Justin Ridler

I don’t think I need words anymore, except for what is Necessary

I don’t think I need to speak my mind anymore, except for what is Necessary

You ask for my story, but my story is Empty

You ask for my past, but my past is Gone

You ask for my dirt, but my dirt is magic creating unseen blooms

I can’t tell you so instead I take the paper and burn it

All I can offer is Fire

– by de Vie Weinstock

Photo by Justin Ridler in collaboration with the Sydney Dance Co.

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I was walking along Bondi boardwalk with my friend Justin Ridler tonight trying to explain how I feel about reality. I just don’t get it. I also don’t quite accept my own mortality either. I simply don’t believe in it. No, I will not die. I think it’s a function of not quite understanding that no matter how much you love the planet, no matter how much you love your life, people, every moment, every morsel, it’s all going to end and so will I.

I can’t quite grasp that, and maybe that’s okay seeing as I’m only a quarter of a century old? But HOLY CRAP I’M GOING TO DIE! Quick! “Stuff your eyes with wonder! Live as if you’re going to drop dead in 10 seconds!” says Ray Bradbury. Quite understandably, I have problems with that way of thinking too though. My brother Oscar and I had a truly comical moment about a week ago when we first read that very quote and began attempting to ‘stuff our eyes’ with wonder. The orange! Absorb it, goggle eyed! Smash everything! Destroy! Quick, call someone, anyone, you’re going to DIE in 10 seconds!!!!

But before we know it, gone. Now, I don’t want to continue discoursing about how one must embrace one’s life and do what one wants to do and all of that. Because we all know that. We all know that. It doesn’t make a difference, not a real one: because as I said, we’re still going to die and there is a physical world of circumstances and wooden pylons and concrete paths and delicate pink leaves and beds and televisions and sushi and sake and all of that. In other words, there is a world – of wonder – to navigate. So, I don’t subscribe to the whole “Live as if you’ll die in 10 seconds” nor living as if today will be your last, because I tried that. It doesn’t work. I once read something that said, if you lived like this, you’ll wake up tomorrow broke, alone, fat, and possibly in jail.

What might work is balance, which is another age old cracker of good wisdom that just keeps regrowing. Ahh balance. I must say the one thing I do take the most pleasure and enjoyment from is the adage encouraging one to experience “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”  Yes. A bit of starvation is fine every now and then, and a bit of indulgence is equally as good. They are too extremes though, and too long dwelt in either creates havoc on many levels. Balance: but it all takes practice of course, doesn’t it. And how could it not?! Didn’t it take a while to learn how to ride a bike, and once we’ve mastered the balancing of our body’s inner ear waters, which is just one piece of our physical world, might it take longer to acquire a balance of all the many elements and contradictions in y/our physical world?

This brings me to my sense of the sheer bizarreness of life and physical reality. A few days ago, I was in Perth, where I was surrounded by different people, a different environment, different weather patterns, different foods, fabrics, and feelings. Now, I am in Sydney, where I am surrounded by an almost 100% shift in my physical reality. The only things that have stayed the same are my luggage, and me. However, this is also questionable. Seeing as I’ve been eating different food for the past two days and seeing as I had certain irreversible experiences on the flight over here, I am in fact a different me than I was in Perth. My luggage also has some new microbial activity happening with it. So it is also not the same as it was when I left Perth.

Furthermore, I will soon arrive in New York, and in just a few days time my environment will again be 100% different. None of the people from Perth (aside from my sister), and none of the people I’ve been surrounded by in Sydney will be surrounding me there. It will again be a new system of weather (understatement!) and I will be met with different challenges and different things to respond to. My point in all this? What the fuck is reality!?!! I am somehow attached to my body and to ‘life’ or ‘reality’, via some kind of perceptive awareness located in my eyeballs, it seems, which work with my brain – but the physical eye balls and brain matter are still this physical world I’m trying to explain the weirdness of. I am ATTACHED at the head, to my body, and through this attached perceptiveness, like Peter Pan’s shadow, my body is somehow mine for the duration of 80 or 90 years or so.

The fact that “I” move “my” body/ physical matter around this physical world, based on call and response, idea and ergonomics, is just baffling – and I’m not going to lose sleep over it. This sake induced explanation of what I’ve now attempted to discuss with two people close to me has been simmering for some time now. My only understanding and final consensus on the matter of life and mortality, perception and body, is that we are simply organisms responding to a lush organic growth of a planet which is also an organism in itself, within an organism of a universe, and so on (for more on this, see My Theory of the Universe). There is perhaps no reason why we live in this physical world and why it is the way it is, but the fact that we are animals with brains and machines and a perspective on our surroundings with which to comment, control, construct and deconstruct with, is what amazes me. The fact that we are the first creatures that we recognize (I don’t rule out my own understanding in this equation that animals have languages which may be more complex and sophisticated than ours, and that therefore they may be able to reflect on themselves and each other as we do) as conscious and reflexively reflective beings, able to question and explore and self-analyze as we do (sometimes disturbingly so) is just very fascinating to me.

So – we have a physical world. So – I am a spiritual being. The non-physical part of me gets incredibly frustrated by the challenges and limits of the physical world: obstacles, distances, the need for sleep, the need for food, the need for water, and air, and so on. The physical part of me occasionally gets irritated by the soul-er part of me wanting to ardently to do a billion things and do them now. To go here, and there, and everywhere. One minute I might be in Pixar’s studios, the next on Mars, the next out in Saturn’s rings, the next in a jungle, the next with my sister, the next with Jon nested in love, the next on a beach in Big Sur. Tomorrow I might want to make a play, or visit the Queen, or talk to mosquitoes, or lay on the floor of the ocean watching waves roll above me. My non-bodily side wants to do all of that, and I suspect on some level it already does.

Soon I will be in the snow. Soon the snow will melt, and the flowers will burst from the trees for a lucky week or two in New York. I am going back to the things I have grown to know and love: the way the food is packaged for delivery, the specific kind of boxes they use, the boots of the people who walk around the East Village, the smell on the streets which I can only describe as both industrial and organic. Bike rides through Chinatown, strange goods bought at strange stores, laying down watching movies with Jon on our couch and cuddles at night, being able to tell him everything in the dark.

After 8 weeks in Australia, and 6 in Perth, I am ready to take it on again. First, physical body is telling me I need some sleep, whilst soular body is effervescently up in the glittering astral belt checking out the New York I’m about to step into, and zinging excitedly all over the place.

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