Yesterday, at work, I was totally in the moment. I was at the coffee machine, I think it was a large latte with two, but what it was doesn’t matter. I was steaming the milk. The milk was swirling, hissing, the jug was becoming hot, the coffee had dripped through the filter, and my customer was waiting, watching our giant TV. I realized I was thinking about nothing. Not one thing. It was great.
I gave my being in the now a little look, a nod. I didn’t get excited because that would be extrapolating and all my now would be gone. I switched my brain back to the task. Took the cup from the machine, stirred in the sugar, poured the milk, placed the lid on the cup and served my next customer.
‘Large latte, with two please.’
The more things change the more they don’t.
I’m a worrier. I could worry for Australia. If worrying was an Olympic sport I wouldn’t need to sit any semi. I’d be in the final, in one of the middle lanes, because I’ve already done us proud.
I worry about my sons. I worry about my childhood. I worry about what my sons will think of their childhoods. I worry about the farmers and the weather and the economy and the government. I spend a lot of time on yesterday and too much on tomorrow. What will happen tomorrow?!
But losing my little sister, Libby, just over a year ago, and scattering her ashes at Platypus Rock, nearly a month ago, is teaching me.
Last week, Darren, Libby’s partner, and I went to the rock. We chatted about Libby and to Libby, cars went by, they sounded tidal, the river wasn’t as high as it had been and was running at a luxuriant pace. Libby’s ashes are still there, but they are reducing. We saw no animals, but heard the screech of galahs, and the gang-up laughing of kookaburras. I took photos. I’m after details although I know I’m absorbing them. In the car on the way back to his place I asked Darren how he felt.
‘Loose,’ he said.
‘Yeah, me too.’
My legs and arms felt relaxed.
I’m in moments everywhere. It’s peaceful.
On Saturday I was at Warandyte Market with a friend, Jenny, the same friend who saw the platypus with me. Warrandyte Market is on the banks of the Yarra, about a kilometre from Platypus Rock, and has a way of meeting you up with the unusual and the beautiful. It’s mostly people selling things they’ve made themselves, clothes, jewelry, food, soap. There are coffee carts, crowds – always crowds – and buskers.
There was a boy. About twelve years old. He had brown hair, was wearing a checked hoodie and black jeans. He had a microphone in front of him and he held an instrument – a clarinet, I think. He sang. His singing was beautiful. It made the hairs on my arms stand up, I listened to him, expecting him to falter because of his age, because of a crowd, but he didn’t.
His voice met my heart.
‘I’ve gotta get out of here,’ I said to Jenny.
I was going to cry like Hell in front of everybody because this beautiful kid wouldn’t be quiet.
He stopped singing. He played his clarinet and though it was as wonderful, I felt safe. There is something about the voice, they way it connects to our ears, the way another someone just like us can be so incredible and so themselves. Maybe that’s it.
The clarinet finished, the boy sang again and it was too much. I walked away wiping tears from my eyes. My glasses were foggy. Jenny wasn’t far behind me. I dug into my coat pocket, found a couple of tissues and handed her one. We cried and held each other. We were lucky. We got some coins together and wrote him a note and wrapped the coins inside the note. I made Jenny drop the coins into his collection – he was singing again and I couldn’t risk getting close. For the rest of the afternoon if I thought of him, that beautiful boy and his beautiful, unwavering, soft and strong voice, I cried the tears of somebody who has seen, and shared, something wonderful.
I’m not sure about the loss of my sister in all this. I may have cried had we come upon that boy a couple of years ago when Libby was alive and writing me hilarious letters and smoking her cigarettes super fast. I’ve always been sentimental. But these days I’m seeing beauty without looking, I’m appreciating without thinking, I worry less, and I’m often at peace without trying.
see those speckles of white?