Little did I know where it would take me. I landed in Perth, as far from Sydney as I could afford, and tried my luck with a hostel that promised a job. I needed a change. I needed to change. My logic was that the further I was from everything and everyone I knew, the easier it would be. After a while I met a Dutch guy who was driving around Australia from Sydney to Sydney. He invited me to the rest of the journey. I said I didn’t have enough money. He said he didn’t either, when we ran out of dough we’d just pick fruit or some other work. So I said why not, and we recruited two others and began.
What I saw was more than a frame should attempt to hold, wonders so beautiful that they only belong in the heart, and so permanent that nothing is lost if they’re forgotten. What I felt was absolute freedom- no cellphone reception, no task except our next target, no walls except the horizon. We went to places where the only signs of human life were us. There was Shell Beach, whose name is self-explanatory. We visited the Pinnacles, a white sand field where meters-tall calcium deposits stand as the sole survivors of millennia of erosion. We even saw a shark, just a baby who didn’t know where it was supposed to be hunting, but I met a surfie who had seen her friend get snatched off of his surfboard by a Great White. And kangaroos. They were like deer in Texas, in the desert, on the beach, everywhere. Sunsets replaced television, and the moon and stars, freed from their competition with city lights, reassumed their natural role. And yeah, I picked a lot of fruit, canteloupes and capsicum to be exact. I even did 3 weeks as a glassie in a bar. This was a 3-month trip, mind you.
But what impressed me the most were the signs. Everything I saw was awakening thoughts in my mind. Everything was too beautiful, too calm, too perfect and utterly real to be a mistake. I started to see the order and notice the cycles of living and life, and realized that I could have died before I’d ever lived. In fact, I realized that I had been dead to a higher reality that I was just beginning to awaken to like a sleeping man jolted fully awake by a tremendous roar of thunder. My heart was racing. My mind was reeling. I was filled with two sentiments. One was shame and guilt at the death I’d been living.
The other was God.
Who, after all, decreed the ‘laws’ of physics and nature? How are such laws maintained to immutability? Where, to refer to the Big Bang Theory, did that infinitesimally dense particle of matter come from? Why, if you think about it, did explode at all? Why did it explode exactly when it did, instead of not later or sooner? Who provided the force behind its explosion? Most of all and after all, why?
Didn’t there have to be a one wise with all wisdom? An undeniable authority? An independent creator and source? One who sets time and is at the same time free from it? An unsurpassable power and strength? A chooser with the power to fully execute any choice? A love eternal and unconditional?
At my furthest straying, I’d never stopped believing. But I’d forgotten that I believed. And I was born into my fading beliefs, I’d never consciously chosen them. Now, I asked myself, as I thought of the thousand nights of parties that celebrated nothing, filled with fake friends covering our misery with fake smiles, hiding our isolation behind smoke, drowning our thoughts in music, gyrating our tormented selves as we blinded our consciences with poison. Now, why do I believe in one thing and not give it time or energy, and not believe in another, but give it all I’ve got?
My life was completely backwards. I’d wasted all of it. But one thing gave me hope in all the despair
I was still alive, more than ever and for the first time…
nothing’s so fast
as choosing your own path
further we fled
breathing peace after being dead
and it’s not just uluru
it’s that and everything
every little thing
take your turn, your turn others take
as we share this air, so we share this fate
and the water’s clear for the coral’s sake
not a single soul can the whole earth sate
wake by sunrise
when it sets we die
so we live each life
like the first and final tide
and it’s name’s not ayer’s rock
’cause he don’t own a single thing
noone owns a thing
take your turn, another’s turn take
as we share this air, so we share this day
and the water’s clear for the coral’s sake
not a single soul can the whole world sate
even birds understand:
it’s more than just songs that they sing
at the end of the road that’s paved for me
there’s nothin’ but me
* “uluru” is the pitjantjatjara name of ayer’s rock, australia’s inselberg of many colors
* “uhuru” is swahili for “freedom”