How to be alone

How I unexpectedly found myself through the act of walking, which led to the creation of a small book, WALK.

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Image by Darby Hudson from the book, WALK

I had two strange thoughts arrive years apart…

The first in my early 20’s while travelling alone overseas.  

I began to feel the desolate and vast emptiness of loneliness while trudging the alien streets of London. 

An isolating wind gusting through a hole in my heart.

Then something odd and marvellous happened: the familiar feel and sway of my walk began to keep me strange company. 

It took me by surprise —  that somehow, in some way,

I was with me

My walk kept me company. 

In this fugue state, I was unconsciously tapping the familiarity of myself; the signature of my movement; the feel of my spirit

It was as though there were another me watching over me (and had always been watching over me). I just hadn’t realised until now. 

This felt impossible and lovely and magic. 

My heart was going to be ok.

Excerpt from WALK

The second thought arrived years later in my early 30’s when I saw a figure in the distance walking towards me.

I immediately recognised the silhouette’s gait: it was my mum.

A moving fingerprint; the way she walked was her walk.

Her DNA in motion.

Excerpt from WALK

Five years later, in a strange moment of clarity, these two long-forgotten thoughts walked into my head at once. 

And they struck me as profoundly related. 

So I wrote a bridge from one idea to the other; created rough illustrations for the words; and there it was, WALK, fully-formed. 

Sometimes I stumble to clarify my thoughts, but this felt as though it had floated from the sky without my fingerprints over it – and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

WALK was initially available as a self-produced, stapled and photocopied book (a Zine) at Sticky Institute (Melbourne’s Zine store underneath Flinders Street station), and Dotspace Gallery in Northcote. Each newly stocked edition evolved with better crafted illustrations, more nuanced layouts, and even an abstract painting I made when I was 6 that fitted perfectly, (as if it had been waiting patiently for 30 odd years). My little publication brimmed with ideas and images I had collected over years, all nesting into the same space at the same time.

WALK started to gain a small following and I received emails from strangers.

One that stuck was from a gentleman who wrote a heartfelt letter telling me how WALK had evoked lovely memories of his dead
father. He told me the beautiful story of how he’d kept his father’s old shoes: the worn heels reminding him of his unique walk. The shoes provided a magical connection to his father; to a world beyond here. They contained the blueprint to the way his dad once moved through life. 

He told me how he looked forward to one day sharing WALK with his very young son.

Strangers wrote to me to tell me WALK had made them cry, that it had awoken something within them long forgotten. This blew me away. Another stranger told me they had bought all my WALK Zines from Sticky Institute to distribute to their friends. This little photocopied and stapled booklet of personal thoughts was turning strangers into friends. 

Again, my heart was going to be ok.

This was also about the time that two of my creative heroes from Australia, Adam Elliot (Oscar winner for Harvie Krumpet) and Bradley Trevor Greive AM (New York Times Bestseller for The Blue Day Book) offered their support for WALK. They both wrote a foreword and a blurb for it while still an embryonic and underground wad of stapled paper.

But now WALK goes overground. 

It sort of leaves me as it moves from the whimsically personal and independent world of Zine making, to its new life as a Giftbook. Now it exists as a hardcover, stitched and bound object on the shelves of commercial bookstores like Dymocks (and some of my favourite independent book stores, such as Readings in Melbourne and Gleebooks in Sydney).

WALK’s been on a big journey already, and it continues to plod along…

Excerpts from WALK

WALK is available at Readings bookstores

Follow WALK’s Facebook page

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