Waiting for Affect

In the solid silence
of a dry gully somewhere
—you can hear it—

I remember what little I know of GodSepia forest

which is that
I think
there is some purpose to all this existence
in which we live.
There is some purpose beyond
the purpose we construct
and more meaning
than the meaning we make of it all.

This is not the problem.
This just is.

This unprovable intuition
is bedrock.

If you don’t believe in God
I suppose you think
we make all the meaning there is,
which is alright,

because I’m not much excited about this
existence of God stuff

If you intuit there is nothing
but that which
we add to the mix
and I feel there is something more,
what does it matter for today?

Today we both must climb out of this creek
and decide what is good to do.
What is the point?
Where is the purpose?
By what will I feel it was worth climbing out of the creek?

Some folk feel the answer is them.
If they make themselves happy
if they look after Number One
they will find an answer
that works.

This is the seminal point
of the consumer society
but the answer might not be in things.
It could be in achieving.
The thing is
that the I
is at the centre of everything.

I think there will only be an answer
which works
when I live for us all.
You are not all here for me;
I am here for you.

This excites me.
I see what this living does to people.
It makes us human.
It heals us.

This is the key choice of life.
It is the fundamental human choice.

I follow the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth
as a guide to grow in this choice.

I see
in the loss of everything in Mark’s crucifixion
in the death of the self
for the sake of compassion for others
that there is a resurrection
into a new order of life.

Mostly aspiration, sadly.
But still changing me.

There is no reason
I can see
why you could not follow
the tradition of the Buddha
when seeking to live for others
or some atheist philosopher.

claim to follow the Christ
but  use him as a prop
to boost your own self
and raise you up to Number One.
I did.

I can do all this thinking
in an armchair
or lying in the bed of a creek.
But  life has to be lived.

Yet even  on Facebook—
not far from an armchair
if you have WiFi—
the utter lack of compassion
towards refugees
and the hatred
and the self serving
of one single post
and its Likers
leaves me with no words.

Living for  myself
or living for others—
even simply trying
or wanting—
is the most profound choice
the fundamental human choice.

A person could manage
to get from the gully
only as far as Facebook
and give up

It’s not that Gillard and Abbott
are surprising.
Everything has its base.
What surprises
what horrifies
and numbs
and terrifies
is that we do not wipe them from Parliament
in disgust.
“The fear of others
has corrupted
the Australian soul,”
says Andrew Dutney.

There was outrage over Gillard’s father.
Died of shame, Jones said
and the country erupted
in outrage
and I don’t understand why
because it was no different from
what they say about each other
and the refugees
and the poor
every day of the week.
And that does not scandalise us.

But this is not why I
have retreated into the bush.
This is not the problem.
This just is.
And always was.

And for every dehumanised and dehumanising
Abbott, Jones, and Gillard
and for every missing moral core 
there is a person
who is an inspiration.
And even in Jones’s desperate face
you can see there is a person
cowering and longing.

Is the problem that
all is vanity
and a seeking after the wind?
All things are wearisome;
more than one can express;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
or the ear filled with hearing. 
And we consider all that our hands
have done
and the toil we have spent in doing it,
and see all is vanity and a chasing after wind,
and there is nothing to be gained under the sun.

There is nothing better for mortals
than to eat and drink
and find enjoyment in their toil.
This is from the hand of God; 
for apart from God
 who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 

Is this the problem?
Is all I can do
is try to enjoy life
in the presence of God
who when it comes down to it
is that unknowable purpose
I have intuited?
Am I simply a tiny cog
in the concerns of the infinite—
or I might not be a cog at all—
just a stray piece—
and who can tell
if the infinite has any concerns?

Even if I am most human
full of compassion
what have I done?
I will still die.
Earth will die.
All is but a chasing after wind
and there is no why.

This is not the problem.
This just is.
And always was.
The book is true.
And after reading Ecclesiastes
I am not in despair.
I am oddly at peace.
My acceptance of what is
is full of peace.
All shall be well
and all manner of thing shall be well.

Death is not yet welcome,
it is true,
but like the unbearable fear
of a hospital operation
as a child
it will happen
and it will be endured
and it will be
all right.

And if I have done even some small good—
even if it is only vanity—
and if I have enjoyed life under the sun
all is well.

The problem
is that enjoyment is lost.
rarely lost
but somehow compromised.
I do not care for anything.
All I want is to sleep
and be removed
from everything.

I do not want to not be.
But I do not want
is too much.

Leave me alone
so that I may stand under
the stars
and feel glory and love...

yet the world is too much
and I want none of it.
I wish to be held
removed from the pain
and yet the pain
is the sure sign
that all these things are true
and worthy
and not mere imagining.

And so in the bush gully
I am not lost, panicking
or seeking carefully to reconstruct
where I might be
and rediscover bearings
in a dangerous waterless land.

All is beautiful.
I am not lost.
But I do not care

for anything.

I can only wait
in faith
that some path out
will matter.

Andrew Prior



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