A life’s journey. Destination unknown.

November 4, 2013

“You’re either on the bus or off the bus.”

In January 1993 when I was 46; when most people are settled into a comfortable life of urban living with spouse, children and established career, I attempted to drive my newly purchased 1959 Bedford bus onto my 100 acre block of land at Roaring Beach — but didn’t make it. Rather, it got stuck in the mud of the recently bulldozed two kilometer long driveway.

A portent of things to come? Who was I to know, but the word Peace on the front of the bus gave a hint at the direction my life and art practice would take.

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I parked the bus in what I thought was a secluded area beneath some trees, but within a day some local surfers came for a visit and politely, yet firmly, said “We can see the bus from the water.”

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Not wanting to be seen as the typical, “individual’s rights” American who stubbornly feels he can do as he pleases with his property, I purchased two shades of green and gave the bus a nice camouflage. It worked. A win/win for all, and, for the next eight years the bus was my home.

Thus began my slow dissolve into becoming feral.

Candles were all I had to read by for the first four years. No phone or TV or radio; not even running water or a basic moon-on-the-door outhouse. Later years saw me move into a bigger home with all the fixings, yet the Peace Bus has remained a symbol of the time when I searched for a deeper, more sacred meaning to life and how I might, with what skills I possessed, start to make a difference to the planet even if small.

Wind, rain, sun and salt laden air have taken its toll. With peeling paint and rusting metal, the body of the bus was definitely showing the ravages of time. Last week I put on a fresh coat of paint.

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But before any of the external paint went on, the whole of the inside over a period of several months was refurbished and repainted with the help of neighbour Steve Watson. At first, a new door, two new windows and a roof over the deck were installed.

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Following this, a new fridge, new stove, new dining table with suede upholstery, new front day bed, new queen mattress for the rear bed, three new interior colours on the ceiling and walls and all remaining wood re-sanded and varnished.

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It’s more than just having projects to keep myself busy. As much as I enjoy the making of a space, there is also an inner calling to create something of beautiful usage; a place where other people can come and work on their work in comfort and beauty in nurturing surrounds. This week artist Aviva Reed flies in from Melbourne to continue working on the panels for the Gaia Walk. In the years ahead, other artists/writers/musicians will enjoy camping here.

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Ever since I drove the Peace Bus onto the land, I’ve been following a thread I don’t always understand. Along with moments of pure joy, there are equally moments of, not so much of despair at my situation, but that I have done nearly all of this alone without a partner. This twangs the heart, for sure.

My fidelity to following the thread continues, however, as it has for most of my life. Have I ever understood the reasoning behind my motives to build what I have been building at Windgrove over the past 21 years. Or, even coming and staying in Tasmania for 29 years? Not really.

I don’t so much live the dream as try to live the life given me.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

John Caddy November 4, 2013 at 11:19 pm

You do a magnificent job of following your thread, Peter.
I barely recognized the new greening of the bus.
Bravo!

Penny Smith November 4, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Has it really been that long ago? I can remember well when you first stayed and we could never keep enough Weetbix in the house! You’ve stayed the course my friend and achieved more than most of us. xx

Heidi November 4, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Thanks for sharing Peter – heart felt and funny too. Do any of us know really where we are going? Or do we just hope that we have the driving skills to either A) keep out of life’s thick muddy obstacles or B) appreciate the obstacles as a lesson on the path as you do x

Jennifer Parks November 4, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Your renovated bus is a symbol of your life’s journey, slowly but surely changing.

Rachael November 4, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Your last statement is very stirring – inspiring.
The peace bus is looking very beautiful indeed.

Deborah November 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Loved the sentiments in these words………….what is the voice that calls from long down the pathway…a voice out of sight ..but a call, a voice that cannot be ignored……find myself wondering at times…………but the walk is joyful the more I answer the call.

Aaron November 4, 2013 at 11:41 am

Amazing you can even make an old bus a work of art, ‘keep on truckin’ Uncle Pete!

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