We were up until well after midnight talking about all manner of topics .. even the idea that Lucifer is an active force in the world, steering human outcomes.
For my part, I recognise that pretty much anything is possible. The very idea of objective reality is pretty hard to justify – we need to create a place where faith, science, philosophy and human ethics can intersect and let our views co-exist and ideally influence each other in a positive and friendly way. But if Lucifer were a presence, honestly, I’d pity it. Quite deeply. To have once been beautiful and favoured, and then cast from the light, unreconciled and unreconcilable. Was it Blake ? Lets see if I can remember this word-for-word, old fella “and then the stars threw down their spears and water’d heaven with their tears, did he smile – his work to see ? Did he who made the lamb make thee ?“
Parking aside shared or disparate ideologies, Quentin and Taki were lovely and kind and I was humbled and grateful to meet them.
Little wonder that they were still abed at 6am, so I just quietly gathered my gear, suited up and snuck out the porch door. I didn’t have anything to write a “thank you” note with, but I hope that (actually I’m pretty sure) they knew how thankful I was, and that I wish them well.
My goal was to get as close to Coffs Harbour as possible. I’d sprained my ankle a little outside of Ballina and with the other water-damage to my feet, I was walking in a little bit of pain. I was keen to roll into Coffs as early in the day as possible, and ideally have an afternoon off my feet.
The blisters and other damage were continuing to heal up pretty well, but as you can see from the picture, my feet were no longer exactly human looking.
Kinda like if a lizard made love to a monkey and a fish in a three-way marriage and I’m the progeny 🙂
I was checking my phone more regularly now that I was well and truly on the road, trying to be mindful that there were people watching, that people were getting something (even if just a giggle) from my Mad Quest.
I’d received an invitation from a couple “Jye and Julz” at a little town called Woolgoolga. It sounded about right – it was only about 20km from Coffs Harbour. If I overnighted there, I could press forward early and have a half day of rest at Coffs.
Thing is, Woolgoolga was a bit over a 50km march.
I knew I could do it, I’d done it in the practice walks. I resolved to go for it and agreed to meet them.
Thing is, although it was a physical ordeal, there’s not a lot to tell.
If you’ve ever done distance walking, you know what I mean. You have to kind of ‘let your mind go’, and just lean into the cadence of it. The physical effort, your pain, all that, just kind of merges and you’re just alive, just walking. I’m an over-thinker, so spending so much time doing this, I think, was allowing me to mindfully try to re-train my brain, orient it toward hope and joy.
Walk about 2-3 hours, rest a bit, walk again. That cycle. I realised that I needed to be careful when I was resting, as a young man pulled up at one point to make sure I was OK (I was laying down stretching my back, probably looking like a roadside corpse).
I also invented the ‘selfie stick’ (with an actual STICK – which is why the video is so wobbly.
John and Di from the Ulmarra SES had given me a package of unopened rations (I think the lingo is “MRE” for Meals-Ready-to-Eat). So as I walked I was munching away, not out of hunger but I guess needing the energy and needing to reduce the weight of my pack.
I did cop a couple of pieces of rando abuse that day too. It’s happened a couple of times, like after the walk I took my wife to lunch and she played some pokies to kill time before the meal (she loves ’em, I’ll never understand it), and some fella thought it was appropriate to abuse me and lecture that pokies are for morons.
“Live and let live”, nice old motto, innit ?
Day 14, it was about my tendency to photograph those roadside shrines you’d sometimes see. Every so often someone would message me with a tone like “look, buddy, your job is to inspire me and make me laugh, I’m not here to see morbid shit like that”
Sweet, weepin’ Jesus.
My job is to be ME. I only started sharing me Quest initially out of a morbid hope my children could use it after I died, to soften their grief and know their father.
Then I started sharing it to help a charity, and then realised it was maybe helping other people. Haha, now apparently I was an ‘inspirational clown for hire’ .. sorry an unpaid inspirational clown 😀
The other instance was me learning not to lie down by the side of the road, this lovely young bloke pulls over and checks on me (also his young son needs to wee). It was a lovely encounter and I felt terrible that I’d made someone worry. I was effusively apologetic and thankful and did a little post as well, thanking the guy. Then later (maybe the following day) I get a message from him “I checked on you today and pulled over and it was a hassel and i didnt get NOTHING FOR IT!”
(Maybe he didn’t see the ‘thank you’ post, or maybe I was supposed to drop a few bucks on him, I honestly don’t know. I guess this stuff was training me as well -I was learning to just ‘be me’ and put aside any concern about whether I’m understood or not. Tell the truth. Love. Be Kind. If it goes wrong, at least your motivations were pure).
Eventually, I plodded in to the Woolgoolga turnoff. I was feeling pretty bad, because I kept updating Jye & Julz on my arrival time and it kept slipping (it was about 9pm I think)
In the end, I think it had taken me about 14 hours to walk the 50-55km. There was still a lot of grim weather, and I had a little bit of pain, but there weren’t lots of stop-to-chats or other things slowing me down, so I guess it wasn’t exactly a hardcore pace.
I still don’t know why exactly that even matters. If anything, I wish I’d gone slower, met more people, had more peaceful moments with nature.
As I got to the road to Woolgoolga, it was DARK, and my torch failed, so I started to use my phone as a light, not for my own visibility but to make sure I didn’t get hit by a car.
But I got there, met up with Jye, Julz and Bronte, and had a lovely evening of fellowship, a shower and a feed. Wonderful people, and they gave me great advice about the next leg past Coffs Harbour as well.
There’s a video below, it shows you how great they are, better than my words can 🙂
Whoops ! Almost forgot ! I really need (and want) to acknowledge this lovely bloke, Jason – that completely dark video above – if you have a listen it explains it. This true blue bloke, just shows some raw Aussie kindness, he drove out to a petrol station and bought me a couple of pies, then came and found me in the pitch black. He was worried I was going to be camping in the dark, cold & hungry. What a gesture. What a magnificent bloke !