Die before you Die moments
Apologies in advance if the title of this journal entry comes across as a little morbid.
Perhaps now is an appropriate time to issue a content warning?
CW: MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS
This is not the journal post I was expecting to be writing after ‘Every open window leads to a closing door‘ … but here I am. Here we both are.
My old life and the old me died that night.
I’ll tell you about it
It won’t be the first time I tell this story and it most likely won’t be the last. Just like this was not the first car accident of our recent life. I hope that it will be the last.
When I last wrote, we were streaming often and getting ready to move out of our rental. The place which had become our home for just over a year and HQ to our many projects. A number of projects had to be wrapped up along with our tenancy. The nature of our upcoming life circumstances we knew all too well would not yield the space for this many projects. We also knew it was a matter of time before the old van I had bought four years earlier would be off the road one way or another.
The van and rental were both financial expenses punching well above their weight. They were also in the ball-park of what we could afford to get by. Affordability and value are very different things.
We had agreed to move out of the house by May, knowing the owner was returning. We were not in the position to be without a van either.
So we kept driving the old girl, even though vehicle accident numero uno had already put a dent in her. Literally.
As for us, we were still carrying musculoskeletal injuries from the first impact. In case you are new to these journals, that was a sudden rear-end accident back in March of 2020. Right when the health crisis was starting to hit our continent we got slammed by a driver in the rear.
The last thing we expected was for another vehicle accident.
As the May deadline for vacating approached, we were in full swing vacate mode.
EVERYTHING MUST GO!
The couches, the bed, the desks, the excess of clothing, several lamps… basically a house of furniture. All of it we had acquired free anyway, and straight back into the free economy it went.
The free share economy is quite healthy in our neighbourhood. However… not so healthy that our gifting station could find a new home out the front of a residence. People are ready to share…. but perhaps they’re not THAT ready.
We had planned to get away for my birthday for a vision quest we had been wanting to go on. With all of this going on, along with our sights set on finishing my record we wondered if there was any time to get away at all.
We decided to push our luck and go on the quest anyway. There was nothing restricting travel at the time, and we planned for it in our financial and time budget. So we headed for the second time towards a place between the Coastline and the Rainforest, about three hours away.
As we set off on our adventure, a nomad whom I had met briefly many years ago back in my home city tried to re-route my path with persistent messages. They were in the closest city and as we bypassed the city they must have tuned into our route somehow.
I questioned if I was perhaps not meant to take this path. Why are we going here? Because it is exactly where I want to be. Where I need to be. I talked to my co-pilot about it and we resolved that we know where we’re going.
Within moments of this happening, I looked up and a number plate of a vehicle appeared to read “DIE”
I believe the numerical alphabetical combination might have actually been something like 0IE … but you get it, the message was pretty clear.
Arriving in the town, roadworks surrounded the roundabout and the mountain fog had rolled in making the place feel eery. I wasn’t too sure if we were supposed to be going this way at all, and felt the fear return.
However, by the time we had arrived at the cabin and had lit the home fire, that feeling was well and truly gone.
Waking up in the middle of a rainforest in the mountains was exactly the change I needed.
The landscape where we have been living, though beautiful and with much to teach me, has an unfamiliarity. Here it feels different to that. Perhaps I have lived many lifetimes between the ocean and the rainforest.
It’s where I feel a sense of place that feels like home in a way that I can’t describe. It’s a different kind to the one that reminds you of your own childhood. A kind of home that you haven’t been to before that you know somehow you belong to.
We set off on a day of adventure along the coastline. The clouds looked pregnant with a downpour of rain that we narrowly missed after running to the seaside and back. We scampered into the van just as the first drops had started to fall. We had an oracle card upon the dashboard, a card that had jumped out for us: “Surrender” was its message.
Before arriving in a nearby coastal town, we spotted a koala sitting suspiciously close to the side of the road. We pulled over up ahead, in anticipation of the creature’s actions. As we suspected, the topiary dwelling marsupial decided to walk onto the road.
