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The Best Epiphanies Occur in Public Toilets.

November 25, 2011

On the way home from Papua New Guinea, in the aeroplane, I had to go and lock myself in the toilet for 20 minutes so that I could cry without making everyone on the cabin feel uncomfortable. I don’t usually do that but I had been watching some short New Zealand films, and I got a little emotional. (For the record it was The Graffiti of Mr Tupaia)

They weren’t sad tears exactly, I just happened to be suddenly struck by how beautiful, and heart achingly tragic and fragile the world was, all at once, and I needed to let it all out. And as I’ve always had something of an affinity with toilets, I knew it would appreciate my emotional outburst probably more than the sleepy business man sitting beside me and so I went in and I sat down and I cried.

I cried for New Guinea, and for it’s women, and for how strong they are and I cried for it’s beautiful soil, and for it’s corruption, and for fresh coconut and for small cooking fires laughing in makeshift slum huts ,and for the way the mist in front of Mt Hagen looks early in the morning, and I cried for it’s rainforests, and for the people cutting them down. I cried for Wall street, and men in suits, and rich children, and loneliness, and cotton wool and too big clone houses with easycare gardens, and greed that eats you up and makes you empty. I cried for Greg who has four luxury cars and is friendly and successful and thinks he is a good person, and for those sad dead parts of america where the fast food chains sit clean and quiet and murmur apocalyptic whispers that even the radio in the empty carpark will not drown out.

I cried for New Zealand, and for Parihaka, and for our squeamish, uncomfortable history, for the way nice teachers with lipstick dismiss the caretaker without meaning to, for what we don’t see and what we do see, and how we pretend everything is fine; God’s own country. I cried for the wrinkles on my grandparents and for potlucks,and for how much I wanted to see my family and for the dune hills above sandfly bay and the deep forests of fiordland, and the way you feel when you can see the top of Aspiring, and I cried because I don’t know whether my grandchildren will be able to breathe those places like I have, or even if I should have children, even though my stomach somersaults when I smell the top of babies heads. I cried because I was in a plane, burning oil and going too fast, contributing to the deaths of people in Pakistan and famines in Kenya and glaciers melting and fresh water disappearing and the destruction of kaimoana, and because momentum makes you feel sick sometimes especially when you’re small and the tide feels like the whole ocean. I cried for the silly confidence of politicians and for old men who tell me I’m young and idealistic and for middle age people who humour me and I cried for the power of ideas, and for words which are like fire, for the way a photograph tells things , for the way a children’s book can make you dance, and the way a story stays in your stomach for days. But mostly I cried because the world was beautiful, and there just didn’t seem to be any other sensible response.

And then I laughed while I sobbed because I was so happy to be alive, and because I was so grateful that I could feel anything at all, and because of how ridiculous it was that I was bawling my eyes out in the aeroplane toilet, somewhere between Brisbane and Christchurch in the middle of the ocean on a Tuesday afternoon.

I think that might have been the moment that I realised that I was never ever ever never, going to give up on the world, that it had infected its crazy beauty in me, and that I was stuck, quite gloriously and helplessly, in it.

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One Comment
  1. jan permalink

    I love your writing chrissy! It is very moving. By the way, did you enjoy” Bliss” the movie about Katherine mansfield? Parts of her reminded us a lot of you. She was an amazing young woman…as you are..

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