song

And we sang Heyyyyy heyy yah – get them out of there, get them out of there…” x2

Then one day it did come true,
The cage was gone And the sky so blue!
I saw my friends way down below
Now there’s no place I can’t go!

And I sing…hey heyyy yah – I’m out of here I’m out of here x2

Back to intro hay ya…with an “amen heya” scat to end.,,,

My rough unproduced initial recording of this song and video is available for download on a couple of my pages.

I am giving this song to you freely. However, if you feel a tug at your heart, please make a donation to

The World Wildlife Fund
Or The Jane Goodall Institute

Cockey and I thank you for singing along!


What was “supposed to be” a lovely afternoon in Perth with my husband attending a public talk being given by the Dalai Lama began with a long early morning walk following an argument with said husband the previous night. Dark despair hung over the state of my life (or lack thereof), my thoughts racing at five hundred miles an hour – I was clouded by anger and depression. Not to mention being in the most remote city in the world, Perth is the farthest place away from where I live as you can get on planet earth and I was very homesick. Finding no relief of course, just walking, crying and thinking, thinking thinking – Blech, I returned to our hotel where I planned to go to the room and just sleep until the event began later that afternoon.

Suddenly across the quiet street in the early Sunday morning sun a lone monk walked along purposefully towards the corner to cross the street, carrying a small “monk-bag” with his few possessions in tow. I sat on a bench and watched him in wonder as he carefully crossed the street busy now with cars directly in front of the area that HHDL would be giving his public address later that day. In my despair and desperation, I prayed with tears in my eyes that somehow he would see me, sense my pain and come over to me dissipating my sadness with a mere magical word or simply by his calm monkish energy. Frankly, I wanted to be saved.

But instead, the little monk continued straight on his path, casting me a last second glance as he turned the corner smiling from his eyes to mine, and he was gone – leaving me to my bench and my misery.

Sighing sadly, I looked across the street at the arena and noticed a man already beginning to set up railings and dividers where people would be entering the arena later on. I felt suddenly compelled to go over to the otherwise deserted arena grounds and find myself a place to sit in the sun and meditate or just sit quietly. 11430131_10155708405545230_3535353089662759863_n

I quickly felt at home on my little cement perch. It was similar to the other benches fashioned in cold hard concrete to match the ultra-modern Perth Arena, all of it made in triangles from the ground to the walls, like a giant seed of life. I noticed two older women sitting to my right, for two hours they interchanged and talked together. It made me think of my friends back home and the peace I get from exchanging with them. Crossing my legs on the cement bench I had adopted to the right of the arena in the sun, I closed my eyes and felt myself go unusually quickly into a space of calm and quiet. If there were thoughts and stories flying around my mind – I was no longer interested in them. I did however feel so grateful to be in a space where it seemed perfectly normal that a middle aged hippie in a shawl that looks like it would have fit nicely into Jesus’s wardrobe, or was at least that old, It seemed perfectly logical that I should be there for some reason and frankly no one even noticed me, like I was just part of the environment. 10153262_10155712578045230_7580152396624347619_n
Sooner – or later I opened my eyes on and off noticing small changes happening around me that weren’t there the last time I had opened my eyes. Some cars had pulled up behind me and a group of Tibetan nationalists had begun to gather at the bench beside me where the two women had now vacated. Men and women, young and older all dressed in stunning colourful regalia, the mood celebratory in anticipation of seeing His Holiness. They unraveled loving banners that said things like “Long Live His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama”, “Freedom for Tibet” and “May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its causes” written in English and Tibetan on a beautiful bright yellow banner.

For a moment out of my meditation I wondered if they would mind me being on this bench- was I in the way, out of place – did I belong there? So far from home, outside of my culture, I often felt out of place. But, they seemed to all just accept me as part of the environment, and I felt incredibly happy there, so I spent the next three hours sitting, breathing, smiling in the sun and simply watching.