We gently encouraged the Koala off the road. One of the drivers yelled out the window to ask if the Koala was okay. I looked up and away, and the Koala decided to take the opportunity to bite my nearby hand. Thankfully I was wearing gloves. Before we set off again the Koala had wandered back into the middle of the road. One more gentle relocation and the Koala wandered into the nearby bushes and off into the distance.
We made our way towards some of the further coastal towns in search of dinner following the coastal road. A winding and some might say dangerous road with spectacular ocean views. As we drove we listened to the mixes of the lead singles off the record we were working on. The cold was starting to get at us and I pulled a blanket from the back to keep warm. I sat back in the passenger seat and studied the rock cliffs that had been wire-netted down by construction workers.
What an incredible species we are. We build roads on rocky cliff edges and spend endless amounts addressing the issues of safety. Even though these roads and the vehicles we travel them in were always dangerous. The more I study the chained-up rock faces, the more ridiculous it seems. Another example of man taking on and capturing nature for their own ends. As I study this, the eery feeling returns. I look at the rocks and the road, and something tells me “that’s not it”
Something tells me we are safe from falling rocks…
But at this point I say out loud,
“Is there another way back to the cabin, I don’t think we should take this road back at night.”
With that line I possibly altered what was going to happen or not happen to us, for better or worse. I’ll never be sure of exactly what could have happened either way.
After dinner we proceeded to take one of Goog’s (Maps) re-directions, choosing a more inland route. This would not be the first time Googs has taken us down a dirt road at night. At this point though, we were still a little over-confident. We had survived a car accident already. Surely that would be all the roads had in store for us for now. Surely!
How wrong could we be.
This was also not the first time a kangaroo had appeared. A light touch on the brakes is often enough to avoid a kangaroo. Driving these country roads at night you become aware that kangaroos are abundant and unpredictable. So it is usually no surprise to have an encounter. The next part was a complete surprise. The braking of the vehicle didn’t go the way it usually did. As the van started to skid to the left side of the road my heart rate started to climb. The van has skidded before but I was confident the skidding would lead to a slow and upright stop as it always had.
The next part was where things became unfamiliar. Time seemed to warp and now everything was happening in both slow-motion and light-speed simultaneously. The van had begun to flip and the momentum of physics was well and truly underway. At this point, neither one of us was in control of the situation. My words changed from “This isn’t happening, This isn’t happening” (the initial denial) to “This is happening, This is happening!” (full acceptance.) Next to me in the driver’s seat, it was the words “Be okay, Be okay, Be okay.”
I think I accepted whatever was going to happen at that moment, even if I was trying to stop it. I reached for the ceiling and pushed with all my strength trying to hold the roof up around us as the vehicle rolled. At the moment of going over glass smashed and tiny pieces landed everywhere from the passenger windows, while the windscreen stayed in place held together by some kind of laminate.
When the rolling had stopped, I didn’t know which way was up or down or left or right. I was crying a sort of half cry. The kind where you’re still in shock and fear from what’s just happened. We looked at each other to confirm that we were both alive and okay. I am fairly certain that was the moment life started all over again for me. There are many poets and quotes who ruminate over this topic, Rumi among them. I’m not going to quote anyone here, I’m sure you get the idea.
Up until this moment, I probably thought that I already had plenty of Die before you Die moments. Maybe this one showed up to show me where I thought I was at, and prove me wrong. I thought I had “parted ways with Fear”, I had already written that into one of my lyrics.
Now I have a better understanding of my own relationship with life, fear and death. I also have released the expectation I had for myself to overcome it.
I don’t know if any of us need to overcome this very natural and biological fear in order to live without being ruled by it.
Maybe we think that in order to be enlightened we might have to become some unattainable idea of perfection.
Maybe I thought that. But now I see it differently.
The way I now see it is this:
Fear can be present when we have these kinds of experiences but we choose compassion instead of fear.
It is when these moments present themselves that we are given this opportunity to decide over and over again. It doesn’t mean that you don’t experience a very natural and human sensation of fight or flight kicking in.
It means that you do, and still choose to act in the most compassionate way that you can towards all involved each and every time.
If I’m honest, I think we were both doing so at that moment. I think we both experienced some kind of fear, both for ourselves and each other. We both did what we could to handle the situation and try to protect ourselves and us both.
