I am certain that one day I am going to walk right off the edge of a cliff. I have wanted to go shoot photographs for a week. It is the only thing that makes my head stop its rummaging around in all my crazy, pulling out all sorts of bits and bobs, demanding I tell it what they are immediately (this most often occurs at around 3am).
I have scientific evidence that photography is good for me – while hooked up to a Neurofeedback machine my brain did excellent things when I thought about taking photos. Calming things, uncrazy things.
The downside (pun intended) is that I get so lost in it that I’ve a tendency to forget that I am on the edge of a rather steep gorge.
Thank you for reading my words and looking at my pictures. I am gradually filling up my blog. If you like my work I have much more at my Instagram account @onethousandwordsorless
More than once of late I have wondered how it is that I am still here. I am not prone to exaggeration so believe me when I tell you that a series of storms tore through my life and left nothing but wrack and ruin. I would like to tell you a story of redemption, courage, unbreakable spirit. Alas, that is the stuff of one hour episodes, 8mm reels digested in two hours or less – stories tied in bows that allow us to skip away comforted by the fact that everything happens for a reason and it is all for the best really.
Reality is not literature. I do not know why these things happened and the compression of them in to a neatly tied package that I can point to and say “Ah so THAT is why” removes the reverence that must be held for what has been lost. What I do know is that I have learned a thing or two. I learned that I had sown my existence on rocks and thorns. I learned that I know nothing about anything with any certainty that stands up under a strong wind, and that hope is a slippery sliver of moon that can be annihilated.
My hope has occasionally been reclaimed in one thought: something has moved through my life with intention, and there is a fifty-fifty possibility that the thing is benevolent. Someone said to me yesterday that sometimes all that is left is to admit defeat. I have always been a brawler, when life knocks me down I stand back up, fists raised. And so, if I was ever to learn to surrender it all had to be torn down. I have been left with no other option but to bow my head and acknowledge that I am not in control and lack the strength to combat this force.
I sit among the ruins of this life, sifting through the rubble, holding things up to the light, inspecting their value and usefulness, determining whether they can withstand colliding storm fronts. I am seeking new foundations, things that will not bend or break under the most trying of conditions. Most is thrown to the wind, useless. Humility is all that has made the cut.
I have been learning how to feel my feelings. Apparently I’m not very good at it. I am assured it will be for the best, though remain unconvinced. For a start, I am assuming it was with good reason that my brain shoved them in the bottom draw with the abandoned single socks (whose partners ran off and left them without a word of explanation). Also, I seem to have only two major feelings that boss the others around with wild abandon – all puffed up and insistent on their right to exist – anger and sadness.
I am willing to concede that they have proven useful at times. Such as when I am angry. To my astonishment I have found that the honest expression of my feelings has been quite freeing. Though I’ve noted that the target of my fury often doesn’t appear to be quite as enchanted by the experience as I am.
Or when watching a sunrise while accompanied by a beautiful melancholy. They sit side by side so well, the sadness nestled into the rising golden light. The sunrise all the more significant when bathed in a touch of sorrow. A sense of softness that comes from allowing my heart to feel what it feels without judgment, melting away the night.
My father is 74 years old and has become a bit of an internet sensation. And rightly so, for he is currently riding a pushbike from Freemantle, Western Australia to Sydney via Adelaide and the Great Ocean Road in an unsupported ultra road race called the Indian Pacific Wheel Race. A 5,500km odyssey to test even the youngest and fittest bucks.
To give my international friends some context that’s the equivalent of pedaling your way from somewhere offshore in the Bay of Biscal, across France, to somewhere in the Black Sea past Romania – via Bosnia, Macedonia AND Bulgaria. OR, roughly 2000 kilometres more than the Tour de France. He camps on the open arid plains, picks up meat pies for nutrition along the way (and a chocolate milk for the daily halfway mark) and rolls on. You can follow him on Facebook at Back Road Bicycle Adventures. This is my interpretation of one of his many photographs from the ride.
I told a friend about it yesterday and he replied “That’s mental”. After a few moments staring in to space, envisioning the feat, he said, “like fully PROPER mental”. You would probably agree, but I know better. I know he is out there with my sister. She is in his heart and if he closes his eyes she is there next to him. They rode together, she is from where the wild things are. She lives now in the rustle of breeze through trees, the warmth of the sun on your face, mountain views, star filled silent night skies, in streams and in waterfalls. This is why I camp so often, climb hills, splash through lakes and fall into waterfalls. This is why a 74 year old man is riding his bike 5,500km around the bottom of this beautiful land. To have his daughter by his side again, the wind at their back as they ride in to the setting sun. If your daughter’s spirit lived on the open road, and for just a moment, death did not stand between you – wouldn’t you want to be out there too?
It is not mental, it is love.
The Australia I know is green and brown as far as the eye can see. I was mesmerised by the alternate landscapes in Europe. Huge hills of reds, golds and yellow. The majesty of Alps. We have a thing called Alps, it is but an ant hill in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, Australia is beautiful. It’s just that I grew up here, in the country, so I barely notice it anymore. I often change the tones when I edit my photography – blasphemous!
Most of us live in the brown and green bits. Less of us live in the biggest bit in the middle – desert and Outback, red dirt and sands, dingoes and giant red kangaroos, feral camels and pigs. It covers 70%-ish (nobody really knows) of this continent and contains less than 10% of our population. That’s a lot of space. Enough for a single cattle ranch that is bigger than the odd European country or two, the worlds longest fence (to keep the dingoes out), longest stretch of straight road, and straight railway line. Skies so vast and clear that you can see up to 5,500 stars (I’m not sure who counted them).
All of the life decisions I am making right now are about seeing the big bit in the middle. Hitting the road in a 4WD camper and heading in to the Never Never. It takes some planning and preparation – she is unforgiving of fools.
“That horrifying moment when you’re looking for an adult but you realise that you are an adult. So you look around for an older adult. An adultier adult. Someone better at adulting than you.”
Have you ever had one of those days when you’re looking around for someone to do the adulting and realise there’s only you? I’ve had one of those weeks. I’m usually perfectly independent and capable but some days (read:weeks) … well you just want to be taken care of.
I have searched my home, looked under the couch cushions, through the washing basket, under my bed – everywhere – for someone to do the things for me. To cook me dinner because I’ve had a bad day, tell me they’ve put the washing on, talk to the annoying (and a bit rude if you don’t mind me saying) parking ranger, balanced the alarming books, listened to the reasons I’m crying (regardless of their varying levels of rationality), put on my favourite movie and kindly told me to put my feet up.
It has, rather aptly, ended with me having given myself a mild concussion in a wayward climbing incident. And the realisation that nobody is coming, and it is a very childish thought, that you are actually an adult and should probably just get on with it. Adulting sucks.
Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories”~ Zadie Smith, White Teeth
I have no interest in your opinion of the weather, or traffic. Sure, tell me the outside story – but only for context. What I want to know about is the inside story.
Is your heart still broken, or is it patched back together by love? Does it have a scar that runs across its width and breadth that will never fully heal – or have you found a way to live again?
I want to know what lights you up. There is no greater joy than to watch a person ignite from the inside. What lights them is less relevant than the warmth that radiates outward as they speak. There is no greater beauty than watching a person’s laugh lines etch across the corners of their eyes as their lips turn upward in to a smile.
I want to know what leaves you under the covers unable to move for fear that a single step more will break you for good. There is no greater honour than being handed another’s grief. I am interested in your humility, not your humiliation. If you hand me your heart I will hold it with care. Tenderly, so as not to do any further damage. I want to know what is behind what I can see, the beauty that lurks.
I’ve just never been much for small talk