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Lessons From Betty The Pug

The Amber Fresh Chronicles

Lessons From Betty The Pug

Andrew Ryan

Well, I’m looking after a dog at the moment and I’m trying to learn, from this particular dog’s life, things about all life. The first thing I got taught was to open my heart. Betty the Pug follows me everywhere, even into the shower where she smells my clothes for a little while, then sits down into them, then watches me while I enjoy very hot water on my skin.

The other thing she is teaching me is to not worry about anything, and that I’d be just as fine if I did nothing instead of a million things. I could live in a hut made of bark with no apple products and it would be just fine. And she’s teaching me to smell everything. I was walking on my own this afternoon, doing a more challenging walk than Betty can handle, but I was still thinking of her and at the top of the hill, with banksias and gum trees and zamias all around and the Indian Ocean full of sharks in the backdrop, I went onto my hands and knees for a little bit to smell the ground. I wondered if Betty can smell more because she’s closer to the ground, as well as having special skills.

Anyway. All my friends love walking, like dogs. Nick’s going for a month on his own tomorrow, into the wilderness. Jake says it’s the only thing that’s like music but I know he means it’s much better than music. Emlyn goes everywhere with a tiny backpack, even across the country, sometimes with not even enough underpants to last the time. Peter just wants to grow vegetables, instead of playing shows all the time.

I played with all of them this week, plus Erasers, who launched their album, and who whenever they play I really do go into a different place where The Big talks to me. Plus Mudlark, who, the same way, take you all over, just with four hands.

Peter Bibby, Nicholas Allbrook, Emlyn Johnson, Methyl Ethel, Dianas, Benjamin Witt, Mudlark, Erasers, all actually incredible, and all who I got to share the stage with this week, and all of whom have music out recently to listen to.

Anyway. It was good to get back to soup kitchen. Last week and this week, too many people to talk to for the amount of time and body I have. But I have to remember Betty, even doing nothing you can fulfil your purpose as a being, just letting love flow in and out, eating, walking, smelling things. That’s plenty for a life.

Well, I was on a grassy hill with Nick watching the moon come up – the biggest moon, the yellow moon, the moon to take your breath a little bit away, and then give it back to you, all the while seeming not to move but hurtling a very long and fast way across the entire sky that we know. We were talking about this country, and all the houses and computers and roads and cars resting on it, and how sad we still are that it’s just a stolen country without anyone really making it right. We talked about it a lot, and had all been thinking about it, me, Nick, Pete when he was deep in drugland during Wave Rock Festival the day before. So we were sitting on that hill and talking about it, thinking about it.

The next days I was at soup kitchen and a man who I met a long time ago and always tells me things told me again about when he was little. He doesn’t talk about it often because it’s too hard. It was in a Mission, even though he was only born in 1955. He told me, “My parents had to apply for citizenship, and they were denied the first time.” That’s people who’s ancestors had been on the land for thousands of years. And he told me, “When I was born, I wasn’t even a citizen.” And he told me, “My parents had to ask the government if they could get married, not their own parents.” And he told me, “We were considered like vermin. You don’t think twice before killing vermin.” And many other things.

One story he told me, that one day he will put into a film, was when he threw a little rock and it hit a boy “Here.” He showed me the place it hit the other boy, just next to his nose. And I could imagine it exactly. And then the people on the Mission made him fill a whole bucket with little rocks, and then they made him carry that bucket everywhere he went for a whole week. And beat him, etc. And of course my eyes were filling up, and he started to say to not think about it, but also, his own eyes were filling up when I told him, “We do think about it. I do think about it every day.” That made a good thing happen inside him and me. But the bucket with rocks, that doesn’t teach a little boy to not throw rocks, it just fills the boy up with rocks, you know?

Anyway, we’re all getting healed each day, healing each other, by listening to the story of the stone, looking at the moon, walking around, watching each other lovingly in the shower, singing songs etc, two hands, four hands, four feet, just leaves, etc, etc, etc.