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Leave me something to breathe

Solarpunk Edgedweller

Leave me something to breathe

Rainbow has been out three times this week.

This is sure to be a good omen.

“Rainbow” is the Blue Tongue Lizard that lived and continues to live below and surrounding the old weatherboard house we moved into in December.

The name came from our friend’s friend’s five year old daughter, as they stopped through on their travels. I don’t think Rainbow even came out that day, but when the little girl asked us why we didn’t have any pets, we had to tell her about the Lizard, and she decided it would be called Rainbow.

We referred to the Lizard as ‘they’ and ‘them’ for some time, confusing the older generation folk around us, being unable to identify the gender of the lizard.

It wasn’t until a local Solarpunk— there happen to be three in addition to the two of us in this town — came by, and said “that lizard is pregnant!”

It was then some time before we saw the smaller lizard, apparently the offspring of Rainbow.

Some more time passed.

Perhaps a duration of what would usually be a hibernation.

Then one morning this week, Rainbow emerged.

Today we put a lid of water out, as we sometimes do, and took delight in seeing this well received by the thirsty lizard.


The Health Crisis has been ramping up again in our closest city, where face coverings have become, supposedly, mandatory. Even though it isn’t ‘mandatory’ in the town we’re living in the town centre is now approximately half populated with covered faces.

My day so far has only consisted of a spring clean, taking pictures of Rainbow while listening to Breathing by Kate Bush.

Dad was a Kate Bush fan.

The Kick Inside and a few other albums soundtracked my first years on Earth.

Somehow, for a couple of decades in between, I lost her…. and have returned to her like a long-lost friend.

Watching her life in the form of documentary on Youtube gives me strength to keep going.

Listening to breathing, and screeching it out in jest from time to time gives me the catharsis that any woman needs to exist in this world in 2020.

We are literally being suffocated…

It goes deep.

Now, it’s becoming very literal. All the things that Kate said.

“Leave me something to breathe”

All the things that Joni said.

“We’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden”

They were always true.

Until there is balance, nothing is fair play. It has been creation versus destruction for some time on this planet.

Destruction embodies extraction, overproduction — squeezing the air and the life out of our habitat until there is nothing left. Creation done badly is just as destructive. Creation that is cyclical, that is our — our last hope.

Like the moon and the mother.

I believe in the creative power of humanity. I believe that is the thing that can save us from ourselves. That choice within. Create for good. Create with love. Create out of the rubble… the excess.

But we really need to put the brakes on. At least some of us.

This is the golden window.

* * *

August 5th, 2020

For the second time today I wore a mask… or ‘Face Covering’ as it’s being referred to.

The only other time I did was at our local rally in June.

This is humanity’s response to the Health Crisis

“Wear a mask!”

“Cover your nose and mouth!”

It has been expected and required of us…

Since the Health Crisis is considered an Emergency, specific directives have been communicated to humans at large.

Masks are in. Not wearing a mask is, apparently, not in. Or… you stay in.

Here, we are opting for staying in, mostly.

That’s the other directive. Stay at home.

If you have one.


Every day I thank the universe we do have a place to call home for the time being. Ever-present is my awareness of the people who don’t. The best I could do this year was commit a financial contribution to a fundraiser, run by someone whom I trust to get blankets to rough sleepers on the streets of the city I was born in. This was someone we met during a food drive after the Christmas holiday we spent house sitting in another city.

It was during my time at university, where I studied dribs and drabs of Architecture, Planning and Politics (the University staff were never very happy with the way I kept cherry-picking my education to learn more instead of finish a degree with a bit of paper at the end) that I learned the proportion of empty and under-utilised space in any given city; and that this would generally always be the equivalent amount of space necessary to house the homeless population. That pathway and the trajectory I was on never sat well with me. I perused a job ad for a Statutory Planner earlier today, and considered the Salary and the trade off and the impossibility from inside the existing framework to change it… so I’m out here on the edge. Telling you what I know. I don’t have that Salary or that bit of paper. But I have vision.


So we left home today to post and gather.

The post-office has become the receptacle for my offering to the world; the organic grocer I used to work at provides the cornucopia we need to nourish ourselves. When that fails, there’s the internet.

For a while, at various times, I resisted the idea of buying or selling anything at all.

I guess that would be the Anarachist approach, and what a good Solarpunk Anarchist would do.

