He wandered the streets and cities of Australia and simply started chatting to people that he met along the way. In a short period of time, under Urban’s open-ended, genuinely caring prompts and questions, these people would open up and reveal their story.
Every day Australians exposed some of their deepest darkest secrets of the soul.
Most of the time these stories were simply the everyday sorrows and joys we all experience.
But that was the secret of the success of Front Up.
We all have a story, but most of us don’t bother to find them out. We often pre-judge someone by their look, their job, their accent, their address, their manner….Urban striped away these blinkers and allowed the stories to shine.
When I started this post, I did a little research on the Front Up series. I was delighted to discover that SBS have uploaded the entire series on youtube.
What does any of this have to with Jane Caro’s Plain-Speaking Jane?
Front Up was a form of street memoir. The best kind of memoir, the kind that gets in under someone else’s skin and allows the observer to walk in their shoes for a moment. It created a safe place for sympathy, empathy and authenticity to flourish.
This type of everyday memoir reminded us that we all have a story to tell.
All our ordinary lives are extraordinary because they are our lives.
We all have things to deal with, to get through, to survive.
We celebrate, we mourn, we make mistakes, we analyse, we learn, we fail, we try again, we love, we don’t, we move on, we get stuck, we change, we remember, we reinterpret, we reinvent, we go on.
It is this everyday ordinary life lived large that Jane Caro celebrates in her memoir as well.
And like all such stories there is always a moment when you go, “I didn’t know that!” or “who knew?”
In Caro’s case it’s an anxiety disorder that affected her from late teens through her twenties. Who knew? Someone who seems so confident and sure of herself?
It’s this story behind the social facade we all present that can be so fascinating. It’s what makes us human. It’s our vulnerability. We all have a lesson to learn. We just have to listen to our bodies and the stories they’re trying to tell us to work out what that lesson is.
In Jane’s case it was learning to let go control:
safety is an illusion and danger is reality. You are not special and nor is anyone else. Terrible things can happen and they can happen to anyone.
I suspect that sharing her story with us, is part of her process of letting go.
This post is part of #AusREadingMonth #nonficnov and my Australian Women Writers challenge.