Story Archive

Big Walk_5

THE WEIGHT OF THINGS

Posted on April 8, 2015 by
Raymond
on the road at
Blackheath

 

 

Ralph and I are holed up in Blackheath, at a friend's place, as rain pours down with a zealot's conviction. It's bloody freezing and we can't go anywhere. I could claim that to brave the elements would imperil my camera equipment but really I am the one in danger. I am just not yet tough enough to endure this kind of weather.

My walk has been stagnated by the elements, I just have to accept that is the case and feel lucky to have a roof over my head. So, from the warmth of a doona I'll reflect on the thoughts from this first week or so.

Physically it was really difficult manipulating the rickswag through the Sydney streets and around people. Beside that, it is a city I have ceased to know. As I walked past people they averted their faces. I had hoped to find stories even as I passed through the old suburbs but found almost no human contact. One car tooted and its inhabitants waved, and that was a police car. A man in an Akubra with his cattle dog pulling a trolley, so reminiscent of a swagman, resonated with no one. Rather, it was confusing to people.

Many of the suburbs through which I walked were Asian and I couldn't have expected a cultural resonance, but I sensed there was something else in people's response to my strange mode of transport. I wonder if, and this is pure speculation, life is now framed by the four sides of the screen, whether an iPad, iphone or television. Crazy things can happen within the confines of the frame, like a dwarf on The Game of Thrones, but outside the corners it is confusing, uncontrolled. 

The walking was challenging. I have never pulled anything as I am pulling my rickswag, rather I lugged a pack on my back. Hauling the rickswag up Lapstone Hill as I climbed into the Blue Mountains was bloody hard work. It is a very different set of muscles and a uniquely different style of walking. I now know why God created slaves.

I have learnt to balance the load by slightly lifting the trolley arms. That almost gives me some forward momentum as though the weight is pushing me forward. I have too much weight of course and during this period I am working through my gear to try and strip down a little. Maybe I can lose some camera gear, some clothes, maybe a little of everything? 

I remembered when I offered a real Swagman called John, a man who has lived on the road for decades, a gas stove and he said ... Nope .. when you've got nothing you can go anywhere. He was right. The more you have, the heavier the weight you carry. 

Not just things. Everything has a weight. My mum loved her husband, my Dad, for 62 years; a beautiful, loving, robust, energetic marriage but his death was the terrible weight of their love. 

Success, failure, love, loss, wealth, they all have their weight. Everything displaces something even if you can't see it at the time. A shadow that is apparent only when the moon or the sun shines. 

It's early days yet but I am far from the weightless wanderer that I yearn to become. My soul is burdened by so many things, my body hurts and I doubt both myself and the task ahead. I sensed two things as I walked the other day. One was a well of sadness through which I needed to push. The other was a fleeting clarity of purpose. My hope is that the balance shifts from the former to the latter.

Young Ralph is a good boy. Even when he licks my face in the tent at night, or pulls this way and that as I try to keep us moving forward, or forces me to chase him after a long days walk. I guess that's just the weight of having a young friend.

WALK WITH US.

R & r

 

