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Both destiny's kisses and its dope-slaps illustrate an individual person's basic personal powerlessness over the really meaningful events in his life: i.e. almost nothing important that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it. Destiny has no beeper; destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with some sort of Psst that you usually can't even hear because you're in such a rush to or from something important you've tried to engineer.

I'm not so sure about destiny, but I believe every damn word David Foster Wallace ever wrote.

And I am noticing, more and more, that I truly get swept along by that kinda ‘life inertia’ that is way too big for me to interfere with. It’s that feeling of being swept in a certain direction, regardless of the byways or side streets or detours I might accidentally head down. It’s life happening to me, totally outside of any intentional orchestration. Or, it's the sense of working really hard toward something without knowing what the higher aim is.

But anyway, I don’t really mind it. 
It’s just a bit of a shock sometimes when I glimpse that higher aim. 


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I don't know why I still get surprised when I try and draw horses and it's just really goddamn difficult.

Anyway, this one is for a childhood memory of spending all day with my best friend making clover chains to put on our horses. She had a brown-and-white paint who used to bolt hills and run under trees, but was otherwise pure sweetness, and I had a red-chestnut named Mohawk, who had a sun-bleached mane, and couldn't put a foot wrong if he tried. 

It's also for the recent realisation that if I can call that particular memory my own, I was granted a very, very special life.


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I'm usually most awestruck by natural wonders -- I can see how cathedrals and big bridges are impressive, and I'm yet to see the pyramids or the Taj Mahal, so maybe I'll change my tune then, but usually I'll take a waterfall over a church, the ocean over an historic building. 

Montju├»c Cemetery in Barcelona might just be the exception to that -- we passed it on the drive in from the airport, on our first day in the city, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. It's almost incomprehensible how many families and individuals are emotionally tied to that steep mountainside overlooking the port. 

It's terrace upon terrace of the dead, but more importantly -- and less morbidly -- it's a huge monument to remembering the lives of loved ones, to enshrining the sacredness of life and everything that happens within it, and to pushing back the curtain for a few more years while people still visit the past, the lost love, while they still bring flowers and icons and wipe away the dust and soot. 

Mostly, it's the kind of place that makes you realise how awesome some man-made monuments can be, but it also illuminates the futile and naive frustrations that drive humans to make beautiful things.

 Even if we can't properly comprehend mortality and loss, at least we can make a damn good shrine to it. 


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So, I've been away travelling for the past six weeks, around Europe and a little time back home on the north coast of New South Wales. Most of the above pages are from Italy and Spain, except the first few, which were drawn on my parents' farm, the product of 3am-jetlag-wake-ups and about 10 cups of tea in a row, as I celebrated my reunion with the good black leaves.

I'm now back in my normal world in Melbourne: I wake up to familiar bird calls and distant traffic hums; the tapwater tastes as it should; I no longer have to be alert to train stations as they slide past on the way to work; I know where to eat, where to shop, where to avoid; my desk in the office is the same as I left it, and the computer still has the same quirks; I pass the same people at lunchtime, and on the commute home; and, at the end of the day, the ignition, steering wheel and pedals of my car are all comfortingly mine. 

Which all sounds entirely mundane.

And maybe it is, but I've realised that I actually thrive on routine and repetition; in days largely constructed of auto-pilot and well-worn paths. Because it is in the spaces around those routines, in the times when I can just let my mind wander, that I explore the other avenues and let my mind expand into different ideas and territories. For me -- and this is, of course, not for everyone -- routine creates a scaffolding of things-I-don't-have-to-think-too-hard-about, upon which I can hang a whole bunch of other weird magic musings and half-spun plans.

So I guess that means I'm happy to be home. At least, until the next bout of restless unease or wretched homesickness for the coast sets in ...


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