Today I saw a woman crying in the doorway of an empty shop. I didn’t linger or offer a hand as somebody was already there. As I passed I heard the woman sobbing that no one will ever love her.
Only moments before I had brushed past a collection of dazed individuals. None of them anything to do with the next; just a dusting of lost souls blowing around the the downtown streets. I would later learn of their prevalence; shifting it would seem from one street to the next until the warm city breeze forced them to rest in doorways unoccupied by crying women.
I would see another lady blowing rage through her nose like a bull. A man at war with a public telephone, punching and growling at the motionless booth as if waiting for it to retaliate. I would see a woman hanging on to a body she lost long ago; not stolen by the rigours of time, but robbed by the men who stake claim to her flesh as if it were their own. She hung there in the dark, waiting, not selling, and praying possibly for a quiet night.
This was Sydney, a magnet for visitors and some say the most livable spot on the planet. So why so many people starved of life?
Why is it we’re drawn to cities like moths to a candle when so often all they offer in return is lost hope for those who don’t make it, and gut wrenching pressure and stress for those who’ve apparently succeeded? Promise, hope and the seduction of power may have something to do with it, pinned as we are by the alluring nature of dough.
So a simplistic answer: leave now before it’s too late. Just go.
Empty the cities, relieve their bulging walls. Take misery and hardship for a long walk and who knows, it may loosen its grip. Cities are the epitome of assbackwardness; they defy the simple human inclination for migration to a land of plenty, because plenty has and should have nothing to do with a salary, an Elizabeth Street apartment or good coffee.
Our feet should be drawn towards the sustenance of the spirit and soul, towards the simple things that keep us going: companionship, good food, discovery, making, and having the freedom to roam with body and mind. Somewhere over that horizon, I suspect is happiness.
And then there was another woman. Older this time and sitting with her grey-haired partner on the plane leaving Sydney. She was excited; soon she and her partner were heading on their own journey to walk the entire 227km Camino trail in Spain. No tent. No sleeping bag. Just the two of them and the long trail ahead. They were taking a gamble, but more importantly they had not lost sight of hope and promise as reachable goals when viewed in a simple way. I have a feeling that if they get lost on their way they’ll find a new horizon that looks friendly enough and there they will head.
To leave is to arrive. Worth remembering maybe.
Peace & whittles,