desperate times

in which i discuss pooing and Buddhism with one breath

I just used my hands and a teaspoon to dig a hole in someone’s yard so i could take a dump, like some humanoid-cat-dog hybrid. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I am also sun-drying mushrooms on Massive’s back rack because they began to attract ants and sweat inside their stupid-plastic container. They were already reduced for quick sale. Should i eat them? I don’t know. Dodgy mushrooms have a bad reputation. I was going to make mushroom dhal.

deceptive lead image

deceptive lead image

This experience (the pooing one) is something that i’m proud of when, according to society’s standards of respectability, i should feel ashamed.

I feel proud because a vague reason i’m doing this Berri to Somewhere cycle tour is i knew it would force me to be more resourceful than i generally am. Also, one of my main men, Milan Kundera, convinced me long ago that we need to start talking about poo if we can ever hope to escape a life of kitsch.

I wonder what it says about me that i should feel proud for shitting in someone’s backyard because it makes me feel resourceful. It is a vague consolation for me that part of this experience is also about exploring the idea of “respectability”, which is (sort of, i think) one of the Eight Worldly Concerns described in the Dhammapada and expounded upon at length by Osho.

trucking insights

nothing worth doing is ever especially easy

By going trucking i have already identified 2.5 massive things about myself that will greatly enrich my character if i persist in seeing through what i have to learn from this experience, much thanks to Mum and my friend Kathy.

It has been hard and it will continue to be challenging, but i am determined to (re)produce evidence for myself that nothing worth doing is ever especially easy. (My whole life i have been over-extending myself in the pursuit of personal growth, and i don’t want to quit now.)

I say 2.5 because i haven’t yet fully unpacked the third and biggest insight, about the importance of relationships, family and community in supporting us through the hard process of becoming the best we can be.

The other two insights will be revealed in my forthcoming adventure-memoir, due for release in 2025—after i execute my first long-distance adventure and wend the story of it with my growing understanding that a sense of adventure is essential in the pursuit of happiness and wellbeing, especially in this fractured modern world where we have to make shit up as we go along all the time.

For now, goodnight or good morning, wherever you are—i must return to my state of tortured sleeplessness in the tee-pee i found on the outskirts of Berri.

Day Four, The Return of Vision

Tuesday 27 January
Renmark, South Australian

Day Four of my Adventures in Sobriety series, in which I make an oxymoron of myself by applauding “vision” in a post where i “accidentally” conduct a tirade against time.


Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory”, which I had hung in my room as a teenager and only just now realised is entirely appropriate for this post. At the time I just thought it was cool because I was a stoner, but maybe it came into my life at that time for a reason.

I can’t sleep. I haven’t tried, but i know. I’m in that state where my body is exhausted but my mind is inexplicably energised.

For the last two days i’ve been wracked by hangover symptoms (headache, nausea, mysterious aches and pains) and i joked with someone about how it doesn’t seem fair that i should suffer thus for not taking drugs.

But obviously i’m detoxing. And these are the consequences of a heavy month-long binge, and actually i’m more interested in seeing this suffering through than i am in seeing (as an experiment, of course) whether a small joint would alleviate the symptoms—thereby confirming that these are withdrawals. Now there’s an addict’s reasoning par excellence.

But it’s not the symptoms alone that are keeping me awake: it’s also the sudden influx of motivation, mental activity, hope, pride, self-respect and vision.  Continue reading

Day Three, The Semiotics of Life and Adventure

Monday 26 January
Renmark, South Australia

Day Three of my Adventures in Sobriety series,
in which i first begin to rediscover the similarities between adventure and life.

So it’s Day Three and i have a wicked headache. I’m sucking a coffee at Macca’s and hoping it’s caffeine withdrawal. The internet here is working at a pace that painfully represents the mush of machinations i might otherwise call my mind. A cold sore has cropped up, and i’m treating it with the wonderous Roseneath Organics Cold Sore Salve, which is mostly bees wax and coconut oil. (Catherine put me on to this article about coconut oil, which concludes “coconut is not a superfood, but it’s not a syphilitic cock either”—the title of the article, ‘Is Coconut Oil Just For Rubbing On Your Titties Or Is It Truly A Superfood?’ Gold.) Continue reading

why wine tasting is important for meditation

a lesson learned by accident in South Australia’s famous wine region, the Barossa Valley

a delightful depiction of the way they celebrate plonk in the Barossa—this ... monument? ... is literally just plonked on the side of a great bike path between Tanunda and Nuriootpa

a delightful depiction of the way they celebrate plonk in the Barossa—this … monument? … is literally just plonked on the side of a great bike path between Tanunda and Nuriootpa