Comments
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Chris
Reply
Such a touching Blog Raymond, many truths, we walk with you in spirit you special man.
Raymond
Reply
That is very kind Chris
jacquie
Reply
I feel for you Ramond on a number of fronts; the frustration of the weather, your deep understanding of the sad lost of human respect, interaction and community in cties, the difficulty between ideology and practicality with ragard to your swag. Of one thing I am certain, and that is that you are an inspiration, ad whatever you do and however you do it, you will bring joy ad insights to many. you are a uniquie and special man. now as for Ralph...........
Raymond
Reply
thank you Jacquie.
lucia guazzoni
Reply
may I translate your post in italian and put it on FB? I have many frienda who will enjoy your stories but do not understand english...if so, please, let me know and I will start with this first one. I've been in Australia many years ago but I'll never forget it and would like ti be there wirth you... 
Raymond
Reply
I would really love that Lucia. It would be a wonderful thing to share these stories with Italian people. I will even have some great Italian stories to tell as I travel towards the desert.
Sharon Thiel
Reply
Great wisdom in this post, Raymond. It makes my heart ache for the human interaction of the pre-electronics age, and I am praying for the special connections that still happen if we keep keen our instinct for spotting that spark of real life in those we encounter along our way. Thank you for expressing this perception of weight in a way I needed so badly to read.....the burden of 'stuff' wears me down as these early days of the Big Walk have challenged you. Our answers, and joy, are sure to Appear as we press on towards the goal, I have no doubt!  May you and Ralph find great moments together to further bond and build trust and training during this delay.....there is always a reason, and it often proves fruitful!  Sending Love and hugs to you both, and an extra biscuit for Ralph, please .😊 God bless and keep you both safe!
Raymond
Reply
Lovely Sharon
Pamela Moore
Reply
stay safe guys. The weather will pass and sunny skies return. I remember my dad drove us kids to Blackheath to see snow for the first time. It was freezing but we had woolly coats and gloves. Dad spent a lot of time in the Megalong Valley with his friends at the Kirby farm. He was walking out with the daughter who was a teacher at the little school. 
Raymond
Reply
I know the Kirbys well. Chrissie still runs the Megalong Tea Rooms. Your Dad sounds like a great guy
Pamela Moore
Reply
thanks Raymond. Yes he was a real character. I didn't know the Kirbys were still there. 
Susan
Reply
So lovely to read and so much of it resonated with me. We are all different yet so similar in the weight that we carry. Thank you for your honesty and clarity it helps to put things into perspective for others. Stay safe Raymond and Ralph.
Raymond
Reply
I think it is why I can't feel envy for anyone. I simply dont know the weight they carry or will carry
wendy
Reply
well its downhill after Blackheath and finally over the big blue hills.. I am sure that will produce its own set of challenges but perhaps, as all things need, it will be the balance to some uphill battles. Enjoy the moments. woof
Raymond
Reply
Thats true Wendy, especially when I drop down off Mt York towards Lithgow. 
Annie Downes
Reply
Thank you for your honest and heart felt post Raymond.  As with a lot of your writings, I read them and before I can comment I need to think about what you have said for a few hours, there is always so much more in there than a descriptive travelogue.  I just felt a great weight of grief in this post Raymond and I was fascinated to read the description of your parent's love and marriage because you described yourself so well without meaning to. I can understand the shocking weather and the sheer physicality of crossing The Blue Mountains would cause some serious self doubt and personal reflection but the weightless wanderer is in there, it is so much of who you are and I'm quite sure it will not be silenced.  As others have said, the endless sunny days are ahead, you and Ralph will get into a wonderful daily rhythm and beautiful clarity does come from labouring through that well of sadness, it's all out there waiting for you Raymond.  
Raymond
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May the weightless wanderer emerge Annie. 
Sandra Guidotti
Reply
I sure do admire your strength and persistence, and sad that your 'best friends' are online .. yet without your 'blog' we would not have the amazing pleasure of sharing your journey with you ... even though we are not there in person to wave you along we are barracking for you and Ralph from afar ... Chinese proverb .. 'a journey of a thousand miles starts with one single step' .. and they get less and less .. keep safe and enjoy the day love n hugs to Ralph
Raymond
Reply
Hi Sandra. I wrote about that proverb in my book. Words to the effect that its not the first or the last step that define a journeys success or failure but the thousands upon thousand in between, step by step, moment by moment.
