In this place where I’m staying, where op shops have shelves devoted to New Age books, the cafés boast vegan menus and you can nip in for a palm and tarot card reading as easily as you can a haircut, I’ve got to know several people who subscribe to the idea that the universe will provide you with what you ask for.
I met Mikka WWOOFing at the yoga retreat. He told me that he’d travelled for two and a half years in Asia without spending any money. I asked how he did it and he said sometimes he slept outdoors and sometimes people offered him a bed for the night. He was just as happy sleeping under a tree as he was in a five star hotel.
I don’t see myself happily bedding down for the night on a park bench, but I could carry on doing what I’m doing now, working on someone’s property in exchange for a room and board, for a long long time. This is not, however, an infinitely sustainable lifestyle. As well as having to pay for transport costs to get from one location to another, there are certain luxuries that I can’t live without, like coffee and cake in a nice café from time to time.
Mikka said that the trick is to say, yes, I’d really like a coffee but I’m only to have one if the universe provides it for me. Then, when that coffee comes your way, it’s the best coffee you’ve ever tasted. I can’t help but wonder how often the universe does provide you with coffee and would I be able to wait that long for it?
Since I’ve been here I’ve seen two examples of the universe providing. A couple of weeks ago, Ostii was making ice-cream with his Champion Juicer. The juicer was broken and unless you held it in a certain way, part of it would spin round when it wasn’t supposed to. Half way through, Ostii must have let go of the spinning part and it smashed the glass collecting bowl. He flipped out, of course, because it’s very frustrating to lose a bowl of ice-cream after you’ve spent a long time carefully feeding frozen fruit through a juicer while holding an errant mechanical part in position. Only a few hours later, we saw a Champion Juicer in a garage sale for $40. Those things normally cost a couple hundred dollars second hand.
Last week Ostii remarked to a friend that he wished he had some more hardwood for the work he is doing on his house. He’s really into sustainable building and is renovating using reclaimed materials as far as possible. This means he can’t just drive down to the hardware store for an oak beam every time he needs one. The friend advised him to be patient and the universe would provide him with hardwood.
Sure enough, a few days later Ostii got a tip off about a building site where there were piles of used timber that were going to be taken to the dump. Mikka and I went with him to load as much as we could into a trailer.
I don’t believe that the universe is some kind of ancient, wish-granting superpower, but all the same, I became quite enthusiastic about the idea of asking it for stuff. I made a list of things I want over the next few months: a room and a job in Melbourne, a group of nice people with a car that I can travel with.
Just having a clear idea about what I want has made me be more proactive about getting it. I guess this is how the universe provides. It’s not magic at all. Ostii might not even have noticed the $40 Champion Juicer if his hadn’t smashed a bowl that morning. He only got the tip off about the timber because he mentioned to a builder friend of his that he needed some. Knowing what you want means you are more likely to look out for it.
A few days ago we were unloading the reclaimed timber from the trailer when Ostii cut his leg on a bit of corrugated metal that was nailed on to one of the wooden beams. I wish that I could say it was lucky I was there to help; I am a trained first aider, after all. But unfortunately the sight of blood makes me feel faint and I had to sit in the next room with my head between my knees while Ostii cleaned himself up. The wound needed five stitches in the end.
It’s not that I believe that the universe is some kind of ancient superpower, but for me this whole incident has somewhat taken the shine off the idea of asking it for stuff.