Last Take by M.S. White - HTML preview
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He nodded his and smiled approvingly and then said that in his opinion, those of us who live exemplary lives and who are not connected to the spiritual aspect, were in any event unconsciously in accord with the spiritual law. By the very nature of their loving thoughts and acts they were speaking for the Soul, [remembering its acronym] and as a result when death engulfed them, they would have an easy transition into the awareness of their spiritual after death nature. He said it was the design of Creation that men shall live their lives with spiritual awareness and in so doing make the Spirit aware of its own existence in the flesh. He insisted thatit was the Souls intent to engage in and explore the multifarious aspects of the earthly experience and he compared it to that of an Empire sending out explorers to discover things unknown and then to relay the findings home. And to press his point he recited a most intriguing metaphysically natured poem.
“Intrigued by the need to know of Itself also as a Whole,
First Thought sent forth second Thought posing as a Soul,
To search the antipodes of that something sensed unknown
And then true to all explorers was to despatch the findings home.
So Second Thought now imbued with all the powers of the First
Began the grand creation of this vast unfolding Universe,
Of which this world of ours is but one of countless many more,
Because when First Thought freed second Thought,
It forever bequeathed Freedom to us All.
To be frank, I found his dialogue intriguing even though I viewed it as a conceptual and philosophical postulation awaiting its factual corroboration. I told him that although I gave others the benefit of the doubt regarding their religious faith, and although my mother was herself a devout Spiritualist, I simply could not tear myself away from a format of factual analysis to enter a belief system based upon a supposition that required blind faith and nothing more. He nodded his head and said he agreed entirely, saying that to do so would be tantamount to spiritual suicide. He did however insist upon my being open to the possibility of change.„Be aware that there is the opportunity within you to experience this non factual realm, he said, adding that it could then indeed become verifiable. „Once this energy which is of a supreme and loving nature becomes the source of your cause, you then become its effect. He chuckled to himself and I felt that it was at my expense and so I asked him what he thought to be so amusing? He said that I would know it when it happened, and that is all I would ever need to know thereafter.
„What if it never happens? I asked.
„Do you want it to happen? he asked with a force of seriousness which made me think that his question and my subsequent answer might well be the conversational crux of our association. I ran through a number of juvenile reasons why I shouldnt want it to happen before realising that they were all fear-based. And it was not until I asked myself what positive good it could do for me that some semblance of clarity and insight availed itself. To date my life was a meaningless mess. I had forfeited any power on my part to act with courage and conviction, preferring to be bulldozed by lifes events to the point of intending to kill myself as a means of escape. Then I remembered how only a few hours ago I had stood before that full-arced rainbow and asked the King of Archers for an improvement in my worsening state of affairs and I seriously wondered if old silver Jesus here was some macabre response to that request? These thoughts filled me with a strange optimism that had long been lacking, and that itself became the impetus for my acquiescing in that moment to something unknown. With my green eyes fused to his blue, I stared him out and then smiled as I told him sincerely,„Yea Roy, I would like it to happen, if it can.
„Then so shall it be, he said splashing me squarely in the face with a well-aimed slap of water. I splashed him back and in seconds we were at watery war with one another. In those playful moments I felt deliciously liberated and I knew that I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible before he left the hospital and I fulfilled my appointment in the graffiti tunnel.
I walked him back to the central lift area of the multi story wing and before bidding him goodnight I asked him to elaborate upon something he had said previously regarding my mothers distressed concern for my health. He looked me squarely in the eyes and a small grin enveloped his mouth.„Ah, here comes the proof of my credentials that youve been waiting for, he said with relish. „Its not so much your health to which she was referring, he said coolly, „but rather your death. His eyes locked onto mine as he scrutinised me in the strange way as he done several times that evening.
„My death? I blurted out.
„Shes worried that your death would impact severely upon her own spiritual progress, and with good reason, he said deliberately. I was momentarily perplexed by his statement because I failed to see how my death could be avoided, death was after all a monumental fact of life and I told him so.
He quietly assured me that is was not death per se that was the crucial issue regarding my mothers spiritual retardation, but rather the manner in which it occurred. „I doubt very much that my death by cancer, heart attack, mugging, car accident, old age, or sexual exhaustion for that matter, could possibly affect her at all, I said testily and anxious to know what he was driving at.
„It would if you took your own life, he said with such gravity that my spine tingled and every hair on my body stood on end.
His pronouncements had floored me completely and it were as if my thoughts themselves had become breathless from trying to keep up with figuring out how he could so accurately have deduced what he had. Something in me wanted desperately to believe that he had fluked the whole thing and thereby make him just a lucky mind reading dabbler, but intuitively I knew better because I had already experienced previous demonstrations of his talents. Then I heard him tell me, from what seemed like far away, that I need not fear such an occurrence because „our newassociation would create the events that would cancel out such an outcome. And then I vaguely felt him shake my hand and say, „See you at the next storm when well have better luck, before the lift door swallowed him and left me standing alone and dumbfounded in the cold and eerie corridor.
“I smelt its perfume first, faint and unique, and following my nose [which is rather quite a large affair] I saw there blooming the sweetest flower, that of comradeship”…Grahame Crowe.
My first duty upon commencement of work the following morning was to pick up some medical supplies from the Stores department which fringes the extreme west boundary of the hospital and which is surrounded by simple gardens and always a welcome respite from the concrete tombs of the main buildings. As I entered the Stores grounds I spied Roy sitting in some kind of yogic position, face upturned and his bare torso soaking up the sun. He seemed at peace and so I decided not to disturb him, but as I walked by respectfully he called to me softly and suggested that when I was done doing what it was I had to do, we should sit and talk.
„Good to see you again, he said openly as I sat beside him. Then he asked if I had ever been to Stradbroke Island? I told him Id done so years ago but it had not impressed me in any real way, although I enjoyed the barge trip over and the hotel with its sea views. He enthusiastically suggested that on my next days off I should go and see an artist friend of his who lived on the Island. He assured me that I would be made most welcome and that I would enjoy myself thoroughly. „Theres a quality about that island, and if you enjoy art youll love Kens work. Ill make the arrangementsif you like. What do you say? His invitation took me by surprise, after all, we had only just met and here he was throwing out invitations I wasnt sure I even wanted to accept. But then before I could begin to analyse the pros and cons of his offer, something spontaneous suddenly accepted his offer. „Sure, why not, I replied without a scrap of deliberation. He grinned at me and with a wink and a tap on my knee said,„Thats the spirit, youre going with the flow.
„Have you e ver doneYoga? he asked. I shook my head in the negative. „Ill teach you some of the basics sometime, he said and without caring if I was interested or not, he started to expound upon the subject. According to his account it was an ancient practice specifically designed to tap the inherent energy of the Universe that was essential to the harmony, balance and overall well being of the organism. He admitted that Yoga was embraced by many that were not as such spiritually aware, but who were benefiting themselves with good health and mental equilibrium. And he was insistent in his stance that Yoga as a passive exercise regime could connect the self to deeper portions of the mind and trigger a neuronal activity that could lead to the emergence of psychic activity. He also talked about Tai Chi and various other practices that were of benefit to the mind and body and said again that he would be only too pleased to give me some basics lessons in either of the various disciplines if I so wished. I gave a condescending shrug and asked if he was a vegetarian as the disciplines advocated. He said he was which meant he did not eat animal or poultry products, save fresh fish on rare occasions. I wanted to know why he felt that meat was detrimental to our diet and he gave me a lengthy lesson in human biology, specifying the complaints and complications and diseases the body suffered as a result of long term meat consumption, and his gory lecture regarding the feeding, treatment, transportation and execution of animals and poultry left me not only nauseous, but much better informed. He summed up by assuring me that modern man with the complexities and complications of his society, were not only poisoning their own food and water, but also the agricultural means to produce further resources what with global soil erosion and industrys gargantuan output of pollutants into the earth, the air and waterways. „In short, „we are the only creature that not only shits in its own nest, but also bites the hand that feeds it, he said handing me a piece of paper on which he had scribbled Kens Stradbroke Island phone number.
I would like to have lingered longer but for the nagging concern that I might have been away too long from my work area. However I quickly reassured myself that I was well hidden up at this end of the hospital and I could always come up with a series of well founded excuses to explain my lengthy absence. For example, I helped a couple of patients into a taxi…I gave directions to a familylooking for a particular ward…I spent time picking up trash that was lying around the grounds…I gathered stray wheelchairs and returned them to their proper parking bays…I felt dizzy and had to sit for a while or I simply had the strongest urge to have a good old fashioned wank your honour, and you know how hard it is for meachieve an orgasm, dont you your holiness, or perhaps you dont, anyway thats why I am a little behind your calculated idea of my schedule. Im very sorry sir, it wont happen again…unless it does happen again, so fuck you too, etc, etc, etc. Suddenly Roy stood up with a quick jerk that seemed too agile for a man his age and said hed walk with me to the main building. Along the way he slipped me a ten-dollar note and asked me to purchase some cigars for him when next I was at a tobacconist.„See you around, he said with a cheery slap to my shoulder and then walked off towards another outside part of the hospital.
After giving it some thought overnight I decided to take up his invitation for Yoga, even if just to enjoy his company. When I caught up with him the following day I expressed my interest. „Thats wonderful, he said. „I like having a session just before the sun sets, how about at the Morgue at about five?
„Perfect. Ill be on lunch I replied, and then I extracted from my breast pocket two tins of cigars. „Theres two tins here he pointed out observantly.
„One for you, and one from me, I said giving him a touch to the shoulder. He thanked me and then ambled off along the corridor looking like some eccentric sage, smiling and nodding greetings to all he passed by.
The Morgue of all places, I thought as I made my way fifteen minutes earlier than planned to my rendezvous point. The „blue hut as the staff called it was a small square building situated atop a knoll of sloping ground. It was surrounded by a well cared for lawn and some delightfully arranged shrubs and flowerbeds. When I arrived he was meditating in what I knew to be the full Lotus pose which immediately reminded me of Bishop, of a young legless male patient I had got to know quite well with a shocking tale to tell. Apparently at the time of his horrific injury he was a full blown heroin addict and a practitioner of the full lotus pose. He told me it was his habit to sit in that position and shoot up and then go into his blissful state, or “on the nod” as he called it. Sadly however, he overdosed on one occasion and slumped into unconsciousness for thirteen hours in the assumed position which severely constricted the blood circulation to his legs causing irreparable tissue damage and onset gangrene which resulted in the amputation of both legs at the thigh.He couldnt cope with either the loss of his legs or his vicious addiction and it was not long afterwards that he committed suicide by way of a lethal overdose.
As I approached Roy I tried not to be an intrusion but he sensed my arrival and patted the ground next him. I sat down in a simple crosslegged position. „The King of Asanas, he said with reverence, patting his entwined thighs. „It took these old bones of mine several weeksto comfortably ease in and out of this position.
„Whats so good about it? I asked.
„It is the supreme pose to hold when meditating, he informed me. „When one is able to master the Lotus, its considered that one is ready for the joys of meaningful meditation. „So one cant meditate until one reaches that level? I asked slightly indignant. „One can always meditate and should, irrespective of the pose, he said. „And for that one can lie down, squat, sit on a chair or a broken bottle;it doesnt really matter for the early initiate. By combining a meditative mood with fluid Yoga positions, the mind and body become trained to work together; the one complements the other, he said looking into the late afternoon setting that spread out before us and inhaling deeply. „You must understand that I have adopted these esoteric disciplines and amended them wherever I thought them to be most applicable to myself, and you should do the same, he suggested advisedly.
I asked him how often one should perform Yoga and meditation and he said it was a discipline that craved its own regimen, and that one should develop one suited around ones own needs. For example, he practiced Yoga twice daily, in the morning and in the late afternoon, preferable during the dawn and sunset hour. He added that a full mooned night in a tranquil settingwas a must. „Ill meditate at the drop of a hat, he said, adding that he never tired of the peaceable effect he received from doing so, even if only for a few minutes. I asked him what the effects were of an intense meditation, to which he replied by saying that it was an individual experience. „But what especially is its purpose? I wanted to know. „To create a sense of inner peace and well being, a platform if you like, from which the restless and turbulent self can free itself, so to speak.
„To do what?
„To begin to redefine for itself a new criterionfor awareness, he replied.
„I take it you mean spiritual awareness, I said. He nodded his agreement and I was quick to remind him that there was no guarantee that it would happen.
„None whatsoever, he replied.
„What would get in the way of that happening? I wanted to know.
„The Ego, dear boy, he said nonchalantly. „It is the basic nature of the Ego to be protective and if it senses on the part of the conscious self that there is a fear associated with the acceptance of change, it will close access to the new knowledge in order to prevent potential stress and trauma. After all it is only doing its job, and it does so with tenacity. One must therefore befriend and convince the Ego that what you want is really what you want, so that it will want it for you also. In essence you must direct it; but to do so with uncertainty will only serve to arouse its defensiveness.
„This is merely psychological innuendo, is it not? „For me it is not innuendo, he replied calmly, „it is a reality that I embrace every day in an effective way and thereby I am both the cause and the effect of it in my life.
„For what purpose? I asked.
„For the purpose of improving the quality of ones life, he said flatly.
We sat in silence for several minutes, each mussing privately while watching the colourful shades and moods of the retiring day. At one point I had to thank him for his patience with my many questions and saidI hoped I wasnt being a burden. He punched me gently on my shoulder and assuredme otherwise. „On the contrary, your inquiries put me through my paces as a teacherand I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of that.
„Are you a teacher?
