Larnook. Monday, 7.20am
I’m strolling along a dirt road whose fine dust is freshly imprinted with wallaby footprints and tail swooshes. The culprits are standing by road’s edge, munching the drying grass and wondering what the hell I’m doing outside of my Subaru metal exoskeleton.
I often drive pass this mob which gathers here daily to catch the sun’s first rays. Surrounded by new Japanese technology, cocooned in old French music and burning ancient Arabian oil, I leave my shack under the cliffs to explore the wider world. I’m like Iron Man, my suit of steel isolating me from reality and giving me super powers: speed, strength and air-conditioning.
But today, I’m a hermit crab outside its shell, a joey outside its pouch. I’m vulnerable. Except for a Balinese sarong from China and a Superman cap (from Krypton), I’m all pink flesh and carcinoma scars. Easy pickings.
A male wallaby hops towards me. He’s big. I feel a moment of anxiety. He has some serious claws. If this wallaby bloke had a grievance with me he could tear me apart. And what could I do? I couldn’t outrun him. Jeez, I can barely run, with, you know, the dickey knee and all… I’m a stroller, an ambler, a driver – not a runner.
But, on this hot spring day – I can already feel summer from here – I know that I will not be attacked by this big buck. I know this mob of wallabies won’t suddenly seek revenge on me because I have razed their forests and poisoned their water. There will be no Planet of the Wallabies here. I feel safe because I have good karma here. My community has not razed the forest; we have let it regrow. We have not poisoned the water; we have fought against water contamination. (Oh, and wallabies don’t eat meat, of course…)
Karma is an unfashionable word these days, having been misused by a generation of hippies who believed tropical ulcers were a result of unkind thoughts, and donating to Greenpeace would manifest a new Volvo. Okay, I’m cynical. But I do believe in karma.
‘G’day big fella,’ I say to the wallaby, touching the peak of my cap. He stops, sniffs the air, and lets me pass. The other wallabies, females and juveniles, have already returned to breakfast.
You reap what you sow.
If, say, you were to bomb people in their own country when they had never posed a threat to you or your country, would you be surprised if there was a karmic consequence to that? If some people, say, were to seek revenge? No.
Would you be surprised if the most susceptible to the injustice of it all, and most prone to revenge, were young people? No.
Would you be surprised that boatloads of people would flee the destruction of their society to search for safer places? No.
If, say, you were to add tonnes and tonnes of earth-warming gases into the atmosphere to facilitate ever-increasing wealth for the wealthy, would you be surprised if the earth got warmer creating less-than-desirable weather consequences? No.
Would you be surprised that Victoria is burning and summer is yet to arrive? No.
If, say, you were to refuse help to those running from the consequences of your bombs or your pollution, would you be surprised if, when the tables are turned (and tables inevitably turn), no-one helped you? No.
I reach the lillypilly tree. Turnaround point. I swing my arms (exercise) and head back to my shack (coffee).
I take these morning walks because they clear the mind. Also because my modern life, with its cars and computer screens and wines and cream sauces, has had an effect on my health.
Karma. It’s so bloody obvious, isn’t it…