The residual refrain: Day 11


Tuesday March 28, 2017

I have a set of beliefs which influences how I perceive the world. I believe in science, and when I look at the landscape, I see it through a lens of geomorphology. I see erosion and deposition. I see clues in the hills that tell the story of mountain building through faults and unconformities. I understand this as how the landscape came to be.

However, I know this is not the belief system of everyone. I find Indigenous Dreamtime stories fascinating. It’s a different way of seeing the landscape and understanding how it formed. I like to compare them and think about a particular mountain as an emu, or a river course as the flips and flops of a particularly giant fish. It is a different kind of depth and richness compared to the depth and richness of geomorphology. So when I discovered that there is a ‘keeping place’ here in Bairnsdale that told stories of the areas I’ve ridden through, and that the building also held a lot of cultural items, I wanted to visit.

Yes, I could have done this yesterday, but I wanted time to think afterwards and reflect. I wanted to incorporate my learnings into my views and think about what parts of the culture, and its understandings, I could meld into my own life. So that’s what I spend the morning doing – visiting the Krowathunkoolong Keeping Place. More info in the link below.

I would like to say that I spent the afternoon doing similarly intellectually or physically enriching activities. But I did not. I did run a few errands. I did some laundry (many thanks to the caravan park owners for freely giving me some of their own detergent). And I worked through some ‘ending life in Oz’ logistics online. But mostly I just laid around and ate stuff (predominantly healthy but with one large exception, as below).

Verne and Kermit get right into the caramel slice. Aussies tend to put coconut in the base of many of their slices. I don’t really like coconut in my crusts, so I don’t eat many of the sweet treats found in bakeries here. However, this one had a shortcrust pastry base, so we indulged.

In the evening, I chat to Nigel – the first time I’ve actually spoken to him since he dropped me off to start the trip. The brand of mental illness that he has means he is grumpy 90 percent of the time, incredibly grouchy eight percent of the time, and nice and normal two percent of the time. He carries an exceptional level of rage just below the surface, and it takes very little to set him off. It’s also very unpredictable – you can say the exact same thing one day to him as another day, and get a totally different reaction. It’s a bit like living with a toddler – fine one moment, throwing a major tantrum the next. I hate talking to him on the phone, because all the visual cues to judge where he is at that day are invisible. I’ve known him long enough that I can get a lot through his tone of voice, etc., but as the rage and depression has grown over the years, I’ve found phone conversations can be difficult to negotiate.

He doesn’t fly off in a rage about anything (it’s never directed at you, but you still bear the brunt of it), so that’s good. But it’s hard to know that this is ‘normal’ – that walking on eggshells all the time is just the way it is. Sigh… I’ve fought so hard for so long to try to help him turn the corner. And I’ve failed. Someday, I will feel a sense of relief that my ‘normal’ is more normal again. But right now, giving up is just a tough, tough thing. If only all of life were as simple as riding a bicycle.

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