For him, it was the mantra repeating “Be okay,” Words are powerful. Even more so with strong intention. For me it was physical, trying to hold up the roof, maybe even succeeding? I guess I’ll never really know.
I don’t think there was any blame in that moment.
If anything, I think we have both blamed our choice of action with regards to getting in the van at all. The road had a lot to do with it. The road had only just been graded and new rain gutters dug. An expensive maintenance task that is ongoing in this paradigm may cost as many lives as it saves.
This experience has taught me a lot about road safety in our current paradigm. If I wasn’t already on a path to going beyond the car-dominant paradigm in design, I certainly am now.
Maybe we can blame Googs, if anything. Why an option to avoid motorways, but no option to avoid a dirt road?
Or the road.
Or the van.
Is there ever really any use in blame though?
We are all doing the best we can.
One thing I am certain of is that we need to make changes to the car-dominance of this paradigm. For many reasons.
As we sat there strapped in sideways after the motion had come to an end, getting out was next. Disorientated, I didn’t know up from down or how to do that so I remained in position. My anxiety about the wreckage climbed as the smell of petrol became apparent.
Was it going to combust? I had no idea. He tried to kick the windscreen out. I stayed frozen. That wasn’t working. He climbed up towards the drivers side window which was now facing the sky.
“Oh that’s up!” I realise.
I climb up and out and land a heavy kind of landing and I’m shaky on my feet. My face feels squashed even though it didn’t hit a thing. The whiplash from the car seat behind my head must have done that somehow. We’re becoming all too familiar with whiplash it seems.
The residents of the property opposite approach asking if we’re okay.
“Physically” he said.
I’m still unsure but agree casually.
Before long they had invited us in for a cuppa and we sit down. As we walk inside a koala sits atop the balustrade watching the television. Two koalas in one day, what are the chances? Not to mention there is also a baby Joey in the corner.
If that isn’t a sign, I don’t know what is.
Maybe I thought the first koala, a large adult koala, was telling us to get off the road.
The baby koala on the balustrade tells me that maybe everything always keeps going.
It turned out we crashed in the right place. When we established that everyone was okay, the next step was what to do about the van wreckage.
Roadside insurance didn’t cover a tow-truck so it was all hands on deck rolling the van upright. Then towing her onto the property where she would later be taken away by wreckers. Even the neighbours stopped by to help.
To this day we say we were rescued by angels, absolute angels. They offered to drive us back to the cabin which was over an hour away. There we were also met with the same compassion and offered to stay longer.
Both angels, wildlife rescuers and all-round good people.
Something inside me wanted to stay, not only an extra night but indefinitely.
Yet I knew that reality was waiting for us and we had to get back.
Stranded with excessive belongings (I overpacked a little) we had no choice but to post on Social Media for help.
We needed to get home somehow and even the options of getting a rental vehicle turned out to be impossible.
There are certain situations where money and insurance won’t help you. With the amount of fine print, it can be more often than not.
This is where the spirit of community and the good in humanity really shines.
Moments later the phone rang offering a ride home, and that afternoon we were inundated by several generous strangers offers from within our home town community.
For a town that I had been resistant to call home, it really isn’t bad. I’ve learned a lot from living here that’s for sure.
As we returned home, the marathon streaming event scheduled for that day turned into group therapy for us both. Having gone through such an unexpected event on a day of celebration, the catharsis of being with community helped. I think by dying before you die on your birthday, you stay that age forever.
When this stream ended it was time to pack down the camera, pack away the streaming corner, home to many weeks of streaming for our ‘Earthfam’ community.
Downsizing can be a monster of a task. Luckily we were blessed with one out of the two of us being highly skilled at time management. (That one of us is not me.)
The days flew by and before you know it, we’re handing over the keys to the rental agent after a full night of wiping the walls and vaccuuming the carpets and just about every other nook and cranny that might get in between us and our bond return.
Just like that, our home was no more. Neither was our van. We were free range humans. Both of us without a van or permanent address. What was left of our home besides furniture is stacked in containers in the bedroom we currently inhabit. Thanks parents.
The luxury of coming home is not something everyone has, but one that both of us are grateful for. We value the time that we have with each of our parents and all that it teaches us. Acceptance. Patience. Love.
