Canberra

Much has happened between the 24th of March when I rode the waves to Victoria and the night I sit here writing this in my little Canberra cottage, yet I can’t shake the feeling of not wanting to write it, parts of me feel that the story isn’t worth the words, like the adventures of my working chapter can’t measure up to the carefree explorative exploits of freedom in a van. But things did happen, good and bad, the polarities of one big game – but so, still, I am afraid that you will find these words to be tedious.

I write them anyway, for tedium grows on the same tree as excitement.

I stayed with Lauren and Daniel in Eltham the night I wheeled off the ferry, a beautiful hot bath and glass of red wine. The duo were in the next room playing music – what a way to return, open arms, blissful sounds and a good soaking. We hung out for a few days and shared stories of Tasmania and beyond.

I saw Dad on the way through Wodonga and cast my body on their spare bed for the night. Dad and I shared tea while we caught up on each other’s adventures. Walking through the lounge before bed I found him reading in an armchair, I recall this memory fondly and feel such peace and stillness, the dim light of the reading lamp casting a yellow glow over his pages, the glint of his reading glasses set low on his nose, an infinitely calm expression of a mind settled into prose and a body resting in comfort.

Into the familiar driveway of my employer, Andrew, just south of Canberra. The last time I was here saw me at the bungalow, a demountable unit in a back paddock of the property. This occasion I afford the space of a five bedroom cottage with fireplace and large kitchen – furnished humbly with a single bed and small dining table, the expansive yet bare quarters pleasing me greatly – simple is best.

An excitement of being in Canberra was to see Kyra, the lover I had parted with but four months prior, I spent the first night back in her arms, our early interactions like nervous children until, with a feeling of inevitability, we fell into each other’s embrace.

I was back at work two days later, eager, energised, big contracts were promised but slow to build momentum – my desire to generate the cash and run was coming to slight frustration as I earned little enough to pay debts and foster supplies. This leg of my sporadic career may run later than anticipated. Nonetheless, long hot showers, roast vegetables and toast – the three decadences of this traveller here now in reality and I would brave the winter by a roaring fire.

A week after arrival I had visitors, to play host was a welcome experience and two beautiful friends – Tess and Pony – would be the guests of honour in this spartan abode. I collected the hitchhiking duo from the outskirts of Canberra, the dinosaur museum’s empty car park held two glistening grins as my own face grew wide with glee as the van nosed toward a pile of bags and a cardboard hitching sign. We rested and showered and planned the next day as they set up camp on the bare wooden floor of my lounge.

Oh to have people in this vast cottage other than myself, the warmth of presence really changes a place. The stubborn hermit within suppressed at the delight of new experience and new conversation – trusting, loving conversation. I get lost in my solitude, it is easy to do, no judgement, no consultations, no opinions, just myself and the world around. Sometimes at my darkest, I feel that I am most lonely when around others and most connected when by myself; anonymous in a public place my joy releases to all around and I am purely present.

The next day I dropped Tess and Pony at a local shopping centre and attended a Bhakti Yoga class, the stretching here was in the heart with postures of understanding – the devotion stimulating an intense feeling of connectivity between other people, especially those at the retreat. My dear friend Maitreya was one of the teachers, along with Swaha Devi, my learning a flash of understanding mingled with something I found from Julian – always do my best with devotion.

In this life I would always go above and beyond when I felt deep love for someone, willing to do anything for them, devoted to them. The tasks that I performed took meaning and if for the beloved I would delight in even the most menial of job. This act became somewhat conditional once the honeymoon period subsided, this young mind seeking remuneration from its love, a folly fraught with disappointment. So with the lessons from this class could I be lovingly devoted every day to whatever my task was? I began small – I would be devoted to the plate I was scrubbing at the sink, a love and patience coming out toward the ceramic disc as I removed the dirt from its surface standing barefoot on the linoleum floor. This devotion toward quality of action regardless of task bought this presence out in me, this was turning into a meditation, my life, when devoted to what was in front of me right now seemed more profound than years in a monastery.

The total in-moment transformation from brain to heart like a switch as my mind wandered no longer, fixated on the task, massage, the dishes, writing – all of these activities had an object and when finding object-of-love as everything the world becomes a very different and very beautiful place.

Now it was up to me not to get distracted and fall into that hole as the poet Portia Nelson so wonderfully describes – easier written than accomplished as life (myself) throws me constant curveballs of unique and un-preparable events.

The lessons never stop, all I can hope for is a short reprieve ever aware to enjoy without holding and that soon I will need to get back into the fray.

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