By David Oddie
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Additional info for A Journey of Art and Conflict: Weaving Indra’s Net
After the next, I slowly lifted myself up again. ‘Get down and stay down. ’ I bent down. After the next stroke, there was a long pause as I held on to my ankles, my body shaking. ’ It was an act of utter humiliation. Years later I rehearsed that scene in my mind. I saw myself standing up, taking the cane from the bully’s grasp, breaking it over my knee and walking out of the room. There was no way I could have made such an act of defiance at the time. I was firmly trapped in the mindset of my context.
The idea struck me that, before rushing off to sort out the rest of world, it would perhaps be wise to undertake a reconciliation process closer to home, to do some creative work with my own story. To this end I worked with writer Phil Smith to create an autobiographical play, David, which was my statement that reconciliation begins here and now, with oneself. As Gandhi is reputed to have said, ‘You must become the change you wish to see in the world’. As founder of the embryonic ARROW idea, I would initially construct the programme’s aims, objectives and aspirations.
It took a long time for this fracture to heal. My mother was also understandably confused by my decision, though she made considerable efforts to mediate tensions within the family. One evening it got a bit much for her though. She came into the room where I was reading and spoke passionately about me not living in the ‘real’ world, and exclaimed that ‘we did not come into this life to do as we want, but to do our duty’. Her own life, like so many women of her generation, had been committed to duty, so often at the expense of their own dreams, talents and aspirations.