Its not easy adjusting to living in smaller dwellings coexisting closely with other human beings. Especially after having a reasonable amount of space. The freedom of 3D space is something that is not always considered by everyone in the western narrative. In a paradigm that operates on a paradoxical false scarcity of space, access to 3D space is a luxury.
Though it come with its difficulties, this lifestyle also brings with it a sense of freedom and we choose to embrace it because we see life as a journey.
Not to say that we wouldn’t love a dwelling to live in. We would. Just not at the expense of our largest dreams. Not right now.
In my case, I’ve put everything into the dream and that dream is still alive as long as I am.
I met someone who not only wanted to travel with me, but didn’t want to compromise the dream either.
So we dream on, together.
We went straight from the accident into the recording studio within the same week. In the lead up to this studio session, I had been preparing to sing as I had never sung before. I had been in the studio a number of times over the course of many years leading up to this. I had never felt quite at ease recording. This was different.
From the outside you would not know this particular studio from any other on that street. The place appeared like any other brick-veneer house on that arterial road in the outer-inner suburbs of the city. The city that I had moved to eleven years ago to keep studying while holding on to that artist dream.
Stepping inside, the brick-veneer facade gives way to that studio magic where no detail has been spared. This was a place where musical visions to come to fruition through being somewhere with the right balance of everything. Comfortable. Temperate. Well lit. Homely.
I had finally arrived at a place where I could deliver the vocals I was born to. I had to get out of my own way first. I had to stop believing I already knew everything and start being open to learning more. To seek out and listen to advice and opinions and see what fits. I had to learn to feel comfortable making silly sounds and be able to do this in the presence of others. Now, nothing felt more important.
Maybe I had to have one of these Die before you Die moments in order to really live.
In order to allow myself to do exactly what I know I came here to do.
Over those few days I tracked vocals to songs I had written over the last five years. We had been recording them over the last three. This was the record I wanted so badly to be ready to make seven years ago. Back then there was no way I could possibly be ready. I acknowledges that in one of the songs. Now I was ready.
On the final day of tracking the vocals for the title track for the record (a song called Sun that I had been performing solo all over the continent as a bar act and busker), we stepped out onto the street after a powerful session to find the sky literally filled with electricity.
It was the most beautiful and bizarre thing I had ever seen.
Not only did the sky look electric, but the surroundings felt electric. I felt like I was buzzing.
I mean, we were buzzing. We were on a studio high. AND a survivors high at the same time.
It was more than that though… there was this buzzing sensation like a kind of electric force field.
It’s cramped but cosy back in our little nest at the parent’s place. We called the house the nest and the van, but this… this is definitely a nest. With the addition of some plants and lamp lighting, it’s starting to really feel like home. I’ve built a cubby around the bed. I haven’t been streaming as much when I do it’s from the cubby.
The bed we gave away was a good bed. I thank the people that gave it to us, and I’m glad for the people who now have it. We’re back on an old mattress that is too small for us and not great for our injuries. Pain from head to toe has become the norm for us, but at least that is something we both share.
Stacked containers containing what once was our domestic life now are a standing desk I use when my pain allows.
I’ve learned that nobody is ever going to know your pain. It isn’t theirs to know, or understand. Each of us can only truly know our own pain. We can do our best to convey it, but that’s all and that is just life and the human experience.
After crashing the second time, I posted on social media to tell my community about it.
I didn’t want to do it the first time, and I didn’t even want to do it the second time. However after posting on Social Media out of the necessity of getting home, I decided it felt only fair to give people an update. I wanted people we know to know that we are okay given the circumstances. Some might have worried for us.
I was inundated with reactions and comments. The tone of my post was one of acceptance of life and death.
I was quietly content: Die before you Die moments will do that to a person, if they are ready.
Still, I wonder sometimes if I had been equally as honest and had not tried to dress down the trauma and severity of what happened if I might have had some outreach besides from my few nearest whom I’m in communication with regularly.
I ask myself if I have isolated myself from everyone I ever knew these days. I know that many of us are equally isolated. This paradigm is doing absolutely everything it can to isolate us from each other.