Upon the next opening of my eyes, I saw that a small woman had arrived to my right and was standing stock still, her eyes steady and forward and her mouth making the small motions of a concentrated mantra. To her right another younger woman arrived and began doing the same thing, both women facing the street that the monk had walked up.10312970_10155712578565230_8383351763352390369_n

“Om Mani Padmi Hum” I could see them repeating the familiar mantra over and over. The same one I had been saying for over an hour now. They were there to do the same thing as I was – and this to me was simply amazing. Like God telling me I was ok, in the right place, doing the right thing.

Another meditation and I open my eyes – now there are four or five police cars directly behind me that I hadn’t heard drive up. Security for His Holiness is very very tight. There are dogs in one of the cars which delights some of the young Tibetan girls. Horses with cool looking tattooed police officers arrive, Clydesdale crosses looking gentle and fierce all at once. The young Tibetan girls go to touch the horses holding each others hands to have courage. These horses are much bigger than horses in Tibet or India I imagine.11401573_10155712577965230_4391333773173090076_n

My husband eventually finds me and suddenly we are soon surrounded by increased comings and goings of preparatory activities. Boxes with pamphlets being hauled around, security guards fill the place even a group of protesters forming across the street. These protesters claim HHDL told them they were “not allowed” to worship a certain deity because it was an angry one – or something. I have to admit to paying little attention to what felt like a small dark cloud in a very sunny place. My husband and I talk about how confusing this is since even not knowing as much about Buddhism or HHDL – being relatively new to this world, we can see clearly that his philosophy would never allow for the “prohibition” of any aspect of any religion – which of course he never would say, so were a little confused.

I close my eyes to the blue sky. The moving artwork beside me makes a noise like monks chanting ohm…
I allow all the activity around me pull me deeper into the quietness that is for now so easily accessed in my mind.

Open my eyes to newcomers to my perch: Paul and his wife Chris, a woman about my age who had lived in Dharamsala for three years right at the base of His Holiness’s refuge, where he landed after escaping from Tibet the brutal Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959. I felt that by meeting her I was very lucky – almost like she made me feel closer to the source. Her warm brown eyes and gentle face outlined a soft German accent. She explained she had lived in Australia for only ten years, her husband for nearly 30. John and I both said later that we could feel a quiet presence from these people who have been practicing for so long – as though they are settled quite comfortably into their own skin and ego has vanished to be replaced with a quiet curiosity and a child like open heartedness.

I admit to her during our conversation that every time I learn just a little more about anything I feel as though I have stepped backwards ten steps and I know even less.

She laughed and said this was a good sign that I was on the right path.

“Every time you get more from seeing him”, she said speaking of her experiences listening to the talks of the Dalai Lama showing me the tip of her little finger. “Yes, You get just a little bit more, but I don’t think we are meant to know too much in this life – only to add to what we need for now, yes?”. She smiled allowing me time to consider this. Amazing.

Sometimes I have had encounters such as this one, which make me feel incredibly at peace and to know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be – even if that is on the other side of the planet from my home. I felt guided, protected and incredibly loved.

What a stark difference from my mentality and feelings of just a few hours ago!

And there was still unbelievably more to come…

John, my incredible partner seems to understand that I simply NEED to be at this place, on my perch, in the middle of “this” – whatever “this” was. He brings me food, an egg wrap and juice which I devour having not even noticed how starving I was until I smelled the delicious food. He sits beside me quietly, taking it all in. Then he offers to check us out of our hotel, take care of our bags and regroup with me to go into the arena in a while, leaving me to my vigil. I am incredibly touched and grateful for his understanding and support.

When he comes back, I introduce him to “our new friends” – to which he exclaims loudly
“I love new friends!”. This outburst was greeted by wide smiles by all around us, even the beautiful Tibetan’s who maybe couldn’t understand what he said, but surely felt his smile.
Chris Paul John and I speak for a while, exchange authentic gratitude at having met, and decide it is time to enter the arena.

We go in after a pretty serious but light hearted security check. No one is taking chances with His Holiness, and of course we all understand. Inside the new arena, we see an awesome open space and our fellow attendees milling about. There is a small area where they are selling books, so we make our way over.

