The amazing Pip Smith, founder of Penguin Plays Rough, has written us a blog entry!
Photo Credit: Felicity Pickering
About three hours ago I was on the train coming back from the airport. At central, this guy in a suit sat next to me and started talking just as I was punching out a text. He said, “I have just realised my job doesn’t make me happy.” His eyes were slightly yellow, and i wondered if he had been drinking. I said, “what do you do?” “I look at discrepancies between shipping lists. Logistics. I work for a Korean company. I want to work for an Australian company. In Korea we have it all wrong. In Australia the emphasis is on being happy and relaxing. In Korea the emphasis is on being strong.” I said, “I’m not sure you got that right – about Australia.” At Wynyard, an elderly businessman sat next to us, so we had to squeeze right up against the window. I asked the Korean man, “When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?” He leaned in towards me and whispered, “a monk”, I said “sorry, what?” he said “a monk.” He lifted up his wrist and showed me the bracelet he was wearing. “I’m Buddhist. When I was younger, I visited a temple and saw Buddha’s face. It made me so calm. His face – it wasn’t warm or cold.” “It was neutral?” “Yes. Are you a Buddhist?” I said, “No. I’ve never really understood the whole ‘letting go of desire’ thing. It’s always struck me that desire can sometimes be a beautiful thing. Desire can motivate you. And attachment. Attachment to your children, surely that’s a good thing.” He said, “I see what you mean, but I think you’re confusing desire and compassion. Love and attachment. You can watch your friend die and you feel a great amount of distress. You watch a beggar die and…” He shrugged “maybe you feel bad only for a little while. You think your friend belongs to you, but he doesn’t.” I was stunned. How did he know Tim had just died? “So, what’s your major?” He asked “I’m sorry?” “What do you study?” “How did you know I’m a student?” “I can just tell.” The businessman sitting next to us shifted his newspaper, pretending to read it, but he hadn’t turned the page in some time. After a pause I asked, “Well, can you quit when you go back to Korea? Can you become a monk?” He said, “No. My family.” “Ah, I see.” “My family cause me distress.” “Distress??” “They want me to have babies. But I don’t want to marry.” I said, “Oh yes! I know about that.” And we sat in silence. At North Sydney the aisle of people re-configured itself with muted apologies. As we passed the next stations, he told me about the moon, that at the full moon you can attend tea ceremonies in temples in Japan – and that when you drain a cup, you clear your mind. He told me he’d studied martial arts in Hong Kong because he loved Bruce Lee and that he’d visited India and learned that they came up with the number 0. He told me that a mango grows the way it grows by a chance meeting of sun and rain and other things, and that it also starts from zero. That everything is a product of its context. We were standing by the pond at St Leonards station for about 5 minutes while he started telling me that we are cheated by the world because we can’t see the stars during the day, even though they are there the whole time. I’m not sure what he meant by this, but he was so illuminated by what he was saying I decided to walk with him in the direction of the place he was staying. Turns out he was also staying in Greenwich. He told me that heaven is right here, and that you shouldn’t turn the past into a cliche, and that our minds are full of the future so we miss out on the present. He turned and asked me, ‘do you believe in platonic love?’ And I said, ‘yes.’ And he laughed and said, “Ah! You understand!” When we reached the intersection of Greenwich Rd and the Pacific Hwy I had to leave him. We shook hands. He asked me my name, I said “Pip” He said, “I am Rocky. Rocky Mountain,” and he walked down Greenwich Road.
Rocky Mountain, thanks for the excellent conversation.