A mite was at my table this dinner hour, from 6:30 to 7:30, almost precisely. Was it lost? A few others at nearby tables paid no attention to the entirety of the life force I was so captivated by; for them it was perhaps just an ordinary day.
What soul force is not contained in the smallest of occurrences? How are we not all connected? A mite has but an hour, I’ve heard; a whole lifetime of experience brought about in a single hour. I’d travelled over 7,000 miles just to see it. Well, not ‘just’, but the life force of the mite so viewed had my full attention. That my life was in Canada (inasmuch as my life was right there at that table right then) and that its life is being lived as an Australian was part of the circumstance of our being brought together, this soulforce and me. How to see ourselves as one? But were I to capture it the Gods would surely laugh. They laugh when men make plans. Was it not I who so long ago chose to go and live abroad? Yet like John Donne’s compass then, how nearer to heaven may the concordance be? But this meager hour passed and the huge life force of so very little left me for elsewhere. And I felt as if bereft.
Outside the window the traffic roared by. An occasional pedestrian. Inside the TV blared. American Idol auditions are evidently watched here too. Entire continents yoked together electronically, spiritually, if not physically. But my fixation was on things Australian. The lemon and bitter cool-drink. The marks left by the bottle on the Formica table. The wave of an Aussie leaving. The accents. The kindness of the young waitresses, Felicity and Theresa. They asked me questions. I told them my story. Africa to them was so very exotic. So absolutely romantic. They felt glad to meet me, a throwback to a lost time, ha!
Anthony picked me up at 3:30. I’d waited outside my rather down-kempt hotel with the traffic whooshing by on Forest Road. The main Princes Highway, but a few steps away, was even worse. The grind of big trucks and the sheer pace of mechanized humanity is a constant engine churning at silence. Every vehicle imaginable was momentarily halted at the traffic lights, rather like so many different human beings, each equipped to encumber life with a purpose driven by someone else. Anthony had to mount the pedestrian pavement in front of the hotel; and it took him time to exit the car least his door be swept away in the booming traffics’ roar. My wheelchair in the back, “We are going to Newtown,” it was decided. “It is trendy, artsy, an entire neighbourhood given over to shopping and downtown living.” The artery through it was called Kings Street, and in the 900’s block we found a restaurant, simply named, ‘Twelve’. A Caesar Salad and a Veggie Burger later, we headed back toward the car, and got lost.
The dereliction and cracks and peeling paint and clutter is remarkable. ‘Erected in 1809’ the sign on a building, much like any other, boasted. Paper-bark trees lined side-streets. Three-quarter-million dollar homes, some gaily painted, resembled tenement housing. And the people, generally, were most casually dressed. Three young men drank beer as they walked. Very many girls did not wear slips. And there was a constant stream of persons, though some caught my eye, looked surprised and then pleased at my smile. Almost every shop facade was plastered with posters. We advertise ourselves. My wheelchair, gentle as Tony was, felt every bump. And the sun shone and the wind blew and in the side streets in which we searched for the car the birds made wonderfully unfamiliar sounds. But there was an edginess to the people-dense atmosphere. Decadence and decay was married in the mire of commercialism and enterprise. And the general effect on me, this day, was of mankind on the brink of colossal decay.
We live on this earth but a short while. How might we not then live with love, with clarity, with truth? Or are we indeed... lost?