Chance Encounters

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It’s Saturday here – Oh Yeah – Dive Day!  It’s entirely possible that as you read this I will be communing with the fish under twenty or thirty metres of warm salt water. Don’t you wish you were here?

Okay, now I’m going to go all dark. Never mind. It will pass. I’ve been listening to Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here  on scrambled repeat for about three hours now, laughing and leaking from my eyes and, yes, whistling – I’m an accomplished whistler.

Here’s what I feel like:

I like working out my feelings with images.

One ant is anticipatory, eager, communicative. Its antennae reach out, seek. “Come back.” it implores. The other ant is withdrawn, hiding. It’s catching the next “big jet airplane” to elsewhere. “Where are you going?”


The bee visits the flower. It doesn’t live there. Does the flower feel abandoned when the bee has had its fill of nectar and pollen and moves on?Ridiculous!

What is all this nonsense?

I spend so much time telling you what I love about living here in Madang. I extol the blessings of the expatriate life-style. I praise the freedom, the nearly total absence of oppressing authority. I have much to say about what I love. Now let me tell you what I hate.


Here I have enjoyed more wonderful friendships than I ever thought were possible in a lifetime. I have had friends who would spill their blood for me if it were necessary, and mine for them – friends who would not let me suffer need without thought of satisfying it. I’ve had confidants who knew me better, far better, than any therapist. Friends who laughed and cried with me with true simpatico.  Where are they now?


It’s the nature of this place that people come and go. It’s a transient paradise. Few can manage it forever. It is too uncertain, too intense, too fraught with passion. It is the nature of this place for bonds to be profound, transcending the trivialities of a more urbane life. It’s a rugged place. A place of rawness and animal strength. Fights are common. Reconciliations are tender and tearful.

It’s the goings that hurt.

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

I would last no time at all here without my good woman, my mate who consoles me when other cherished bonds are broken. I’ve seen tough guys cry in each others’ arms when parting for the last time.

Yeah, it’s that kind of place. Partings here tend to be permanent, despite promises to “keep in touch”. For many, the experiences of two or three years are best left to ferment. The less cherished fades. Only the sweet headiness remains.

The cut needs to be clean.

Blossoms fade, but the yearnings do not. They take on the patina of pressed roses in a diary:I’ve seen those hundred-year-old pressings crumbling between stained pages. Faded and tattered, yet bearing still the faint scent of a beauty that once was.

The approaching and parting. Canoes pass. Greetings are exchanged. Eyebrows flash knowingness:They pass and the moment passes with it.

A gloomy, tepid sunrise greets the next day, empty of promise and full of loss:You learn to tough it out.

So, to any and all of my dear friends of the past:I’ve never blamed anybody for leaving here. It’s a highly impermanent place. I loved you when you were here and I am full of constancy.

Know you are missed.

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3 Responses to “Chance Encounters”

  1. Ali Says:

    It’s Sunday here…….and YES is the answer to your question!
    There’s a touch of Autumn in the air today… boo hoo.
    There has been about 3 years supply of rain in 3 unrelenting weeks here (we have have been in serious drought for over 5 years)
    The result of all the water is relief, but also a serious bout of cabin fever, due to flooding. (not devastating floods, just incarcerating rural floods)
    There has been no skydiving for as many weeks, and that is not good for Daves elemental balance (his feathers are starting to fall out) It’s not good for business either!
    The land is looking so happy again and we are really very grateful for the rain which finally let -up on Friday, and we became excited and ready for a big weekend of fun, but alas, a SE wind, so strong that it threatens to blow us all off the planet is spinning in from a cyclone off Vanuatu. OH those bloody Hectopascals!!!
    At least we can venture outside for a walk, as long as we wear out rubber coated, lead boots…ha ha ha

    Never mind, the weather can’t stay this way forever and in the meantime we live vicariously thru your idilic pictures and stories about beautiful Madang and hope that you had a wonderful dive yesterday.
    YES – We wish were there!

  2. MadDog Says:

    Well, you soon will be here, Ali.

    We have had a very wet rainy season, the soggiest that I’ve seen in the nearly thrity years that I’ve been here. We’ve been diving right through it, though many days have been miserable. The only thing that I know about skydiving is that I loved the one tandem jump that I did in Cairns, but I certainly would want clear skies if I get another try. I know what you mean about the feathers. My gills start to dry out if I don’t dive at least once a week.

    We did have a very nice dive on Saturday. You can read about it today.

  3. Kristy and the Hibiscus | Madang - Ples Bilong Mi Says:

    […] (Sniff, sniff . . .)  I’m repeating myself. I note that I wrote about this song in a very morose post only last March. […]