A tender meditation on life and the healing power of nature
“I had no idea loss could trigger a sonic assault like this from within,” she wrote. “An incessant, moaning, discordant sonata that only I can hear.”
For the rest of the book, we follow Naidoo as she embarks on a series of immersive urban nature adventures around Sydney with “urban spirit guides”, learning lessons from nature.
By looking at feathers, she learns that “maybe… my fragility is my strength”.
Of the birds, she learns “…this is now all we really have”.
Weeds, “…there’s life to be had here if you’re willing to grab it by the reins and cling to it for life”.
From flying kites, she agrees “You’re always going to lose if you try to fight the wind. Abandon yourself to its currents and like a kite, it will propel you forward.
She goes on a walk with an ant expert to learn “…how precious every moment would be if we inject our years with the gratitude of ants.”
“If an ant can find purpose in such a short existence, have I wasted mine?”
Gardening offers him the ultimate ad vitam; “…not just an act of hope; it is also an act of acceptance. Ends are part of renewal.
Even before the devastating loss of his sister, Naidoo found solace and courage in gardening. During her book tour promoting her 2011 lifestyle book, The Edible Balcony: How to Grow Fresh Food in a Small Spaceshe spoke at the Newtown Library, where I sat in the audience as a curious, aimless student.
I still remember the wonderful sense of playfulness and quiet thrill with which Naidoo approached his greenery calling – everything about his presence that day exuded a unique, childlike wonder that I have always been drawn to.
Despite the trauma that led to the creation of her latest book, Naidoo carries that distinct strain of joy throughout – so precious and rare, especially at a time of immense grief.
“Can nature be an alchemist, transforming my horror into the beauty I see around me?” she asks.
The answer clearly lies in our ability to recognize the humility of all living beings around us.
The space between the stars by Indira Naidoo is published by Murdoch Books, $32.99.