Which way do you look?
Weekend drives with the map turned off, finding just one new road
past paddocks sutured with crooked fences.
Walks among the trees, wind sighing and swaying and
sun peeking through the ceiling of green, lighting our path.
These are just some of the
Yesterday I wrote just a little about my fascination with a world that is not my own; the world of the slowly churning beasts called cities. Today, I want to explore my own world, just a little more.
You see, I live surrounded by green and blue. There are paddocks that go forever; some are in orderly rows, neatly trimmed and maintained, others are more dishevelled, the rusty barbed wire just barely holding it all back, keeping it in place.
Just beyond, there is the sea; always the sea. Sometimes, lying in bed at night, I can hear its relentless roar. Other times, its rhythms are soothing, steady as a heartbeat.
And above both, there are skies – the biggest, most unbelievably blue skies, clouds overlaid like a map, charting a path to where knows where. Lately it’s been all boiling clouds and ice-tipped lashings of wind, breathing at us with snow in its throat.
It’s hard to experience all of that, and see the shards of light piercing the blanket of soft grey for just moments, seconds really, lighting earth and sea like beacons, without knowing a little more about your place in the universe.
And that place is small.
These clouds have been rolling, these fields have been striving, these waves have been reaching, for longer than me, longer than you, longer than us. Oh sure, we can close our curtains to the sun, put fences around the fields, replace gentle sands with concrete and stone, but all of that will fade, rust, crumble.
The world has far more time than we can imagine; it has the patience to allow us, and the persistence to teach us.
I’m not from a city. Oh sure, where I live is technically classed as one, but I’m yet to hear it referred to as such without the person doing the talking either smiling wryly, rolling their eyes, or (and) adopting that all-knowing, tired, slightly sarcastic tone for the word.
And fair enough, too. I don’t know of too many cities that you can cross completely on foot in ten minutes, and see only ten people in the process, and know five of them personally.
So the true world of the city is not my world.
But, as you would know if you have been here before, that world fascinates me.
I’m that person who you see, wandering slowly across the footpath in irritating diagonal lines, blocking foot traffic and straining my neck from constantly glancing upwards, wondering if the people inside those windows are straining their necks from constantly glancing down at this steady thrum of activity below. I suspect they are not.
Melbourne intrigues me. Perhaps because so many of my friends were lost to it, moving to the promise of new, more, bigger, faster and then, like moths to the light, forgetting they were anywhere and anyone else. It seems a kind of beast vacuum to me, sucking in food, people, resources, energy, water, and spitting out… what? Waste, ideas, mountains of rubbish and rivers of shit. But still, I love it. I love my slow diagonal wanderings, feeling just comfortably lost as I search one laneway and then another, moving through the streets like one more blood cell in the vast networks of stone and concrete veins that feed the heart of this beast.
It requires focus to make sense of it, to see the patterns and the relationships in time and space unfold. It rewards patience, even as life there continues to move at a pace that invokes forgetfulness.
Next week, I’m going to Sydney. Hello, next big city. I’m looking forward to making my own sense of you.
“Each time he took a walk, he felt as though he were leaving himself behind, and by giving himself up to the movement of the streets, by reducing himself to a seeing eye, he was able to escape the obligation to think, and this, more than anything else, brought him a measure of peace, a salutary emptiness within…By wandering aimlessly, all places became equal and it no longer mattered where he was. On his best walks he was able to feel that he was nowhere. And this, finally was all he ever asked of things: to be nowhere.”
― Paul Auster, City of Glass
So I’ve been thinking about
to capture a memory –
like a sigh
or a feeling
or that line from that song that just won’t leave you alone
or that smell
of grass, dirt, salty sea,
or a whisper,
or that time when you knew that this was the right and only place to be with the right and only person…
How do you capture that?
Welcome to the ‘memories’ side of the title…
let me know what you find here.
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson.
(Why so fuzzy? Olympus OM-D & SLR Magic Pinhole lens – f/128, that’s why!)
Further from my widowed home take the road that sets into the sun,
Waiting for my skin and bone to return and see what I’ve become,
Summer has not yet been here though my days are long,
Take me back to when the night was young and another song was sung.
What of all those pretty tales the ones that took me to this door,
Is it comfort in the salvers way is it comfort upon this wooden floor,
Tell you is it a failure to forget the ones you once held dear,
And I tried to remember but my mind is no longer clear.
– “I Will Remain”, Matthew and the Atlas.
Sometimes I find places that seem… unfinished. Or perhaps they were finished once, and now, only a shadow remains, a fragment, like that line from an old song that you can’t quite place, or the memory of a time, a feeling, a scent, an emotion.
Here are just a couple of these fragments and memories.
1. The world inside.
2. Swinging into the past.