Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Beyondland

The Beyondland, I call it. It is more a feeling than a place, so it’s easier to paint it. This is what it feels like, roughly.

Screen Shot 2013-05-30 at 8.46.58 PM

It is lonely, but familiar. I’m getting to know my way around.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I moved from the world where most people live to this place. There are no signposts or GPS coordinates. Spend enough time wanting not to exist and you simply realize, gradually, that this is where you are.

I call it the Beyondland because it is beyond a point at which one can never be the same, beyond a point that most can conceive. Venture further than this, and you are looking back at the world from a completely different direction, as though you crossed like Alice into the Looking Glass and saw everything as strange.

The Beyondland is an eternal present where time has no meaning. It is a nothingness that is everywhere.

If you are mystified, that’s quite alright. Most people I know, and presumably most of those I don’t, live in a state of some kind of expectation. They imagine that their lives will spool ceaselessly into the future, and that it will add up to something, Kids, partners, school, jobs, houses: all of it, the stuff of life.

I have a Twitter follower who lives in Sydney (I know this because his handle is @robertinsydney). He keeps reminding me about the future: how people move to Australia for their kids, for a better future. I have no future, I tell him. I don’t care.

I wasn’t always like this. I imagined, until quite recently, that I would build a house with the money I brought back from Australia. A very small one, but it would be mine, my space, my vision, my stake in the ground. A huge concrete commitment in the midst of vague unspoken agreements.

And then it stopped making sense. The intertidal zone is not a comfortable place to live, and yet I’ve made a home for myself here. I’m not beholden to anyone or anything. I could vanish tonight and, while it would worry my family, I have no dependents who rely on me. There is nobody who needs me, and I don’t do particularly important work. My clients would survive: as one of them reminded me today, nobody dies if you don’t make an ad.

If I’ve become attracted to the idea of giving away large amounts of money, it’s because money is in itself a statement about the idea of a future. Holding onto money suggests that you imagine that you might need it, which must mean that the future is worth hanging around for. Giving it away is a form of self-effacement, a steady removal of the notion that I have a stake in what is to come.

When you live in the Beyondland, you stop caring in the way that others care. You you let go, of everything. It is rather zen. You go through the motions because movement is a proxy for the beating cilia of life, and as long as you are moving, you can still breathe, like a shark.

The Beyondland is not home.  It simply is.

I was there

Today I made a new friend, a young woman who is commissioning a painting from me. We had a late breakfast and talked about the meaning of life. She isn’t yet sure what she wants, but she told me that she is obsessed with lampposts. Perhaps a lamppost on a pier would be suitable?

So I googled “lamppost on pier” and this appeared:

And something marvelous struck me: that I have been to Glenelg in South Australia, and stood near this pier, and looked out onto the ocean. The scene below isn’t quite Glenelg; it’s a little further north, at Henley Beach, where Chris and I watched the sun set on Easter Sunday. There’s something strangely moving about this, about finding an image and feeling a flash of recognition, as though I’d seen a minor celebrity in a crowd. Perhaps this is why we travel. Not just for the experience itself, which is fleeting, but so we can look back and say: I have been in the world.

I was there.

Sunset Adelaide