An extract from Words to Live By Vol 2
Out soon in print and an ebook
‘We are currently running on empty’
When I was at school there were very few lessons about Aboriginal cultural history and only a modest acknowledgement of their existence in many of the books we read. In my colourful birthday book, there was nothing to perceive they existed at all. The first fleet of British ships sailed into Botany Bay in 1770, to a place apparently devoid of all human life. Captain James Cook stepped ashore, stuck a flag in the dusty soil and claimed sovereignty on behalf of the British people.
Someone somewhere had forgotten to introduce us to the indigenous Aboriginal Australians and write it into the school curriculum. Here was a civilisation that had colonised this huge continent for sixty thousand years, one of the longest surviving societies in human history, and they had been overlooked. Australia already had a unique identity, heaving with their wonderful artistic, musical and spiritual traditions.
However, despite my early education deficient in what really bordered my limited cultural ideas, I did love that book, and recently I found it again in my attic. Now it sits proudly on my bookshelf for a second time.
Its cover shows a lavish early painting of a Melbourne street my Father walked along every day to work. Unfortunately by the 1970s it had become a frenzied tarmac city road, flanked either side by high-rise buildings and lined at street level with department stores and busy restaurants. Sadly all the trees had long disappeared too. I often wish we could retain more than just a snapshot of how these places once were. I’d love to know what they smelt like and felt like to live in.
But then, pre-history is all around us. If you don't believe me, get up right now and go look out of the nearest window… Just for a moment, turn the TV off, or your computer, put your phone down or whatever is distracting you, and imagine the same landscape as it might have been one hundred, or even one thousand years ago. What would the lives of the people living there have been like? Picture what it must have been like living in a more sustainable and socially harmonious world.
Perhaps like me, you might agree with the writer John Zerzan when he said, 'we are currently running on empty,' He also had the courage to ask… ‘how did we come to dedicate our lives to maintaining this mad tangle of supply and demand that we call civilisation?’
When I look at the world outside my own window I sadly have to agree with him... but then, what can I do about it. What can any of us do?
Well, perhaps I have a trump card, and so do you. Like John Zerzan, I am a writer too, and I tend to dream, not only at night-time but all day as well. In fact, I daydream for a living, it’s what writers do… We quiet our minds into a trance like state, wait for the words to form and then write them down… Perhaps, in essence, that makes me a professional dreamer? Maybe we should all become practiced dreamers, full-time fantasists, because the biggest adventure we can take is to live in, and out, of a life full of our greatest imaginings. It is our imaginings, the thoughts we have and our dreams especially that create worlds. Together they change our view of what we see, what we perceive and how we deal with life and living. That allows us to then reconstruct a new humanity, a new world, one jam-packed with our own new and empowered experiences, and one for us all to share with each other.
Maybe if we all do that, now and forever… together, then in another thousand years from now or even just one hundred, when someone else looks out on the same scene you are right now, they will be very pleased you did, and that you helped to recreate something that eventually became wonderful again.
© Simon Lawrence