Lismore. Tuesday, 4.20pm
‘Find the diamonds in the shit,’ the driver says to me.
We jump the speed bump as we exit the university. The Subaru doesn’t really ‘jump’ the bump – it doesn’t get air – but the car does rise up on its toes before slumping back heavily onto its hydraulic heels, like a sumo wrestler stretching to full height and then crouching in that moment before a bout. (Sumo wrestling must be hard on your achilles tendons.)
My bag leaves the car floor just a bit and falls back against my leg. I quickly pull my leg away.
‘Yes,’ I say. ‘You have to find the diamonds…’
I pulled my leg away instinctively because that leg is in a moonboot. (I’m talking medical moonboot, not the fashion fad of the 1980s.) The slight impact of the bag didn’t hurt my leg, but, since I injured it three months ago, I’ve been very careful with it. And even now as the healing process nears its end, habits are hard to change.
The driver and I are talking about mutual friends with serious health problems. Life does throw up challenges, and, as you get older, those challenges are often medical – a reminder of your mortality I reckon. We all die. That’s shit, isn’t it?
My friend has picked me up from uni after work. (I am a teacher, among other things.) I can’t drive with my moonboot. And I live 35 kilometres away from uni in a shack under the cliffs at the end of the world. Bloody achilles. It’s a shit, isn’t it?
I wave to one of my students walking home. He’s looking down at his phone, his awareness of me non-existent, his navigation of the footpath subconscious, his connection to the real world minimal.
Just when the planet is under attack, and she needs us most, her youth is being sucked away from her into little screens where they get stuck, like flies on the web. Until the battery fades. That’s shit, I reckon…
When I first snapped my tendon, I was in a cast for six weeks and reliant on others for food. That was good of them but their rice wasn’t biodynamic and no-one knows how to make proper miso soup. I had to eat curry – and I never eat curry.
Then, when I graduated to the moonboot and was able to resume working, I was reliant on others to drive me around. That was good of them but I like to get away from uni straight after class, but my drivers worked later than me, so I had to hang about. I hated being dependent.
It’s all shit, right?
No, not all.
As we speed west, sun visors down, I realise that my friends’ illnesses (and my achilles situation) put life in perspective. Death is something we all share – but we only ever experience life. Weird. We live forever until we don’t.
I realise I have faith in the young despite my phone fears, because they are the synapses of the world’s evolving nervous system, which is spreading around the planet, connecting everything, making the planet aware of its melting ice caps, its futile wars, its changing ocean currents, bringing this living world into consciousness, so that it may – if it survives this long feverish night before the dawn – wake up and sing to the sun.
I realise now that dependency is the natural way of things. It’s how we learn.
I like staying late after class. (I prepare everything for the next day.)
And I actually like curry. With white rice.
‘Yes, mate,’ I say as we sail into the hills. ‘Diamonds in the shit.’