„Were all teachers, he said with honest humility. „Each one of us coming into the others life comes with a gift of learning, he said looking at me quizzically for a moment before ploughing on. „If we dont look at the people in our life in that manner,then theres a good chance we wont discover their gifts, will we? I grinned and said if that were so, what then was his gift to me?
„At this precise moment, he replied cheerfully, „I believe it is a Yoga lesson, and so saying he turned to look behind him towards a mixture of patients and staff that were approaching us. „And what is my gift to you? I asked with interest. He looked at me affectionately and said. „Your company until we part company.
My first Yoga session convinced me that there was indeed an essential energy inherent and operating within the discipline itself. The passiveness of the movements, their simply artistry and ease and subsequent control had a very vitalising effect upon me physically and mentally. And working in a group added to the sense of communal impetus. I discovered just how well the poses reached into the body, tugging at muscles with intent, massaging inner organs, lubricating the skeletal frame and increasing the vitality of the blood circulation. After the session I scooted back to my work arena feeling the glow of rejuvenation pulsing through me and of the belief that I had actually achieved something of worth. My choice to spend what valuable time I could with Roy before he went his way had already done me a great deal of good, and acting on an impulse I phoned Roys friend who lived on Stradbroke Island to introduce myself and was surprised to be made immediately welcome for the duration of my next days off, to which I had already decided to add the obligatory „sickie for which I had become painfully famous with my superiors.
“The new encounter must always be viewed as an invitation to an experience of worth.”….Jacko Jackson.
Ken Ettick was about forty years old, whereas I had expected a man of Roys age. He was an outright hippie in appearance and attitude; a sharp surfer, quiet talker, intelligent and an exceptional talent to boot. He lived in a beautiful old Queenslander that he was adorned with collected art and artwork of his own and which exuded a strong Balinese-Indian type influence. The gardens were along Japanese lines with small ponds, dwarf bamboo, flowers and ornate carvings effectively placed among the shrubbery. It was a warm welcoming house with strong sunshine filling its open frame all day.
Ken, I discovered was something of a recluse; no woman, no family, no pool and no pets. Other than his artwork he had very little in the way of worldly possessions save three surfboards and several harmonicas which he played the bejesus out of. I liked him instantly. His manner was as casual as his dress and he set to show me around the island immediately. We trekked the beaches, swam, scaled the coastline and picnicked at a couple of the natural lakes that abound the area. He took me fishing and I recalled the old joy of just being out there amongst nature with a rod in my hand and my eye on the scenery. He also insisted that I have a go with his surfboard which was a fiasco, albeit a most pleasant one. The seawater revitalised me and the sun thawed the ice that had frozen my emotional love of the natural elements. Both the weather and the company were perfect and those first few days put me in touch once again with Nature and I could feel the old joy of the outdoors hook into me once more. In addition to this I found Kens art very compelling with his use of very heavy colour and contemporary social issues as his subject matter with which he created a semi surrealistic vision of a world partly dying and a world partly finding its spiritual renaissance. He painted chaos so raw that it slapped you hard in the face, and yet within the helplessness of it all, he allowed the glimmer of a hopeful renaissance to rescue the observer. His statues and collage and woodwork were also highly evocative.
From conversations with him I got to know something of Roys story. They known each other some three years, and it was obvious from his tone that he held him in high regard. „Hey man, he said in a moment of personal reflection, „that guy is like a saint to me. I asked him to elaborate and he went out to his studio and returned with a large folder filled with photographs of his art and his house and his life as it had been years before. Everything in the photos was different from how they now were in the present. Ken was fat, and in a couple of photographs he looked positively unhealthy. There were shots of him and his woman at the time and they both looked stern and troubled. But it was his art at that time that made the deepest impression upon me; it was dark and depressive and lacked any real imaginative appeal. I went through photo after photo and found his work quite soulless. And the photos of his home showed a residence virtually swamped and engulfed by vegetation; it was so at cross purposes with the garden that was now in existence.
„That w as who I used to be until I met that wise rooster, he said, referring to the pile of photos before us. „That was how I lived and that was what I painted and that was how the house mirrored the inner me, claustrophobic, frightened and slowly choking to death from the lack of true creative freedom. You see matey, I didnt really know who the fuck I was or how the fuck I wanted to live, and I was too gutless to try and find out. So instead I stayed trapped in my mediocrity and fear, he said flatly as he squinted in the sunlight. „What fear was that? I asked, flashing my gaze from the man in the folder to the man telling the story.
„The fear of being on my own.
„But you werent on your own, theres this woman here, I said addressing the photo of her. „Yea but she was part of the problem, you see, he spat. „As much as I thought I loved her, and as good as she was for me in certain ways, the whole relationship had become one of dependency…you know, Ill trade this if you give me that kinda thing. I mean she was like a great weight around my neck, holding me in place when I should have been out there, man, he said gesticulating with his brow to the outside world.
„And how did Roy change that for you? I asked with great interest.
„When I first met him, I was living like a timid mouse in this darkened house fenced off
from the outside worldby the jungle like fence Id built around myself. I used to open on
weekends to try and sell a few paintings, but nothing really sold…and man that can make
you morbid after a while. Fuck I thought I was good, but nobody was buying. Shiiit… I
thought I was being creative by churning out all these dull masterpieces, he said slapping
the folder that rested in my lap,„and the frustration was clawing at me like a rat in a cage,
which is basically what I fucking well was. He laughed and tossed his head back and his
long ponytail swished about. „You know matey, he declared, „I knew there was something
wrong but I couldnt work out what it was. And then that old fart to walks in here one day
and gives me a right royal kick up the arse, he said with a glorious chuckle.
„And how did he do that?
„With his foot, you fool, Ken said jokingly and I wondered if he was into punning? Should
I venture, I thought. Why not.
„So you could say he gave you a leg up the ladder, I said with a grin.
„Yea, I guess you could say that, he replied, leaving the punning scenario up in the air.
Well, if at first you dont succeed. „Sowhat youre saying is that with his help you got a
shoe in the art world, so to speak. He gave me a peculiar look which left it up to me to
continue. „I guess at first you thought he was a bit of a heel.
„I didnt know what to think, Ken shot back with look of bewilderment.
„I mean, was he towey with you?…again another look of perplexity.
Me again. „Sorry that was a knee jerk reaction.
Me. „Forgive me, Im not being very hip.
Me…realizing it was time to end the proceedings. „No seriously, tell me, how did he socket
to you? I asked, chuckling inwardly to myself. Ken ran his long thin fingers through his beard in an upward motion a few times as if trying to train his lengthy beard to spike out in an unruly fashion.
„I asked him what he thought of my work, and he asked if I was ready for the truth? I told him I was, thinking that maybe he would be the usual courteous critic that I had become almost immune to. We were sitting under that tree, he said pointing to the corner of his house block where a monstrous Moreton Bay Island fig tree spread out its arms like a giant green dense cloud, „and thats where the prick gave me both fucking barrels.
„He asked me who my favourite Australian painter was. I told him immediately it was the Bribie Island artist, Ian Fairweather who Id admired all my life. He asked me why and I told him how much I respected such a gutsy cat that could walk away from social involvement with the world at large and become a complete recluse and devote his whole self to his art.Its no wonder really when you know what kind of childhood the poor bastard had…but that is exactly what I always wanted to do... go native and dig up my own depths as an artist and thanks for the offer, but fuck you. He shook his head with several small gestures and then smiled gleefully. „But that day with Roy I realised thats what I desperately needed to do…and when he gave me his opinion of my art, well that just nailed the fuckin coffin shut, he said before he repeated verbatim Roys proffered artistic criticism that day.
“Your art at present,” Roy said, “like the house you live in and the person you are, is like a seedling in the darkness dying for want of light and rain and room to breathe and stretch and reach up to its full stature in the forest of its true self. You are this ineffectual force rendered helpless by your fear and incapable of growth, which you so vitally need. Now, if you desire to change all of that, then you must choose again, and this time you must challenge thatfear in you…for only by doing so will you and your art flourish; otherwise you are dead as an artist.” Ken inhaled deeply before continuing with his intriguing tale. „And I didnt know what my fear w as, until that old fart poked me in the eye with it.
„He said that I had a fear of being on my own, that I had spent a lifetime attaching myself woman figures, first my mother and then the lovers in my life, in order to feel safe and not alone; when in truth my deeper self desperately needed to become detached just as Ian Fairweather had, so that I could find my true artistic self. The cheeky bastard actually told me that I had repeatedly picked women who would mother and smother me instead of pushing me from the nest of my comfort zone to test the wings of my own personality. The prick actually said that we all were like anchors looking for a ship, but what he was really saying was that they we were all leeches looking for a host. And Matey, Ill never forget the last comment he made.Man, it was real defining moment; I can tell you…it changed everything. He said,“Life is an exercise of choices. You can stay safe and starve your work …or break free and breathe life into your art.”
„I tell you matey, what he said stayed in my head for weeks till finally I knew I had act. Of course Gemm wouldnt have it…she didnt want to change things because she had her own fears and dependency issues and it became one ugly shit fight. She got a real hatred on for me, gotthe fuckin parasite lawyers in and forced me to put this place on the market. Man, I couldnt believe that someone who claimedto be such a good fuckin Christian could be so greedy and revengeful. Jesus, the last thing I wanted to lose was my home here on the island, especially afterId invested the lions share in buying it…but praise to the Universe, my parents bailed me out with a loan.
„Then I went to work on finding myself, he said and detailed to me how he started by hitch hiking around the countryside, just going with the flow and working where he could and learning to be on his own. „I lived like that for two years and then I made the final leap of fear, he said with obvious pride.„I went to India alone and came back a different dude, and let me tell you…the fear had gone. I cleared the shit around the house, let the sunshine in and started to paint the stuff you see now. I opened up my home as a gallery and now I sell paintings on a regular basis I have three showings a year, one in Brisbane, one in Sydney and one on the island.Thats what Roy fuckin Holl did for me and thats why I think hes a bloody saint.
„What became of Gemm? I asked as my eyes fell to a picture of her in the photo album. „Poor old Gemm, he replied sadly, „she ended up making a mockery of her so called „Christian faith and went down the road of serving Mammon. She made heaps of money, not all of it by fair play either and then just when she thought she could begin to enjoy it, some real estate cronies conned her into some fraudulent investments and she lost the lot. The last I heard of her she was stillunwell and bitter about it all, he said shaking his head with genuine disappointment and then added solemnly,„Aint it the truth, brother…your Karmas gonna git ya.
“He mended wounds made by words and swords and soothed our emotional beasts,
and as dew drips, did wisdom gently fall from the lips of this healer amongst us”… Dripshack Waterhouse.
When I returned to work I inadvertently crossed paths with Roy when delivering some paperwork to the Psychiatric Ward where I saw him and one of the resident psychiatrists heavy into discussion on the outside open veranda. At first I thought he had flipped out in some way and was nowan inmate of the „lost and found as we colloquially called the Psychiatric Ward inmates, but when he noticed me and threw me a smile I knew he was okay. „Are you seeing a shrink? I asked when we were finally ensconced among a small colony of bushes in the PsycheClinics grounds and away from prying eyes. He told me he was, but not as a patient,rather as an interested observer of clinical psychiatry. „Planning to takea degree are we? I said with mirth.
„Yes, and I will once I can work out which of my splinter personalities is the one that really wants to do it, he said returning my jibe.
„Give it to the youngest one, I suggested. „Your oldest one doesnt have the time to waste. „The youngest one! he guffawed, „all that little prick wants to do is screw the nurses, cater to his own illusions of grandeur and make a lot of filthy lucre.
„No harm in a little healthy ambition coupled with the aromatic encounters that only woman can bring, I reassured him
„Those arent aromatic encounters, he countered, „theyre vortexes of power, equivalent to that of a black hole in outer space swallowing whole planets.
„Ah, I said, „thats what Daddy meant when he warned me of the power of pussy.
„There is no warning for that kind of female phenomenon, he chuckled, „only a blind worship of instinctual urging in the chapel of a womans chastity where alter boys are made into men ever after made to pay vaginal homage. Then raising his voice and gesturing like a Roman Emperor at an orgy, he theatrically piped, „Undress that woman and bring her to me. Nervously I scanned our surroundings for eavesdroppers. A nearby nurse waved in our direction from the veranda, but had no intentions of complying with the Emperors command.
When we got back to the topic of his discussion with the shrink, he related an incredible story to me. Apparently he had been doing a bit of Tai Chi in a secluded section of the Psyche Ward gardens under the very intent gaze of a patient, a Vietnam veteran in his early fifties. The history of the patient revealed an acute case of introspection and noncommunication which had resulted in an attempted suicide earlier that year. The resident psychiatrists were unable to elicit any information from him at all because the patient had simply withdrawn into his private void of neurotic self-imposed silence and refused to enter into any dialogue whatsoever. From time to time he “went off” and had to be restrained, sedated and on occasion was given a round of shock therapy.
In any event while practicing his Tai Chi, Roy noticed the patient in question seemingly mesmerised by his performance and something told him that this guy was there for a reason, and trusting hisintuition he took the opportunity to meet the patients gaze when he least expected it; and when he did observed that the patients look of sublime interest suddenly turned to one of hostility under Roys direct gaze. The man then exploded into defensive action and leapt up from his veranda chair and verbally abused the bejesus out of Roy. „What the fuck are ya doing, ya cunt? he barked with a meanness of spirit that bellied a rising anger. The patient repeated his question and by the third repetition Roys intuition had given him the necessary insight with which to encounter the hostile patient. „Im remembering, Roy replied challengingly, knowing that he should not cower before the guys hostility.
„Remembering what, ya prick? the guy snarled.
„Im remembering the nice things of my life, he told the fellow softly.