On the tables there are only maybe 30 titles, some written by the Dalai Lama and other authors that support the concepts in Tibetan Buddhism. I see three stack of books through a crowd of book lovers with an adorable cat on the cover. The first is called “The Dalai Lama’s Cat”, the second and sequel is “The Power of Meow”, and the third “The Art of Purring”. A few volunteers scramble around behind three large tables positioned in a semi circle, while throngs of attendees jostle each other in quite a friendly way trying to see all the new titles they may not yet have heard about and chatting about books they had read.11400971_10155712578240230_8844396163056291188_n

The girl in front of me had short dark hair, a serious nose piercing and a wide honest smile.

“I love these books”, she said over the din smiling at me. “Do you have any questions?”

“I haven’t had the chance to read any of them, but I’ve heard the first one”,

“Oh yes, they are all great”, she replies.
“Ok, cool. So if you could only choose one of these which one would you pick?” I ask.

She points immediately to the third book. 10410176_10155719860135230_6249292884259123429_n
“This one,” she says without an ounce of doubt. “In the story the Dalai Lama challenges his cat to find the root cause of happiness while he is away on a long journey. Happiness is something I am very interested in”, she says smiling. ” So I like this one right now, the best”.

I snatch up the book and thank her whole heartedly. I notice an understanding pass between us. Maybe she saw my red rimmed eyes still from my emotional day and felt sorry for me. More likely she saw that I really wanted to understand something I didn’t even have a question for yet.

We find our seats and notice in front of us a row of monks arrived and two Buddhist nuns took up their seats as well. I felt very lucky sitting near their peaceful energy. I looked around and caught my breath as I realized that here we ALL were…delegates from every potential variety of human on the planet I am sure. Every race, creed, religion, old, young, rich, poor, happy, sad – all of it in one place.
The talk began with brief introductions and then a dance by local Aborigine tribe. It was an awesome dance – a calling in the ancestors to protect our space each of the two dancers demonstrating the elegant poses of the animals the represented; the pelican, kangaroo, and emu all beautifully obvious in the expression of the dancers dancing on the vibrations of the haunting and beautiful didgeridoo.
A tribal chief sings a welcoming and protective incantation and then, without any fancy introduction whatsoever, His Holiness just quietly walks out onto the stage, smiling away and chatting with a security team obviously accustomed to scrambling and keeping up with following His Holiness. My first impression of the Dalai Lama then was that well – he was full of beans. I was totally right

The dancers completed their amazing choreography and exited the stage. Another Grand Chief came and sang part of the Song line that the Aborigine’s are in charge of. History says that the aborigine of Australia are the oldest tribe existing on the planet and that, when creation occurred they were given the responsibility of singing the song that keeps the world in balance and harmony. Part of that process is that young men are sent on their walkabout at 13 and they have to fashion their own Didgeridoo. Then they have to sing their song line into the planet, like a seed, causing their vibrations to send healing into the earth. It’s a very powerful thing to witness.

And without ceremony, HHDL is there, at the microphone. He tells his translator and adviser that he wants to just stand and speaks.11407010_10155713603700230_1571014522016571166_n

“Hello my brothers…” and he looks around at everyone, “And my sisters…” smiling eyes – prayer pose hands on his heart.

I felt like he was looking directly at me…and everyone all at once.
His eyes sort of half closed and we could feel him sending out love or peace or something unbelievably awesome and unnameable to all of us. I feel like explaining it is very difficult but I have to say, after what he spoke about, for nearly three hours (and only a few days before his 80th birthday!) he had one bottom line, and that was “peace in the world isn’t going to happen until we can find peace within ourselves, first as individuals, then as family’s then as community’s nations and so on. It all has to come from what we do for ourselves every day. This was the outward message he sent anyways…but I was to discover that the effect of this talk simply goes on and on.

At the end of his talk HHDl cracked us all up by simply saying
“OK I’m done now. You can all go home and take your problems with you!”, hhahaaha!! The audience laughed gleefully. meaning that he emphasizes that the only place to find happiness is inside ourselves and so, carrying our probes around wasn’t very productive. We all laughed, but I also felt a sense of relief in the air, because obviously there were many others who may have come in to that place with a “brick cloak” full of problems, but it seems that after it, the cloak had simply disappeared.

