When I came across the term Edgewalkers to describe people with intimate knowledge and competence of two cultures, I knew I had found a word that perfectly described my ‘condition’. For most of my life I have walked along the edges of two cultures, the Latin American, Spanish-speaking world of my origins, and the predominantly Anglo-Celtic, English-speaking world of Australia where I grew up. I have belonged (and not), in both and over the years, I have come to embrace and value this privileged bi-cultural and bilingual position. The term Edgewalkers was so significant to me that I immediately (in 2009) bought the domain name www.edgewalkers.com.au, putting it aside, unsure of whether I would ever use it.
It was during a long coastal hike just over a year ago, along the famous Cape to Cape track, immersed in scented Boronias and Honey Myrtle, surrounded by swishing Peppermint Eucalyptuses and low lying prickly Acacias (names I did not know then) that I came to realise two things.
First, I realised that in spite of loving being out in nature I knew very little about the natural world that surrounded me. When I looked at trees I saw, well, trees; when I looked at flowers, I saw colours, red ones, purple ones, yellow ones.
I wondered if other people also felt the same. Whether they, as Alexander Pope mused, felt caught on an ‘isthmus of a middle state…’ between our ‘beast’, and our ‘civilised’ selves, traipsing between the natural environments and our ordered and constructed ones. Knowing we originate from the natural world; that we have a primordial foot in it but realising it is the other foot, designer-clad perhaps, that paces confidently in the fabricated, structured world of social norms and cultural codes – the world we favour.
I wondered if like me, others were also yearning for a more profound connection and understanding of the natural world, yearning to move like Edgewalkers, effectively across the edge between the structured and the untamed, between the sophisticated and the primal.
Second, I realised that walking, but especially in nature, was, and is, an integral part of my creative process…that I have been doing it for a long time.
I realised that I hiked the mountains around Almaty, Kazakhstan trying to find a way to finish the first draft of my first novel in 1999, and that I regularly traversed King’s Park, Perth, while solving production issues with my first play Trollop(e) in 2002. I understood that I had walked my way out of every single challenge in all the theatre-based projects I created with Act Out www.actout.com.au from 2007 – 2014 and that I am still bushwalking now as a way to solve problems, to let my mind expand and my imagination soar.
I understood, that day on the Cape to Cape with the Southern Native Roses dangling red above the limestone outcrops of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge, with Western Spinebills fluttering among the Melaleuca and the Cockies’ Tongues, that walking is how I negotiate the edge between the world of what is and the world of what is yet to be; between the world of the created and what is yet to be created. I wondered whether others also felt a desire to move more freely between these two realms.
By naming my new business adventure Edgewalkers, I am conjuring the possibility of playing a role in bringing people closer to the edges they yearn to walk boldly along; closer to nature, closer to their natural creative and expressive selves; I am conjuring the possibility of all of us having intimate knowledge and competence of all the worlds we inhabit and create.