This is a work of creative writing. While most things are based in reality as I perceived it at the time, certain things have been greatly exaggerated one way or the other for the sake of telling the story. As they say,
“Never Let the Truth (whatever that may be) Get In The Way of a Good Yarn”
Im sitting writing in a luxury hotel room, having just had my first shower in 2 weeks, and looking forward to my first proper sleep in the same.
How did I end up here? This is going to be messy, I haven’t really written in years, and want to play catch up. I feel like I need to play catch up to be able to write a blog again. This is more for me than anyone else. And a warning: there are many ways to look at things, and I usually prefer to look at things in a positive light, but:
This is a forced examination of the negative aspects of the last 5 years,
So be warned: it is essentially an admission of my shortcomings, to myself, so please do not judge me too harshly. I need to do this to move on and write positively again without feeling like Im being falsely rosy!
Things were not working out for me in Australia. I had left Perth at the end of 2012, about 5 years ago, I wasn’t happy there. I was frustrated with every job I had, even though some were dream jobs by anyone’s standard. I kept moving from house to house, hoping that my unhappiness wouldn’t follow me. It did. I built a campervan, and experimented with living in it while working full time, thinking to have more time to spend on self improvement and music whilst still working. I still wasnt happy. Looking for something, me and my partner at the time, a real catch, took off around Australia. I left a good job at a university, and fucked off into the unknown, searching for happiness.
We traveled a bit for about 4 months, across the south of Australia, as far north as Sydney, around Tasmania, and along the great ocean road. It really was a great trip, but something wasn’t right – things weren’t perfect.
I flew back to Western Australia to do some work as we were going broke, and while I was over there we mutually broke up, over the phone, abruptly ending a 3 year relationship. I went on some adventures overseas, climbed a mountain, mastered my fear of heights rockclimbing, did some scuba diving, chased women a bit. Lots of ways to look for a buzz.
Traveling done, and not having a duo van trip mission to go back to, 2013 found me quite spontaneously enrolled in an Electronic Music course in Byron Bay. I was in Byron for a year, entertaining a dream of being a full time musician, but being very cruisy about it. I lived in a backpackers for 4 months, partying, experimenting with yoga and meditation and the good life. I ‘got out of the rat race’.
I only had one or two very short archaeology jobs, one of which was a paid trip to America where after the work was over I had an intense love affair, followed by a mad Hunter S. Thompson-like adventure, tearing up Vegas, Portland, and New York City, leaving me seriously worried about being a bit too buckwild and in love with a woman on the other side of the world.
Back in Byron, with the low wages paid to bands that dont really work hard enough, and unwilling to find part time work or brave the fear of instrumental teaching, I eventually went completely broke, and became angry and resentful at society. There were good things about that time: I had made SOME progress on my social anxiety, had times where I was really in my element, and made modest progress on playing in bands, I sure played a lot of gigs. I had made some very close friends, and found some joy in life, and alot more free time. I wasnt chained to a job, but I wasnt really using my free time to any good effect either. Something wasnt working.
Photos of Musical Adventures in Byron Bay, and I dont even have photos from most of the gigs, as I was playing! I hope you can see the contrast between my photos and what Im writing now. Isn’t it funny, when we SHOULD be satisfied and happy, that sometimes we aren’t! This to me, a person who has all their basic survival needs met, is the essence of human suffering.
I wasnt happy again, something in me drove me to be successful, to work REALLY HARD at something. I felt like I was not reaching my potential. I felt craving for more. Every day, craving for more, but too resentful and angry, afraid to pull my finger out and make it work. Why the fuck couldnt I make it work! Why was happiness and balance so difficult? A lot of things pissed me off. I was angry! Angry that I wasnt making enough money to live properly. I ended up sleeping in my van again, going from rehearsal to rehearsal, gig to gig, not eating properly. I got sick and kind of lost the plot when I spent 3 days in my van with a fever in a national park.
A job came up in the Kimberley, and the grass seemed greener. I could make some money, get a routine, get healthy, and set myself up better to live cheaply outside of society and the boredom of full time wage slavery. I could try to find satisfaction in temporary hard work to buy some freedom later. So after much agonising about the decision, with a very cranky month, I minimised my possessions, and left Byron, to very little fanfare. I had made some friends, alot of acquaintances, and had had quite a few short romances, but I didn’t really have a big send off or anything. I wasn’t very nice to be around I guess.
