In a Port Dou­glas state of mind

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Wil­low Wil­lis

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.

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