So i’m in the Barossa Valley by accident—i like to refer to these kinds of situations as ‘accidents’ not because they are actual accidents, but because they are a consequence of my ignorance. To people who asked, i said i was in Greece/Turkey by accident, because it was not something i planned—i mean i planned to go to Turkey (i did not fly there by accident), but i had planned to stay three weeks, not nine months. That was an accident in the same way the unplanned pregnancy of a loving couple is referred to as a ‘happy accident’. Accidentally being in the Barossa though, that just means i didn’t know Nuriootpa was part of the Barossa.

Of course, when in Rome … so i ran some errands in the morning and hit a few wineries this afternoon. I had a full day here because i made it from Adelaide in one day instead of two.

*everyone claps and throws me water and soggy cold chips*

On the recommendation of a guy working at Barista Sista on the main street, i first went to Dorrien to try the Buccaneer, a rum-and-raisin port aged in old rum barrels from Queensland. Because i’m a pirate.

The old place was built by the Seppelts family in the 1910s and the silos are still inside, now decorated with seven murals depicting a history of the region—Lutheran farmers escaping religious persecution in their European countries and deciding to flee here, where nothing harvestable is supposed to grow. On the theme of generations, the woman at the cellar door knows two of my aunties and used to live across the road from the general store my nan and pop used to run—one day in the South Australian countryside and i’ve met someone who knows my family.

For some reason today i’ve been feeling an unnecessary need to rush, so i hurried through an exhibit of decent landscape photography and moved on to the next recommendation, Artisans of Barossa, the combined cellar door of seven boutique wineries that are small enough to not warrant each having their own cellar door.

Standing there talking to the cellar-door guy and finding it hard to concentrate on the conversation at the same time as the delicate bouquet, i realised that the reason i couldn’t multi-task is i was trying to have a conversation with the wine as well as the guy—

i was trying to respond to what the wine had to say by responding with thoughts about the characteristics of its bouquet.

Essentially i was trying to label the scents and the flavours with ideas like ‘pepper’ and ‘plum’, ‘peach’ and ‘potato’—wanky stuff, ya know, but not because i am an actual wine wanker, more because that’s what my experience has conditioned me to believe should be done when tasting wine.

Instead, when i dropped trying to label the various intricacies of each wine (the way we’re trying to label the various intricacies of our physical existence by smashing the atom into smaller and smaller smithereens), i found that i was more able to just enjoy the general character of the wine—it’s character as a whole, i mean.

The same goes for meditation—we’re told often by teachers that we have just witness the thoughts and let them pass through, not labelling them, not judging them. It works—it makes life a lot more enjoyable to not sweat the small stuff all the time.

When we stop trying to label every thought, feeling, emotion and thing, we can start to just enjoy the general character of things.

But what i like most about this approach to wine-tasting our way through life is that even a wine that’s not very good can still be enjoyed, in the same way that maybe anger is not very pleasant, but still we can enjoy it if we just notice that sure, it has a pretty dodgy aftertaste, but soon that passes and you can move on to the next bouquet or emotional flurry or whatever you want to call it.

Compassion for Winning

After watching Black Mirror, a TV miniseries about the dark intersection of life and technology, but also about art and politics, my housemates and I wound up in a hearty debate about capital punishment, compassion, morality and justice.

In the third episode (where the series strays from its morbid focus on technology), someone kidnaps a British princess for the ransom of the Prime Minister fucking a pig live on national television.

Continue reading

The Thing About John Updike

The thing about John Updike is, I found yet another inspiring post on Brain Pickings recently, about John Updike and some ideas of his about writing and death, and how various things we do (addictions, writing) are merely ways of avoiding accepting the reality of nothingness, of our imminent demise and the likelihood our death will be our extermination.

Happy stuff.

It was inspiring because I really like to think of a guy who’s dedicated himself to writing and contemplation,

and contemplation is a key qualifier to writing here, because lots of people write, but there is a way of writing purposefully and meaningfully that I think adds an extra dimension of importance to writing,

and that is to use writing as a tool for contemplation.

Continue reading