Its been a long time since I posted. Over a year. Which coincides with when I found out I was leaving our life in the desert, for a life in Sydney. I've been writing, but everything has seemed unfinished...an incomplete thought without any kind of wise, succinct conclusion. I think now, this is a reflection of the bafflement which I feel at the sudden and dramatic change in life style. So, I've given up waiting for that to lift, and instead, offer this piece from amongst the befuddlement.
Rain drops collapse on the asphalt, their end eclipsed by traffic streaming through. I’m huddled in a café now, ramshackle furniture combed from op-shops, fashionable with its sustainable pallet-bench tops and single-origin coffee. Its my third long-black of the day and its hardly touching the sides. As that dark liquid slides between my lips and into blood vessels, a moment of doubt creeps in. What is it I’m in such a hurry for? This single moment of stillness, suddenly sacred amongst the pulsating movement of the city.
Sydney is a city thumping through life. Traffic congested in the long fingered grasps of Sydney skyscrapers, each vehicle filled with a gnawing mind planning what will come next once safely installed in a coveted parking spot. Still shaking off a long busy day at work, wondering the best route to the restaurant for dinner, wondering what time that show begins… So much, occurring in such variety and volume, an abundance of choice and never enough time. A whirling onslaught of stimulus, buzzing around an undefined nectar. Work, theatre, dinner dates, classes, workshops, street festivals, markets… A mysticism of busyness. If I look upstream of this stampede, will I see what set us off running? Is there a prize at the end of this race that I’m at tragic risk of losing? Here in this ‘oasis’ of stimulus, I find my hands full of mirage. Nothing satisfying. What appetite are we trying to feed that so much and so many is needed?
Not so long ago, I lived in another Australia. A country of wide-open spaces, where time meandered breathlessly, caught in the heat, dawdling slowly across the ground, shadows passing the day. A country of great sandy deserts and red rock cliffs, ancient and breathing. A country that still knew its own name. Under a brilliant blue sky, stark against red earth, in the quiet and the stillness, women who spoke five languages, none of which were English, sung, laughed, whispered, and giggled. I sat in their number, and the stories they told filled something deep in my soul. My feet grew heavier against the earth. Touching my hand against the dirt, it recognised me, and I it. Like a newborn baby touching the face of her great-grandmother, tracing a lineage to something bigger. It was a country that took hold of me, and claimed me in its stillness.
Here in the cluttered, humming streets of Sydney, the constant noise, never empty streets and seething humanity whips my nervous system up into a frenzy of over stimulation. It’s harder to stay grounded. Harder to find where my feet connect with the earth. Harder to breathe into silence, stillness and the open. Here it requires a more focussed effort. A deliberate pressing of my hands into the earth, feeling how that weight moves into my body and mind. A repetitive practice of drawing awareness to my feet where they stand, to my breath where its suddenly caught as I press through a crowd. It takes deliberate effort, conscious choice and endless practice. I ground down, and ground down, and what I'm reaching for slips in and out of my grasp. So I practice again. And again.
Lucky I have a lifetime.