Life in the flow

Life is a wild, ex­otic, colour­ful, kalei­do­scopic thing... Flow with it.

Living Now - - Editorial - by Peter Walker

Life is a wild, ex­otic, colour­ful, kalei­do­scopic thing... Flow with it.

“CAN WE TAKE A BIT OF A WALK TO­GETHER?”

I was at a fes­ti­val in By­ron Bay when my friend Huw Rodgers, a young man I’ve known since he was about 18 (he’s 30 now) ap­proached me and asked that ques­tion. I agreed im­me­di­ately. We set out the day af­ter the fes­ti­val from By­ron Bay beach to walk the light­house loop. It’s only about five kilo­me­tres but it was to be a pretty de­ci­sive wan­der...

Just to get a lit­tle clearer; when Huw and I catch up it’s never about the lighter sub­jects of life. We go deep and we go there quickly.

As we walked, Huw shared that, while life in Mel­bourne was pass­ably good, it re­ally didn’t feel like it was go­ing any­where in par­tic­u­lar. He was keen to take steps to shift that and to ex­pe­ri­ence more of life, to take some risks, to meet some new peo­ple, to shake off in­er­tia and to wit­ness more of the world.

I can’t be quite sure how that went from a dis­cus­sion to a plan, but within the space of that slow walk – with many stops along the way to gaze at the mag­nif­i­cent turquoise blue of the ocean on this east­ern-most point of Aus­tralia, the pods of danc­ing dol­phins play­ing in the waves, the three teenagers bravely (or fool­ishly) swim­ming from Wat­e­gos Beach to The Pass and lurk­ing stingrays the size of small cars drift­ing with the cur­rents – we took a de­ci­sion to go to Europe to share a walk­ing jour­ney to­gether.

Nei­ther of us has the where­withal even to buy the plane tick­ets.

And we are go­ing in May.

IT WASN’T AL­WAYS THIS WAY

I was trained in the world of cor­po­rate me­dia which, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, has be­come one of the most ma­nip­u­la­tive and soul­less in­dus­tries in our mod­ern world. It be­came all about push­ing peo­ple around, ma­nip­u­lat­ing at­ti­tudes, shap­ing opin­ions and in­flu­enc­ing busi­ness peo­ple to buy buy buy more ad­ver­tis­ing that was clev­erly de­signed to in­flu­ence lis­ten­ers and view­ers to feel like they needed more and more stuff in or­der to fill up their empty mean­ing­less lives.

Per­haps that sounds a lit­tle harsh, but that is how it felt to me. Get this thing be­fore stocks run out! Lis­ten to this well known pub­lic fig­ure tell you how their life has vastly im­proved by buy­ing this wid­get. Buy and con­sume this fast food that has slightly less nu­tri­tional value than the plas­tic toy we’ll give to your chil­dren for free – be­cause we know that your chil­dren can nag and harp on about some­thing like no-one else and they know less about dis­cern­ing some­thing of gen­uine worth from in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion than you do. Ma­nip­u­la­tive, soul de­stroy­ing and seem­ingly de­void of ethics.

I was taught in that en­vi­ron­ment that if I set my ‘goals’ for any­thing up to ten years I could make it hap­pen; get any­thing I wanted. I be­came re­ally good at it too. Climbed the cor­po­rate lad­der, met with the ap­proval of those higher up than me. Wore ex­pen­sive suits, drove ex­pen­sive cars. Dated ex­pen­sive women and drank ex­pen­sive scotch. Lots of it. Too much of it. It numbed me re­ally ef­fec­tively. Af­ter the scotch drunk in

ex­cess at night, I dis­cov­ered that two strong painkillers in the morn­ing would take away the pain and get me through the day. Numb, but func­tional and bul­let­proof. I could take away a per­son’s liveli­hood and sack them with im­punity. Reach tar­gets. Max­imise profit. Push as hard as me – numb, fo­cused, soul­less – or move aside and I’ll get some­one else to do it.

SOME­THING HAD TO GIVE

It was me. My sec­ond-last cor­po­rate me­dia po­si­tion ended when, above work com­mit­ments, I favoured meet­ing up with the par­ents of my best school friend, who had died trag­i­cally in a car ac­ci­dent when he and I were both 16. I hadn’t seen them for 17 years and they were com­ing through the city I was in for just a day and a night and wanted to catch up and share some time and din­ner. The owner of the cor­po­ra­tion I was work­ing for con­tacted me af­ter I had hap­pily agreed to meet with them and, in the en­su­ing con­ver­sa­tion, told me to can­cel be­cause he wanted to meet with me at the same time. I said no. I knew what I was do­ing. He sacked me.