Laurien
Reply
I think this weather stirs up all kinds of emotions. I feel in a quiet and reflective mood, a little on edge perhaps. My daughter told me yesterday that the wind made her feel angry. It's like we are all in a bit of a holding pattern just waiting for the wind to change direction. Or stop blowing at all. If this little hiatus produced that beautiful post Raymond, I think we are all the richer for it. Keep warm and know that we are all with you and young Ralph in spirit. And the sun WILL come out eventually. 
Raymond
Reply
Lovely sentiments Laurien. 
Ronna
Reply
Coming face to fCe with unfamiliar changes is a hard thing, whether they're changes in our bodies, familiar places or our plans. I think the world is slipping back into conformity and fear of things that are different. And, uh, you are different, Raymond. (That's why we all love you!) no wonder you got the brush-off walking in the city. I have a funny story about experiencing that myself. Another post for that, Now, something to maybe help you push thru that wall of sadness: even tho The Walk has been hard so far, I think it's good for little Ralph that you are warm and dry and starting out slowly. He's still a little guy and has to build his endurance. Plus, cold and wet aren't good things for dogs. So you are doing the right thing for him and being a good Dad. 
Ronna
Reply
Whoops! That should be "face to face" in the opening of my post above. Now, my funny story: My dog and I were waiting for my husband on the sidewalk outside a drugstore. I was in my usual jeans and T-shirt, probably wearing some kind of brimmed hat to keep the sun out of my eyes. I'd forgotten to wear a watch and wondered what time it was. So I picked out a pleasant-looking passer-by. "Do you have..."I began. "No," she cut me off, at the same time as I completed my request. "...the time???" I continued, somewhat stunned. I think she was embarrassed as she told me the time and rushed off. I was left bemused at her quick judgement of my appearance (and, possibly, the cane I use to walk). I should add that I am clean, have no scars or scabs and my teeth are all in good condition. That's my little story of "the road" in a neighbourhood of old and quirky houses by the shore of Lake Ontario about 6km from downtown Toronto. Hope you enjoyed it.
Raymond
Reply
Excellent Ronna. My sense is that as I move into the country the entire culture will change. There will be a resonance with a cultural icon rather than a perceived threat.
Ingrid Petersson
Reply
Thank you Raymond, you describe so well how hard and tough the start has been for you and little Ralph. This takes me back into your book. When you mentioned the weight you was going to pull I was surprised, I hope that you can leave some behind and that the weather will gets better. Tus was a too tough start for you both. Stay with your friends a while to get the strength back. I'm sure people will be more friendly. Take care both. / Ingrid
Raymond
Reply
Hi Ingrid. Still raining cats and dogs here. Are you familiar with that expression in Sweden?
ingrid Petersson
Reply
Hi Raymond, Yes, we are, but we use to say that when it's nasty rainy weather "it's a real dog weather today" Hundväder in Swedish. I have never had a dog but they who have, must go out what ever the weather it is. It's Spring here and a nice sunny day, not so windy and I will bike to my daughter's place 14 klms away, will be a nice ride. Rest both of you. xxx
Ingrid Petersson
Reply
Hi Raymond, Yes we are, but in Sweden we use to say "it's a nasty dog weather today" Ett riktigt hundväder idag, in Swedish. I have never had a dog, but I think it's good for the people who has. It's Spring here and a nice sunny day and I will bike to my daughter's Place, 14 klms away. It will be a nice ride. Rest while you can both of you. xxx
Ria Roegiers
Reply
Raymond, may you find peace along the way ... Here is a quote from Ben Okri's poem 'To an English Friend in Africa':" Live slowly, think slowly, for time is a mystery. Never forget that love Requires Always that you be The greatest person you are capable of being, Self-regeneratind and strong and gentle - Your own hero and star. Love demands the best in us To Always and in time oveercome the worst And lowest in our souls. Love the world wisely. It is lov alone that is the greatest weapon and the deepest and hardest secret. So fear not, my frien. The darkness is gentler than you think. Be grateful for the manifold Dreams of creation And the many ways of the unnumbered peoples. Be grateful for life as you live it. And may a wonderful light Always guide you on the unfolding road." God speed!
Raymond
Reply
"The darkness is gentler than you think" .. I like that .. R
Cecilia Temperli
Reply
