When travelling from place to place I variously use my iPod or mobile phone. On the iPod I listen mostly to podcasts and audiobooks. When I only have the phone with me I will watch TV news, or play a game if on a train. Walking, I will listen to fm radio or my recorded music.
Tonight walking up William Street I was listening to a mix that had favorites from the 60's to recent. As I walked The Hollies singing "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" came on. Every time I hear that piece of music it instantly transports me back to a certain bit of road in North Queensland many years ago. I was hitch hiking, going to the Zen Colony down Sluice Creek Road. The cars were few that day and I had been walking for a few miles. The air was warm and clear, the grass an emerald green, the rainforest rich and dark. The smell of things growing was thick like honey in my nose. It was a long straight strip of bitumen grey and warm that showed the tired cracks of thousands of wheels since it had been laid back in the War. It was a long storyboard stretched out before the dirt road that lay ahead. To my left was a farm that my father used to own. By then he was a thousand miles away, but I could feel my family presence still in things like the fence I once helped fix, the paddock where I dug the ground. A gate that I could then, and still do, remember driving the tractor through, and the old black dog who was on the other side. There were the places I escaped to for a quiet time of thinking, and looking deep into the sky. The places where my imagination could turn a country loneliness into a fantasy land of my choosing. This was land that was in my soul, and a little of my soul was in the land.
I always return to that piece of road when I hear that song. It's not that I could physically hear it at the time, but it was playing in my head. The problem with having near perfect recall for such moments is that it fills the head with so much stuff. It can be hard to get to sleep unless I totally exhaust myself, because there are so many experiences that flood my mind constantly. That day back then was no exception. I only heard that song once before that beautiful day yet I could play it in my head with perfect fidelity, and so as I walked I played the song on my internal MP3 player, and liked it so much I played it a second time. By playing it twice I burned it into the brain so much that I often rewalk that mile or two of road from that idyllic morning so long ago.
This evening, as the cars of William Street whizzed past me they became cows in the field, the cold of winter drizzle became tropical warmth and the buildings became dark green rainforested mountains, and along that country mile as I walked, The Hollies started to sing... again.