Uluru

For my 27th birthday, tomorrow, I was given a trip to Ayers Rock. Today started quickly, at 6am sharp. Took a tram, then a bus then a plane, and was here by 12.30pm. Was shocked by the red earth, serene air and discontent of local homo sapiens.

It was nice to listen to a podcast on the airplane with my noise-cancelling headphones. I’m convinced that is the best thing to do on an airplane in economy class. Audiobooks can be a bit heavy and it’s hard to enjoy music. A good podcast can make the time fly by though, so to speak.

I’ve been noticing energy a lot lately. Back in Melbourne I’d notice huge differences in peoples’ energies. In the CBD people were more defensive but humble. In Hawthorn people were less guarded but it felt like everyone was pushing on each other a lot more, treading much more heavily. That’s what money does. It bolsters your sense of self relative to others.

I’ve been doing a lot of positive and useful thinking lately. It’s hard to say which one is better. It’s made being in the CBD as light as a feather. In Hawthorn that fledgling energy was getting steamrolled by egos at first. In time though and with continual thinking practise that energy become more resilient as well as calibrated. I often believe that I’m the only one within a four block radius walking around with a resilient smile-for-no-reason. Usually the only smiles that survive are smiles of a newly-laden ego or beautiful person but practise can do amazing things for subjective reality. Some day my inner work will get deep enough to look past these cynical perceptions and abide there as well.

Back to the town of Yulara. In Australia’s red centre. Part of me knew this would be Australia’s soul. It was either that or the heart. After a little deliberation though Canberra is the heart because it transmits socialist policies. Sydney is the brain and Melbourne is the estrogen-production centre. A closer look suggests that maybe Australia has a single body and two coexisting souls: one old and one new. Ah, the world of projected meaning is a colourful one. It doesn’t get much more meaningful than a giant monolith in the flat centre of one’s island nation though. It feels like an indelible assertion of Australia’s anthropological history. And yes, its geological history.

Luckily Ayers Rock is in the middle of no where and it’s greatest value seems to be in tourism, so it’s relatively safe from capitalism for now. I wonder how much value of precious metals hidden underneath it would begin the conversation of blowing part of it up. I’d say $1 billion in deposits underneath would be enough to start a serious movement from the right. I used to think The Great Barrier Reef was off-limits for sentimental reasons, how silly of me.

I have yet to visit Ayers Rock despite being here. Even though I’m in the closest possible place the cheapest bus ride is about $80 and I have $100 in the bank. I just paid $25 for a pizza for lunch. Luckily I brought some meals from home and they have a microwave. I must visit tomorrow for my birthday. It’s going to be so huge.

It’s nice to be back out in the outback. I did a 6 week solo drive around Australia once and I’ve never been the same since. These expansive landscapes feel burnt into my soul. Walking around these dry red soils and powder-green shrubs. Air as fresh as can be. Horizon impossibly wide. Blue sky seeming to reach ever higher above, in waves. Night time is a whole different thing.

I’m struck by how tired I am. And how grumpy some people seem to be; tourists and locals alike. And the single, sensuous moan that just came from the room I share an outside table with. Lost my train of thought.

Went for a walk around town before. It’s dizzying; the Outback. There’s one or two circular roads, a resort, a few amenities and a highway. It’s all put together and feels that way. You can’t see very far because the trees rise just slightly above head height.

Some of the locals are tired of your shit already. Proactively. And retroactively if possible. I’m surprised how many Asians there are even if it’s just a few. There’s probably more Dutch people. And more aboriginals still. I feel most akin to the young astronomer. He’s Australian and about my age. I love the zoomed out perspective on life that abides. For some of us life is a journey to zoom out as much as possible, in order to know the mind of God. I like to zoom out a little less far out than that. There’s an irony to his dark and hopelessly out of place exhibition room. Something about the brain waves in the room just don’t match the brain waves outside. There’s a certain tension in the air, even outside the astronomy room. I think it’s white culture trying to maintain itself in this vast land which is too remote to accept its city-borne ideas. The scientific revolution occurred in rarefied rooms in cities in Europe.

Aboriginal artwork. From what kind of soul does this pour forth? What type of thinking? It’s absolutely nothing like Western art. If I did a drawing it would be intelligible to English language. Aboriginal paintings largely are not. And yet if I wanted to make a painting of 75% emotion and 25% nature, it would look something like an aboriginal painting. It suggests waves and vibrations. The primacy of colour. Inter-connectedness, yet intelligible on the level of a story or symbol. Very heady stuff.