But I’m not saying I’m a Solarpunk Anarchist, or even an Anarchist, and if I was… it wasn’t for all that long.

I still had a personal debt to a major bank at the time I commenced on my unknown-route journey into the future abyss with my bought-on-a-whim curiously under-priced van.

I had two years of being ground down by the 9–5 grind under my belt at this point, after chopping and changing my degree one two many times to be considered socially acceptable in most circles, and my Dad went and died somewhere in the middle. So that ground me down some more. And 9–5 had turned into 9–6, 9–7, 9–8 and 9–9…

So I really just needed to feel like I had freedom, once again.

To remember what that felt like.

Getting across the continent was easy with a number of shows lined up from home to back here where the other part of my life happens. There’s an East Coast and a West Coast here too… and no, we’re not in America.

Once I was back over this side, I found myself floating between past abodes when I made it back to the city I studied in. Most of my recent life had happened there.

But I needed to go somewhere that was a mystery to really find out who I was when I was away from all the places I knew before.

For me that place was a small town on the ‘Sapphire Coast’ in 2018.

In 2020 that place burned, and I haven’t quite known how to feel about it or even talked about it much or written about it or acknowledged it.

But here it is.

Days out from the Festival I was set to play it, I found myself questioning the decision I had made to take a band and at the last minute, made the tough call to go it alone.

The Festival caught me when I was almost at ground zero. The drove alone had been enough to make me question what I was doing with my life.

My van was small and awkward to move about in. I didn’t really feel like I was sure about it still.

This wasn’t the first night I spent in it. That was when I arrived at a previous house sit on Christmas, with the neighbours who held the keys asleep as I had arrived at midnight. That was not the plan, but again I knew little of the reality of these long solo drives.

So by the time I arrived at the festival I was a little shaken. The overnight I had spent at a carpark in what seemed like a nice town. But the carpark being empty felt equally safe and eery; the street light through the window was bright and intrusive through my slightly sheer curtains.

Yet, at the same time, like any other situation in life when things aren’t exactly ideal but they aren’t terrible; what do you do? You shrug, and go “this’ll do.”

And sure as anything, the time passes. I’m a heavy sleeper. Mornings are always a little weird. I try to pretend I didn’t just sleep in my vehicle.

Maybe if it was decked out like a full on camper I’d be proud, like “hell yeah I just slept in my vehicle.”

But there’s something, I don’t know, classist… maybe… that gets projected onto make-shift camper vehicles. As though they’re lesser or something.

When I was the driveway fairy at one of my old residences, a gorgeous share-house in one of the best suburbs to live in the inner north of my old city, one of the sharers Mums came by as I was there and quite impolitely remarked “I’m just glad it’s not me”

But I was glad.

I’m glad I did it. I’m even glad I didn’t bother fitting out the vehicle too much. I know what I would do now; but ultimately, what I had was still so much compared to someone with nothing.

And that could be anyone. Even her… after a series of events.

We are all vulnerable, in reality. Our circumstances can change at any moment.

Setting out for the sapphire coast I had left that house, trading a few household possessions for a bag of nuts.

I was most likely completely mal-nourished by the time I burst into tears at the festival, and the couple parked next to me who relative, to myself were parent-aged caught me with their kindness, feeding me a chick-pea curry from one of the stall-holders that was probably supposed to be one of their dinners, and listening to my story about the band and how it all just hit home when I read the program and saw that they had printed (exactly as I had provided it to them) that I would be there with a band in tow.

Through their kindness I found my sense of belonging at that festival, bit by bit and step by step… where I knew no-one.

I think it had to be that way. I couldn’t have had the band there. I needed to rely on myself for once.

And then realise, that you can try as you might to think that you’re getting yourself through.

But that’s just not how it works, we’re in it together — this life thing.

Knowing that even when you’re alone, and you know no one… that you can be known and loved… well that, I now believe, is freedom.

Soon after, I wandered into a stall; still teary eyed and met a beautiful woman who later became my friend who made the most beautiful jewellery.

I can’t remember it in detail, but I managed to piece some sentences together in admiration and fumbled to explain the state I was in. There was some mention of the moon, and some hug involved I’m sure.

Between these two encounters, I was now beginning to feel okay again. Like someone like a Mum had looked at me and said “You’re enough”, and someone like a sister had hugged me and agreed.

