Menindee Lakes near Broken Hill
I have written before about the way in which the act of listening can disrupt the mental loops we find ourselves in. Listening draws us out of our thoughts and allows us a chance to reconnect with our surroundings. If done over an extended period, focussed listening shifts our sense of time and place, our internal meter begins to move with the rhythm of life beyond our mind. We become reacquainted with a world much bigger than ourselves.
In late 2020 I drove 1,500 km west to the Broken Hill region to do just this. Having lived with ambiguities related to family illnesses, employment, and domestic life, I drove to disconnect from my local area and its associated anxieties.
It wouldn’t be accurate to say that I entirely disconnected from everything during the time away. No matter how hard you may try to escape your demons it is a fact that you bring yourself with you wherever you go. Reinforcing this was the fact that the region had been in a long period of drought, with grim skeletons of animals lying everywhere casting a tone of despair upon the land.
Cows grazed in areas that should have been healthy lake systems. Dead trees stretched upwards to the sky. As someone passing through the area rather than having to eke an existence there I recognised it as a privilege that for an hour or so I could sit by one area of remaining water at the Menindee Lakes and listen to the small waves lap against the shoreline.
That afternoon, sitting by the water, my mind finally quietened, concerns from home were muted. The division between myself and the sound of waves was dissolved.