I had a complete mind altering experience a few days ago, when I was nearing the end of One Of Those Days, and my very taut tether.
School holidays, children bickering, jobs to do, no dinner ideas or food, washing washing washing, children bickering again. And it’s when things are overflowing on the domestic front that my brain decides to come up with the very best creative ideas that MUST be acted upon immediately to the point that my heart pounds a bit and my hands want to flutter.
“Is this anxiety?” Thinks my overwrought brain amidst the noise, “I think my brain needs to slow down but only if those children would stop that god-awful racket I might be able to work out the rubbish from the important bits. I don’t have time for anxiety, not with all that washing and not when I’m safe here with small irritants while there are murders happening and plane crashes and oh dear I forgot to pay the car transfer thingy and I wonder if that dear little baby fish is still ok, is that dog poo on the pavers and is that a scratch on the wall what the bejesus are White Lady Funerals thinking with those outfits oh please shut up children just give me a break I’m itchy why am I itchy was it those biscuits maybe they had milk in them god I’d love some ice cream I haven’t done any proper exercise in so long must do some sit ups or something I wonder whether it will rain should I get the washing in maybe we can have soup for dinner or maybe weetbix I wish I was a spy I wish I had a reason to wear decent clothes I wish…”
And so it went until some little bogan came flying out the door to my post at the clothesline to screech about someone pushing someone or farting on someone’s teddy or some such bullshit. And without really thinking about it I announced to the family that I was going for a walk and I’d be back soon. Ish.
And I whistled for the dog, slipped under the electric fence and stomped up the hill, mind now full of “I’m over the hills and far away fuckers see you in a while might find a circus to run away with while I’m at it don’t you dare follow me”. It was blowing a gale and threatening rain but I stomped on, welcoming extra misery like a very grouchy martyr.
I was quite a way up when I stopped feeling like the world was against me just long enough to have a look about at the moment I was in. It was nice. I was hot and welcomed the cold wind. It blew into my South facing ear and brought a lot of coddled thoughts out the other and into the northern skies. I noticed the birds and the distant shades of blue and the sound of the wind in the trees. And I climbed further still.
I found a beautiful blackwood tree, a hawthorn and the remnants of old drystone walls. I startled two kangaroos and their sudden bounding startled me. My heart pounded for proper, functioning body, fight-flight reasons.
At the top it was pounding mostly because of that lack of recent exercise and the last part being a bit of a hands-on-rocks climb. And because the view from up there was breathtaking and very heart poundy. I stood under a big old Eucalypt we call The Lonely Tree because it stands on it’s own against the horizon far above our house and I thought of nothing but the immediate wonder of weather and seascape and beautiful old Mother Nature who is sometimes my very best friend.
Then when the wind gusted enough for me to fear falling limbs and bring the ol’ brain back, I ran-skipped-stumbled back down the hill all the way to our door and burst in all rosy-cheeked to announce how wonderful the world was. A couple of hours earlier I might have announced a breakdown and brought a wooden spoon down smartly onto a few bottoms.
They all looked at me like I was mental and went on with the telly. I skipped about and efficiently completed dinner and washing chores with a mind as clear as a crystal bell.
The next day the threatening clouds were gone and I took my girls back up to the lonely tree, this time with no wind and sunshine and my camera-phone. They loved it. We all skipped about like crazy Laura Ingles-Wilders and hugged the lonely tree so it mightn’t feel so lonesome. Under there I got a text from a friend asking me if I’d like to see Antony and the Johnsons at Dark Mofo. Uncool as I am I had to consult google before responding and found a youtube link which I opened.
There under the lonely tree on the Ragged Tier with my girls (the boys being somewhere in the tractor being useful as opposed to whimsical), I sat at the top of our world and listened as Antony Hegarty’s beautiful voice swept out over the hills. And I had to hold my chest with my hands to stop my heart from bursting out.
That sort of feeling stays a while. Remnants of it float back at certain times, like tonight when I sat in a hot bath with the window open and the night air on my face. Our dairy heard was close enough for me to hear their chewing. My mind cleared again, more easily than normal.
That’s why I have to go to the lonely tree often, and to other beautiful places, like the top of Mount Maria or the hopfields of Bushy Park or the riverbanks of my childhood. That’s why we all should. Next time, maybe tomorrow, I will take my boys.
“On the hill beneath the tree and a huge blue sky, my mind was laundered by the wind and a sweet sweet song”.