„How the fuck can you do that you stupid cunt? the guy barked with a bristling belligerence.
„Ill show you, Roy said, his tone gentle and passive as he began a completely newly invented Tai Chi movement.
„By using these mov ements, I can remember with joy, my deceased wife. She loved playing tennis. It was the one time she could allow herself to be angry and competitive without feeling bad about it, he explained, accompanying his story with the matching movements of his back hand manoeuvres, forearm drives, half-volleys and slices and serve motions all done with the slow motion effect relative toTai Chi. „She was like a pit bull terrier, he told the fellow with obvious glee,„the way she would run down a shot and squeal with open victory when she won her point, and oh what a figure she had! Her breasts would bounce and her hair would spill out behind her and I swear I would fall in love with her all over again in a moment, he said with a roaring smile as his hands wove the fall and bounce of herhair. „But to this day, I regret I never playeda game of tennis with her, he said sadly. „I guess I resented her because she didnt like my sports,and so I decided I wouldnt like hers. Then his voice began to quaver with a passionately sad tone and tears sprang into his eyes and he started to sob. „Doing this is my way of remembering her…….thats what the fuck I am doingmy friend, he said tearfully as he sank to his knees and wept openly, intuitively aware that the patient was on the verge of doing the same.
So there the two of them were, bawling their hearts out while staff buzzed about in a frenzy of uncertainty. Eventually Roy stopped, stood up and introduced himself with a handshake and asked the guy if he wanted to take a walk with him around the hospital grounds just to get away from the atmosphere of the ward. The patient accepted and off they went for a couple of hours of dialoguing during which time the patient poured out his heart to Roy regarding the pain and the problems that had been the cause of his self imposed isolation and psychological decline. For the next few days he and Roy were like long lost mates, with Roy providing the emotional support system by which the patient might begin to heal.
I was spellbound by his story and naturally I asked him to explain the intricacies of the use of his intuition in the situation that he had just described. He said that as a healer he usually had to discern and act in the moment, especially when dealing with emotional and psychological problems of which he had no prior knowledge, such as was the case with the patient in question. In such circumstances he relied on his psychic intuition to direct him in what to say and do. In this particular case his intuition had told him that the executed movements of his Tai Chi had partially hypnotised the patient and that at a certain moment he had to lock onto his eyes. When the patient barked his question at him his intuition took over, and hefound himself telling the story of remembering his wifes enjoyment of tennis through the format of his Tai Chi movements, which was crucial enough ofa display to break through the mans defensive system. „Thats in the realm of the supernatural, I said with fascination.
„Supernatural, yes, he agreed,but quickly added that it was by no means unnatural. „Man has used intuition since the dawn of his emerging awareness. It was the tool of communication before the spoken word was synthesised into a language. Unfortunately it has become repressed in the human equation and except for rare exponents it has become forgotten.
„Ah, but not by you, I said gratuitously and he smiled and did a small bow from his sitting position.
„And whats to become of the patient in question? I asked.
„Thats what Im doing here at the moment, he replied. „They were enlisting my help. „The shrinks want your help? I said a little taken aback. „In what way?
„Because he will only talk to me, and because they need to know something of his feelings in order to decide their course of treatment, Ive been brought in as the mediator, so to speak.
„And what are his feelings? I asked, realising that I was forever asking him questions. „Hes expressed a desire to get off medication, get well and get the hell out this place, so basically the Doctors want to use me to help unlockhis hidden personal history.
„And will you?
„Ill tell them what I feel is necessary and at the same time try to guide the patient. „Little like playing God isnt it? I said intending mirth.
„Good heavens, no, he said, and I wondered if he was initiating a pun fight. „Devil of a job, but I guess someones got to do it, I said offering the challenge.
„Hell of a job, he corrected , and I knew we were off and running.
„According to whom…Luke or Matthew?
„Mark my words, he replied, playing out the Mark.
„Youd have to have the patience of Job, I informed him.
„And the strength of Goliath.
„And the right bedside manna, I retorted as my mind sifted swiftly through a plethora of potential puns.
„Tent sidemanner, he corrected.
„As long as the patient will prophet by it, I snapped with an accompanying snicker. „And not end up as the sacrificial lamb, he quickly fired back.
„In any case itll be aTestament to your healing powers.
„But if I fail, he said, „Ill be crucified by the medical world.
„Thatll be a hard cross to carry, I reminded him with a wagging finger. „Not if youre nailed to it, he hammered back and smirked at his own humour. „Jesus, thats a terrible thought, I told him concernedly.
„Blasphemer! he accused.
„Forgive me father, for I have sinned, I pleaded.
Only if you alter your behaviour, said he.
„Bless you, father, said he.
„Thank you son, youre an angel, said he and we both laughed freely by way of announcing our mutual resignation of the game.
Bloody hell, this silver Jesus has got his fingers in everybodys pie. Hes been here less than a week and already hes advising the psychiatrists how to do their job. I only hope he knows what hes doing. Its all very well to break a person apart, but putting them back together is altogether another matter, I thought to myself as we sat in silence for a few minutes listening to the soft buzz of bees in the nearby Gravillea blossoms and watched small lizards leap from rock to rock around the flower bed edge.
„Part of being a healer of the psyche is to be familiar with its structure, and that requires natural ability and objective practice, he said, lifting a cigar from his tin and offering me to partake. „Youd be surprised just how well equipped the human psyche is when it comes to restoring its state of well being. The ego, once rid of its fears and stabilised, is quite able to utilise the vast powers of creativity that are at its disposal. Being an arbitrary aspect of our psyche it therefore acts in accordance with the wishes of the personality. If you choose to face the fear, the pain, the challenge, then the ego is equipped to follow your desire. On the other hand, if you choose to hide and run from it, or bury your pain and fear, then the ego will find very good ways of doing that for you, despite the fact that such submerging and repression will cause the development of a whole neurotic system built around this denial. It is therefore best to befriend the ego rather than alienate it. In my opinion, the source of all ill health, mental, emotional and physical, stems from an imbalance in the creative thinking processes of the minds psychology.
„Why do the majority of us repress our fears rather than deal with them? I asked.
He said that as infants in the womb, we were susceptible to the interaction between our parents in general and the mothers emotions in particular. The womb was the first base of learning; a learning that we were forced to forget because of our inability to retain it at that early stage of our development. Yet of course it is not forgotten, merely buried, and in a very real sense it has the potential to act upon our emotions for the rest of our lives. It was also true that because of the birthing process, we were birthed in a duel mood of joy and fear. Henceforth we carried those two emotions with us as children in our formative years, where we responded to the events around us accordingly. When our parents displayed love we reacted with love. When fear was displayed we reacted fearfully because of our inability to overtly demonstrate any real rebellion against the fear. Later, we may or may not learn to rebel via acts of anger and aggression, verbal abuse, tantrum throwing, hysteria, bed-wetting and other forms of neurotic behaviour in an attempt to correct the internal imbalance. At other times we make ourselves ill with a variety of physical disorders.
Then we learned about death, which connected us on a conscious level to the unconscious fear we had in the womb of our impending struggle for birth into life. This then became the greatest fear, for we saw it as an ultimate reality that we could not avoid. We felt helpless before its power, and so life became a ritual of denial that manifested itself in all kinds of excessive addictions and behaviours. Violence, artificial guilt, pursuit of money and power, fanaticism and extremism, introspection and isolationism; failure to compete, inability to commit, repetitive negative behaviour, sexual perversion, a need for dominance and to be dominated, criminal activity, obsessive envy and phobia, lack of self-worth and motivation, apathy and self abuse and thwarted creativity in a variety of areas; all of which had to be juggled as best it could be by the ego. So it wasnt surprising that it too sometimes became so inundated that it collapsed, causing temporary or permanent psychological confusion to the self. However, at such times of unbridled stress the personality still has a choice; to rise up in defence of itself, or to stay down and out for the count. These were the defining moments in ones life, when one could emerge from a Saul to become a Paul.
I asked if he was able to break doctor/patient confidentiality and tell me anything about the patient in question.He was happy to do so. „While serving in Vietnam, Craig had married a Vietnamese girl and brought her back home. According to him they were devoted to each other, and she was actually pregnant when he lost her. She was killed when a speeding car hit her while out shopping. Craig maintains that she was murdered by ex-Viet Cong living in Sydney who considered her a traitor.
„Is this for real or his imagination?
„I believe he has the facts straight, Roy said. „They had received death threats and abuse for some time. It was her death pushed him over the edge andthats when he struck back.
He paused and exhaled cigar smoke before continuing with what was becoming a fascinating human drama. „He started to make very intense inquiries, enlisting contacts he still knew within the military intelligentsia. He even worked undercover himself to unravel the identity of his wifes murderer. Eventually he found the man responsible and he took himout.
„Jesus, I burst in, „you mean he snuffed him? He nodded and then carried on. „However, it came to light soon afterwards that he had hit the wrong guy. His enemies had cruelly given him a patsy to let him think he had achieved blissful revenge. Sowith his wifes death on his mind, and now innocent blood on his hands, Craig snapped completely. He retreated into his own private cauldron of uncontrolled depression and hatred, stifling as best he could his desire to go to war again and waste the whole suburb of Parramatta and then himself. Eventually the desire to destroy turned itself inward and he attempted suicide. Afterward he opted for medical assistance in order to keep him stabilised enough to not try and destroy himself again, although the thought was always strong with him. The day our paths crossed his suicidal desire was at its optimum of intent, Roy said significantly.
„When Craig saw me going through my Tai Chi routine it connected him directly to the repressed memories of his wife and his pain. You see, she used to do Tai Chi herself and it was one of his greatest pleasures to watch her perform the beautiful movements as she played with its energy. Naturally at first, he was angry and defensive with the raising of these memories, which was why he barked abusively at me. But when I told him how the movements were my way of connecting with my wife when she played tennis, there was enough connective rationale in that statement to break the crucible that contained his repressed pain and fear.
I soaked the story up with amazement. It was unbelievably uncanny that Craigs wife did Tai Chi and that Roy should be practicing at just that moment when Craig would be watching. Roy grinned and said that that was how the universe operated, often uncannily and unexpectedly. I told him I thought it quite unbelievable that he should choose correctly to relate his movements to that of his wife playing tennis…and that if he had chosen instead to relate it to how wolves mated, or how stars collided, the effect would have been completely lost. He nodded his agreement with a coaxing smile. „Thats free flowing unadulterated intuition for you, he said sheepishly.
Another incident, to which I was privy and played a part in, occurred towards the end of his stay. An veteran from the second war, a man in his seventies had gone a bit soft in the head and had made his way to the kitchen on the ground floor where he stole two razor sharp long bladed butchers knives. In his mind he was acting on orders to stalk and kill the Japanese soldiers who had infiltrated the area. When one of the cooks tried to take the knives off him, he growled abuse and almost slashed the poor guys arm off before making his way to the outside of the building where a handful of alerted orderlies had encircled him, and I happened to be passing and so was made one of the peacemakers.
The old guy was in some kind of trance that made him almost superhuman. He broke from three orderlies grip after our first attempt to subdue him and dropped one knife while flailing menacingly at us with the other as he shouted abuse to his imagined Japanese attackers. The security officers were called, but could do nothing but play the waiting game. Finally the psychiatrist with whom Id seen Roy talking to that day at the Psyche Ward came on board and had ordered everyone to back off, and unless needed, to get out of sight. I stayed with two orderlies and the two security officers in the background while the shrink tried to talk this guy into a calmer state of mind…but it was to no avail. The old guy was convinced we were all Japanese soldiers and he was going to kill as many of us as he could before they got him…he really was psycho and therefore quite dangerous.
Then suddenly I saw Roy emerge from the small palmed alcove nearby the entrance to the Physiotherapy department and made his way unobtrusively to stand just behind me. Then he quickly whispered his instructions to me.
„Marty, Im trusting my intuition on this. When I bow like surrendering Japanese, I want you to come marching up like a soldier, salute and then escort me away like a POW…youre an actor, so go for the Oscar, okay? The questions flew like arrows in my head. What the hell is he on about? Bow like Japanese? Act like a soldier?
„Please sir,remove yourself from the area, the security officer snapped under his breath. Roy nodded and made a quiet retreat, but as he did so he came up behind the orderly holding thebutchers knife and whipped it off him smartly and slipped it snugly into his dressing gown belt and then boldly marched into the battle zone. The shrink recognised him immediately and after receiving a conspiratorial wink, he backed off to let Roy do whatever he was going to do. The patient shrieked raged obscenities at Roy as he approached, but still he walked into the lions den and was within a foot of the man when he stopped and snapped to attention and raised his hand in salute and started to talk to the man in English, but with a very pronounced Japanese accent. It so reminded me of the Japanese Colonel from the film, The Bridge over the River Kwai. „I am Colonel Yoko-ono of the Japanese Imperial Army and I am here to surrender to you.
Had the situation not been so deadly serious I would have pissed myself laughing; the effects of Roy behaving like a Japanese officer in front of a deranged man while a psychiatrist and the rest of us, looked on, was ludicrous. In addition, the commotion had brought dozens of curious heads out onto the openverandas. Spectators placed noses against the glass plate windows of the adjacent Physio department with equal curiosity and Several patients in the small outside smoking area had risen to their feet and approached for a better view of the proceedings at hand.
„Come on you Jap bastard, Ill have your guts. Come on ya slit eyed cunt. Come on! the patient screamed as the knife slashed left to right, right to left with a stab towards Roys belly. I was impressed by Roys courage as he stood there without flinching as the blade whipped within inches across his chest and abdominal area. „Come on you cunt, come on, how about a knife in theguts for breakfast ya bastard, hey! Come on…you wanna have a go…come on then.