I had an OK trip across the country, and did some legs with other people as passengers. But the best time was probably the long stretch between Cairns and Darwin that I did solo, simply because I didnt make anyone else unhappy to be around. On the way for this solo leg I made sure I interacted with people along the way, so as not to drop into a depressive loneliness, and recorded some notes a I drove: Here are some funny observations from around the Gulf of Carpentaria.
For those who watched the video, heres the old cowboys I was talking about:
Often what I would do would be to walk into a bar with my map book in my hand, sit at the bar, and order the smallest glass of beer they served. Someone would ALWAYS see that map book and say “where you headed?” or something similar. Gotta love the Australian outback! This would be my opening: I would drag a story out of them, or at least, try to get a conversation going that went beyond the superficial. And I did it at least once a day. When I pulled into Daly Waters pub, these three fellas wouldnt have a bar of it: they demanded to hear my story, and they just couldnt believe the adventure I was on, they reckoned that I was living the dream.
But its like that isnt it? When things look perfect from an outsiders point of view, you often arent getting the full picture. While I was having an interesting time, I was also suffering. Why the suffering? Why when we are doing awesome shit cant we just love it to death? Well, I guess my problem was perfectionism. It just didnt seem like a carefree trip that you imagine a backpacking trip to be, so I decided that it wasnt perfect. The leg from Darwin to Broome I was joined by a good mate Dave Sands, and we had a good adventure, but I know that I just wasn’t as carefree as I should be, I was simultaneously angry inside, and nervous about the future. I know I wasnt the best company, why couldnt it just be CAREFREE FUN?
I mean, it was an epic trip, but I felt as though something was wrong inside me. There were things I didnt like, and I wanted perfection: I thought “maybe if I change THIS about myself things will be how I want them to be”
In Broome I had a few days of freaking out, then I got into determined mode and I hit the town hard. I can be super functional when i need to get shit done, and I find quick progress VERY satisfying. Within 2 weeks I had made a lot of friends, found cool accommodation in an old Bedford camper in the driveway of a famous artist, was seeing a popular musician girl in town, and had played quite a few big gigs myself! People were surprised to find out that I had only been in town such a short time, I was relying on my wits, and I really ‘conquered’ that town. I even made the local society pages in the paper!
Then progress slowed down, things plateaued, and I lost my buzz. This was the start of 2014. I spent the next two years mostly in Broome, working a job that alternated between awesome field trips, and long stints pushing against a bureaucratic nightmare in the office. I was saving money to buy and build a housetruck/mobile music room/stage. I was very heavily invested in this idea, saving super hard, drawing up plans, doing welding courses, doing heaps of research, and in general being very distracted from the present in favour of this idealised goal. I was craving this vision of the future where I could live ‘free of the bullshit’ of fulltime work for imperfect organisations. I guess I wanted to be free of anything that pissed me off. Free of anything that I didn’t like. Free of aversion.
I was terrible at dealing with imperfection, so many things pissed me off and I was almost addicted to the feeling! It would send me off on a rage and Id often go get buckwild and party to escape the anger and aversion.
But to illustrate the point, heres how good things actually were, no matter how much I was caught in a ‘Grass is Greener’ mentality!
In the summers I would come back to Byron Bay and the east coast of Australia to see my friends there, to play gigs, do tours, and to escape the brutal tropical ‘wet season’ in Broome. It was great, the first few times, coming back to my friends in the east and having a rockstar summer but knowing I could go back to the security of earning money. Thats not to say I felt refreshed when I got back to the west. One year, after a summer of playing big festival shows and having a fun rockstar party carefree time, I came back to the brutal heat of Broome, and fulltime work in the office, I got my heckles up, angry at the imperfections of working life, and went a bit troppo (northern Australia speak for going a bit crazy in the tropical heat). I was so sad and mad I remember one night drinking myself stupid until I had to sleep outside to avoid that spinning sensation when I would lie down to sleep. And one night after a gig, I drove the short distance home and god busted by the cops pulling into my driveway.
