In a Port Douglas state of mind
I STILL hadn’t kicked the habit. It plagued me and made me feel slightly self conscious, even ashamed at times especially when other people had seen the aftermath of my unhinged mindless hobby. I couldn’t help it. I just found myself doing it and not until it was too late did I consciously think "I shouldn’t have done that". It was awful to not be in total control of oneself and liberating to be flawed at the same time. I wondered what I could possibly feel so excitable about to warrant the dreaded bane of my life recurring ceaselessly over and over again . . . nail biting. Such an awful habit! So un-lady like! What decent, self respecting man would want a woman who harboured such a hideous personal habit like this? What monster must lurk inside my stormy heart?
I felt like a lone sailor, complete with yellow mac and rain hat turned up at the front battling a storm of intergalactic proportions at the helm of a tiny little tug trying to make it home in the dead of the blackest night . . . eyes fixed . . . fingers in mouth . . .
Why did I bite my nails? Is it some sort of mania? Am I so un-self aware chewing my fingers out of some desperate psychopathy like one of those naked cockatoos gone mad in a cage? My finger nails cop the brunt of a world that has technically gone insane while my mind races with it all...the images...the words. Why should these things still bother me? Look where I am. A million miles from the nearest busy intersection. Worlds away from the throbbing nightclubs and the vampires that haunt them, another dimension away from cracked out hopeless cases lying in the gutters, the pale faces, glassy eyes glued to the mobile phone screens that have long since seen the passing of light conversational banter between commuters on the trains and the platforms . . .
Sometimes I wonder how I did it for so long. How could I have lived in the heart of a bustling, mad, overwhelming, visually complex and totally synthetic city like Sydney, or Melbourne, or Brisbane – any of them! How awful! Had they infected me with their edgy malaise?
The waves gently foamed near the micro beach by the Sugar Warf next to St Mary’s by the Sea. A gushing bride and her throng of differently shaped bridesmaids walk in a search line across the grass wearing the same tangarine outfits and photographers buzz like paparazzi on her special day. Slightly bewildered men in sweltering tuxedos far too tight for this weather feigned interest, their eyes not wandering to the pretty girls but to the beer garden of the Courthouse Hotel across the road, the cold lagers calling out like Sirens to sailors on the high seas... and there I was, gripped by an insatiable mania, eyes glued to empty space, thoughts racing at a million miles an hour gnawing at my fingernails. I’m sure I looked quite manic, even bent into some odd position to maximise the onslaught against my worn out nails.
But surely there wasn’t that much to worry about? Am I just a worry wart? If I am then I have certainly scaled back on my abstract focus and am nowhere near as tightly wound as I used to be. I find Port Douglas slowly washes those things away.
Indeed, sometimes I’ll be in the midst of a mindful of self indulgences lost in worlds where I am the hero of some Walter Mitty type fantasy, a comic book maiden of steel between the looming darkness and our precious blue planet, a fricken jet pilot in a Top Gun style ’oooh-ra!’ moment! A scientist of Einstein-like proportions about to discover the greatest breakthrough of mankind! A model! A superstar! Goddamn it, an eagle soaring on the air currents of a mountain updraft!
Suddenly, I stop in my tracks ‘‘Oh my god! That’s so amazing!’’ I say instantly transported back to reality, awe struck by the vision of The Gorge from the end of Murphy Street and the setting sun crafting shards of light upwards to the first stars of a warm evening.
All those other things simply deflate and dissipate. What a relief I am not those other things! Such a relief that there is something more important than me, something so wondrous and beautiful that it can snap even me out of my outrageous day dreams. I sigh again and smile, such a relief!
....good ol’ Port Douglas to the rescue again.