„I am no longer your enemy, Roy said slowly and with conviction in his Japanese accent. „The Japanese Imperial Army has been defeated. The Emperor has surrendered to General MacArthur. It is over for me…and it is over for you. But again the wild slash forward with the knife and this time Roy was forced to pull back slightly but not before the blade raked across his waist leaving the dressing gown slashed.
„There war is over. The Americans have bombed my country with two atomic bombs. My family is dead. Japan has surrendered to the Americans. I am dishonoured and now I must surrender my family sword to you. And so saying, he let slip from his left sleeve the knife hed taken from the Security officer and holding it with the left hand fingertips on the blade point and the right hand fingertips cradling the hilt, he outstretched his arms and dropped his head in shame and waited no doubt with hope that the patient would accept the gesture of defeat and take the sword. For a few long moments the patient seemed stunned and frozen to the spot and it seemed all his rage had been spent…or had it? But then thank God for that good old Aussie sense of fair play, because the patient Suddenly snapped to attention himself and then stepped forward and graciously accepted the sword. And that was when Roy went into his deep bow from the waist, which was my cue. Instantly the actor in me was up and out I marched, appearing breathless. As I approached the shrink I too gave him a conspiratorial wink as I performed an over exaggerated salute. Fortunately he was astute enough to have intuited the game plan and snapped a salute back.
„Message from General Douglas MacArthur, sir, I all but shouted, to give the proceedings an air of authenticity. „The Imperial Japanese army has surrendered, sir. The war is over and I have been ordered to escort all Japanese prisoners of war to their place of confinement pending their trials for war crimes, sir.
„Very good, spat the shrink, and with a smart salute ordered me to arrest the prisoner. I snapped to attention with yet another salute and then grabbed the ashamed prisoner by the shoulder and roughly pushed him ahead of me and marched him away from the arena of theatrics. The shrink then did his thing and told the patient that now the war was over, it was time to down all weapons and prepare to go home. In fact, would the patient like to come back to his quarters and have a stiff whisky to celebrate the joyous news? The patient, still locked into his delusion, gave a salute and accepted the offer and together they walked off towards the Psyche ward.
“If youre a German then run, if youre a Jap turn back
cause nothings more scary than„Machinegun Mack”…verse known by a portion of the Australian Army serving in the Middle East conflict of World War Two.
While the incident of the deranged patient was taking place, a visitor on his way back from a Doctors appointment became an unsuspecting spectator. Thomas Mack watched from the distance of his indifferent interest. He didnt take any real notice of the characters in the farce being played out before him. It was another of lifes sad jokes to him. The only person to whom he could relate directly was the old deranged veteran. After all, he was a veteran himself who had fought the Japanese and he knew with intimacy the effects of war upon the human psyche. He himself had fortunately exorcised his own demons enough not to become a similar statistic. He thought the whole business reeked of mans stupidity and his destructive hand upon the potters wheel. He empathised with his veteran-colleague, but in the same breath cursed and denounced the cause of his effect…the bureaucracy and the hierarchical order of the rich and powerful and the ant-man mentality which was responsible for the herding of millions into a war that was orchestrated by politicians and the industrial giants of commerce.
Ten minutes after the incident Tom Mack, a patient to be, was in the Pharmacy Department picking up a script which his doctor had just issued. He only ever came to the city when he needed to consult with his doctor. As a war veteran he received a full pension which allowed him the perks of free medical and pharmaceutical treatment. He had travelled a long way to get to Brisbane to discuss the results of certain tests that he had undergone only weeks before when he had reported with increased pain in his stomach area and regular deposits of blood in his faeces. The pain had been there on and off for over a year now, but had worsened in the last few months. The tests proved to be cancer of the boweland now hes been summoned to discuss his proposed options. He was told that the best course of action was to have an operation that might be a success in the long term, if they got all the cancer. Of course he would have to have a detachable bag to the new anus that they would relocate just above the waist, and yes they were ready to cut at the soonest possible time. He was asked to think it over within the next twenty fours hours and then let them know his decision.
But the patient to be had made up his mind the moment they talked about anus relocation and the interchangeable shit bag business that he was not going under the knife. Fuck you Jack, the now patient not to be, cursed mentally. He was damned if he was going to spend what remained of his lifeshitting through his ribs…and that was that. Sitting in the air conditioned waiting room of the Pharmacy Department while waiting for his prescriptions, Thomas Mack mentally relived the times in his life when before he had experienced great tribulation.
He recalled lying face down in a sea of desert sand. He was hot, thirsty and his sweat was odorous as he fought the mounting desire to give in to his fear. He was also feeling fighting mad angry because it seemed that all his life some kind of authority body was on hand to stuff him around, when all he had ever wanted was to remain anonymous and ignored by the madding crowd from which he invariably considered himself a compliant outcaste. And this had been his way since his early childhood. There had been in him even then, this innate sense of distrust and suspicion from which he viewed the interactions of other humans. They were like a colony of cannibalistic ants, each out for their own ends and not at all reluctant to overcome the weaker ones who got in their way.
He knew that he too was an ant, and with his ant- like psychology he realised that ants dont make close relationships with each other despite the fact that they all work for the colony in general, and the queen particular. They were the earths true communists, working collectively for the whole, never exploiting their resources in a system that allowed for each to participate at their own level and to be rewarded accordingly. They may make contact with each other hundreds of times in a day, but its brief and sparingly in its content of emotional exchange. When one ant dies it is merely picked up and removed from the flow of traffic so the multitude could continue with their business which was to secure food and lodgings and repel all threats and invaders at the cost of death to their collective survival. And he of all men was in full accord with that type of mentality.
Human beings were another kettle of fish altogether. A colony of all oddments to be sure, but each spontaneously creative in psychology and individual in desire and very much prone to aberrant thought and behaviour, which was wont to cause conflicts and danger among the colony and threaten the system its overall survival. And that ultimately is what we were in the grand scheme of things, thought the teenage Tommy Mack. Masses of workers organised by the ruling clique to create sustenance, and sometimes carry three times our own weight with intent to fill the coffers of the hierarchical order who gorged and hoarded the fruits of the labourers efforts, who in turn were usually placated with piecemeal offerings of gratuitous crumbs from their masters golden loaves. And you had to work. If you didnt produce then your were left to starve on your own. None would give you something for nothing, because none were encouraged to. There was only profit or loss in a system always ruled by some degree fear. If you could barter with another, then fair enough, but you couldnt receive without first giving. And if you were disadvantaged, then for sure someone would take advantage of you in a market place of injustice, corruption, greed and malice. And what he found to be the ultimate abomination in the human ant mentality was their utter folly which always led to a host of destructive behaviours such as chicanery, theft, perversity, betrayal, domination, cruelty, violence, murder and enslavement…and in his view all ant-men were to be treated with disdain and caution.
Young Thomas had seen enough of the weakness and stupidity of which ant people were capable. His prime example had been his parents. A schizophrenic, moody and uncaring father whose cruel emotional domination of a wife weakened by fear made for a childhood of hostility and open rebellion for a young boy growing up angry and distrustful of the world and its inhabitants. And so it became Toms way to break from the herd and live life a self made outcast and have as little as possible to do with the flawed tribe of man. He played the game insomuch as he had to, in order to fit in and survive if necessary, while relishing the sanctity of his solitude.
He had never been one to think too deeply or too far into the future. He was a pragmatic boy who grew to become a man of reactions rather than creations. When something occurred, he reacted to it in either opposition or favour. There could never be a grey area for him. No middle ground, no fence sitting, no „no mans land of uncertainty and vacillation. He did what he did once the decision to do so was made, irrespective of the ensuing consequences. If ever he had a motto it was this; Throw your chips in with your chances and let them lay the way they fall.
And if Tommy Mack loved anybody at all, it was his mother and his younger brother, Shane. Both had been beacons and buoys of safety for him in a sea of frothing familial disturbance. When all the confusion and resentment threatened to wash him overboard, his mother would allay his fears and cushion him and his brother in the comfort zone of her protective embrace. An embrace that invariable became the focus of his fathers obsessive irritations.
As a growing boy Tom had dreamed of running away and being on his own, free of the bizarre behaviour of his father. And but for the connective tissue of attachment which he held for his brother Shane and their mother, he would have done so. They were his rocks, but they were also the anchors from which he could not pull himself loose. When he was almost fourteen, working at the local timber mill and boarding at home, an event took place, the repercussions of which would change and haunt him evermore.
The family was spending Christmas with his mothers parents at a small coastal fishing village near Ballina, on the northern New South Wales Coast. For all concerned, it was the one time in their lives that peace reigned, although the sense of hostility was still a strong undercurrent that writhed below the surface of a feigned courtesy. While in anothers home, Owen Mack was obliged to curb his tongue and his moodiness and instead play the part of a caring husband and father. It was all a sham and all knew it, but it was a pleasant change, albeit it only a temporary one.
The two brothers were in the habit of rising early and depending upon the tides, fish from the beaches and rocky coastline. Sometimes Owen would accompany them, more out of a sense of duty than any serious paternal interest. It gave him an out from the tedious exertion of having to control his pendulum mood swings in front of his in- laws. He never fished himself, choosing rather to sit nearby on a rock or a grassy knoll with his furious emotions whirring within himself. Or he would sleep in the sun while his sons tried to bring home the bacon, or in their case, the fish.
The boys revelled in their fishing, but it was Tom who had the gift and true love of the fishermans ways. He basked in the feel of the sea near him, its smell and its sounds, its surging sighs, its anger and itssheer independence of mans influence. He was forever exploring and learning about the coastal environment, its flora and fauna. He liked the company and conversation of the old grizzly fishermen whom he would seek out for all manner of information. They were a breed who spoke straight and acted within a framework of a no nonsense honesty, whose simple integrity appealed to him immensely; they were Ant-men he could understand.
The two boys had been fishing for over an hour and already they had a good catch of silver bream and small sharks. It had been a gorgeous morning with huge banks of clouds scudding across a sky as blue as the sea below it. The breezes whipping off the sea were fresh as a winter morning and the sun poured into their skin with its warm transparent balm. The sea that morning had a strong, long swell to it, and as always it was a marvel for Tom to watch it heave and heft its immense liquid weight at the rock face from which they fished. He particularly liked watching it surge up over a large rock and then drain off as it receded back into itself. He found that motion to be so effortless and relaxing, and he often timed his own breathing with its movement, thinking of the power of the sea and the defiance of the rock. And that was how he chose to be, he thought, like the rock standing solitary and immoveable and defiant against the constant overpowering and engulfing wave and effortlessly shouldering the bulk of its force aside each time it came at him with its instinctual drive towards the shore.
As was his habit, he took note of the seas doings, and he noticed that every now and then when a certain series of swells came through, and with the backwash at its optimum, an effect was created which allowed one wave in particular to crash through the normal cycle of incoming and outgoing waves and send a tonnage of angry water up over the forward rocks and splash their feet and faces as they fished. Tom brought this rogue wave effect to his brother's attention and the two of them duly noted the sea changes in regard to these maverick waves.
Their father was sitting on a large flat rock that was cast in shade, a beach towel folded under his rump to act as a buffer between the hardness of rock and the tenderness of his bum. His thoughts were fishing for answers in a sea of his own neurotic making. He envied and resented the boys their joyfulness and mirth making, remembering how little of it he had experienced in his own hard childhood. Poor bastard, he had never been given a chance to be a boy, free and unfettered in play. His life had consisted of being the buffer between his father and his mother and the whipping boy for both. All he had ever experienced had been verbal and mental abuse and his own wild forays into self pity and depression. And now he too had become a carrier of the domestic disease of mental abuse and emotional denial in his doings with his own family, and could do nothing to control it. His thoughts constantly revolved around his sense of failure and guilt, and more and more of late he had been giving serious consideration to the use of suicide as an escape. He knew it was getting worse because the skin on his face had broken out in the small sores that indicated the stress and imbalance that was welling within him. He had taken to picking at them until they bled, and as he felt them ooze with blood, his suicidal thoughts gained more momentum.
As Owen Mack sat perched on his rocky throne of depression staring out to sea, he did not see the rogue wave dormant and disguised in the fresh cycle of the incoming swell. He was in too much pain to keep himself in the real world. He was picking at a bleeding sore with his whole body stiff with that familiar tension thathe found so unbearable…the tension of his boyhood fears and wounding. It was this emotion that most drove him crazy because it was the prime one that he most had to control. It was this feeling that would make him burst forth with insanity, anger and violence, which was followed by saturating cycles of guilt and depression. In an act of acute anxiety and attempt at control he tore off the whole head of a sore and had no realisation of it. Then in an instant his anger and fear found its release from within by way of the most agonising and terrorising scream he had ever brought forth. It came from somewhere so deep and vulnerable in himself, from a repressed part that had never been allowed to express itself, and in that moment of excruciating release he felt it to come from his very soul.
The scream of pain lasted a full ten seconds as it spent itself in an act of optimum rage. There was an immense pressure built up in Owens throat, and behind his widened eyes he could feel small blood vessels burst. It was a scream meant to reach out to the universe and across the abyss that existed in between. Both boys heard it burst out above the sea sounds and it sent a chill down their spines, and in the moments that it took for the two of them to turn and observe the horrificpain emanating from their fathers twisted face, the rogue wave was upon them with its thick muscled and forceful tentacles sweeping around their legs with a determination to drag them back into the sea for its feeding.
