Here & Now with S Sorrensen
There are fireflies here. They flash on and off, on and off. Batteries must be going flat…
There's about a dozen of them going this way and that, headlights ablaze. It's like peak hour for fireflies.
A stormbird wails and something rustles loudly to my left. I'm startled, but stay cool. Wallaby probably. Snakes don't rustle loudly. Above me stars do firefly impersonations as a breeze ruffles the tree crowns.
I'm sitting at the base of an old ironbark, nursing a bottle of Ginger Necktar (no added vodka). It's dark all around except for the fireflies and the starlight. I think there's a fat moon somewhere too, behind the cliffs. Night shadows flit about adding silvery touches to tree trunk and lantana.
So, what am I doing sitting in the bush at night?
Well, I was sipping on the Ginger Necktar in my shack under the cliffs after a day working in Lismore. My mind was going round and round. I had a column to write. But I was sober and distracted.
I dropped Bille Holiday on the turntable: "What a little moonlight will do."
I checked my iPad to see the fat moon more clearly. I checked my phone (again) in case she'd texted. (She hadn't.) I turned off Billie and turned on the radio. The Americans want to run their wars on biofuel. Environmentally friendly wars. Ha, that's funny, but depressing. I turned off the radio and I put the needle back into Billie's groove. "I'll be looking at the moon/ But I'll be seeing you." I checked the phone again.
Normally I'd be having a glass of red but I'm boring now. The new me. What next? Recite a few passages from The Bible? Chant 'om' in the lotus position? Go to meetings with other boring people? Boringolics Anonymous: "Hello, my name is S and I'm boring." (I can't believe I'm confessing my boringninity to you…)
Sometimes you need to take a break from the merry-go-round that pretends to be life; from that constant noise in your brain. Even for a moment. Even on Tuesday night with a column to write. Just to make contact with… whatever's left, I suppose.
The thing is, my mind is too messy for meditation, I'm too sober for religion, and my ego would never let me mix with fellow boring-types, so when clarity is needed, when time-out is signalled, the bush beckons.
So I just walked out of my shack and faded to black without a torch.
Not that I'm worried. I'm not far from home. It's straight down the hill. And there's the starlight and moonlight to see by. And, of course, the flashing fireflies.
I take a swig of Ginger Necktar. The stormbird wails again.
Like a blanket being pulled over me, like a curtain being closed, the night darkens dramatically. The night shadows coalesce into one. Looking up, I see no stars now. That can only mean one thing...
Rain! It buckets down.
Even the fireflies short out.
Getting to my feet I walk blindly downhill. My sarong catches on lantana. My bare foot steps on something squishy. I jump. Into a spider web.
I'm getting freaked. In the darkness I can't tell which way is down. A pinch of panic squeezes my chest.
But the mind chatter has stopped. I don't even think about the phone. The stormbird wails again. I'm soaked.
Sometimes it gets dark and you don't know where you're going.
But then, all of sudden, you see the porch light of home.
Nothing gets resolved, but you're alive. Alive, wet and understanding Billie when she sings "No peace I find/ Just an old sweet song" as you walk home.