Day Twenty Six (20 January)

Despite the 2am fire alarm, I woke reasonably well rested. That said, pretty much *everything* was better after the fight with cancer – I suppose that’s the back-handed gift of it all.

I should leave that to the philosophers out there (whether a silver lining makes the cloud worthwhile), but for the most part I think the idea grows out of people looking for comfort and meaning. I suffered and it has to MEAN something.

But I think – no.

Avoid suffering, spread kindness, hope and love – lift people out of suffering if life gives you that opportunity.

Ideas like “I don’t regret my cancer, I’m stronger now than I ever was”, I think they’re a bit of a distortion. Sure, adversity can be a crucible, but for the most part our lives should be about minimising pain.

It’s strange to me that we so often choose suffering, leaning into generational/familial cycles of it.

Old man ramble.

In any case, parking the cancer that motivated it, the ordeal of my Quest did include suffering and it was making me stronger.

I got up in the morning, dressed and met my mate Jock downstairs to share breakfast and life stories.

I don’t have any pictures or video of that wonderful man, Jock.

He’s a very humble guy, a bit shy I think – but this remains one of the greatest regrets of my BIG WALK – that I didn’t properly collect the people and their stories.

On reflection, they were probably the most important part of the experience for me, and in my own shyness, I often missed a chance to share them.

I’m thinking (if I can figure out family finances and rent a car or RV) that I’ll drive down the walk route with my family at the end of the year, see some of those faces again. I’m actually quite hungry to see some of them.

But yeah, after a long and serious-minded chat with my mate Jock, I gathered my pack and hit the road, striking for the beach.

It was raining lightly, not too bad.

First order of business was to knock over another “Daily Donor Dare of DooOooom” that I’d been given: do a crab walk.

You can actually approach that a couple of ways – there’s a kind of sideways waddle, for example – but I chose a core exercise from back in my Judo days, where you thrust your tummy up and walk on your arms and legs. (Its in the video above and to the right).

Haha, what a mess 🙂

In the next few days, I had one of the biggest adventures in the BIG WALK, where I delved into quite thick forest – but I didn’t know that was coming .. and when the conditions were right (hard pack sand along the waterline) walking along the beach was an absolute joy (whereas with a heavy pack and fluffy soft sand, it can be quite a struggle).

I had a few stretches of beach, and then a large headland (Red Head / Black Head) which I wasn’t confident about getting around and figured I’d have to go over.

These beach marches were tremendously nourishing. Spiritually, I mean.

The combination of being so alone, nobody in sight, the long stretches of sand and, the ocean occasionally charging in to soak me to the groin. It breathes life into the hope inside you.

When I got to Wallaby Point, I clambered up some steps to a nice wooden bench and sat down to rest my old feet.

The view was absolutely gorgeous, it was getting cold and rainy (note the poncho), I felt a little bit like Heathcliffe staring moodily across the Moors.

(Ahh Kate Bush, I’ve always adored her artistry)

I paused to give a bit of an update, and try and share Jock a bit after-the-fact. It was sinking in that I’d met a completely outstanding person, and yet I didn’t have anything to share with you or with my kids. Video or pictures, I mean.

So I paused to do a live stream, to try and describe him and thank him and his family.

Live streams are good, because you can’t rehearse it or undo a flub, it’s mostly from the heart.

While I was doing that, ANOTHER legend approached me.

I was attracting them like flies !

This fella is Wayne, living around Wallaby Point.

Works in construction, but also a soldier and military reservist. He walked with me for a few kilometres and we had some great (and sometimes quite deep and meaningful) talk.

Again, Simon, you old fool, why didn’t you record this stuff ? (my excuse is that I was too deep in it).

That insane old *#@* Putin hadn’t yet pulled the trigger on invading Ukraine, but being a military fellow we talked a lot about territoriality and aggression, past and present. I contrasted national borders to a backyard fence, and how the best communities are built around trade, friendship and shared experiences & agendas, but integrity and authenticity are key — and it feels to me like we live in an increasingly paranoid and selfish world. (I think Wayne agreed).

It was a lovely walk & talk.

We spoke about Good and Evil, how clearly woven they are into our actions & motivations, our societies and the systems that govern them.

We talked about forgiveness (I personally don’t have much, with me you get one re-set with some education after a major breach, but fool me twice and you’re gone).

I’d rather give my time and heart to the kind, the decent, the wounded, than waste energy on the breakers & takers of the world.

At one point we discussed what superpower you’d choose. (I think Wayne said Invisibility, for me it was either Flight or Mental Domination)

(I know the mental domination bit sounds kinky, but can you imagine the good I could do quietly whispering into the ears of world leaders and key people ?)

Using the force: “No mate, isolationist policies don’t serve your agenda. Work toward regional trade and positive relationships…”

Haha, flight would be the most fun though. Although I remember joking with Wayne that if I did have superpowers, it would be a slippery slope.