Tom was pushed forward off his perch with a force that disturbed him immediately, because in it he sensed the capability of the waves menace. He was however, able to grip the pointed part of the rock face against which he had been flung and using his legs, jam himself tightly into place as the weight of the water tried to dislodge him. After the danger had passed he instinctively turned to check on his brother, but Shane was not to be seen. Instantaneous panic gripped his mental faculties and he could feel it corrupting his whole body. He spun himself around on the rock and gazed down into the cauldron below him. The frenzy of the rogue wave had diminished but there was still a rough swirling and swelling of the sea around the rocks. Then he saw his brother, head bleeding profusely and gripping with bloodied hands the sharp edge of a barnacled rock as the sea lifted and lowered him in an attempt to break loose his hold. Then he met hisbrothers eyes, and in Shanes fear filled gaze, Tom saw the desperate call for help.
And in his typically pragmatic way he responded with instant action. He danced his way down along a few rocks in a matter of seconds and threw himself into the sea and in a few quick strong strokes he had reached the rock to which Shane was clinging. He drew himself up onto the rock, and grabbing his brothers hands in a wrist lock hold, he pulled him from the sucking sea and together they stayed in a hug position until the swell of the sea was reduced enough for them to clamber upwards to safety.
And that is how it would have been, had the unexpected not occurred. For all intents and purposes Tom was poised to act, but his body just would not respond to the signals from his brain. His ability to act was frozen in time and instead his body was a sculpture in stone with a feeling of icy nausea welding him to the spot. That realisation in itself only exacerbated the icy grip of the panic that had completely immobilised him and everything happening around him was muted and in slow motion. And then he saw reflected in his brothers eyes the realisation that he was not going to come to his rescue and a strange hurtful tone spread across Shanes face as he struggled with the understanding of it. But all Tom could do was stand and stare out from his disassociated body while an anguishing dread and regret sweep through his being and threatened to explode him into pieces. Ironically it was a feeling not unlike those which constantly swamped his father.
Staring helplessly, he saw a look of profound sa dness sweep over Shanes face; a sorrow so deep and disturbing that it almost defied expression and it broke Toms heart. It was the horror-etched look of Shanes realisation that he was lost, that there would be no saving him today and that now was the moment of his dying. From his perch of frozen immobility, Tom stared with horrific disbelief as he saw his brother flounder with each rise and fall of the swell as the waves snapped at him in attempt to loosen his grip while his mind was screaming to his brother to not give up. Just hang on, hang on, Ill get to you soon enough, so will dad. Come on Shane, hang on. FOR FUCKS SAKE, HANG ON!
What Tom cou ld not know was that Shanes fall had damaged something in his brain, and as a result his younger brother was slipping into unconsciousness at the time he was urging him to fight for his survival. Shane was already drifting into unconsciousness and in a matter of moments his grip was broken andToms beloved younger brother Shane was quickly drawn out to sea, his body never to be recovered.
Shane Macks death brought an unparalleled change in to the lives of his immediate family. Two days before the funeral, Owen Mack climbed a eucalyptus tree to the height of twenty feet and with a strong hemp rope secured tightly around his neck, he hurled himself into suicidal emancipation. Toms mother, overburdened with catastrophe and grief from both deaths, broke down at the funeral of her youngest son and something snapped forever in her head, thereafter causing her to be hospitalised and cared for in a home for the mentally ill equipped.
Thomas Mack had in effect lost every member of his family within the space of a week and the experience fostered in him the determination to never attach to another person as long as he lived. Ever afterward he chose to view life with a cold and intense disdain, and five years later at age eighteen he found himself compelled by social patriotic convention to join the Australian Army and dohis expected „bit for a country now at war. Two years later he was serving actively in the Middle East war. Naturally because of his isolationist nature, he loathed the army…it was an ant colony of overburdened organisation and control and he was sick to death of being one of the soldier-back pack carrying ants working for the fat cat- queen hierarchy whom he so vehemently despised.
For he saw only too clearly the big picture of how the servant ants were marshalled to do the dirty work of the master ants in a war designed to control the masses and enrich the royal clique, whose sole purpose was the further exploitation of other countries and the expansion of their own personal power and wealth. He well knew that in the scheme of things he was just cannon fodder and therefore expendable, which to a lone wolf like him was anathema. It was no wonder he had become rebellious and insubordinate, an attitude that had him regularly in detention barracks. His increasing belligerence finally had him brought forward for a court martial inquiry for severely assaulting an NCO. It was obvious that the authorities were going to make a severe example of him and he would have been imprisoned had there not been such a desperate need of fighting men to be deployed immediately. His case was therefore adjourned pending the cessation of hostilities, assuming he survived the forthcoming hostilities.
But as the vagaries of Fate or Life would have it, the small convoy in which Tom was being transported to the battlefront was ambushed by a German machine gun nest that had bunkered itself atop a small hill above the roadside. Everything happened so quickly and he found himself lying face down in the desert sand with the full sound of angry machine gun fire tearing at his eardrums and that same icy feeling of panic that had devoured him the day of Shanes death. He could feel the paralysis creeping through him until he could no longer move and his hands ached from the sheer pressure with which he clasped his rifle. His jaw was throbbing from the tension of his tightly clamped teeth and his eyes were bulbous and inflamed mimicking the very same look his father had when his nerves got the better of him. That frozen panic caused Tom to relive that terrible event, and in his mind, he was back there in time perched on the rocks watching his brother implore him to come to the rescue. And then suddenly from that almighty tension which gripped his body there came a round of shrieks and a flood of tears. The other soldiers with him behind the transport truck barricade thoughthe was breaking down with fear…and a couple of them suggested he take command of himself, but he heard nothing, only the sound of that rogue wave whooshing in and taking his brother to his watery grave.
The order was given to „fan out and return fire upon the German machine gun nest. The other soldiers leapt to the command, but Tom could not move because he was completely immobilised. From his perspective it seemed he stayed there cowering like a coward for a long time, but of course time stretches in such moments of trauma. Then somewhere he heard a wild scream as a bullet tore through one of his fellow soldiers and it was that scream that snapped him into decisive action. FUCK IT, he thought, hed had enough. He wasnt going to play their game any more. They werent going to court martial him and they werent going to get another days work out of him…and then a picture of his fathers suicide loomed in his minds eye and he understood how the old man must have felt, driven by forces beyond his control to take his own life.
Quickly then the slow motion and muted sequence of events took place. He hurled himself forward with a forceful volition that came from some other world. He was vaguely conscious of outstripping his contemporaries as he sprinted like a madman possessed towards the German machine gun nest. A bullet tore through his earlobe, another sliced through a few inches of flesh of his right thigh and another did the same to his waist; but he was completely oblivious to any of this because he was solely fixated with getting to the enemy and being gunned down in the process. The fact that his real enemy was the system, the military brass, his father, the rogue wave and his own sense of failure was beside the point; he was looking for a bullet with his name engraved upon it. And but for the vagaries of Fate or Life, he would have been cut down and counted as another statistic in the war with the Germans…but once more the unexpected occurred.
Before Tommy Mack he knew it, he was firing into the face of the first machine gunner he saw. It was a sun-tanned face with a shock of closely cropped whitish hair and wide blue eyes. The gunner was stunned to think that this lone renegade soldier had got through the maze of fire that had been laid down, and just before the bullet from Toms rifle tore his head off his shoulders, the German gave an almost imperceptible smile of respect, one soldier to another. With an instinct born of a natural predator and survivor, he turned his rifle to whomever else was in the fortified sand bunkered machine gun nest and in less than a dozen seconds the task at hand was done.
When Tom Mack snapped out of his trance and back to his normal awareness, he was stunnedto see the damage he had done…four dead men and a heros cheer to boot. „Fuck it, he cursed with bitter disappointment, „Im still alive, and he sank to the ground screaming hysterical obscenities. Ever after, the reluctant hero, Tom Mack became known as machine gun Mack and he spent the rest of the war cringing at mention of his heroic action for which he received the DSO Medal. In addition to the Medal (which he gave to an Arab boy the day he was awarded it) and the unwanted notoriety (that he could not stem), he inherited the second of two fearful experiences that would plague him for a lifetime.
“With the proposal made, there existed no real reason to refuse.”… Bill Rodick.
Roy and I were sitting on the rooftop one late afternoon during my meal break, when he broached me with talk about his plans. „As you know I plan to do a bit of travelling in search of a storm before I let this cancer bug devour me completely, he said decidedly. „Youll be right, I said encouragingly, „youve got this cancer bug fucked up with all your Tai Chi and Yoga shit. He took in a deep breath and for a few moments he had that faraway look before he responded. „The fact is Sprite; I know the fruit is overripe and falling from the vine. The countdown has started and I intend to do some outstanding things before the darkness comes.
„Its not darkness Roy, I said glibly. „Its the light that blinds the soul into its own recognition, according to your philosophy of it.
„Its the shadow and the shade that the sun has always sought, he countered. „Its but a maskand one of many that the psyche sheds like a snake sloughs off a skin, I contended in our „tit for tat fashion of talking.
„Its the goodbye we say in order that we may again say our „hello, said he.
„The Prodigal Son returning, said I.
„The eternal waves pounding along the shore.
„A door that closes as another yawns open, said I.
„A new dream dreamed.
„All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream, said I, quoting Poe. „Chaos. Chaos, he said pretending to be aghast.
„Order. Order, I insisted.
„Fear. Fear, said he eyes wide with mocking fright.
„Where. Where? he asked, feigning confusion.
„Here. Here, said I, rubbing my genitals and he broke into a laugh which quickly turned into a coughing spasm. Hed been having a few of these of late and I suggested he give up the cigars. „Youre asking a dying man to give up one of his few remaining pleasures? Never! he barked.
And this is how it had been between us since that first night sharing a cigar and watching the storm rolling in. The subject matter of his conversations always touched something in me and provoked a deep conjecture on my part. It was as if I was the student and he the wise teacher, although he would reject any such association. He was too evolved to be concerned with the petty machinations of his fellow man. He knew others were on their own path, as he was on his, and it was not our right to interfere in the agenda of another without request. And in the solitude of that moment I recalled what hed told me once.
„If you can help others, then yes, help them. If they ask for your counsel, the n give it. Do all you can and say all you must, but be sure not to infringe with those actions and words. People are crazy critters, he said tersely, „to know them even remotely requires an astute psychology because people are always looking for ways in which they can feel slighted or hurt.
„And why is that? I inquired.
„Because people are generally insecure and therefore have an inflated sense of their own self importance, he answered. „It goes back to their upbringing which involves parental and environmental influences. And because this has generally been the format through which the individual has lived life, there seems no other avenue available to explore in order to change that format. In short, they are used to their hurt. They even like their hurt because at least they feel familiar and safe with it. Better the devil you know than the one you dont, he quoted. „So they seek to be hurt in order to be recognised and feel alive and because being hurt supports and props up their low levels of self esteem. Its a cruel and vicious cycle which very few seem interested in smashing.
„One must always tread cautiously when one is offering something of greater value to another whose own sense of value is proportionately low. Your advice, your wisdom, your strength and your self worth, is all inclined to make them feel ill at ease with the recognition of their own inadequacies. This is where discipline enters into partnership with psychology…knowing when to speak and when to act, and how far to go with the knowing, and just when to hold back in order to create the most beneficial effect. This requires an understanding born of experience which must serve to help put back the pieces of a person whom you have torn asunder. And sometimes you simply have to walk away from helping a person because something tells you that they will not be receptive or strong enough to be challenged in such a way. That too requires the strength of a rare discipline, because no one likes to see another suffer.
„Okay, Okay, I said following him. „I get all of that, clear as a mirage. What I want to know is, how does one arrive at that level of astuteness and discipline? How did you get there?
„One begins that journey, and it can be a long journey, by examining the contents of ones mind. That is to say, ones thoughts and motivations and feelings, past and present. Theres a hell of a lot of stuff that has gone on, and is still going on inside that eternity called your Mind, he said tapping his temple.„Thoughts tie in with beliefs and beliefs tie in with feelings and feelings tie in with actions…and together they create the world we know and experience.
„And sometimes thoughts and feelings and actions are repressed, like lost fil es in a computer. Theyre there; full of information, but you cant find them to know about their contents. And it is the hidden portions that you must mine and bring from the surface for examination. They are the diamonds and gold that are hidden in the muck of false thought and feeling. And when recovered and understood will prove to be the most priceless gift you earnthe right to receive…that of the gift of freedom from your unknown psychological captors. He paused and I could see just how much he was enjoying his own delivery. „Every time you find a fear within yourself, you find a potential gem. Its the same with a challenge. Fears are emergent information wanting to be exposed and understood. You do yourself and the fear a disservice, when you avoid the therapeutic encounter. So encounter it with joy.
„But where do I start this process of self examination? I wanted to know. „Start where you like, he said, „ by examining the highs and lows of your lifetime, those experiences that were intense for you, and leave no stone upturned and look deeply into the feelings of those encounters. Your feelings/intuitions must be your greater guides. By rule of thumb, I would say that if you sense fear in anything you attempt to examine, let that be the clue that something is hiding…therein lies your instant challenge and your immediate reward. Let fear be your key, he insisted and smiled as if in approval of his dialogue. „Bloody hell, I exclaimed. „That could take a lifetime.
„It actually does, he agreed. „But think of the rewards; the freedom from your past of repetitive behaviours and situations, the expulsion of your demons and the arrival of a purer energy for creating your every day life in a more impeccable fashion in a Brave New World of personal choice. And lets face it, after having cleaned out the shitty warrens of your mind, why would you want to make a new start by making the wrong choices? Do you get what Im on about, boy? he said sternly, staring me in the eyes. I nodded and smiled at old Silver Jesus on his soapbox.