That was the 22nd of February, 2015. I lost my license for 2 and a half years, and suddenly, my dream of this idealised house trucking gypsy musician future was pulled out from under me.
My idealised escape plan was gone, everything I had been using to help me ignore the present. It was the biggest blow I can remember ever feeling. I felt completely at a loss, everything I had been working towards was gone. I was so low, that in a way it became a positive. Well, the only way I saw out of my hole was to be determined to try to turn the experience into something positive. I gave up drinking for a year, and again sought happiness. I managed to keep my job, saw a counselor, mounted the best defense I could in court. I decided no-one was going to stop me, and bought a truck anyway. I had a few friends with truck licenses, and my partner at the time even got her truck license to help with my dreams.
How amazing is that, and how grateful should I have been.
I did another TAFE course, riding my bike to the welding workshop at nights. I got so much help from people in this period, mostly my partner at the time. People were so willing to help. But I was still stuck in this duality of wanting to achieve professional success, and also devote enough time to music to become ‘successful’ at that. Basically, I craved to spend my time meaningfully, but to also earn good money.
But perhaps the ‘meaninglessness’ I felt at my life during these times was due to being focused on future goals. Was I always working towards escape, and consequently felt what I was doing was meaningless?
I quit the job, with nothing else to go to. Reasons for leaving are often not clear, we just pick one of the many interweaved reasons that actually led to the decision. Eventually my whole department resigned due to various frustrations, so I wasnt the only one, just the first! I then entered a happy period, going to the beach every morning, working on whatever projects I wanted to in the afternoons. I made a conscious decision to do whatever I wanted to each day, and found myself getting back into some of the things that defined me when I was younger, nerdy things. I started teaching myself how to solder and build electronics again for example. And I started working on the truck, planning a summer tour with my partner. I was doing whatever I wanted to do, and seeking happiness in that. I figured that if I just got better at the things I loved doing, then eventually I would be able to survive financially off doing them!
I achieved heaps in this period: In fact a Facebook post at the time sounds very positive, and I was REALLY feeling this way, it wasn’t a public outcry to convince myself like so many social media posts can be:
“Current Plan: to spend my time doing the things I want to do, work hard at them, learn, and see where i end up. I figure that by doing what I want to do, i will learn how to be awesome at those things, and not awesome at bat shit boring beaurocratic work for somebody else!
In 12 weeks since leaving my job I have played 30 paid gigs in 6 different bands, started playing my own tunes live, bought a truck and road tripped it interstate, learned fibreglassing, autoelectrics, stereo installation, solar power, learned how to convert a diesel truck to run on waste veggie oil, assembled a centrifuge, learned how to program microcontrollers and build things with them, learned how to angle grind and use a circular saw, learned about pumps, and nailed the process of recycling pallets into great looking furniture. Oh yeah and made a kayak trailer to tow behind my pushbike. And quit drinking alcohol.
Im making enough to subsist and my outgoings are really just materials for projects. I guess ill just have to get more and more into recycling and i can keep learning forever!
Im tired, but im tired from doing things important to me. Winning.”
Heres some photos of some of the self motivated learning I was doing at that period:
Things were better I think (as in Im pretty sure I was happy in those times). I had a lovely birthday, the best in years. My partner organised a house concert for me, and I hosted quite a few people without the usual intense social anxiety and consequent overuse of alcohol. It was a lovely evening, and gave me a lot of hope.
Then we went on tour. Again shit fell apart, I was so easily annoyed. I wanted so much to be FREE to do all these things in my head. In short, I was fighting against reality, and craving some fictional alternative that existed only in my head. But once again, there really was so much good stuff.
What exactly did I want to be free to do? I was pretty damn free already!
Towards the end of the trip I finished my year of no drinking. I really did it, just like that, and was proud of myself. Id played heaps of big gigs, been very social, gone to bars and clubs with no problem, gone on tours with bands for god sake, and if thats not a challenge, nothing is! I started just having one or two drinks, and felt strongly affected, I had no tolerance, so I made sure to take it easy. I was staying with my brother in Margaret River, and was going trough a super frustrating period. I had been on a rockstar tour circuit again, flying around the country, and had gone back to meet up with my partner again and we had got cranky at each other. Or me at her. Again, I was fighting against the present I think.