Some artworks are notably more cerebral than others. If I were aboriginal mine would be trying to explain some hidden truth or meaning. Aboriginals have myths and natural knowledge, that’s where I would shine. It’s remarkable that modern ideas go down just as smooth as faith-based ideas – it’s all the same in some ways. Equally distasteful to many people. I’d be particularly hostile to the white man as well. I’d take one look at the Australian way of life and think it was a better deal for me to live away from the cities. Aboriginal people can never truly get ahead in white mens’ cities, because it’s all just a game and they’re stigmatised. You can’t play the game well while you’re still holding onto something either. Outside of cities, where intersubjective realities are perpetuated and underpinned by institutions, there’s something called serenity. No brain waves, pollution and pheromones in the air. I wonder how many generations until the pain goes away though.

There’s a slowness here. Kind of in the air but much deeper than that. It’s not cut out for the rigours of the globalised institutions such as standardised time or self-aggrandisement. I’m inclined to say that it just wants to chill and trip balls. It’s all about the land. About the story. The mythos is palpable, maybe it’s that red soil evoking strange feelings. I wonder if it were so when homo sapiens first arrived here. What an incredible time that must have been to truly see a continent anew. Without any significant research or familiarity with aboriginal lore, I confidently state that this event is the hidden meaning behind many aboriginal myths.

It’s a curious thing being in the Australian desert. People could be ten metres or ten kilometres away and it always feels the same. It always feels as if “everyone” is just behind the nearest bushes or over the horizon. All around you though. If you looked from a plane though you might think “that guy is in the middle of the desert”. It’s as if distance doesn’t have the same meaning here.

A gigantic, willowy blonde woman just walked past. Smoothing out the front of her hoody to reveal an incongruously flat chest. Tie-dye pants bespeaking a relatively wide set vagina. Nothing wrong with that. You often find strange looking European people in the outback. I myself came here near the crescendo of my body-dysmorphia. “Who is that weirdo observing me behind that laptop?” She seemed to be thinking. I’ve decided that women will constantly be giving these unseemly rejecting vibes no matter how fine of a man you are. And I am a fine man if you value the Western Intellectual Tradition or anxiety. It’s annoying but that’s what it’s supposed to be. You’re never supposed to feel confident in your value for some reason, not in general society anyway. People only want you to feel as confident as you’re worth by society’s standards. The best response I’ve come up with is to smile and try to make a habit of that. It somehow flips the script and then when that softens their stance you quickly mutter to yourself “yeah that’s right bitch it’s never going to happen because of that gesture you did before, better think twice about doing it next time”. Then walk off slightly better off than you would have been without my advice. Not better off as you would be if you weren’t so neurotic or sensitive though mind you. I’ve been wondering whether it’s like a way of compensating for putting out at other times. Shaky hypothesis but plausible in my opinion. Maybe it’s that men are like a light switch and women are like a volume knob. Yes in a sense, but it’s almost as if that same gesture can mean many things though, just the same as there are different sorts of smiles. It’s unintelligible though and I think that’s the point. I honestly think women evolved to be unpredictable and not make sense because there is a psychological power in it that’s disarming. It’s part of a suite of psychological traits designed to compensate for their weaker bodies. Sun Tzu would approve.

It’s getting greyer, approaching 5.30pm. Entering the cold part of the year. This post hasn’t been as naturalistically poetic as I wanted. That’s what I get for writing in the hotel grounds and using Facebook after my stroll though. I’ll need to find a good spot out away from the resort. The ground is so red and dusty though and I doubt there will be any benches. Walking away from this town seems foreboding. I have literally no idea if there will be a fence or what the deal with that is (that does not sound compelling). It’s like there will never be a start to where I’m trying to get to. Wherever I walk it will always feel like Yulara is following me.

Red is a colour which arouses emotion, passion to be precise. Blue is what makes it bearable. Green is what makes it liveable. The night is deafening out here, save for the yellow moon and stars intuitively known by our psyches. The celestia doesn’t light the ground though – that remains blacker than you can imagine. Light is ebbing away now. Death before life springs forth victorious, afresh. Vivid again. A new year also to those who are patient.

Sitting in Kinglake National Park

It’s the queen’s birthday (a public holiday) and I currently have the use of a car, so I decided to go to nature. Perhaps there ought to be a verb for walking alone in the forest for the purposes of renewal; one never knows what to call it.

I looked on google maps for a place to go. I glanced for the usual places: The Dandenong ranges, Yarra valley. I felt tired of those places though which is surprising. My eyes gingerly scanned for other large green areas on the map nearby Melbourne. I noticed one huge one that seems to dwarf Melbourne and is about 90 minutes away, merely called “state forest”. How did I not notice that before. It was a bit intense for what I was in the mood for though. Then nearby I noticed the township of Kinglake and its surrounding forest. My mind was instantly made up.

Kinglake has become a very special place in my opinion. Seven years ago it was one of the places hit hardest by the black Saturday bushfires. That was Australia’s worst bushfire ever: 173 people died. That makes it an interesting place to visit in my opinion, and sure enough I was not disappointed.

Whilst driving through the winding, hilly roads to get there, I was first struck by the idyllic scenery. There’s nothing quite like the views in this part of the world; somewhere between the rolling hills of a farm and the forest of local trees insulating it.

