As I took off from Perth staring fixedly out of the window, fresh from an intensive week in Canberra on a journalism fellowship program, I had the oddest feeling I was leaving me behind, earthbound, as I flew up and away from my life. I had this overwhelming sense, as the cars turned quickly into lines of snaking ants and the fields turned into a pretty patchwork, of my own insignificance in the scheme of things. Not in a negative way, of course, just as a point of reflection.
I got to wondering about this funny little microcosm I occupy, the whole process of waking and talking and listening and writing and sleeping with no real sense of what is going on in "the rest of the world". I have just come back from a trip in which I felt stifled by both my lack of knowledge and the desire to know everything about everything, which is virtually impossible. It's a feeling I get every now and again and it makes me reflect on all the alternative lives I could be leading if only I could splinter into many pieces.
Here's me in a cave on a mountain, dressed in yak skin and meditating on the destructive nature of my fellow man, whom I renounced many years ago. Here's me in the front row of a fashion show, taking notes with ink laced with acid remarks, sharp fashionista folly spilling out in the wake of the girls pony stepping down the catwalk. Here's me stalking the corridors of power (ours, not THEIRS), asking witty and incisive questions of politicians who are trying not to look tremulous or of senators who are trying to look down my top. Here's me wandering the streets of New York or London, favourite music plugged in my ears, drinking in a super-soy-latte-with-wings along with the sights. Here's me scrunching up paper and hurling it across the room in frustration as I work on my eighth extraordinarily successful novel, acclaimed by critics and loved by the general illiterate populace. Here's me lying on a beach in Thailand, eyes closed, watching lazily from the inside as the sun dances across my eyelids ...
Here's me in the desert, the real me, wondering where on earth I am.
(Oh, and the yak skin? That might have been going a bit too far. If I'm going to live in a remote cave, I may as well be wrapped in a pashmina).
It's a funny process, this being. I am a little spiritually bereft at the moment because I don't believe in "the universe" or "god" or the "great turtle in the sky" (okay, I made that last one up but I'm fairly sure that someone, somewhere, believes in it). I believe in the individual (but not in that god-awful economically driven individualistic type our country seems grossly populated with) which means that I and only I am the architect of my own destiny. I wonder then who I am and why I do what I do?
I don't ask this question in the midst of some sort of existential crisis or anything like that; I am just taking stock of how I have ended up where I am, at this very point, in this very house. Don't get me wrong - it's not all that bad. My last email to my friends brought forth a barrage of sympathetic replies and a chorus of "you'll be okay" and even a few pairs of lovely socks from one kind soul when I whined about my feet. In fact, since I wrote that last email I have seen a wonder of nature - a gorgeous blaze of sunset over the bleeding great hole in the earth known as the "super pit".
(True environmentalists would be horrified at the sight of the hole, but a mere twist of the neck reveals clouds, refracted light, shadows cast by gnarly gums. The hole might be huge but by god, you can ignore it if you try).
Now where was I? Oh yes. Reflecting on my very existence. I don't have the answers, sadly, and I don't think I ever will. What a cop out, eh?