The peaks rose like mountains in the distance, over where the revellererrerers were enacting their heathen celebrations of the heathen holiday, the mass of humans that trip over themselves and everyone else to reach their own peaks of intoxication, stomping and trudging to go and get wasted, those people in pure celebration of Not Having To Work, saving the wages they’ve earnt since the last year’s outlet of Twelve Months pent up expression, saving for expensive alcohol and drugs to distract them from having had to work or study all year, to enable them to not give a single shit about anything but their own party, to feed their cognitive dissonance.
That dissonance rules all behaviour during the year-change ceremonies. Or any other ceremonies. Or any other time, days, encounters; broader society chooses to forget or ignore that every thing ends, every single thing ends, even the stars, they end, even the propulsion of energy, that ends, nothing lasts forever, not their cheaply made clothing, not their supply of pingers, or internet, or petrol for their cars. They choose to forget or ignore the history of the land, why they’re even there, what happens to the cans when they finish the drinks in them.
All of their resources are spent on the moment, the joyous moment, and no thought is given to the consequences.
But what can you expect from living in a culture that actively encourages such attitudes? I didn’t like being in the thick of it much, you may be able to tell.
So they gathered, all forgetting, all dropping their rubbish on the grass under the huge fabric peaks that represent their best, everyone’s best, dancing like they need to expel the contents of their stomachs, talking to each other like they need to expel the contents of their souls, doing push-ups like they have to expel the energy of every sexual frustration, all of it an expulsion of every discomfort they’ve felt while living in a society of many, many, many human beings who are born in to the expectation that to live is to never accept degradation, to ignore its effects. A denial of the innate nature of existence rules them. They are slaves to the denial of entropy and history more than simply to wages.
And we heard their cries from outside the tiny strip of forest, the trees that the most recent “owners” of the land had chosen to leave for the sake of wind-breaking over those particular fields (the land traditionally belongs to the Wathaurung people), it did nothing to quiet the noise of yelling, of shouting, of the thousands of humans applauding the entertainment brought to them from across the oceans, now that the sun was down they were more excited, louder applause because those guests to the land were exotic, they’d heard them on the radio heaps too, whilst I, on the other side of the trees, wondered if the invisible fumes of exhaled chemical intoxications would drift over to us and permeate our lungs and skin with the worship of systems we found to not ring true within us. I was enjoying the company of my best friends, but the thoughts of what lie on the other side knotted my brow in frustration.
A young woman ran to our campsite and asked for company while she waited to be picked up by her boyfriend. She was emotional, insecure, chatty and alone. Nick and I sat with her to make sure she was safe, and she told us her life story. Through conversation I came to understand that she had trust issues, she didn’t believe in herself; she assumed her friends didn’t like her, she felt uncomfortable around them because they made fun of her for wanting to grow her own food, she did not know her mother, an Ethopian refugee. When Nick had gone back to camp for a moment, I waved off the attentions of strangers with predatory looks in their eyes as they asked if we needed a lift back to town, us sitting on the outskirts of the celebration, two young ladies without a man there to wave off that unwanted attention simply by being there with us. Predators prowling the edges, looking for weak prey. That is why I sat with her when she first asked for company.
In the morning, the sun scorched through our cheap tents and drove us in to fresh air, and we packed up our things, I picked up all the ciggie butts and guitar strings, it was spotless when we left, then went with the band so they could play underneath the peaks we saw from the distance all night before.
Finally there, we felt the lightheartedness we missed when we were on the other side of the trees, in the fields, because it was shady under the tent, at least, and in the performer’s area there were refreshing drinks provided, wet towels, clean toilets, fruit platter, no drunken revelers screaming in excitement, though the dust from the road and the heat of the sun was inescapable. I washed my hands and face many times. Sweat and dust create a paste on your skin very quickly.
And then Peter and his band played, and there were some revelers singing along to the songs they knew, that was real nice, and the video I’d made for the occasion was played on the huge screen behind them; I could barely see it but I was proud anyway, and Pete loved it too, and that’s all that really mattered.
After that, we swam in the ocean. We swam and I forgot all about everything because the view of the cliffs facing the ocean and the feeling of the Antarctic-ly chilled water was better than any drug I have ever encountered, and I looked at my beautiful friends splashing in the water, I looked at the horizon, and felt nothing but pleasure, dove in to the water and connected with nature and decided that was all I needed to stay strong enough to fight the ills of the heathen consumer culture I’d just witnessed, in those fields that were left so dirty by the thousands who didn’t give a shit about anything except their own party. All I needed was nature to remind me that to be human is not to ruin your home, but to be a part of it.