Suddenly I felt strangely aloof from the world as I sat with Roy on the rooftop splashed in yellow sunshine. I knew that he would be leaving soon and I knew that I would once more feel abandoned. We had shared so much of each other in such a short time and he had settled my anxiety and made my days more fulfilling than they had been in many months, and had at least taken my mind off my vandalising depression. But now he was going off to die like some old elephant with his dignity intact and those thoughts of death caused me to recite how McDonnell Stubblety had put it in his short story about being visited by Death. „Death was an unseen presence as I struggled for my commonsense. There was no intimidation on its part. Rather it looked upon me inquiringly and I suspect, lingered for effect. What was It thinking, I wondered? Should I speak and do as Elliot said, and ask „Dare I eat a peach?
Death must have read my thoughts that night, for I plainly heard its voice disturb my quiet.
“Do you think you wise and good,” Death asked, “to enter into the next unknown with your known as yet misunderstood?”
Roy thanked me for the recitation and said how aptly its author had put it. „The saddest fate, and there is none sadder, he emphasised, „is that some souls arent even aware they need to examine themselves. They live their half lives allowing institutions and others to make the decisions for them. And so they go to the grave never knowing their full potential as a human being, let alone a spiritual one. And worse still, when nearing death they see the illusion of their life stripped away, and they know then with clarity that their life has been a sham. And that at best it was a gift they took for granted and so their last look at life becomes their first glimpse of hell as they die in disappointment with an empty. He shook his head and shivered his shoulders and looked to the heavens. „Thank you Light of Righteous Deliverance, for bringing me out of my darkness, he said with reverence.
For a while we sat in silence watching the last throes of sun play meekly with the scattered clouds. His gaze seemed far away and I expect he was thinking of his future waiting to play itself out for the very last time. Somewhere on the rooftop a group of pigeons started their deep throated cooing and it caught both our attentions. The cotton ball clouds drifted idly above us, and for a moment I went back to my old childhood practice of trying to assume shapes out of their shapelessness, without much success. I think it was easier with the imagination of a free wheeling child than it is with the restrictive jaundiced views of an adult; and a profound sadness rose up in me with a strange reminder of something ancient in me that I had lost
„Well, Marty, this is how it is, he said breaking into my thoughts. „Im checking myself out of this concrete cubicle of high tech conditioning and Im heading north to a particular place of beauty…how about you?
I laughed. „Im the other end of the equation, I said vaguely. „Im locked in until retirement, superannuation and all that shit. Come back in twenty years and well talk about it.
„You wont be here much longer, he said with certainty.
„You reckon? I countered.
He smiled a knowing smile. „You my boy have a future elsewhere, doing something quite different.
„You tell the future now, I said curtly.
„Trust an old mans intuition, he said, „theres a star above your head and its leading you to better things.
„And wheres that? I insisted.
„Anywhere you want it to be, he replied.
„You mean I get a say in what Providence will deign? I asked with a hint of sarcasm. „Marty, you have always had a say in what you do with your life, he said flatly. „Then how come Im not a professional actor and a writer? I snapped.
„Because you havent tried, old cock, he said with knowing conviction. „Oh sure youve pursued it in thought and desire, and made the odd feeble attempt, but you havent really put it into action, so how can you ever know? Youre like Ken was when I first met him, he said ruthlessly. And of course he was right.
„So when do you desert the hospital ship? I asked him wistfully. He paused and then did the damnedest thing. He leapt out of his chair and spun around to face me and grabbed my hands firmly in his and fixed a pair of blazing blue eyes upon my startled orbs and said, „Whenever you are ready, sport?
I was momentarily perplexed. His movement had been so swift and agile, and then his question snared all of my attention.What did he mean by that? “Whenever you are ready, sport.” Did he think…was he asking me to…what the hell was going on?
Roys hands pinned me to the chair, or was I frozen there in that moment of minor chaos? Was he asking what I thought he was asking?
„Yes, he said, suddenly answering my mental question and I felt his hands squeeze mine affectionately. „Ive done some checking fella, and I know that at the moment the establishment is out to get you. Youre still obsessed with Polly and your fixation with your mothers death is truly morbid. Your lack of self-motivation is pathetic and youre a disappointment to yourself and others. Youre stagnating mentally and emotionally and if you dont make a change in your life soon you might not have a life left…so lets not bullshit each other, shall we. I looked directly into his eyes and I could truly sense his seriousness. And then he continued with his proposal. „Ive deduced that you have about three months long service up your sleeve, or six months at half pay…so what do you say…are you going to travel North with me? Ive got some good friends up that way and youd get a lot out of this adventure. We can smoke cigars on the beaches and watch the sun go down and come up and go down again. Chase girls, dreams, read poetry, get drunk, take drugs, get lost, be found, howl at the moon, raise hell, find heaven and then you can help me to die, okay. Are youin or out?
Whammy …right between the eyes. Shit…he wasactually asking me to travel with him…to just drop everything and go…bye bye babies. Suddenly I could feel his hands in mine, warm and affectionate, but my mind was a riot of thought. Why me? Whats in it for him? Is he afraid hell need help when the pain comes back? Have I got to nurse him? Whats this shit about helping him to die? Ive no wish to play a part in any of that. What the hell is up North…what people? How could he presume to know what would be good for me?
He seemed to be reading my mind because right there and then he jumped in and saved me from that old instinctive rationale that sucks the thrill out of an idea with its warning of caution, which by the time youve let it have its say, the moment to act independently of its control is gone, by which time life has left you behind. „This is your first real challenge as a free psyche, he said emphatically. „Imagine that from this moment on, you are reborn. Every choice, decision and act is a testament to the statement to the world at large of who you really want to be. This is your first step on a journey out of the primordial soup of your self-indulgent sadness and out into the open savannah land of adventure and wonder. ACT!...ACT! he shouted.
My body was shivering and I was prickly warm all over. I felt a soft sweat pop out in blush on my face and my arm pits were wet. The muscles in my solar plexus twitched like the muscles of a nervous horse and there was a fine pitched whistling in my ears. And I was suddenly literally alive in the moment of my perplexity and wonder. There were no extraneous portions of my thinking involved in any internal dialogue. There was just me, alive and alert in the spacious moment…and I had a decision to make.
It was a strange experience, and was not unlike one or two I have had before in my life; usually when I was placed in a stressful or dangerous situation. The incident with the lioness was one. And once when I was attacked by a thug and was placed in that fearful frozen moment, the same slow motion, unreal, surreal atmosphere enveloped me, making crystal clear every feeling, every thought and every act that took place in that moment. I have often thought that death would be like that. It seemed like I lay stranded for a long time in that frozen moment before I found the strength to voice my unexpected intention.
„Why the fuck not? I blurted out with an absolute conviction. „ We chase girls, get drunk, take drugs, howl at the moon, raise hell, search for heaven, and yes, Ill help you to die. And that was it…in a second I had made a choice to cut myself loose in the face of an unknown future based on a feeling of freedom that was deliciously coursing through my body and igniting fires in my brain. Endorphin ecstasy…gimme all you got. „Okay old timer, you got me, I told him acceptingly. „How long before you split…its going to take some time to organise the paperwork?
„Meet me at the Noosa pub two weeks from today, at noon andwell take it from there. Think you can make it?
„Yea, that should give me plenty of time, I told him, wondering why he was going on ahead rather than wait until I was ready and make the move together. Again he intuited my thoughts because he told me that he had friends to say goodbye to before beginning his journey. „I reckon that should do it, and thenIll catch the bus up to meet you at Noosa, I said.
„He smiled an impish chuckle and I thought it was because I had decided to join him in his adventure…but no.
„You have to hitch hike up to Noosa to make our appointment, he said dryly. „Hitch hike? I queried. „I can bus it easy!
„You haveto hitch hike, he told me flatly.
„Because thats the way you haveto start this journey, he replied.
„Ive never hitched in my life, I told him curtly, „and I hope I never will, I added feeling a little apprehension even at the thought.„Why do I have to? I asked with a perceptible snap. He smiled atmy mounting anxiety. „Thats how it has to be, he said. „If you are worthy of beginning this journey then you must take the first step toward not only facing your fear, but by way of making a solid gesture of commitment. If it comes too easy its not worth fighting for, he told me tartly. I grimaced my obvious distaste for such a venture and was about to protest when he told me that my hitching to make the appointment was the „grand gesture required to set the proper intentions in place. „This dear boy is your first test of power. The first fear to be overcome, he said with a solemn face.
I heard him, but my mind was away somewhere on the side of the highway standing for an eternity in the sun, despondent, dry in the throat, dust in the eyes and a flaring anger about to go out of control, while car after car sped by ignoring the lone and helpless hitchhiker who would have to spend that night somewhere off to the roadside in the scrub with the company of the cold and the ticks and the rain and wish thathed had brought some sleeping pills…lots of them.
„I will also hitch hike to Noosa, he told me solemnly, „for i t is the way of the journeyman to begin his travels by first facing and overcoming an obstacle. In your case, it is your fear to do what you have never done before, hitch hike. The simple act of hitching to meet up with me will indicate to your reality creating self that you are ready and worthy. He grinned with obvious mischief, but I was still standing there on the side of the road, nervousness crawling in my stomach, doubt in my head and feeling helpless and lost. „In any event, he continued, „I shall be up at Noosa…if you make it, well good. If you dont, so be it. I shall be on my merry way irrespective.
Then to partially set my mind at ease, he enumerated the best way to hitch hike. He must have done a fair bit of it at one time or another because he seemed to know what he was talking about. His first piece of advice was to dress for the part. „Think about your destination and the type of people who will be on the road. For instance, when hitching to a country townone should dress as much like a local as possible, he said. „When you travel with the poor, dress like the poor, when on your way to Camelot, dress like a knight, or at the least, a well bred squire. No sense dressing like a barbarian in order to enter Rome, he said with a laugh. He then suggested I carry a well-defined cardboard placard with the name of my immediate destination boldly printed upon it, with the word “please” under it, or “thanks”.
„And dont over pack, he told me. „People will hesitate to pick you up, let alone you and your mountain of belongings. Travel light and travel far, as the Zenists say. Then he explained the subtle nuances of stance and attitude. Posture was important. A determined and proud pose that showed quiet dignity and selfconfidence invariably drew the drivers attention towards you. And it was that confidence and surety of stance that often appealed to and assuaged the drivers initial judgment about hitchhikers in general, and you in particular.
He told me of his own preference not to hold out his thumb in the standard hitchhiking mode. He enjoyed varying the pose. An arm extended in the general direction of travel with the palm upturned as if feeling the fall of soft rain. A friendly hand wave as each car approachedand followed by said gesture was the best…it was friendly and therefore reassuring, he said. Simple hands in a prayer gesture combined with a warm smile, he thought also quite effective. „Vary your manoeuvresand enjoy the experience, he said, „and dont ever think youre not going to get a lift. And make a point of enjoying the moment of being where you are, the scenery, the clouds, the trees, the ants walking over your boots, the sounds of the birds and the rare Valiant Charger, Monaro or Morris Minor that comes your way. And give a friendly wave to every vehicle just as it passes you by…because that same goodbye gesture will be seen by the other oncoming vehicles and will often telegraph a message of cordiality, which may have the effect of helping the driver to make his or her decision in your favour. But whatever you do, enjoy the moment and all will be well. I really believe that, Marty.
He then elucidated the psychology of the motorist and explained their distrust of hitchhikers. Fear of the unknown and complete change of routine was the prime reasons for never stopping; also because they were often afraid of connecting with their humanity through the medium of your own. The secret was to show them something that they could identify with and thats where stance and dress and facial expression played their part. He also emphasised that I eye ball the driver and the occupants and think of them as being people I would dearly like to meet and talk to for the duration of my ride with them. „And think how much they will enjoy your company, he insisted, „after all every person comes with a gift for you if you see them in that way. Also, know when and when not to talk…and dont talk nonsense. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable, just sit in your own space and you cant go wrong. He punched me softly on the arm and instructed me as he so often had, „Go with the flow.
And he w as right as I found out when I actually „hit the road. I gave myself three days to get to Noosa, which showed just how dubious I was about getting a lift. I had one small backpack with a down sleeping bag [to allay the fear I had of sleeping off the roadside] an inflatable pillow, a plastic bivouac sheet to repel rain, a small towel, a change of underwear and socks, spare jeans and a pair of dress shirts and a thickly insulated black parka jacket and a flat folding canvas hat. My hobo pantry consisted of a bottle of water, tobacco, several pieces of fruit and a little pot to ease the pain of potential boredom and doubt. And for the first time in my life I took some good advice from my father who suggested that I buy a video camera and record my journey. The printed sign gave people the ease of knowing where I wanted to go and time to decide if that was suitable to them…and the self esteem stance gave me confidence. The smile was the hardest part because you feel so false smiling at complete unknowns speeding by in the car…but after a while I got the hang of it. I also started enjoying seeing the faces of the driver and passengers; some stone-faced, others awkward with eyes dead ahead, others looking with curiosity and awe. Young and old people, kids and pets, a virtual kaleidoscope of humanity with whom I would dearly have loved sharing time while getting a lift to my Noosa destination.END OF BOOK ONE. LAST TAKE…PART TWO.
“There is on the open road for the dry seafarer, a truck and trough of high adventure”…John Alan Hughes.
After twenty minutes on the highway a car sped by with two kids in the back who gave me wild friendly waves and smiles which I returned with a small bow of recognition as they passed by. At least not everyone thought I was a pariah, I thought with some relief. Ten minutes I later thrilled to see a car approaching with diminishing speed, suggesting that it pull off to the side and pick me up. My joy was trebled when I discovered that it was the same car with the two kids in the back that had recently zoomed past.
