Once out of his house and on the train Googly, that is his nickname, again explores his relationship with the world, his junking of its conventions, going out of his suburban way to seek higher ideals. For one born on the peripheral bounds of a vast metropolitan city, it is remarkable that from early in his life Googly has imagined himself a great teacher, a Guru, who, having renounced materialism, is instead sitting quietly, bearded and homeless and surrounded by students.
Googly’s father and mother desperately want him to be a footballer and an accountant; the career of the first being gloriously brief but built on huge contracts and endorsements, and the second slow and steady, building on knowledge, credentials and experience. Googly decided at twenty two he will have none of it. He wants to learn about life on the streets, and witness the lives of battlers, the lonely, the stressed and all who are not at peace with the world. These are his people Googly feels for, not badge wearers and status climbers. By night he does what his parents wish and he attends night school and goes to footy practice, and by day he does things his way.
What alarms him is how people live and work in city noise and its associated stress. To Googly they appear to be like bees at a hive, moving like chaos but always close to the hive. For Googly there is a desert space in the city in which to think and to contemplate, but if one does not see it the opportunity to experience it is impossible. There appears to be no doorway for people to pass through, no space around the hive, and nowhere for individual bees to go and sit and be safe alone. Googly believes that to be alone and be still and observe will help the bee person understand the gesellschaft (society of the detached) of city behaviour. In this space the lone person is painless. There are no unethical pursuits of pleasure and happiness. There are no rewards for shopping, no kudos for competing. Googly has found such deserts in back alleys and behind trees in parks, and in public conveniences. But when he tells other people they can’t see it. Some yell at him calling him a guru nut.
What goes around should come back around, good for good and bad for bad; and yet they often don’t. Things happen upside down. Googly, thinking in his train travels, realises that many who suffer are also good, even though they suffer. Others, who are not so good, and who are selfish and petty, still get along on the turbulent winds that drive them. As he ages Googly is finding that he lives in a strange world of topsy-turvy rules. And there are few second chances.
Should human life be only about trouble and anxiety? A busy life is far too short. By ignoring his parents’ wishes, Googly wonders if all he is doing is swapping one trouble for another. When he becomes bearded they will nag him. It is their way. And when he becomes 100 percent guru he will get more hate. This far, while Googly is between home and a familiar destination, he is happy. He is away from family and pursuing his dreams and excitements. On the moving train he sees clearly where he is; he has renounced what he’s left behind; he sees his truth and he does no harm; he sees how he can improve himself; the people waiting at the next train station are eager for him; he makes sure that that station is not his end.
When he boards a train he goes straight to a rear window seat, or as close to it as possible; this is where he is most anonymous and sentient. He smiles to himself while he concentrates on what he imagines. From what he imagines he intuitively tries to know. But that is a strange feeling because what Googly absorbs bears little resemblance to his ideal self. His hair is not the power woman’s, his trousers not the hippy’s, his shaved head not the punk’s. To try and walk in someone else’s ill fitting shoes is difficult. There is so much to learn. His guru image is what he sees through the grimy window of the train carriage. It is enhanced by the dirt and chaos outside.
His reflection in the window’s smudge is his honest self. It is of the nirvana. But then a disruption will come and obliterate it. This time the station loud speaker is calling for last stop. He will have to wait for an interchange. Sometimes a ticket inspector mistrusts him when he is scrutinising his ticket. But, since he is not a permanent being to anyone who encounters him, the threats go. He is flux filling and emptying, and he and the world he observes is always changing. His journey has had a beginning, and it will have an end. It is temporary like yesterday and tomorrow. Friday is tomorrow. Should he die today, then this day will be forever.
When he was born Googly’s mind was empty. Then it began filling with words, first from his parents and siblings, and then later from people outside his family. He took all the words in because he believed they were homeless. As he got in more words Googly got selfish because the words were all his and they described things outside of himself. They appealed because he was someone or something else. For example, the word sky meant that Googly was part of it because once he understood the word he was as real as the sky. The sky is big; thus Googly called himself the Big Sky. And like the sky he is everywhere, just like people are, everywhere. As he has got older he is more aware of himself and the world around. The more he sees the world the smaller it is and the more he wants to fill it with his wisdom. And he can’t be happy until he has done more. But more of what? His guru talk and the dispensing of guru sense to the unhinged?
Googly has realised that it is better to seek what is elusive and accept that he might never find it, than possess the obtainable. He’s become indifferent to studying for an accounting diploma. An A mark or a B mark is easily obtainable. He gets them just to please his parents, though he needs good marks to prove to them that he is competitive. There is so much in life that is genuinely elusive. Googly knows he will never be a film star. He would need to act to have a chance, and he can’t act. But when being a guru frustrates him he imagines himself a great actor, and the world is truly his oyster. Ultimately he might choose to seek it one day, even if it is realistically elusive. He can enjoy the pursuit and put his guru ideals to bed.
It is on a moving train that Googly’s vision is most acute. It is stimulated by the rhythm of the carriage as it travels the line. Its rhythmic clatter makes music in his head. He is meditating on the beat whilst he observes the passing buildings and their graffiti, the awaiting traffic and people walking. He is outside of what he sees. And passive he thinks of changing nothing because he doesn’t need to. As an outsider he is what he sees, he who is passing by another chaos, more bad fish. And his experience takes him to a sort of becoming, and then, at the next railway station, there is a new sort of existence. He is sitting, looking, passing by, a new self, and he quivers. All he needs is a journey such as this.
When he is returning home, Googly begins to wind down two or three stations stops before. He still has a family and obligations that must be fulfilled. Before tomorrow ends he will mow the lawn. Afterwards he will go somewhere by train and revisit the old as if it were new, his mindfulness excited from a memory of a past journey. It will be a pleasant thought, a revelation even. It may not be exactly the same scene as when he last passed through, but the fixture, like complex overhead power lines or vast oil refineries, or railway graffiti will stir his thoughts to a fever, is part of his map. The city hive is his playground and its chaos is what he looks forward to.