Hey Raymond! I can relate to your story about your experience in the city. However, I wonder, if you had been able to hang around a bit longer whether people may have come up to you eventually asking what you were doing or where you are heading, or telling you about any experience they had traveling Australia. I walked for almost two weeks around our suburb with a 17kg hiking pack before people stopped me, saying that they have ‘seen me’, ‘watched me’, ‘kept wondering’ why I was walking around carrying such a heavy pack and what I was up to. I’ve passed some of these people previously and, as you experienced, they averted their faces. And then, one day, they said ‘good morning’, later on some of them stopped me to ask what I was ‘training for’. I met some lovely people who now say ‘good morning’ or wave to me. Nice. I agree, city slickers are probably too pre-occupied with whatever they are doing or worrying that their latte in the paper cup was getting cold, and you may be right that their world consists of iPhone, iPhone, iPhone and tunnel vision. Btw, I am the old woman who goes to DJ’s in hiking boots and comfortable but nice hiking pants, because this outfit feels just so comfortable and my feet don’t hurt. Sometimes, security is following me around, which I am finding quite amusing. You see, you are a challenge to city slickers. And, as the challenger, you are the strong one. I will post this and then a verse, written by a man I met in Pine Creek. He passed away in 2007. I’ll put/ at the end of each verse. May be you can edit it? I am sure you’ll enjoy the verses.
Raymond
Reply
Yes I am sure you are right but I think there is another level of disconnectedness evident that I havent noticed before. I have lovely interaxtions with people in the city generally, this was something else, the fear of the different maybe. I LOVED the verse below. Fantastic stuff. 
Cecilia
Reply
I just remember something else I wanted to suggest. Although, not sure whether it may work with the configuration of your rickswag. Is it possible to turn it around and push it? For instance, I find pushing my trolley duffle bag far easier than pulling the weight behind me. Instead of dragging things behind you with the weight hanging off your shoulders, you lean into it with your full body weight. More difficult to steer though. I'll send you another one of Earl's poem at some later stage - when you may need it.
Cecilia
Reply
CITIES DON'T STOP, by Earl Gano of Pine Creek (2003) You may think the day's done and you're wanting a kip, But you can't dig a hole for your shoulder or hip. You might think that it's late, want a camp with appeal, But the whole bloody place is all concrete and steel.// You might walk till your leg bone grinds holes through you hip, But you can't find a soft place for havin' a kip. Oh! Wait a minute - A park's what I spy. With soft turf - yes, green grass, a great place to lie.// But odds on you can't roll your swag on that glade. It's the last lonely bit where there's no concrete laid. Well, I'll try it and see, it'll be dark quite soon, and they won't see me at a quarter the moon.// So I roll out my cigarette swag like a mat, And soon I'm cocooned in it cosy and flat. With an electric prod I sit bolt upright! Someone's turned on the light and it's daytime all night!//With my eyes all agog and my mind veiled in fog, I sit here in my swag like a discarded fag. While about in flash suits and their best bib and tucker, Ostentatious galoots havin' breakfast, not supper.// They're all eating the same, think MacDonald's the name. Don't they know the day's done at the set of the sun? There's some people jogging, some reading the news, And they're all eyeing me like Arabs eye Jews!// Then a cop comes and says: "You can't sleep on this grass!" And threatens a swift kick up myu Khyber Pass! So it's up and away, there's no point in a fight when it's plain they don't know if it's daytime or night.// When it's breakfast they're eating what shoulda' been tea Well, this isn't my scene, they're too fast for me. Now, I'm off to the bush where night's night and day's day, You can sleep where you want and you don't have to pay.
yukon jack
Reply
just an idea, have you tried hooking up your rickshaw to a shoulder harness? Might help. PS. God didn't create slaves, people did. Happy trails
Raymond
Reply
Yes, I have a harness and a belt strap on the rickswag. Its a good design, just gettig used to it. I know God didnt created slaves Yukon. Its called "tongue in cheek"
sharon chapman
Reply
 You do sound down and despondent raymond but you have been looking forward to this adventure for so long now and planned it for so long only you will know if you are tough enough to see it through,just know we will be there to encourage you and support you in whatever decisions you make xx
wren wiltshire
Reply
Raymond you must know this is a walk comprised of several journeys and many life lessons. Stay open to them all.
Patricia Lang
Reply
I agree with Chris comments,very touching. Emotional wounds are the hardest to heal, Namaste Raymond
Anne Looby
Reply
In the wise words of Nelson Mandela - “It always seems impossible until it's done.” I have no doubt you will find your balance - you have more resiliance and purpose than most of us mere mortals. 
Helen Malseed
Reply
Our society has changed and it is sad. But put the city out of your head and look for the freedom the wide open spaces brings. It's a great journey and I love reading your progress. The weather will get better too.
Louise
Reply
Keep walking the straight path..