I’d save the kittens, help the people in need – but I’d also be out there snapping necks, and it’s dangerous because I’d think I was doing RIGHT. Kid points to the sky “Mummy ! Mummy ! It’s superduperman !”

“No !!! NO !! Mummy why is he hurting that man” (mother covers her eyes, “he’s a violent gang leader honey, just dont look”)

Thankfully, I’m defined by my many weaknesses, no superpowers here. Never understood people who choose Invisibility though – that’s a bloody SNEAKY one. Wanting to watch people in the shower ? Listen to private conversations ? Sneaky ! Whoops. Old man ramble.

The next couple of hours were punctuated by light rain, and although there were a few tricky bits where I ran out of beach, it was a pleasant kind of toil.

By the time I reached the headland, the rain had passed and the sky was a magnificent blue.

I was getting better at tolerating volatile weather (by the time I hit Melbourne and had my Magic Malacoota Coat, I was pretty-much immune)

After diverting inland and pausing for a rest in a patch of shade, I gave a bit of an update to the people watching.

Sometimes, that felt like therapy – trying to explain what I was doing and why to the people watching (and also my kids, watching in the future).

More and more it was about the kids. The 950 aussie kids diagnosed with cancer every year. I was already healing, maybe healed.

More and more my motivation for pushing forward every day was helping those kids.

Quick g’day, gobble a protein bar, hoist the pack and move on, old fella.

I was at Red Head / Black Head, and there didn’t appear to be any way around following the cliffs & beach, so diverting inland and crossing through a patch of trees, I came to a fence and a long sweeping hill.

Clambering up, I found myself surrounded by McMansions in a pretty well-to-do beach suburbia type of environment.

This next bit was me trying to navigate my way through it -but the hilly headlands, they have a lot of long U shaped roads, cul-de-sacs and dead ends, it was actually pretty frustrating.

At one point, the road I was following (on google maps) disappeared, it looked like someone had purchased the land and turned it into grazing paddock, so ignoring the “no trespassing” signs, I had to clamber under this little open patch in the fence, cross the paddock and clamber over this pipe to keep moving forward.

When I got across and apologised for the trespassy shortcut to a nice man on the other side, he said “Mate, I’m just glad the bull didn’t chase you, he can be a bit angry”

Eventually I made it through Black Head beach and met my young mate Jack outside a cafe (Waves @ Black Head)

This nice lady (Deb) had written to me inviting me to pop in for a burger and a g’day, and as it was late afternoon, I decided on an early dinner.

That’s Jack right there.

That mullet. Glorious. A thing of majestic beauty. You could write a poem about that mullet.

Lovely young man – met him again in coming days, but we’ll get into that later.

While I was enjoying this absolutely delicious seafood burger, my host (and soon to be friend) Deb came up.

She’s quiet, a bit private – but was dealing with grief and sorrow, and I think we helped each other, lifted each other up a bit.

Her home had been broken into by three absolute piece of shit scumbags, and they’d inflicted an injury on her son (a good man, a brave man). Police had only caught one.

The ramifications of that single dark act ripple through an entire family.

But I think we were able to share some light, Deb & I.

That stuff grows too. It spreads, makes the world BETTER. At her urging, I ambled up to the local bowls club, and they were pretty crackerjack.

Introduced me over the PA, explained what I was doing. The wave of support was lovely, I think there were cheers.

After that, people kept coming up with beers (for me) and cash (for The Kids’ Cancer Project). Taking cash was always a bit of a hassle, but smile, shake hands, thank you, wonderful support – then I have to find a quiet place with wifi and process them.

Old fool, I’d ALWAYS forget to de-select the “credit card fee” and wind up paying a little extra. Not to worry – a great cause.

It’s just another little thing I flubbed though, people would greet me, present a donation, and I absolutely HAD to save it to the list right away, so you’d have these eager, grinning people wanting to shake hands and I’d be there with my finger up saying “one sec – ‘hey siri take a note ten dollar roadside donation‘”.

With a better memory or approach I could have done the smiles and handshakes first. The people were just so wonderful.

Speaking of which, these videos are this lovely kid, Linc.

He came up and gave a donation, and a picture that he had drawn of me. It was so sweet and touching, and an echo of my own children who I missed terribly.

I realised I had a little decorated stone in my pocket and was able to give that to him as well, that ceremonial exchange of gifts was a wonderful moment for me.

Deb and my new friends were suggesting I could pitch my hammock in a grove of trees nearby, as some more bad weather may be coming in. I was a little under-the-weather myself (a few beers), and had the urge to walk along the beach under the stars – so I pressed forward into the dark night.

Sadly heavy rain hit not long after, so I scurried into the dunes, found a couple of viable trees and set up the hammock and tarp – but in my haste I chose a bad spot (no wind-break) and had to abandon it at about 3am due to the icy cold after a short, shivering sleep.

Oh hey, found this amongst Day 27 stuff this is my mate Jock: