When I first imagined moving to Australia, it was about space. Everything felt spacious here. The bracing void of the continent seemed to promise more room in all dimensions, not just between cities but between moments, between thoughts, even between walls.
But metaphors have half-lives, and as they decay the raw becomes rawer. On my first flight across the continent, I set myself a task. I would fix my eye on the patch of red land below me, framed like a picture in the airplane window. I'd take this picture as an object of meditation, follow my breath, and commit to remaining with it until something about it changed.
I could never do it. Perhaps the picture in the window would be scalloped pink dunes, stretching across the picture frame, rolling slowly to the left with always a new identical dune rolling in from the right. I'd watch as hundreds passed, waiting for the variation. Something. I didn't need a road, a town. A tree would have done, or even just a shift in the pattern of dunes, a spare beat in the rhythm. Nothing. The land did change, but at a pace below human perception.
And I thought: Yes, I needed space. But nobody needs this much space.