Patrick Stafrace
Bendigo, 2016

There are moments in life which give you pause, everything else prepares you.

When it arrives it is either embraced in joyous defeat, or simply rejected to live and die another day. Some are trivial, like a parking fine awaiting payment, but the profound silently overwhelm you. Indiscriminate, ruthless, and permanent.

I drove into the night with quiet anticipation. High beams lit up a vacant Calder Highway until the edifices of a grand colonial past came into sight. Until this point I had never spent longer than a few days outside a major city in Australia. The prospects of a new town, buried in uncertainty, was exciting.

I arrived in Bendigo as a young journo, working at the local paper as part of my university degree. Chasing stories and filing copy in time for the printers, however, didn’t leave much time for reprieve. Instead I occupied my thoughts during my evening commute, a ten-minute walk through the myriad avenues of Rosalind Park, in measured cadence to the bitter winter’s eve.

The newsroom and my hotel were situated on either ends of the park. By five o’clock, white lights in heritage lamps lit the verdant lawns, revealing a faint layer of mist in the air. Ornate statues of pre-eminent men were dwarfed by a temporary fixture of Marilyn Monroe, a size befitting of her larger than life personality. With the exception of evening joggers and trend-spotters playing Pokemon Go, Rosalind Park laid dormant.

Too exhausted to call home and too cold to trawl through the reservoirs of online music, I launched a playlist on Spotify. A song by Daniel Caesar, a young songwriter from Canada, started to play. His bright yet solemn falsetto bears thought on certainty, or lack thereof, elegantly placed between a slow, reverberated drum beat.

The song’s title is not used, however, until the epilogue, in which Daniel Caesar uses a home recording, blemished with white noise and domestic atmosphere, to at last reveal the answer to his perilous search for meaning.

Only two things in life that I’m sure of are death and taxes

His method almost suggests that only once we find ourselves detached, either in place or time, perhaps in a place we too consider home, can we reflect on our actions, only to lead us into another room, disparate from the one before, with new trials, new lessons, and new mistakes to learn from.

I had entered a new room, yet another door opened before me. I thought I had arrived, but still I wondered ‘Where to from here?’ Each day I had to find new words. Then and there, the lion was silent and the poet was speechless. If I had lent another moment to pause, the youth may have mistaken it for wisdom.