Next, as I approached Kinglake, I had this incredible impression of youthfulness. Call me crazy, but the flora had this nubile quality. It gave you that gentle “aww” feeling you get when you’re looking at a baby animal. Virgin also seems an apt description. As I got closer into town I noticed the sparse, tidily constructed houses overlooking the rolling countryside. As if to keep a lookout. The whole place seemed brand new. Not just physically, but spiritually as well. It had the wisdom that a person has after they suffer tremendous misfortune and are then curiously freed from attachments. It seemed quite buddhist. It also had a frontier-like quality which was a wonderful, clean-slate kind of vibe I feel lucky to have witnessed.

I’m someone that meditates often. I’ve lived in a zen temple for a while and have read plenty of books about spiritually. Yet I was positively embarrassed by how heavy and complicate I seemed whilst talking to the two people at the grocery store. They have got to be the nicest, most humble people I’ve met in Australia. Also, if it were at all possible; the guy’s hands struck me as looking like the hands of someone that’s adapted to bush-fire territory.

I asked for recommendations about where I could go for a bush walk. He eagerly produced a tourist map and started making suggestions. Soon a nice, kind of old lady was helping me as well. She made a good pitch about a walking track at a waterfall so I decided upon that one. I thanked them greatly and was on my way after they ensured that I took the map with me. I noticed this enterprising sort of vibe, on some level they were aware of the need to rebuild the town’s reputation with visitors. I also recall that there was an uncommon rapport between them, almost like childhood friends.

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig stresses the virtue of the roads less travelled. The ones you find yourself on when you turn off a busy highway then keep going. When nothing lies ahead except unknown towns. This day trip has shown me what he meant and it is indeed more spiritual this way. Taking the busy highway seems commercial, socially conditioned just as the city is. Yet here the nature is encroaching upon the roads ever so slightly and the personality of the location is more pronounced. It’s poetic, for lack of a better word.

I like a nature walk to be almost entirely free of other people. Unless you have a walking-partner with you, that’s different. Constantly seeing people makes it little different from walking through a city park. You never really lose your self-consciousness. Many Chinese in particular appear to have mastered the art of being competitive in the most relaxed of natural locations, acting as though it were an airport or something. Since they can’t have inner peace, apparently no one else should either.

Well I went on the walk along the creek and eventually got far enough away that people were scarce. I took a picture of the idyllic valley and waterfall views, although I was bored in about 2 minutes of it. Safe to say that’s because of the internet. I kept going and eventually found myself on a path going up to the top of a hill. I took a 90 degree turn, directly into the bushland and made my way towards the afternoon sun. This would finally give the me the palette-cleansing experience that I sought.

Wading through the dense thicket of flora can be quite daunting to a city person at first. The initial reaction is to expect there to be spiders and snakes everywhere. To worry about dirtiness and be offended by how everything around piled on top of each other. Gingerly stepping over logs and brushing away arboreal impediments. Soon enough though; you relax your standards of critters and dirtiness. That in itself is liberating.

I forged into the sun-lit bush for about 2 minutes, long enough to lose sight of the path but hopefully not long enough to get lost. The warm afternoon sun brightly mingling with the leaves ahead was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a long time. Well, aside from some women in the city, but that’s apples to oranges.

I reached the smallest of clearings where I could sit without sitting on a pile of sharp sticks. Still very much intoxicated by the scene ahead. I’ve always idealised about being able to abide in these beautiful moments. To be fully in the moment, sensually, for a good long time. To somehow shift one’s state of consciousness to match the grandeur of the surroundings. So I sat down in the shrubs to try. What always happens when I’m in nature is that I just start pondering more intensely than ever. I want to write. That’s where I am writing this right now, typing on my iPhone, sitting on who knows what.

I hope what I’m siting on will never be given a name. That is because it’s at the border of living and unliving. Entropy at work that would usually be cleaned out of awareness. Definite, hard and fast objects that have a recognisable form and purpose, that is what we’re used to. Ultimately though it all decays and entropies. That makes our over-familiarity with conceptual objects illusory. Soon enough though my mind does label the miscellaneousness beneath me: “ecologists probably have a term for it”. After that my experience of the ground was rendered a nice, familiar hue of certainty and I felt a faint satisfaction of having captured a rogue phenomenon into my world-view, even though I was consciously hoping not to do that.

Despite my professed love of nature, I never stay with it for as long as I might hope to. It simply makes me want to start writing, much more than I do in the city. I’ll also use the opportunity to plan my life back home, hopefully bringing back a newly inspired vision. The city is where the people are and that’s where private achievement may become substantive, real in a more concrete sense. It’s where the the heart is, where we go to die. In the city though we subtly become enmeshed in the web of social thoughts and activities. Nature liberates one’s mind. Nature frees our spirit and lets it stretch its wings. It cleanses the soul for a time.