"The general remedy of those, who are uneasy without knowing the cause, is change of place; they are willing to imagine that their pain is the consequence of some local inconvenience, and endeavour to fly from it, as children from their shadows; always hoping for some more satisfactory delight from every new scene, and always returning home with disappointment and complaints" - Samuel Johnson. The Rambler, No. 5
A man will do great violence to himself in his quest for inner peace. A man will find himself folded like a place card in a Bikram Yoga studio, 105 degrees Fahrenheit, forty percent humidity, with the tip of his head pointed at the floor. Sweat trickles down from his crack and balls and pools in the cup of his nose.
He snorts away the sweat and sinks to the matt below, face down in a pool of himself. He cannot leave. That was the solemn promise he made to two; the one to whom he gave the money and the one to whom he gave his heart. Leaving is failing. Leaving is disrespecting yourself and those around you. It may take time to adjust, but if he JUST STICKS AT IT he will become addicted to the sense it peace it brings. Inner Peace.
The man rolls on his back while the class folds on. He regards the playful plaster mouldings on the ceiling. His head lolls from side to side as he traces the spirals, dimples and lines. The bumps begin to bustle and hum, baa and bark and he is transported to the white paddock, the flock, the blood and the pen. He is transported to a moment he’d forgotten: the day he first met peace.
Rewind ten years, fly across the North American continent, the bowl of the Pacific Ocean, and slide down the South Island, three quarters towards the base. This is Nowhere, Waikuaiti. He is a student of the arts, and has devoted his long summer break to better understanding his country. The real one. The one from second-hand books. For four brisk weeks he’s been painting a shearing quarters high in the hill country. Red for the roof and doors, the weatherboards in whipped butter yellow. It is a busy time in the local sense. People are here. It’s early summer and the shepherds need hands to separate the ewes and cradle the lambs so their tails can be cut and wethers can be made of young rams. It's hot and bloody work, and he is hot and bloody when he spots the gammy ewe. He shows her to the shepherds. Their judgement is swift, the prescription brief: She’s broken a leg and must die. She won’t go to waste. The dogs need tucker. He’s asked to lead her to the shearing shed while the shepherds fetch the gun. A single bulb hangs from the roof. It’s dim light soaks into the lanolin-waxed boards on the floor. He could leave now, but he stays. He wants to see. The ewe doesn’t begrudge the wait. The tall shepherd enters. The one who fought in Vietnam, whose only regret is he didn’t have time to finish the job properly. He slides the rifle from its pouch and fishes in his pocket for shells. Cares fly off him quicker than the butt he flicks from his fingers, concerns press softer than the barrel of the rifle he rests on the head of the ewe. She looks at her killer with all the concern of a pedestrian clocking a passing car. The gun pops, the ewe drops. She translates from feet to floor instantaneously, rotating stiff and fast as a tetris block as it clicks into its ideal shape and spot. There is no blood.
It’s then he sees her eyes. Open. Empty. Filled with inner peace.
Ascend the island, leap the ocean, fly the continent, rush from then to now. Drip like sweat from the ceiling onto the brow of the pronate, sweating man. He wipes his face and sits up straight. He came here for peace. For peace? What’s peace? Peace is a dead sheep’s eyes. The last thing he wants is peace, that morbid prize. He would now trade every easy breath for the swarming buzz of thoughts, the hum of petty concerns, anything at all that makes him blink. Class is over. He did not leave. HE JUST STUCK AT IT. He crawls to the door on limbs of wilted spinach. In the corridor the temperature drops, he finds his legs, water, stairs, the curb. He disgorges the contents of his stomach on the road. The instructor will not ask him to return, the girlfriend will not ask him to return. Never again. He feels the exhilaration of a joyful thought: as long as he lives he will never, ever be at peace.
PROFIT & DELIGHT
What I'm thinking about what I'm doing. This blog aspires to a more profound definition of 'profit' and the bog-standard sense of 'delight'.