Here & Now #14

S Sorrensen
Near Nimbin. Monday, 6.45pm



On the road.

A bag of clothes in the back. JJ Cale pumping loud through the van stereo. The engine purring like an emphysemic cat.

On the road.

This morning I woke up to the sun chucking fistfuls of sparkling light through the trees as it lifted itself above the eastern hill. I saw this beautiful dawn through my window and it was… the saddest thing. Oh dear.

Invoking Kerouac, I lay on my back, looking at the ceiling and wondering what God had wrought when he made life so sad. (Kerouac believed in God.)

My depression is not a disease. It’s a symptom of sanity. On this planet where life support systems are breaking down, if you’re not depressed then something’s wrong with you. And beautiful mornings remind me of what I haven’t even lost yet.

Once, I asked a smiling Bob Brown how he could be so happy knowing what he knew about the state of the world. He looked up from the book he was signing and said, ‘You can never be happy in denial. You have to confront these things.’

His lover placed a hand on his shoulder and smiled too.

I wanted to ask him if he ever found it all a bit much, this confronting the awful realities; if he ever got so overwhelmed that beautiful things made him sad; if it actually wasn’t the confrontation of the awful realities that made him smile but rather his lover’s hand on his shoulder.

But a woman was pushing at my back, eager for a signing.

If a beautiful morning breaks your heart, what can you do?

Hit the road, that’s what.

There’s something about dodging potholes, blinking through tree shadows and anticipating the unanticipated around every corner that refreshes the flagging spirit.

On the road.

I drove along Stony Chute Road, through the hills separating Cawongla and Nimbin valleys, past the graffitied water tanks of Avalon community, and dipped down to a creek. There was a woman and a horse.

‘It’s an awful world,’ she said. ‘I don’t understand how people can be so stupid, so cruel. I don’t go out there.’

I invited her to come on the road with me. To confront the awful realities and maybe find happiness. Maybe a bottle of wine… She said no.

I returned to the bitumen. It took me past the rock sentinels and into Nimbin town.

A gringo with a big beard sat outside a shop that sells South American stuff. From the beard came smoke which rose past squinted eyes.

I sat with him. We smoked. We looked at people passing by. He seemed happy despite climate change. I asked him why he’s happy. He said he’s happy because he’s not sad. Once he’d been very sad. Now he’s not. Even with the degrading environment.

‘Let’s go to the pub,’ he said.

In the hotel, I looked at the televisions on the wall. There were horses racing, Manly playing and Richie Benaud talking. People placed bets, shouted at the screens and lost money. No-one seemed worried about how we treat refugees.

My phone rang. Happiness has a name and that name was blinking on the phone screen. I answered. Her voice shone through like morning sun, giving refuge to those that need it, reducing atmospheric CO2 levels, and grounding American drones.

On the road.

I swing my van, Morrison, back into Stony Chute, turn up Nowhere to Run, and head home.

After three hours and 35 kilometres it’s been an epic road trip. Sure, it wasn’t a journey across America – not even across to Ballina, but it was a low-carbon-footprint journey of discovery.

I discovered that love makes beauty bearable.

2 responses to “Here & Now #14”

  1. trish says:

    Good one amigo- there are a lot of us in the van with you

  2. Helen says:

    Love – reminding us that it is glorious love we truly are, and of where we are from. The real road-trip, back to that love.
    The truth of love reflects what the sadness really is – the missing of true brotherhood, of love in activity. Our earth, our relationships and our bodies demonstrate both the results and the potential to us over and over …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers and is brought to you by this week's sponsors Vast Furniture & Homewares Ballina and Falls Festival Byron Bay.