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Letter from the editor: Introducing issue 51
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I'm reading
Letter from the editor: Introducing issue 51
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
Letter from the editor: Introducing issue 51
Pass it on
Pass it on
Articles
3 May 2017

Letter from the editor: Introducing issue 51

Meet five people who march to the beat of their own drum.

This story originally ran in issue #51 of Dumbo Feather

Discussed in this Story

Dear friends,

I once asked my grandmother Genia if she ever doubted herself. She looked at me with total confusion and replied in Yiddish, “Doubt? What is doubt?”

I still laugh at the memory. Why bother explaining a feeling she never had use for? A survivor, a refugee, a force of nature and a real original, my grandmother had a formidable self-belief that transcended anything as time-wasting as doubt.

Because I grew up around them, I’ve always been drawn to and inspired by people who march to the beat of their own drum. Who don’t seem to notice the storm of public opinion about how we should think, dress, act and speak. They take what they need to fuel their vision of a world that is better, more interesting, more just.

Take Cedar Anderson who grew up in a commune with almost no exposure to convention. As a child, his parents encouraged him to experiment without criticising the outcome. These are the conditions that enabled him to re-invent the beehive. A multi-billion dollar industry has been disrupted by a barefoot hippie from Byron Bay.

Photography by Tawni Bannister

This issue is a symphony of originals who have all lived and worked outside of ordinary expectations, some of whom I’ve met, some of whom I’m lucky to now call friends and others who remain iconic in my mind.

What’s so remarkable about all of them—former Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt, restaurateur and activist Hana Assafiri, author and living treasure Tim Winton and Tim Urban, the genius behind Wait But Why—is how normal they are. They’re not flashy, red-carpet, star-spangled, shimmery vanity projects.

Photography by Toby Burrows

There’s a humility, a simple one-foot-in-front-of-the-other that distinguishes them, and a self-belief that somehow surpasses doubt. While everyone else is easily distracted, the originals stay in the arena because they know that past the pain barrier, the boredom barrier, the self-doubt barrier, is where the genius lives. They embrace complexity as core to problem-solving.

Photography by Tammie Joskie

Instead of trampling on others to get to higher ground, the best people are the ones who elevate the rest of us.

Photography by Lucy Spartalis

I’ve been going on about being original but I have to be honest: it’s brutal out there. Fitting in makes much more sense. Despite knowing better I’m still hedging, still trying to get my kids to fit in and “be normal.” Original is scary and potentially dangerous. Unlike my grandmother I do doubt myself, because being a sensitive person, I feel vulnerable and exposed some days. Then I remember all of the people I admire and their example becomes my guide.

Photography by Liz Looker

So here’s to celebrating more of the originals. They tear at the seams of our beliefs, challenging what is to create what will be. We need them now more than ever.

With love,

Berry

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