I got psycho Gastro and spent weeks recovering at Aidan’s (my brother’s) house, again I was shit company, and felt like a fucking loser, I hadnt seen him in years and this was all I could muster. Anyway, we had a few gigs and on top of my poor health I got frustrated that I was just accompanying my partner, and not doing my own stuff. So much so that I became a fucking asshole to play with. I wanted to do high level stuff, but didnt have the courage to actually do it, so I blamed the musicians that I DID play with!!!!!
IT SEEMED THAT EVERYTHING I DID, I FOUND SOME PROBLEM WITH.
NOTHING WAS PERFECT.
PERHAPS I WAS addicted TO AVERSION.
Luckily enough, I picked up 10 weeks work at my old job in Broome, to finish off the reporting for the project I had been working on previously, and was grateful for the opportunity to earn some money – that had been another stress, I was living on credit by this point. We headed north, on the long stretch from Margaret River to Broome. I remember avoiding meeting all the people I knew along the way. I stopped very briefly in Perth, and I didn’t even tell people from my home town I was passing through. I didn’t want to catch up with anyone, because I was feeling shit about myself and unhappy, and didn’t want people to know that that was where I was at. I regretted seeing my brother when I was in such a bad place.
I was far from the positive inspirational ‘outside the system and loving it’ facebook posts I had been putting up, that was the reality.
We had a hard drive up, lots of fighting. We stopped in Coral Bay and Exmouth and played a few more gigs. I was demoralized at the gigs, even though they were good, for the same reasons of feeling pathetic for just accompanying my girlfriend. I spent a fair bit of time away from her, went diving and swam with whale sharks, its a great part of the world. I got pretty drunk a few times: frustration always seems like such a good excuse for that, and who knows…
Maybe we Manufacture our Frustrations just to give ourselves excuses for loose behaviour!
I started sleeping outside the truck on the rest of the trip up. Getting back up to Broome I decided to move to the Caravan park for 2 weeks in a test separation. Things seemed great: I had a simple life, minimal possessions, a great spot on the ocean, time to do ‘my shit’ which was really just dabble in a bit of music practise and read books and have space to myself. I was living pretty healthy, and going to work, playing a few gigs, exercising etc. I have fond memories of this time, I was living this alternative fantasy I had dreamed of: but it lasted all of 2 weeks before shit got fucked up again.
Then me and Tan finally decided to split. It was fucking sad. So fucking sad. I had felt this temporary reactionary happiness for two weeks and was rolling with that. So I went and got all my stuff from our house, and cried in my friends car on the way back.
Then next thing you know I had to move my truck to a really shit site in the caravan park to save money: the tourist season had started and the oceanside sites had gone up to $300 a week. In addition to this, I needed a bigger site where I could store all the shit I had picked up from my old place. Piles of stuff, mostly half finished projects, that stared at me every day trapping me and reminding me of all these futile efforts and plans that never worked out.
I was unhappy, and out of control. I cant believe the pain and withdrawl at the end of a long relationship. Once I had a gig on a big barge in the north Kimberley, and passed out mid gig on the edge of the barge, with a huge saltwater crocodiles literally circling underneath me.
I started to think it might be best to get out of Broome and give my ex some space and try to find my happiness. God, by this point I started to think I might be on the run,
that I might have been on the run for the last 5 years at least, maybe longer.
My relationship had ended, which meant I lost the place I was living, most of my routine. Then the funding ran out for my job. I was offered a similar position with another organisation, a bloody good job really, but I felt like I couldnt take it, I had to find my happiness again. And Id lost my drivers license too of course, which meant that my options for finding other work in my field were severely limited. I was bloody ashamed of that to be honest. Basically I was scared of losing the will to live if I got any unhappier.
I stayed in the caravan park in Broome while I finished out my contract, and attempted to get rid of all my accumulated stuff from 2 years in Broome. I was living in this ‘tipshop’ camp, with my truck in pieces, my van full of boxes and building materials, and a big pile of assorted possessions under (and not under) a tarpaulin. I was mostly sleeping outside in my swag. While I was kicking ass in a way, playing lots of gigs, some really satisfying ones, and doing a good job of finishing off a high level work contract. I was earning good money, trying to save, but I was surrounded by the pieces of my broken life and faced with a seemingly insurmountable task of minimisation.
