My place. Tuesday, 9.55am
I live in a shack under the cliffs – not too far from Kyogle, not far enough from the proposed gas wells at Bentley.
Under the shack, beneath the brushbox floor I nailed down about 25 years ago, is some really valuable stuff I have collected over the years. In contrast to the disposable society in which I live, I don’t let go of stuff easily; I put it under the shack.
I keep this precious paraphernalia – like my son’s first bicycle helmet or a papier mache sculpture of a bull I bought in a Casino op shop for $2 – under the shack until moisture or rats or termites have reduced sentimentality to silliness. Then I take this rubbish to the tip.
I do so sadly, but even I realise that keeping a termite-eaten leg of a papier mache bull or the plastic exo-skeleton of a rat-ravaged bike helmet from the 80s is a tad excessive.
My treasures, though, are not confined to under the shack; inside the shack is filled with memorabilia. Here are the most valuable artefacts, more protected from the organic perils lurking under the floor.
Theatre tickets are tacked to the wall (Railway Wonderland was a great show), a dried baby shark hangs from the ceiling (found by my son and his mate on a beach near Evans Head when he was 10), Superman stands on a cupboard and inspires with battery-operated talk about truth and justice, and, above the lounge, my Japanese sword lies cradled in its sheath (my stepfather acquired it during the war). What price this stuff?
Only the sword gets used. Some nights I wander the shack’s grounds in my Bali battle sarong, Cambodian 60s pop tinkling loud on the stereo, swinging my Japanese sword like a fat samurai, calling toads to a swift death.
Most of my stuff is worthless in an economic sense because it doesn’t get used, has no coal in it and will not connect to the internet. Junk. Useless.
Sure, I could cook the desiccated baby shark over burning Railway Wonderland tickets when times get really tough, but for the moment, I still have baked beans in the pantry.
I could sell the sword and see the toads dance in joy on the bodies of dead goannas. I could sell my shack and have enough money to buy a car with air-conditioning and power steering.
But I would lose my life. Life does not have a dollar sign attached.
For most of humanity’s 200,000 years on this planet, respect has been paid to the ecosystem that supports us.
It had value but not price. But a monster, recently created by humans, has no respect for humanity or the systems that support it. And now these corporate monsters run amok, unfettered by government, slapping a price on the priceless, and poisoning a small planet with their toxic feasting.
Behind my shack are the cliffs. At their base is a forest of trees pumping oxygen into the atmosphere, free of charge.
Beyond the cliffs is a paddock in Bentley. Under the paddock lies an aquifer of clean water that nourishes the land, the animals and the people, free of charge.
I wish I could gather all the trees pumping oxygen and all the water nourishing life and stash them in my shack with Superman.
I would honour them because I know their real value. They are life.
I would guard them with my Japanese sword against the marauding monsters that hop about in the dark and which would devour them for a quick buck.
The planet is not disposable.
You break it, we pay.