One warm evening, when Deb and I were riding up the Linear Park, we noticed a Labrador taking a lazy swim in the River Torrens. Not another person was in sight. The dog scrambled out of the water, chugged up the bank, and disappeared. I suspect the family were out for tea, or perhaps engrossed in a TV program, and the dog had decided to use its private exit from the back yard to take a restorative swim while no one was watching.
I suspect the labbie took a similar joy in its secret to that of my mother, who had discovered a hidden gateway out of her aged care complex. After tea she could take a relaxing evening stroll without being interrogated, or even stopped, by the staff at the front door. She told me with a conspiratorial smile that all she had to do was be home before they locked the dining room doors into the residents' garden.
Both mum and the dog knew a key antidote to hard times: take a break. More than that, they knew that bugging out on Facebook, or stretching out on the bed, is not the same as being outside. And outside in green space away from the house. Mum's mind was slowly being eroded, but she had a surprising knowledge of the streets around Resthaven; indeed, the Facility was rather alarmed at just how far afield she used to travel. (And that's not including the illicit evening outings they knew nothing about!)
Both she and the labbie were re-entering the soul-state for which they had evolved, and for which they had been created. Houses and televisions are a foreign land to the soul; get the dosage wrong for Facebook, and it's poison. Green space is the healing place for when we've "been travelling faster than our souls can go," as Carrie Newcomer puts it.
In her song "The Speed of Soul" she begins with an alienated person in a truck stop, sings of her own exhaustion, and then suddenly shifts to these words:
Mr. Gatling made a Gatling gun
He said it would end war
Who could send some mother's son through such a door?
But the bullets move at the speed of cold
Drones do as they're told
And the men go home at night and kiss the wife
And watch TV
And never see all those souls untethered floating out to sea
War is the logical ending of a culture being built upon acquisition and greed. In response, she sings the refrain of the song:
Come back, come home
We're gathering the crumbs and the stones
Been travelling faster than our souls can go. (Carrie Newcomer)
Green space is one of the ways home. Leave your phone behind. Walk, wander, ride, or run. As the soul slows down, we begin to see the true nature of the frantically busy edifice which enslaves us, and can begin evasive action. Of course, there is often no river in which to swim, and no nearby park. But even on the fourth floor, ways can be found:
On the fourth floor of the building
With the shallow window box
She's digging in the soil with a silver spoon
Her hands inside rubber gloves
Planting seeds, pulling up weeds
The cycle of life is complete
Who would have thought it, in a city of stone
Four floors above the street...
A small paradise in a world of concrete
Four floors above the street. (The Waifs)
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