HOW DO THINGS GET TO THIS POINT AGAIN EVERY FEW YEARS?
Despite this desperation, of course if I could just look on from outside myself and see the awesomeness. For example, this is one of the super fun gigs I was having:
The full recording of that epic set is also up on Youtube. I love it!
But the ability to see our blessings is not one that comes naturally for some reason. I felt broken with the end of my relationship and the loss of my best friend, unsure of my decision, and lost as to what to do with my life. I was very unhappy with reality as it was. A friend from the east coast had suggested a plan: he would come over and drive my truck for me, to a festival in central Australia. As I had converted the truck to run on waste vegetable oil, we would have a relatively cheap adventure, crossing some country unknown to him.
I finished work, then had literally 6 days to sell all my shit and go to the tip and get the truck ready. My friend helped a lot especially replacing the king pin bearings in the hub of the truck. It was a rushed departure, very messy, and I sold for too cheap/gave away/threw away alot of things I could have made some money off (which would really come in handy now!). One of the positive things was provisioning the trip: I had a plan to do heaps of fishing, and fill my grandfathers’ ancient vehicle freezer with fish to sustain us across the desert. I had quite a bit of luck, and then my friend pulled in a couple of big ones too when he arrived.
Anyway, we left, and crossed Australia! It was a successful trip, but imperfect, like all things. My friend did not have a good time, and blamed me for a lot of things. I kept trying to tell myself it was a successful trip, but it really hurt me and made me deeply wonder at the state of my self, that my friend had not had a good time, and ended up hating me by the time we crossed the country. To be fair, a lot of this was out of my control, but I cant help thinking that maybe there was something corrupt in me, that I couldn’t help him with his problems, that I couldn’t see how to make him happy on the trip.
But we did cross some epic country, and ran on free fuel most of the way in an epic experiment, attended a crazy festival.
The festival was another one of those big plans that dont really work out how you think: We had been talking about it for years, but it didnt turn out to be the roving convoy of vehicles through the desert bringing joy to remote communities and living off grid. Instead, it was a fun time, camped at a sculpture park in remote south Australia, having loose jams and getting fucked up and listening to hippies banging on and on outside my truck. I mean, it was great fun, but
IT WAS NOT ANYTHING LIKE WE HAD PLANNED IT TO BE – PERHAPS DREAMING OF THESE BIG PLANS IS USELESS AND JUST AN ESCAPE FROM THE PRESENT.
We finally got over to Byron in time for my birthday, and I started the season with a bit of a party. I got fucked up and arrogant and ended up playing keyboards with my face in a wildly annoying experimental jam – I guess I was getting cheeky because I thought I was quite good, and seeing if they could keep up with me. It was mortifyingly embarrassing for the next few weeks, once I realised that my behaviour was just a pathetic reaction to my not having enough courage to really go for it with music and play my own stuff live, take the lead of a band or something. So I ran from there, to the Caravan Park in Byron and tried to get a healthy routine going.
This is definitely a component of my behaviour: that I overcompensate for weaknesses. I can be super shy, but try hard to be confident, and you cant fake confidence- instead it manifests as arrogance!
The main thing I had been looking forward to for the season in Byron was to finally get my own music project together – not totally mine, but at least composing some of the songs and doing some of my own shit. Id put a lot of work and thought into it, and had become quite attached to the idea.
GUESS WHAT, THAT DIDNT WORK OUT EITHER!
I wont describe why, but I will say that I suffered badly from that not working out. I didnt know what I was doing anymore. I had become attached to the idea and felt fucked up when it didnt work out. I was stuck in this truck that I couldnt drive (the manifestation of another plan that didnt work out), living in a caravan park with mostly other lost people on the outskirts of town. I was playing all these gigs not really feeling it. Feeling like a nerd playing cheesy keyboard parts, getting paid poorly, and being too unconfident and usually feeling embarrassed after gigs so I couldnt even talk to people in the crowd, girls included. My mojo was fucked. I was sick of it. I felt like a fool.
I REALLY REMEMBER FEELING LIKE A FOOL, A SUCKER.
