It’s early evening after another perfect winter north-coast day. Cloudless, with not a breath of wind, the temperature sub-tropical cool. Not cold, and in the clear fresh air, the stars are emerging sharp and bright as the last reflected rays of light of the day softens and fades from rich lapis blue towards inky blue-black night.
I am standing there on the broad open verandah of the beloved crude little wood and mud house I have crafted , with laughter and passion and so much hard work with hands and muscle. Together that house and I have grown, and I have learnt so much, practical and personal.
It almost overwhelms me; the sheer beauty of it, and my blessed fortune of being there, a young man of twenty something years. True grace.
In my exuberance, I let out a cry of gratitude, to the evening, the place, to life.
“Cooooooo-eeeeeee!” My call pours out, clear and strong in celebration. A moment’s suspended pause, and then my cooee returns, first perfectly from the hillside nearest to me, then slightly off to the right, bouncing back from the ridge over there. Then, further away reflected by the wooded rainforest slope beyond on the other side of Couchy Creek, just slightly muffled now, as if the forest has absorbed some of it before returning it to me. Next, softer still but still clear, from somewhere further up the Creek to the left. And again, and again. Perhaps six or seven times the echo comes back, always a little softer, blurring with the distance, until it has gone completely.
Ecstasy. I am completely absorbed and overwhelmed by it, by the privilege of my existence there. Filled with a flood of emotions and recognitions, beyond thoughts.
I am a part of all this, not apart from it. I don’t ‘matter’, or not matter. Union. Tomorrow in the forest a mighty branch from one of those great Flooded Gums ghostly in the evening light may fall on me in the stillness of the day. As they do sometimes. A widow-maker they call it. Dead, finished I would be.
But not even then, my body pressed to the earth by the branch, transforming, rotting like the rest on the forest floor. Another part of the forest, of Nature, of everything, living and dying, rotting and changing, composting into food for the great organism of flesh and blood, lympy and air, of exquisite chemistry, that is the forest. Exchange and merging and transformation. Evolution.
Or, tomorrow I could take my chainsaw or hire a bulldozer, and drastically change this small part of the world. ‘My’ world.
Of course there are countless other scenarios for every ‘tomorrow’, and what I might do with it. There are things in life over which we have little or no influence, perhaps no choice. Perhaps.
And other moments and events in which I can use my consciousness and will, to make a difference in this world, take a step of – moreorless – my own choosing. To be a catalyst of evolution: an agent of destruction and degeneration or; of growth and abundance and stability.
Even with good intentions, of course, I will make choices and do things which degenerate and degrade, because I am always at least partially blind to life’s extraordinary complexity and the consequences of each event. I can only be humble, try to be aware and clear, and accept what happens through me, modifying my actions if that is possible and seems preferable.
Nature. I am not separate; I am always a part of it. I live, I will die, so let me grasp and treasure this brief passing moment, to be awake, not asleep. Let me celebrate Life.