As a proud Wiradjuri woman and lawyer, Taylah Gray has faced many challenges in her young life.
Defined by her time and her heritage, she has always dreamed big and thought big, even winning a battle in the Supreme Court to protect what she believes in.
Here she talks about how she’s learning to love and to honour her mind and how that’s allowing her to unlock the door to a calm life.
“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.”
These are the words written by an ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu. I remember this philosophy from when I was a naïve nineteen-year-old. Although I have forever been a person passionately in love with poetry, I was blind to the true depths this passage carried. So, I held onto Tzu’s wisdom, because maybe I would make sense of it one day.
This opinion piece is dedicated wholeheartedly as a love letter to my future mind. Being young, Bla(c)k and a woman in this society can be crippling at times. But I am so glad that when the Ancestors made me, they crafted me into an Indigenous woman. How unfair to the rest of the world that they were allowed to instil so much power and strength only into my bones. Thank you, Ancestors, for gifting me with this beautiful mind. My body and I are so honoured to coexist with what I now consider, my deepest love and companion.
…A love letter to my future mind…
Oh, how I have longed to be at peace with you. In fact, the first time I experienced war I thought the whole world was asleep, but us.
We would be on the cusps of contemplating death or survival. Trapped between the folds of existing or expiring. I would avoid dipping my hands into your sacred thoughts just to avoid the internal conflict brewing uncontrollably inside of us. I have spent so much time creating different versions of you that were far from the truth. I questioned you, because of your age. I tried to resist your unbiased self-reflection and criticisms, because I doubted your lack of life experience. I even tried to rebel against your intelligence because I doubted your sensitive and feminine traits. Admittedly, occupying this body and sharing loneliness with you has once been my deadliest kryptonite and saddest version of reality. I have always wondered why I engaged in this psychological turmoil with you. Why did I ever doubt your ability to be extraordinary?
I have come to realise that my body was never completely at home while you have been somewhere else fighting the darkest battle of our life, alone. But oh, how foolish to not have seen you as a companion and life-long lover from the start. How foolish to believe that good mental hygiene had a finish line and not something we had to work on every. single. day. together as a team. For so long I was searching for an external love. I thought good mental health practices involved material possessions. You know, a partnership, the occasional face mask, retail therapy or even coffee with a friend. But now, as a young woman in my mid-twenties, the wisdom of Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu has taught me that it means SO much more than that.
Good mental health is coming home to yourself and hearing your mind whisper, ‘finally, solitude!’ I now know that joy reveals itself after the occasional period of stillness with oneself. Nobody can do what we do, because it is our mind that holds the code to a calm universe. As long as we are still on the inside, nothing in this lifetime could ever harm us. I am so glad you finally came home. I have always needed you here. I want to speak into existence an unspoken Treaty that has been shaped and shielded by the sacred thoughts of our Elders.
I no longer want to be at war with you.
I was blind to your greatness. After all, you have been the magic that has sustained this journey of life all along. I have finally found my real love. And that real love is being at peace with you. I promise to always prioritise you and to keep you company during your loneliest hours. Wherever you are, I promise to meet you there with complete sincerity and commitment. And when you experience chaos from within, I hope you choose to stay and fight for yourself… because you really are worth both the war and the peace.
All my love,
Published September 2022
Jean Hailes acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging. Jean Hailes is committed to providing respectful, inclusive services and work environments where all individuals feel accepted, safe, affirmed and celebrated.
Jean Hailes for Women’s Health gratefully acknowledges the support of the Australian Government.
© Jean Hailes for Women’s Health 2022