Lugging all this expensive music equipment around to play other peoples’ music, and putting no work towards what I wanted, or my own projects, because I didnt know what they were anymore. (I should say here, that in reflection, I am incredibly grateful for all the people that gave me gigs, and believed in me enough to invite me play with them in their bands. God, 5 years ago I would have given my left testicle to play some of those sick gigs! I was just caught up in perfectionism and addicted to aversion).
I had a few good periods though, like one period of 10 days when I went to the gym and yoga and practised simple piano every day, and read book and ate well. It was lovely, and I felt like I was cutting out shit that didnt matter and being kind to myself and the things that are important to me. I was also not partying and really taking care of myself, but it made me a bit of a recluse. Byron is a party town really, and Im cooped up keeping to myself in the back of a truck. Weird. So I tried the other extreme and had some wild binges dressing up like a pimp and partying to all extremes of rockstardom. That just left me feeling terrible for about a week afterwards.
A friend in Perth killed himself while I was in Byron. That freaked me out because I was so unhappy myself and got freaked that if I got any unhappier I could end up dead. So I decided to go to India and hang out with my friend and play a season of gigs there. I thought I could throw myself into hard work in music with a few bands, hard work in something that I cared about. Something that I thought if I could take it to the next level I could be happy and move out of my shame, shyness, and isolation, and feeling of stagnance and failure.
Well that didnt work out the way I thought either!
My friend is a legend and it seemed like a good plan, but due to a lot of factors (primarily the Indian governments overnight decision to withdraw 60% of the national currency and a consequent fucking up of the economy) gigs just werent happening in Goa. The only times I got on stage was with great musos, who mostly had unfortunate Cocaine habits, which was just fucking loose and not the direction I saw myself heading – towards being a washed up husk of a middle aged musician.
Plans like getting up and exercising every morning never happened – My housemate was having a rough time of his health and would sleep in till midday. Practising never happened – our musicial styles had diverged. And I was not making any money to live off. What the fuck. All the nightlife centered around DJ gigs, Psytrance drug scene bullshit that I am just over.
Once again I was disappointed – I had run away from something that wasnt working, to this IDEA of an alternative, that didnt turn out the way I had thought. It seemed that this was becoming the story of my life.
I was confused about this main idea: wasn’t it logical to try to structure your life to get what you needed, wasnt it logical to try something new if things weren’t working out in your current situation? I was trying to figure out how to get what I need, how to deal with my issues and grow into the person I wanted to be, how to be happy. But also conscious that my strategies were not working out and hadnt been working out for YEARS.
Around this time a friend contacted me, sending a late night message from a commune in the jungle in Mexico. He invited me to come and be part of the music department. It seemed as though I might be able to make some progress, that this place might provide a base for me to make some progress on my happiness, give me time to develop a solo act, and to be able to live for free while I had no money. Basically I built up another picture of an alternative that would be better. Just one more! But luckily, there was some time to kill though before going to Mexico…
So I went traveling in India. I had rough plans, but one morning waiting for my mate to wake up, I just packed up all my shit – I wasnt coming back.
Traveling was great. I love thinking on my feet, not getting bogged down, seeing new sights, living in the moment. And Im GOOD at it, Im good at hustling, and thinking on my feet, at difficult and dangerous situations. Im great at that shit! And aside from the hustling in the cities and towns, we also got out to the desert where dangerous was replaced with heartwarming, different and interesting 🙂
I had a great time, hanging out with a friend from Australia who is like a little sister that I love very much. When she left I was kind of over the stress of India traveling – its exhausting. I had 12 days to kill before I reasonably priced flight came available. And guess what – I found a 10 day meditation retreat where you got free accommodation and food!
This was Vipassana.
And it was bloody awesome. Here is how I described it to a friend soon after the experience.
Vipsy was cool. Heres my rundown: Its all about being what they call ‘Equanimous’, so not judging things as good or bad, as not craving things or wishing bad things would stop, basically to be less affected by the material and sensory world.
Their terminology is ‘Craving’ and ‘Aversion’. Basically it is a technique to help you to be less affected by our natural (and exaggerated by society) cravings and aversions to things. This was what Buddha was all about, and the Buddhist teachings of compassion and peace actually stem from these core things. The idea is that when you have less craving and aversion, or are less reactive to it, you are naturally more compassionate and peaceful.
