“I hate it when you do that. I can’t read you.”
“What does it matter? I had nothing to contribute.”
“But it always happens and I don’t like it,” she said. “It shuts me out.”
“Out of where? If it helps, I’m not doing anything in particular but I feel kind of weird.” The fleeting image of a football flies through my mind towards invisible goalposts. “I suppose it’s a response to what you’re doing.”
“I’m not doing anything.”
“OK. A response to what you’re trying to do…?”
“See? I hate it when you’re like this.”
The anticipation of arriving at the section with the European trees, a favourite place to practice, drops us into silence. She knows what kind of mood overtakes me along this section of the path. The weird feeling is still there but it doesn’t intrude so much. I’m kind of delighted by it, regardless…
Dominant in my thoughts are the words of my first Tai Chi instructor – back when I was 17 and too young for Tai Chi. “There is no word for exercise, so practice is referred to as playing” and, “…an iron bar wrapped in cotton wool.”
Earlier she was off on one of her “psychic” tangents. I shouldn’t call it a tangent, being the direct focus of her life right now, that and an acting career. Anyway, she likes predicting events. I spend my days exploring the interaction between the imagined and the real, and I’m not always up for being probed. I have to wonder when she’ll realise that I can feel it, what she is doing. I am altered by her uninvited presence trying to snatch symbols and draw meaning from the random landscape that are my thoughts today. Exchange is what life is all about, but mutually willing exchange is some kind of peaceful joyousness that is often mistaken for the word “right”.
A full minute passes before she recognises that I am not going to respond. “You’re quiet. Are you not talking to me?”
“I’m taking a breath. You know what this place means to me. It took 150 years to grow these gardens to where they are today. It’s the kind of vision men had when they were building a world that turned out to be already here. You know… we’re in it, this world, you and I. Right now we are here and it’s a magical thing. Look at this place! No matter what else is happening, we have seen this and we have been here, and I am grateful. I’m glad you’re here with me too.”
“Really? It didn’t seem so a moment ago.”
“Yeah, you get that… I don’t know. You can see beautiful things. Not everything you see is beautiful, but if it’s there you will see it.”
Now she is silent too, but not quite so angry. Less than two heartbeats of nothing go by before my mind explodes in colour and the image of Marley’s vision takes over.
“I’m going to tell you about Marley,” I say.
I smile at her and we start walking towards the exit. “You know what? He was named after Bob Marley!”
“We spent hours together here walking through these gardens. Do you know the backpackers around the corner? He was sitting out the front smoking and I thought he was my brother. Sometimes it’s a good thing to be short-sighted. Anyway, he could see beautiful things too.”
Then I proceeded to tell her of the elders taking him “fishing” to get him on track after he took a wrong turn and landed in jail. About the joy and excitement he felt about the impending birth of his child. “We’re pregnant!” – “we” meaning him and his girlfriend, and he couldn’t believe his luck.
But I also told her this. Marley danced when he spoke of his dreams and visions of the Rainbow Serpent. He came from Far North and they had suffered terrible flooding recently. He was in town with native seeds. Not in the quantity that could be farmed, but definitely in the quantity required to preserve these wild foods.
After going fishing with the elders, the Rainbow Serpent came to him at important times and guided him along his way. A few months before the flooding, he had another vision where the Rainbow Serpent rained an abundance of seeds down upon his head. He did not know what to make of this so he went out and collected all the useful native seeds he could.
I told her how he danced this story in the middle of the gardens with breathtaking elegance and how, in that moment, I immediately understood the core of why it is such a crime, among all the other reasons, for indigenous people and their traditions and customs to be slowly exterminated by the noxious gases of this decaying society that seems to want to reach the brink before considering the use of collective wisdom. This world needs all the races, together they make up the entirety of our experienced human potential.
Marley knew before the meteorologists that the local flora was in danger. His being understood what needed to be done, even if his mind didn’t. He was joyous to find his connection to the land to be so strong, but he hadn’t considered it a prediction. It was a gift that the Rainbow Serpent would come to him. A gift for which he wanted to do everything in his power to ensure he was worthy. He still had a lot of work to do to get his life on a good track, but he was inspired by something that was hard to resist and even harder to take from him.