Soon after this happened I received contact from an old friend, someone I had lost touch with over the years.
I thought this to be a good thing until our conversation turned sour. Soon it became clear that she did not care for my pain. Nor did she give me any indication of hers until it was too late. I had to be honest when the conversation took the path my old self might have happily gone along with. This time I spoke my truth and was met with some harsh truths in return.
So I understand fully now that our pain is our own. That is why my path and my dream is more important to me now than anything. My dream is to honour the work that I do and know that I can heal more pain through doing that than by putting pressure on myself to be anything to anyone.
I know who I travel with and I know who my nearest and dearest are. I don’t need people to know my pain or heal it or fix it.
There’s a kind of sadness that comes from this realisation.
That your pain is your own, and no-one but you can change it.
I’m grateful to have access to medical support through the western medical paradigm. Whether it is physical or emotional pain it is ourselves that must do the work. Medical professionals can only guide us. We must show up.
A lyric I wrote once in a song that never quite made it comes to mind
“Maybe we’re all just alone, and we know it”
This was from a song called Rubys Coffin, probably the most morbid song I have ever written about a chair.
This is where a character called Ruby sits.
“Sitting by the window waiting to die.
She sits there often.”
Truth is, we are all alone. Yet, we are always together.
Nothing you do or say or don’t say changes that.
Whether you reach out or not.
Whether you know how to be a good friend or not.
Whether I knew how to be a good friend or not.
I let myself be vulnerable about these thoughts only to be met with criticism during our falling out. I wasn’t a good friend, apparently. I’m okay with that. Neither was my old friend. The truth is, we had lost touch.
We didn’t know each other any more.
But I’m only just beginning to learn that I never did know boundaries well. I didn’t know what they were when this contact came back into my life. I let it all out even though we barely knew the people we had become.
Seeing several posts on social media doesn’t tell you who a person is now. It’s only a tiny fraction of the lens they are giving you.
I’m grieving all the things my own circumstances have brought upon me.
In addition to this, the world is collectively grieving.
My own experience was to learn how to cope with invisible pain and trauma that has come from a common events in our car-based reality. Car accidents. In a world that is busy dealing with something else.
Something called “Covid-19”
Something that started in 2019 and is still going now in 2021.
Something that made the world change very abruptly which has its positives and negatives for us humans and the Earth.
Something that you could see coming if you were looking closely at all the signs.
Something we might not see the end of for a while.
So everyone is grieving.
Everyone is afraid of Death.
But if you’re lucky, you might have one of those Die before you Die moments and find yourself really living.
Life back at the parents has been quaint but cramped and not without its challenges for all involved. As I mentioned, it will teach you things like acceptance, patience and love, like nothing else.
Living with elderly people has brought me a lot of perspective about life and its duration. If one is lucky enough to live it in its entirety. It has brought insight about the pace at which we live through the different chapters of life. Of the things we can do and cannot do, just as our injuries have also shown us.
The injuries we are carrying are not too dissimilar from the ageing process in some ways. Through having a sudden impact weaken our muscles we are learning what it feels like to move slowly. What it is like when things such like bending down to reach a cupboard become more difficult. Or staying in when you might have previously had no trouble getting about on two legs.
Instead we find ourselves sometimes doing other things that we might not have otherwise been doing. Like doing family jigsaw puzzles around the table, and laughing together over the antics of the dog.
I’ve also found that living with an elderly couple kind of feels like having grandparents around. My only remaining grandfather died when I was one year old so I never got to experience having a grandfather figure.
We have our differences and come from different worldviews, but within the everyday minutia we can relate. The things that go on around us and we can all see with our own eyes.
Everything else is open to interpretation, and you know what I think when it comes to perspective.
It is impossible to know anothers.
I think if we focus on what all have in common we will find that we aren’t that different.
When it comes down to it, we are all part of the same family. We live under the same Sun.
That’s all from me for now.
It has been a very eventful three months. I will do my best to write again within the next few.
Life, as we know it on Earth, is changing and I will do my best to keep you up to date.
Congratulations if you have made it this far, there is no TLDR version when it comes to this journal.
Yours in perpetuity,
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