The trick that they reckon that Buddha figured out was this: Imaging that you crave something real bad, you can probably intellectually rationalise that ‘well, why bother craving it, because once I have it Ill probably only get a buzz for a little bit and then Ill crave a better one anyway’. This is a thing I have rationally thought for awhile. But it doesnt mean that the craving stops does it! How do you actually become less reactive to the craving? Also, I have been really easily pissed off lately, what boils down to ‘aversion’ to a lot of things, from big things like corruption in politics down to frequent itchy tickles on my skin.
Now the idea is that you cant change these pattern rationally or intellectually, youve got to work at the root. And the trick they have is just a specific way of scanning your body in waves, noticing all the sensations, good and bad, and refusing to react to either. Like learning to not take too much pleasure in nice sensations (with the knowledge that they will just pass anyway so why get attached) and to not be too pissed off with bad sensations (again, keeping in mind that they will just pass anyway so why make them worse by worrying about them and developing aversion). The bad sensations usually took the form of pain from sitting in the same position for 10 hours a day, and I definitely managed to get a handle on not being affected by the pain too much.
Personally I really like the rationale behind it as Ive just explained, but I still find the technique difficult. i am working on it still and imagine it is a long process. What I like about the rationale, is that I have suffered a lot over the last 5 years in particular with being very reactive to things I didnt like, and suffering big time from grass is greener syndrome. Ive felt like nothings ever good enough, and that Ive been on the run big time. Also too easily swayed by pleasure and temptations of the flesh. And I reckon that this is something that can help me with that. Certainly, I am in a good place right now.
Oh yeah, at the end of each meditation they suggest you practice an intentional thing where you focus on wishing for peace for all beings, ‘May all beings share my peace” kind of thing. Its good.
How perfectly does all that apply to what Ive been writing about?
Well I wrote all this story while I was still in India, just a few days after Vipassana. Now Im 3 months down the road still trying to finish the story.
edit: make that 6 months, now doing final edits back in Broome! Will finish this TODAY
So many more stories have happened – I lived in a cult in the Mexican jungle, I spent a month in a totalitarian Caribbean state learning piano from a guy who couldnt speak English, and I spent a week by myself on a small island learning how to rescue scuba divers from an insane American with the best jokes in the world and a tendency to get blacked out on cheap (but pretty good!) beer. Oh yeah, and I spent a week living in a tent on the beach meditating 🙂
And theres new stories to come: While I was a guest at the Mexican Jungle Cult an advertisement for a cool PhD scholarship floated its way to me over the internet sea, and I managed to put together an application for it. Its based back in Perth, the town I left 5 years ago, with fieldwork in the Kimberley. How the hell am I going to get through that with a ‘grass is greener’ mentality? On low pay living in a city I hate, and then tents and shit for almost half the year? Well, that mentality: its just gotta go! Its just not real. Now at least I know, that when I dream of doing something different, it will just be doing something different, not the answer to anything! The answer can be found in whatever you are doing right now, changing to another thing doesnt change whats inside. All Id like to do is give thanks for the chance do do all these weird and diverse things, experience many lives, where really, one is enough.
Today I was really anxious. Id had an intense week of scuba diving, riding round in trucks, drinking and being a rockstar in karaoke bars and I was fucking anxious and worn out. And Just sitting there doing the meditation on the beach in my black jeans I kinda realised, at the same time two things:
1) That you just CANT be in the moment if you are constantly worrying or lusting after the future or the past, or living in craving and aversion.
2) And that, if the things you look forward to never turn out like how you think (after all, you cant tell the future), and if dwelling on the past is equally invalid, then being in the moment is the only place that makes sense. So the only thing that makes sense is to throw craving, aversion, lusting and hating, greed and dissatisfaction, worry and excitement, past and future, out the fucking window! Or at least to realise that they do not need to be powerful over you. You dont need to react to them.
Im done with dwelling on the past. I hope Ive exorcised some demons here, and Im ready to be up to date, in the moment, aware of the folly in being easily swayed by discomfort or even pleasure.
Heck, Im just looking from outside myself these days watching a comical but beautiful fool worry his head on a tropical beach. And that fool is Stafford, on his own human journey, that aint nothing special.
Thanks for reading!