I stepped down a notch or two and took a lesser job in a big­ger cor­po­ra­tion. I worked there for three years. The money was pretty good. I started at 8am each week­day in a daily ‘sales max­imi­sa­tion’ meet­ing (af­ter hav­ing driven an hour in peak-hour traf­fic) and fin­ished about 7pm. Most of my wak­ing hours were ded­i­cated to mak­ing enough money to live a life, pay rent, en­ter­tain my­self with ‘stuff’ on the week­ends. Then, one day, in one of those meet­ings, my ‘su­pe­rior’ made a state­ment that woke me up. He said that each and ev­ery one of us in that meet­ing was medi­ocre be­cause, if we weren’t, we’d be some­where else do­ing some­thing im­por­tant and pow­er­ful.

I sacked my­self.

IT’S BEEN QUITE A JOUR­NEY SINCE THEN

I’ve worked through the hard yards of es­tab­lish­ing and op­er­at­ing a small ‘con­scious’ busi­ness, ne­go­ti­at­ing and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a failed mar­riage, driv­ing junk cars, wear­ing op-shop clothes, dat­ing and lov­ing women with big hearts, con­nect­ing with friends who don’t care what my bank ac­count looks like. I surf more. I dance much more. I laugh a lot more. I drink a lot less. I don’t use painkillers at all.

I can gen­uinely re­port be­ing ‘ in the flow of life’.

I re­cently heard a speaker ad­dress­ing fes­ti­val par­tic­i­pants; “You were gifted this life. Ev­ery­thing was gifted to you. Then some­one stole it from you and be­gan to sell it back to you. And you bought it and you keep on buy­ing it. Wake up peo­ple.” It re­minded me. Whether I force, ma­nip­u­late, yearn and push or rest in per­fect nat­u­ral great peace, life keeps com­ing at me. For at least the last four years, since I left ev­ery­thing be­hind, sold al­most all my pos­ses­sions, walked away from what many peo­ple saw as a re­ally good life ex­pe­ri­ence liv­ing in com­fort near By­ron Bay – and be­gan to walk from place to place, slow­ing down to be at peace with

the pace with which I was born into this world – life has been in­ter­est­ing, abun­dant, en­tic­ing, chal­leng­ing, beau­ti­ful.

The re­ally valu­able things I left be­hind have all been re­turned to me. Friend­ships, love, time to think and play, laugh­ter and tears, hap­pi­ness and sor­row, in­ti­macy, ex­cite­ment – and my soul – are all still very present and abun­dant. Life keeps com­ing at me.

SO THE NEXT WALK IS THROUGH EUROPE AND THE MID­DLE EAST

I walk for bal­ance, peace and free­dom. So far that has been com­pletely wel­comed in four coun­tries, across over 9,000 kilo­me­tres. I’ve met and in­ter­acted with lit­er­ally thou­sands of peo­ple along the way. I’ve been re­ceived with love, care, in­ter­est and gen­eros­ity every­where. I still have no solid idea how I’m go­ing to get to Europe in May, but that isn’t re­ally im­por­tant.

My young friend Huw and I will go to Europe in May and be­gin a walk to­gether. We’ll start with a walk from Lon­don to Find­horn com­mu­nity in North­ern Scot­land. Then to Europe and very likely south from wher­ever we land, be­cause it’ll be get­ting cold by then, so we’ll fol­low the sun. Un­less life has some­thing else in store. What­ever ac­tu­ally hap­pens I will only be sure of when it’s hap­pen­ing.

Life is a wild, ex­otic, colour­ful, kalei­do­scopic thing... Flow with it. ■ Con­nect with other read­ers & com­ment on this ar­ti­cle at www.liv­ing­now.com.au Just over four years ago Peter Walker left his part­ner, fam­ily, ca­reer and friends, sold or gave away all his pos­ses­sions and be­gan a per­sonal pil­grim­age. Peter is a writer, or­a­tor, teacher and stu­dent of the pos­si­bil­i­ties and op­por­tu­ni­ties of life.

PHOTOGRAPHY: WWW.PAULWENNERHOLM.COM

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