Once ensconced inside the father explained that he had never picked up a hitchhiker before in his life, and until that day had never intended to. But it was at the insistence of his kids that he turned around and did so. „Theyseemed so taken by the „friendly man on the side ofthe road, he said. Consequently we all got along just fine, talking about where I was going, what my plans were, the state of the world and solving global issues as we cruised along. The kids were a real delight for me and I was fondly reminded of my times with Pollys baubles and I decided at the first opportunity to write them a letter telling of my new adventure. Running through the gamut of my command of accents and impersonations with the kids in the car, I felt a part of me had been restored and I felt positive rather than dubious about my new adventure. Just before they dropped me off at the Caboolture turn off I acted upon a spontaneous whim and slipped their mother a ten dollar note and instructed her to buy ice creams for all and sundry by way of thanks for the first lift I had ever received. „No, its I who thank you, Bill said proffering his hand. „Thanks to you, Im gonna to look at hitchhikers in a different way…all the best with your journey.
Thirty minutes later I met Brother Phil, a lone man about my age with longish premature silver hair who was on a road journey of his own. When he flung the front door of his yellow Mitsubishi van open and greeted me with a broad warm smile, I was taken aback to notice his nudity just before he laid a sarong across his lap. He quickly explained that he wasnt “suspect”, he simply loved driving in his birthday suit…then added quickly that he even refused the use the seat belt when beyond the city limits and made it clear that I too was not obliged to comply with such dictatorialconvention. „Fug em, he spat in a brusque Aussie drawl,„theyd have us paying for fuckin oxygen if they could get away with it. When he introduced himself as Brother Phil, I thought he must have belonged to a religious sect, but he informed me he had actually changed his name by deed poll to Brother Phil. „Were all part of the brotherhood of man, he said by way of explanation and in that statement he revealed his all. He was the perfect example of the Marxist individual with a burning belief in the unity of all men and nations, but with one great difference, he believed in the spiritual heritage of the human being and he turned out to be a good omen regarding my journey.
He was from Lismore in northern New South Wales where he had just finished his degree as a naturopath and was enjoying a well-earned period of freedom. He was eventually going to head further north but for the time being he wanted to hang out around the sunshine coast. He travelled with a surfboard, guitar, harmonica and an Indian drum and lived like a new age hippie, and boy could he talk about anything, speaking at a frenetic pace that left me feeling breathless. At one point he launched into a treatise about cosmic energy, and how he viewed it as a language and tried to live his life according to its dictates. I had found a real spin-head here, I thought after surviving his first deluge of drowning dialogue…but the point did not escape me that there was a definite synchronistic pattern taking place. BrotherPhil was merely embellishing Roy Holls philosophy.
„For instance, he saidfiring from the hip, „when I saw you on the road I started to feel a twinge of good energy and I thought yea, I just gotta pick this dude up, man, good energy, good enough time to do it, besides, hey, I get to help a brother right,and thats all good karma, for me for you andfor the mother, which was his pet name for the universe at large. Then he asked me for my story and after I had given him the quick version which intrigued him no end. E must have felt some kind of dictate from the cosmic force because he suggested that I hang out with him for the next few days. „We were meant to meet man, thats how the magic works. I was looking for company and you were looking for a lift, seems logical that we make the most of what time the mothers given us, right? I nodded my agreement andrecalled Roys adage, “when you dont know…go with the flow”. So for the next few days I floated in Brother Phils slipstream and had a ball.
Once again, by synchronistic coincidence he also practiced yoga, and it was his dream to open up a kind of health farm centre in a bush land area where people in need of healing could simply come and hang out and let nature do her work on them. True to his belief in “what comes around goes around” he wasnt interested in making money. He figured that if he had certain talents and could do something productive for others then that was reward enough.„Besides, itll come back top me, he said with absolute certainty as he ran his slender fingers through his billowing thin silver hair. He told me frankly that he lived off unemployment benefits while he travelled and earned extra pocket money by busking with his guitar and harmonica, singing his own philosophical and protest songs, some of which he just ad-libbed in the moment as he went along. He considered himself something of a harbinger, a wandering minstrel spreading the Word to any ears belonging to an intellect intent on listening.
After a yoga work out just before sunset which he insisted I share with him, we shared few late afternoon beers while he cooked a meal for us in the beachside camping grounds where hed parked overnight. Then we lounged about on a large hemp groundsheet and alternatively played guitar and sang. His songs cleverly protested a whole range of political issues; and had some pretty cutting edge lyrics about consumerism, rising crime and lack of police protection, pollution, jealousy and greed, domestic abuse, suicide, abortion, racism and rape, world starvation, religious insanity, incarceration, the disparity between rich and poor, the right for euthanasia and the lunacy of war and of course the encroaching Armageddon; all of which he sang in an expressive style, something like a cross between Bob Dylan and Tom Waites. We shared a joint and languorously watched the evening melt away in the profusion of mirth and music. My playing around with his knockabout steel stringed Ibinez guitar rekindled in me a wish to get one for myself.
We talked; or rather I listened into the small hours of the morning. His hyperactive upbeat energy made him seem like three people in one, and his enthusiasm was like a virus; it spread quickly and infected you in the nicest possible way. It didnt take me long to realise that he was a guy whocouldnt suggest changing a car tyre without giving it sense of urgent anticipation of enjoyment. He had this charming manner of throwing his head back with a sudden jerk every time he had a good laugh. I felt it was a goodthing he didnt wear dentures otherwise hed lose them down the back of his throat.
He was very big on the theory of One, which translated into a belief that all things and creatures are composed of the same energy and therefore intimately involved with one another, particularly in a metaphysical sense. He said that once this theory of belief became acceptable at a global level, then the true new age of enlightenment would be upon us. „Belief in this notion is the cosmic mandala which will be instrumental in humankind shifting its conscious awareness from one of separatism to one of unity, he said offering me the roach of the joint which I graciously refused.
He was totally against separatism. In his view it was singularly the most responsible attitudefor the worlds woes. „The moment you separate yourself from something or someone, you build a gulf based upon difference, and therein lays the danger. Another persons difference becomes something to fear, therefore something threatening, and that then necessitates you defending your position. I objected slightly from my burden of over euphoria to tell him that difference, like diversity, was an essential ingredient of life.
„Yea, yea, I know whatcha ya mean, he concurred flicking the roach away with a small salute. „What Im saying is that there is better way to relate to these differences. Theres no need to bring fear into the equation and fuck it all up. Good, Im glad we got that right, I thought, or I thought I thought…man, I was stoned. He also disliked any philosophy of thought that tended towards secularism, even the socially imposed ideas of fashion and art and moral behaviour. He insisted he was not advocating anarchy, but rather an epitomised concept of anarchic liberalism that would be encouraged to flourish within a system whose only parameters were based upon what lovingly served the individual and society best.
He talked about extra terrestrial existence, saying that they were us in the future, or rather one of the probabilities our race could experience if we gave ourselves the chance to live in peace long enough to evolve to the spaceman ideal. When I asked him if he really believed in extra terrestrial intelligence, he gestured with uplifted eyebrows and hands, „Where do you think computer technology came from?
„From the human intelligence and endeavour,” I think I told him, having trouble articulating my response.
„And where did human intelligence come from? he asked challengingly.
„From evolution, I slurred, ay least it sounded like I slurred, or was the moment only stretching itself out and thereby making my words seems elastically voiced. Jesus, where did he this pot from? I mused euphorically.
„Then where is the missing link, man? he fired back.
„I expect were the missing link, I told him, surprised by the coherence of my reply. „Exactly, he said with a victorious smirk.
„ Human intelligence was grafted to a particular ape species by analien species…not as an experiment like our scientists would do, but as an exercise in self-perpetuation of themselves and their intelligence and with no malice intended, like a gift. Yea yea, thats it, they gifted us the DNA structure which was then allowed to form accordingly in response to the external environment of the worldover the aeons of evolution…and this gift came with no strings attached, there could be no interference from its parent source. Christ, I was glad he was doing the talking rather than me.
„And built into the evolutionary DNA is a psychic DNA which can be accessed and is the metaphysical heritage of every human being…thats where the psychic attributes of our brain come into being and when we evolve to that level, thats when well really start making it on earth like it is in heaven…you getting my drift, cobber? he asked. I fluttered my eyebrows to show that I was kindagetting his drift. „Thats why you get these rare and gifted personalities in flesh, he said, machine gunning his dialogue again. „Plato, Socrates, Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammad, Merlin, Bacon, Shakespeare, Michelangelo Mozart, Edison, Burton the explorer, Picasso, Arigo the psychic surgeon, Bose, Mother Theresa, you, me, blah, blah, blah. While I was following his thrust I could feel the barrage of his verbal bullets tearing through the spongy mass of my intoxicated intellect; and I couldnt help but see him as a younger version of the saintly Roy Holl.
„You a believer? he asked, after giving himself a moments rest which seemed like minutes to me. „I thinks so, bit Im not sure either, I replied sucking in a deep breath of night air to keep my mental equilibrium.
„Thats good, man, he congratulated. „You know, I dont get the guy who sayshes an atheist. How the fuck can he be an atheist when he has no proof that there is no„Source thing” out there, anymore than the Agnostic has no proof that „Its not out there. At least the Agnostic is being honestly objective and leaving himself open to the chance possibility that „Something may be out there. I reckon the bastards are intellectual cowards, he spat with some venom.
He also advocated the theory that the very wealthy and powerful of the world were organised as a whole and through their immense power, were responsible for global politics and therefore the orchestration of wars and the divisive diversions that were employed to insure their power and controlthe masses. „Their influence is vast, man he said, „ and about the only thing they cant influence, although they are causing it to change, is the climate, but give them the technology andthey will…I tell you man its spooky, but ya just gotta go on and enjoy the moment and spread the word.
He also thought there may be a chance that certain elements of alien intelligence had broken the universal law of non interference and infiltrated the human equation and was a controlling aspect of this select club of ruler ship. He told me he had heard of a theory that these beings were an exploratory group from another planet which was dying from lack of water, and that it was the water they coveted for its molecular value which they required desperately for a variety of reasons pertaining to their use of technology and continued existence; and that was why the earth was drying up…so not only were we causing the evaporation and depletion of our water, but it was also being siphoning off in an advanced technological mannerto their own planet. „Stealing our water, man, he said with disgust andnot entirely dubious that it was being done. „They dont mean us any harm directly, he said, „but then they dont mean us any good indirectly either…but I choose not to believe that. Id rather believe that well evolve wisely and make contact with this friendly intelligence and work together for our own mutual benefit.
Stoned Brother Phil said that our first signal to this outside intelligence of our own advancement was when we exploded the atomic bombs, and that it announced to this stellar intelligence that we were entering into a cycle of technological expansion that was not unlike their own and that not long after that there was that famous UFO crash from which the Americans retrieved their beginnings of binary technology which is still affecting the world.„If all goes according to plan, he said, his voice racing to catch up with his thoughts, „then in this scenariowell be joining a federation of evolved planets…but if we dont change our present course of action and move into global human unity, then man, were fucked.
His views on one parent families were equa lly emphatic. „Man, it grieves me deeply to see so many children being born to such young single parents, and these kids, many of them half siblings to one another, will in most cases never having a complete family unit…there will always be that vital parental figurehead missing, as well as sets of grandparents and cousins andit bodes for no good man…were creating a generation of broken and half- empty human beings, he said wistfully looking out to sea briefly before launching into more frenzied speech.
„I think people should be free to do as they wish, but within the boundary of how it affects another, he said firing up another half joint hed produced from a shirt pocket which I vowed there and then not to partake of. He then explained in detail how the decision by adults to break up a relationship is one thing; but when a child is involved, they have no legitimate right to cause unnecessary damage. Children were being used as a means of barter, affection trading and as weapons and levers in families and in courtrooms. He felt the parent who simply chooses to have a child for the sake of doing so because they have nothing else in life and to get a single parents pension, were not only abusive of the system, but also of themselves and their child, and the world system considering the world was already grossly overpopulated with strugglers.„Children are our seeds man, and therefore the worlds future…if the next two generations are products of a one sided divided family unit, then instead of developing a world of unity and cooperation what we will have created is a bi- polar world of separatism and conflict, and the world to date has never functioned successfully in that way…its basically contrary to the nature of human beings, he insisted as he sucked in a long draught of pot smoke and then added solemnly, „honour thy mother and thy father. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Brother Phil on a roll.
He also admitted to me that in the past he had erred gravely. Drugs had controlled him to the point where he became a complete slave tohis addiction. „I got into heroin and in that relationship there can only be one master and one slave, he stated coldly. „People think in their minds that they can be strong, butthinking that is the first step to hell…fellow travellerdont ever go near that shit…ever, he said with icy warning, „better be an alcoholic, its cheaper and youll live longer. He spoke of a wife and two children whom he deserted before he even gave them chance to know him. „Hell, I didnt know myself, he spat angrily above the softsong of the incoming surf, „I was so irresponsible and addicted, how in gods name was I equipped to be a husband, a provider, a father and a friend when I couldnt even do the same for myself, so I bolted.
„But you obviously changed, I said, as I waved away his offer of the joint. „Yup, I changed good and proper, he said with a voice sounding as far away as were his recollections of that time. Under a three quarter full moon luminous clouds eased their way across the mirror sky. The sea breeze picked up and the white frothed lipped waves reflected brightly as they curled to crash into a flurry of foam and sound and I paused to reflect on how effortlessly well my day had panned out. So this was going the flow.