It changed what I pay attention to, and what I give meaning to. It changed how I see change. It allowed me at accept more fully the benefits of being more compassionate to myself and thinking more of others and not being so focused on myself all the time. That was a very lonely place. It allowed me to get excited about my day. I was so energized at this talk I stayed awake to navigate john home, chattering and unable to stop being in awe of what had just happened for the entire 4 and a half hour flight followed by the additional 2 1/2 hours it took us to get home for what should have been a one hour an fifteen minute drive. But we just kept getting lost, turning in circles. John was incredibly exasperated but he stayed jovial nonetheless. Normally it would make me frustrated if he was mad and getting lost in the middle of the night driving through terrifying kangaroo lands on dark scary Australian stretches of highway. I have an old tendency to react like an injured dog when I am frightened – but I KNOW this about myself and suddenly I am laughing instead of being nervous or scared, and we are having a good time and laughing at our ridiculous lack of direction in this foreign land.

HAPPINESS…we were really enjoying the feeling.

Every day is foreign land for all of us, no matter where we live. It starts off as a great mystery, and we all know anything can happen. You can win the lottery, find true love, get the job, get the car – whatever it is, we have all believed there is something OUT THERE that will be found to make all the irritations inside you go away. But this will never happen. No matter how good, or chaste or decent or well behaved you are – there is absolutely nothing on the outside that can bring you the kind of happiness you can find within yourself. I think this is indeed, a universal truth.

Seeing the Dalai Lama strips away all of the unnecessary worries and refocuses you on your primary purpose – to be HAPPY.

So, my new mission – well – the only mission I will have each day is to be responsible for my own  happiness.  I want to be happy now, not just to ease my own personal pains and suffering of this life’s journey, like we ALL have, but more because I want to be useful – I want my life to mean something and to help people. That’s it. not complicated Not easy – but not complicated.

Oh, by the way, not to give away anything but…at the end of the book, the Dalai Lama returns to his cat, and reveals to him the single most important secret to achieving happiness…
I’d like to tell you, but I won’t. I’d like you to think of that for yourself.
Or read the book 😉

Namaste 11412211_10155712578335230_1288213076459646474_n

Angels in the Outback

hubble-starburst-large-100706-02One of the things I like so much about life with my husband is that we travel really well together; we are both friendly and have a real love for people and have an immediate desire, in whatever place we land at, to know the local culture and people right away – and steer clear of all tourist attractions.
This trip is very different because for two major reasons: first we really are not tourists this time.  We are what you call “expats” – or temporary residents. And second, it is winter in Australia and all the tourists have run away, so we get to see a side of this life that most people don’t.

When we arrived in St Andrews beach, a small resort town about an hour outside of Melbourne. After two weeks of traveling in Asia, and all the emotions of leaving everything we know half a world away, we felt pretty disoriented not only with our surroundings but with each other. Our relationship has always been in the context of the kids or the people that we are involved with in our lives. Suddenly there was me wandering aimlessly in my floppy slippers, john trying to work in his office, the silence of the house deafening. I mean silence. No phone calls, no door knocking, no kids talking upstairs, no music from bedrooms, no having to line up for the shower. Weird. In fact, the first night I heard the chaotic running of possums on the tin roof I actually had a sense of relief and not fear: chaos I can do. I can handle unforeseen noises, chaotic occurrences by nature and children, winds, cyclones – yes I am good at those. But silence? Peace? Nothingness? That was going to drive me wacko.

We both knew we needed to find something outside of the house to keep us going, so of course we turn to music, the passport to the universe. We began to ask around for local jams and very quickly found the first local place that would give us something to do other than watch 80 episodes of House on Netflix for the next three months.

