We went for a drive. 16,000 kilometres across to Perth and up the WA coast then home via Darwin and the reddest of centres. I was hunting for something. A slice of never never. Silence. Hard to say.
It was months of packing and unpacking, blown tyres and a trail of carbon footprints in the desert. I became conscious of the tension between working and living, consuming and being consumed and the brittleness of the human experience.
We don’t live long—a mere flash in the eye of a big old country like ours—a fact driven home by the fossil sea creatures in the Pilbara. We’re also very small—those nights of horizon to horizon stars ramming it home. They’re good things to be reminded of.
We drove out beyond the graffiti, to a place where nature is so much bigger than man. There was graffiti there, too. Old graffiti—layers of ochre-stencilled hands and images of lizards and turtles. Prehistoric tags and symbols with meaning. The artists were long gone but the evidence of their impermanence has lived on.
It clicked together in my head on the long road. We struggle to outlive our mortal years. We fight to make a mark on the world so we are remembered. Hunger for a salve against the futility and we express it in a million ways—the old people stencilled their feet and images of their food on the rocky walls, we build fat houses to store the trophies of our effectiveness in.
Living out of the car made me think about how little I really need to be comfortable. How, when I’m confronted by the temporary nature of being human, the whole struggle and toil of work and that grabbing need for stuff loses its hold. All that’s left are the good folk I call home and all those stars.