„A car crash, he said, beg inning his startling story. „Not mine, but anothers; six years ago I was driving in my van about ten in the morning fucking wasted on drugs and making for the surf when I saw what looked like an upturned vehicle at the bottom of a fifty foot drop off to the side of the road. I wondered how the hell no-one else had not spotted it, but then Im one of these guys who can keep about ninety percent of my vision on the countryside and still drive safely even stoned and in the nude.
He paused for what seemed for him a long time, and then he continued in a voice pitched and vibrant as he painted the dreadful scene. „I stop and I see that theres a fairly new car at the bottom of the drop andI just know someones in there man, there was this kind of crawling in my guts you know, so I wrap a sarong around me and throw myself over the edge and go check it out…and there are clouds of fucking flies swarming inside the car… millions of the little black fuckers buzzing like crazy…fuck it was an annoying sound, man.
„ Anyway I charged through the flies and look into the car and I see this guy hanging upside down still in his seat belt with millions of the bastards stuck to his bleeding head. He looks deadso thank god he doesnt know theflies are all over him…next to him is his wife, her eyes are glazed and frozen openand I know shes gone. He swallowed hard and shook his head sadly. „And I have about five seconds to take all this in before I see the two kids…theyre crumpled up together under where their father has been bleeding over them. I call out asking if they can hear me and I have to shout, man, because the buzz of those flies is deafening… then I hear a groan come from the guys fly infested face and I give him a nudge and that sends millions of the bastards buzzing about. They went in my eyes, ears, mouth and nose, he laughed quickly, „they even went up my arse man,now thats a weird feeling, a swarm of blowies nesting up your brownie. Anyway the guy gives a good groan when I move him, but he cant speak, turns out his jaw is bustedbut hes alive…then just to be sure I check the kids.
Phil lifted his head to the sky and I could see the glaze of a tearful film under his eyes in the moonlight. He took a few moments to compose himself beforecontinuing. „The kids are dead I can tell by the way their heads hang from theirnecks, it aint normal looking, but I check em anyway by trying to tug them into awareness and calling to them…a boy and a girl about six and four, the same ages my kids were when I left them…and then suddenly something sweeps into that upturned wreck of death and I swear man. The buzzing stops, it goes all silent, like when youre in a waves tube, man. And then something comes over me like from…from God…and man,thats when I start to fall to pieces.
I suddenly realise, heres this guy hanging in there being a father and a husband and making a go of family life and now hes lost it all in one fatal stroke, while a gutless prick like me can just walk away and leave two kids and a wife dangling in their own emotional car wreck. Fuck man,something moved in me, he said, gesticulating with his hands and his voice quivering with emotion. „Something just went zap inside my head and everything in an instant became crystal clear…I see it all man, the bullshit of the life Id been living and the beauty of the life I should be living.
„Chunks of memories buried in bullshit surfaced like ugly turds…m emories of my own childhood, parents, early fears, my pains and my failures and my delusion became apparent. If life was a circus then I was its biggest clownand worse still, I wasnt even making people laugh. In an instant I hated myself and something inside me went ballistic man and I just started to punch myself all over myface in a frenzy of insanity. H e laughed loudly again. „Who else do you know who gave themselves a broken nose, two black eyes and a pair of fat lips…thats how much I flipped man. And then I felt such joy that I just starting crying like a crazy man…crying with gratitude and joy. Man, it was the weirdest most wonderful feeling I ever felt and I knew I had been reborn as if by some magic, in my private sanctuary of that death vehicle with a dead audience engulfed by flies. Anyway I finally get my act together and I drive to the nearest place I can find and call the coppers and the ambulance and the tow truck guys.
Brother Phil paused and sniffed mucous into his nasal passages which he swallowed with speed. „Funny, he said, „until that day Id refused to ever go to funerals, I mean when youre dead your gone right! I mean man, the only real reason I can see for going to a funeral is to perhaps support friends or family if they want it. Anyway I went to see the mum and kids off…I mean the bloke is all fucked up in hospital and cant attend, and the „new me knew it was the right thing to do…and they buried the old me that day too, he said with conviction and looking up towards the smiling moon. The first thingthe „new me did was to contact my family andtry and make repairs, which wasnt easy, but we did manage it and since thenwe Ive been a concerned and contributing father and friend…so the guy you see today is a man renewed and a man on a mission, he said proudly.
„Do you sti ll keep in touch with the guy from the accident? I asked.
He nodded. „It took a long time for him to really heal you know, all the psychological damage…but when I saw him last he was doing okay. He has it bad every now and then with the frigging nightmares, but shit how do you ever get over something like that? It was hell for him to hang for those long hours and see them around him dead and blaming himself….it drove him a little crazy as you can imagine. The sadness of the story had made me focus on my own past trauma and I realised that my prolonged grief seemed somewhat selfish and neurotic compared to what that man had to go through, and I felt somewhat humbled.
Suddenly Phil started to laugh, probably a release mechanism for him I thought, after all, it was a hell of a thing for him to have to go through. „I know I shouldnt laugh, he admitted genuinely„but when I remember how much of a hatred and a desire for revenge that poor bastard had for fliesit makes me laugh, and he did so again loudly and openly, his voice strangely in tune with the sounds of the surf and wind…and in that strange cosy moment I decided that I would keep a travellers journal in which to record my voyage and just such stories as this.Chapter 2.
“To adventure is to incur the occurrence of spontaneity.”…Dan Pearl.
The following morning after we had done a steady walk, short jog and a session of Yoga, we hounded the pawn shops until I found a perky little classical guitar with a travelling canvas case. I also picked up a hard backed journal which I brought up to date while Brother Phil surfed his heart out.„Yea yea make sure you keep a record of your travels man, he said with gusto after drying off and chopping up a whopping fruit salad for our lunch. „Its gotta be the record of your emerging into the light and springing into flight to find your freedom…a record of your rise to the summit, or your fall to ruin. His electric eloquence made me laugh as he fine tuned the strings pf my guitar and showed me a few sneaky bar chords and some simple blues licks which didnt take me long to get my fingers around.„Now you too are setto become a wandering singer of the new age word, he said with a meaningful wink.
Phil was also prone to fasting and quick to reveal its positive elements. Fasting was a process of energy conservation by way of giving the body arrest from its endless activity of assimilating foods and eliminating its wastes, which in turn energised the whole organism. It also made a statement of reverence for the temple that housed both the man and the spirit. He advised a regimen of yoga, such as rock walking, swimming, tree climbing and gardening, as well as nature observation and acquaintance with the earthly elements, meditation and visualisation of intended events to come. It was a period of time in which to practice the aspects of generosity, consideration, tolerance, forgiveness and gratitude.
He said that a four to five day fast was the ideal, and that for the first two days one should only drink rainwater; after that fresh fruit juices and clearherbal teas were okay…but one had to keep the water up. By the third day the body started to operate on its own essential energy and it was quite surprising how deliciously active one could become; and a mood of euphoria signalled that the natural endorphins had kicked in. „Once I get that feeling I just wanna never start eating again, he said exuberantly and proudly told me he once fasted for two weeks and felt totally energised, and but for the start of mild hallucinations he probably would have continued longer.
He recommended that one should break a fast eating with either fruit or a fresh vegetable salad, well chewed and honoured by the mouthful. The following day one could beef up the meal with a variety of other foods, nuts, steamed vegetables, rye bread and maybe a little fish; but meat was out of the question because the whole idea was to remain free of the toxins that come into the body through eating the wrong foods. He even wrote down a list of all the foods to avoid and I was surprised to discover that if everyone followed his dietary advice whole supermarket chains would go broke. In the few days that I was with him, I thoroughly enjoyed breaking his kind of bread and I realised that the law of synchronicity had brought into my life a regimen of behaviour that I was compelled to henceforth make my own.
He also enlarged my knowledge of picking up and making conversation with women strangers. We attended a variety of venues listening to live bands, dancing and learning practicing the art of social interaction. Although I had the intelligence and articulation to hold down interesting conversation, I lacked the confidence to make the first move. It seems it had been a long time since I had been out socialising in any real sense and quite frankly, I felt inept. But he gladly gave me the benefit of his instruction which I thoroughly enjoyed observing at first hand.
„Women playing the poker machines are a perfect example, he told me, „you can take your time and make like youre looking around the machines if youre nervous. At the same time you can see which girls are with guys and which are not. He would point out one girl in particular and then have me go play the machine next to her while he ambled over and showed me the routine. His opening line was to say hello with a big boyish warming smile and then ask if they were having any luck. He would follow this with an almost hateful dialogue about the machines, and how next time he plays themhes going to bring a claw hammer with him and teach the bloody things the fundamentals of sociability and refund. His next question was to ask if they were local, and from the voice and body language he would discern whether to hang in with a bit more chit chat or not.
Using humour was a very big tool with him. „You gotta get em to relax man, thats the secret because if they laugh that means they feel safe and then you gotta find out if they want a bit of company. I always tell themIm having my last drink and then Im off…that creates a safety zone with them, a time limit, then you ask if you can buy them a drink and you watch their reaction and thatll alert you to their interest or lack thereof. If theyre keen then you can suggest sharing ten dollars in a combined attempted to beat every stolen cent out of these bastards of a machines which owe youthe house you couldve bought if it wasnt for your own stupidity and their unquenchable thirst for your hard earned money. If they agree, you extend your hand in introduction and from there you can be sure that you are in a good position to talk more andthats how you get to know each other better and thats what makes the silly old world go around and around.
He said that basically the same approach was employed in any situation. The key was to strike up conversation. „After all, he said, clarifying things for me, „we boys are the initiators, its up to us to make the first move and flutter our feathers, do our dance and preen and prance and flash our dick. A womans anticipation suffers from a strong sense of scrutiny, which is why men should act with spontaneity and indifference. Women know the have the final power over we poor bastards, he said truthfully, „but we strike the match that may or may not ignite the bonfire of our mutual incineration. If the match is too big and bright and flashyyoure liable to scare the wood away…on the other hand if your match is too weak and timidshell look elsewhere for the spark of life, get it sport… you gotta act maturely and with indifferent confidence. Basically women arent too concerned with looks, certainly not the way we are, they fall in love with their ears, we fall in love with our eyes, so easy conversation is the path to take. By the same token if you get the cold shoulder or the abrupt arse or any kind of rejection,thats when you make an apology for being an embarrassment and make your dignified exit.Hell, Ive even had one or two call me back after having done so, so you never know…theyre funny wonders these women. To stress his point he often approached girls in the street, on the beach and in shops by striking up conversation by asking for directions or the time; purposely mistaking someone for someone else who looked like a friend was a good one. I found his flirtatious encounters most entertaining and I rhetorically dubbed him the Minister for Romance. He must have had a very high success rate with women because they obviously liked his style and sparky personality. I believe that he was genuinely interested in their company and conversation and on several occasions he was a certainty to be in like Flynn…but not once did he ventured further into the arena of conquest. He played, but never joined the team. I wondered if perhaps he was gay and so when I had the opportunity I delicately inquired why he didnt grab what I considered to be such delectable opportunities for a dalliance. His reply was as usual, flamboyant and riddled with esoteric innuendo.
He didnt take things any further simply because he practiced Tantric sex rituals; one of which was to abstain from over orgasm via masturbation and sex for sex sake. The Tantric way was to collect and store the natural Chi energy of the body rather than waste it by way of frivolous sexual activity, and like fasting served the same purpose of accumulating essential energy to use in whichever way one wished to direct it. He stated indefatigably that it improved his application ability, either master new guitar riffs, write songs, surf better, dream more coherently and be more perceptive with the world around him, as well as making challenges and fears less of an effort to meet and overcome.„Youve heard of the saying, “flog yourself to death”, well, its true, he said, „masturbation and casual sex just drains myessence.
I felt compelled to ask him if he ever got lonely for a woman and he answered that he did. This prompted me to question why would someone want to deny themselves something that was not only healthy, but also the very thing they wanted? It didnt make any sense to deny the natural impulse to seek sexual gratification just to save energy for other pursuits. Surely one could find a harmonious balance in the pursuit of gathering power and spending pleasure? He agreed, adding that he was storing his energy for precisely the very thing that he desired. His deliberate abstinence was designed to draw the sexual energy of another towards him; this other he stated flatly was the girl of his dreams.
For a few years now he had been creating in his mind the kind of relationship it was to be. Thats why he didnt indulge in casual sex. „If I spend my sexual energy on just anyone, he said, „then I am sending a message to the creative mind that I am not really serious about my desire for the ideal. And he argued that every time he abstained, his resolve and belief in the outcome of his quest was encouraged and strengthened. „By use of visualisation and belief we create and draw into our lives the object of our desire, he said all knowingly. „Ive been doing it since I entered rehabilitation seven years ago…thats how I got through the horror of my withdrawal from heroin addiction, he said bluntly.
On the day of our departure Brother Phil dropped me on the highway heading to Noosa. We stood on the side of the road and said our good-byes. „Remember the worlds an oyster and youre the pearl, he said, clasping me in a strong armed hug. I squeezed his biceps and said mirthfully, „Nice muscle, and chuckled. „Oh clam up, he punned smilingly. Then before he climbed into this vehicle he gave me the gift of a mantra. He said it had come to him the night beforeand that from now on this would be my “power phrase of Blessing” to all and sundry. GBYA…pronounced Ga-Bi-Ya. He told me that is was an abbreviation for, God Bless You Always.
„GBYA, I said.
„NAMASTA, he returned, and then he told me that as I was beginning a new step of my journey it was only appropriate that I say a complete goodbye to the previous step. He then he draped his not so fragrant sarong over my head like a shroud, which I left him naked as a light bulb as he climbed into his vanand took off…I smiled and closed my eyes and wished that our paths might someday cross again.