What we didn’t realize is that Jamming and music in Australia is something like a sacred religion.  We would soon discover that not only is Australia the Jam capital of the planet, but that there is an amazing group of underground jammers: normal humans who by day may be disguised as moms or dads, accountants and business folk- but once a week, they get their hippie on, dust off the old axe and drive to the strangest places that come alive with jammers and jam supporters.
Here we are called musos – an expression referring to a talented jammer. To be called a muso is to be accepted into the popular underground culture of the jam world. We found our home base with other musos quickly, at a little taco joint called Baha’s, in Rye a small bay town ten minutes away. The very first Wednesday we jammed there the owner asked us to put together a band and do a full three set show on the Saturday night, as he had lost his band and needed a fill. Soon we were in the full throws of rehearsal with Dan our newly found multi-instrumental bass, saxophone, guitar, drum, keyboard guy with an amazing studio in a house that overlooks the whole world. Our new friend Jaci (Jaycee), a sweet original folk player who knows everyone, goes everywhere and immediately adopted us and began bringing us around with her, expanding our network of muso friends exponentially – our experience in australia began to widen as though we had lived here for years.

I enjoy that our relationships with people are never basic – we always go deep. We don’t talk about the weather, politics or other things that don’t really concern peoples hearts. And because Australians seem to be willing to engage easily in this level of “real talk” we have really found some amazing stories.

Last night was one of my favourites so far. It began as a very sad story: a man with a Ford tee-shirt sitting across from me, having imbibed ten or so too many pints pulls up his sleeve and says to me in a thick slightly drunk Aussie drawl.

“This ‘ere was my son – Cammy – he was the best boy evah. Gone now two years he is”, and he stopped and smiled at me weakly. I heard john take a deep breath and try and absorb it – I could his his mind thinking about our boys, all around the same 20 years old Cam was when he died in a biking accident.

My heart squeezed as he told the story about how his boy had just gotten a loan and had paid for his and his father’s tickets to fly across the country to attend his sister’s wedding in Cairns. The man known to others as “Spoons” because of his talent playing musical spoons, told me how he had spoken with his son the night before his death. Cam told his father he was going to the highlands to go mountain biking. The accident happened when a low lying wire unseen by the boy clotheslined him causing his neck to break.

My husband and I took the story in; we aren’t afraid of talking about death the way some people who want to be very polite about it can be. Spoons leans over and we look at his tattoo –

“Cameron ….. it says – “Never Forgotten”-  He was 20 only years old.”

I watch the man like he is an enigma wondering how anyone survives the loss of a child – I just can’t imagine it. I feel such love for him, I just want to make it go away. I want to say something encouraging to him, but my own experience with grief tells me that nothing brings solace to a heart that is so broken. So I decide to really listen to him – be very present – and let him tell me all sort of beautiful stories about his son, which I see brings a sparkle to his eyes and an aliveness to it all.

Suddenly, as he is ending his story and I am trying to find a different way to repeat what I have been saying over and over “God, Im so sorry…I’m so sorry…”, a young man with messy brown hair and his friend a smiling blond boy, both in their early 20s come up to Spoons and sit right down beside him on the couch.

“You were Cam’s dad eh?” said the boy to Spoons smiling widely “I knew him yeah…I was living with him in town”.

My mouth falls open, and Spoons just looks at me with wide open eyes like he has seen a ghost
“That’s him!” I say probably louder than I meant to, feeling like somehow we had just won the lottery.

I feel tears come into my eyes –

“Spoons! That’s the way they keep talking to you! Your son is here to tell you he’s ok!”

We jump up – everyone is hugging and smiling, dancing a little jog with our arms around each other. We don’t care that an hour ago we were all strangers and now are crying quite openly together.  Everyone around realizes what has happened and there is a giant resounding toast with lifted glasses, everyone’s eyes slightly upturned addressing Cam directly

“To Cam!!” everyone cheers.

Spoons hugs the boy beside him so long his tears don’t have a chance against his failing willpower and he comes out of the embrace wet faced – both men smiling understanding and accepting that Cam continues somehow.

I feel very honoured to be a witness of these experiences. It is my only wish not to waste the time or the learning. They remind me that life is really very magical. I also feel incredibly lucky to be a musician, because I experience life through this world of colour and sound and emotional openness that brings about these instances of incredible joy and pure honest humanity.

After Cam’s appearance, Spoons now calls me “his sister from another mister” and we are friends. The musicians call john and I Musos – and we are one of them now.

What a miracle to create and find this community all the way across the world. I still marvel at how far I had to travel only to discover how very small the world really is.