The next morning I met my camping neighbour on the other side who offered me a cuppa and I came to learn had retired early to travel; and at a workshop called ‘Talk to a Stranger’ inspired by a button worn on a London Subway, I met a woman from a nearby town who invited me to stay with her… and just like that, the path appeared.

I learned, finally, that it always does.

And in that town, I found myself some more.

The women’s centre there became a point of connection and going inward. I am so grateful to have been led to that place and those people.

Though it was a fleeting time, those memories are among some of my fondest.

I made my way up that part of the coastline, staying with the couple who I had met at the jewellery stall where they live in another beautiful little coastal location before eventually moving north.

Whilst there we had an encounter with a fairy penguin that illustrated to me just how disconnected people have become with nature.

As this little penguin waddled in its habitat, people with dogs crowded around.

As they looked perplexed and like they were disturbing the poor creature we moved closer and my new friends explained that they previously had done work for WIRES (wildlife rescue) and that the penguin is most likely shedding its feathers and in a migration from the nearby island which is their breeding ground.

One woman remarked “there’s a ferry out to that island — perhaps we could get it in the ferry”

*crickets chirp*

My friend patiently explains to the lady that it’s nature, this is most likely part of a migratory pattern, and putting the bird on a ferry would be the only thing that would disturb the penguin besides from all the dogs.

At this point the people with dogs begin to move away from the penguin.

This is where humanity is at, some people.

Sure there are plenty of people that have taken an interest in nature. The ones who have taken other interests and pursuits though have perhaps gotten so disconnected that — well, here we are.

It wasn’t until I left the Sapphire Coast that I lost myself again. I had two more festivals to get to, and one of them required driving further north. By the time I got to that destination I was almost facing the lowest point again.

But at the next festival I would find myself fully, and my co-pilot.

Looking back I’m starting to see a pattern here.
And it doesn’t look that different to the one here at home in this period of ‘isolation.’

Highs and Lows.

Maybe that’s just being a woman.
Maybe I’m just discovering this, and finally accepting this now.


So today I finally wore a mask.

I grappled with the sewing machine and eventually churned out a couple of sequin-covered disco-eque masks that the two of us could wear.

I had inherited the fabric recently, and have one too many projects going to have dived into the sewing machine yet.

But after only one failed attempt that was only suitable for covering the nose and mouth of a plushie, I was victorious.

I’m far too impatient for sewing machines. I have come to learn that I prefer sewing by hand, and perhaps would have enjoyed making the masks if I had done this.

Or maybe I was never going to enjoy making something that I would hardly enjoy wearing.

Yet, in these current conditions, it’s what you do.

So as we climbed out of the van and made our way to the post office, I had to laugh and screech “LEAVEEE MEE SOMETHING TO BREATHE” as I struggled to breathe, feeling somewhat asphyxiated by my own breath almost instantly.

“WHAT ARE WE GOINGG TO DOO” I continued singing in my best, lowest baritone…


Yes, we are.

A mask won’t prevent that.

It might bring it on sooner, if you wear it for too long.

Not to say that the mask won’t save some lives.

It might.

But can you imagine any other species wearing a mask?

Ridiculous isn’t it.

But then, can you imagine another species creating and unleashing a disease?

We are a ridiculous species.

Real or not, human created or not, we are at this juncture.

For the most part, we do our best to look after each other and adapt each day as best we can.

Normally on a Wednesday, we might go by the thrift store, and the mid-week markets.

Not this week.

It was cold, rainy, and hard to breath.

So home we went.

We’re under what is being referred to as ‘Stage 3’ restrictions here, and our urban counterparts are now under ‘Stage 4’.

So much of my life has happened there.

My heart is still there a little, just as a part of it is back home on the West Coast. And another part of it is in the Sapphire Coast.

I guess we’re all feeling a little bit that way in the world today, the world of August 2020.

Then there’s part of it thats in places that don’t always exist, which feel like the birthplaces of places that don’t exist yet. Sounds funny, but it’s true. I know it’s true, I can feel it. But that’s a story for another day.

Until next time,

Yours in hope and endurance,


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(Zoe/She/Her/They/Them) Songwriter at heart and probably from birth, it was a parallel interest in place that took Zoe down the path of Architecture, Design and Planning via Events before ending up here. A weaver of worlds, Zoe uses words in music, daily life and here at Paradigm O, encouraging humanity to bend the road ahead towards a better version for everyone on this planet.

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