Paddle out, ceremony of release. Cabarita, Bundjalung country, May 2019.
Once upon a time there was a mythical and magical creature made of salt, hair, metal and fire.
Before he was born he resided in the Ocean, and when he was ready to experience this dimension for himself he chose a warrior for a mother who he deemed worthy to bring him up and love him the way he needed. He chose to become part of strong saltwater family so he could stay close to the Ocean where he belonged.
He was born with a powerful magnet in his heart that attracted people to him throughout his life. He had a dazzling smile and a filthy laugh and eyes that penetrated through masks. He grew himself a delicious manly body that he took great delight in. In his blood, he carried millennia of music, and deep connections to the land and water.
His magnetic heart pulsated with such strength that people couldn’t resist gravitating to him, and they orbited around him as though he was a nucleus or a celestial body. As he grew, and gathered a community of people who wanted to bask in his presence, he wove these people into a vast tapestry around himself, and he moved through life connecting and strengthening its threads, warmed and protected by its density.
Because he was a water spirit before time began, he had natural magical abilities in the water. He was graceful and gracious in the waves. He had huge flippers that he disguised as feet when he walked on land, great feet that stomped and echoed wherever he walked. But in the water they returned to their true form and purpose: propellers that sped him through water at immortal speeds.
He was always tapped into the rhythms of the tides and the winds and the currents. He knew the moon intimately as a friend and sometimes as an enemy, depending on how she showed her face to him.
Whether the ocean crashed and boiled, or whether it relaxed and melted, every morning the sun came up from its watery depths and painted colours on its glassy surface. And every day he watched to see which way the waters would move him, to find the correct way to enter into their sacred relationship.
He was a wizard in the truest sense: where most people use language confined by rules of spelling and grammar, he bent the rules, and used words to cast spells and create grimoires of myth. He spoke in riddles that had levels and layers of meaning, and sometimes made jokes so deep that their messages took days to unravel after he had seeded them in peoples’ minds.
He had rare and refined taste in music across eclectic styles, and he passed this love on to everyone he spoke to. He sought out music ceremonies near and far, where he could unleash the magical powers he carried in his glorious mane of hair. With his fist held aloft, and a precise whip of his neck and dizzying rotation of his hair, he was able to vortate and spin into other dimensions. Everyone who had ever witnessed this agreed that he was the most metal Metal Lord around.
He was also a War Lord; sometimes he battled demons that most of us could never imagine. He made friends with his demons mostly, and he laughed at them often, dismissing their gnashing with a flick of his hand. Other times he waged war on them as they attempted to control him, deep in the battleground of his mind.
It was when he lived in his head too much, warring and battling, that he hard a hard time of it. He called this being trapped in the dungeon – so named after one of his favourite songs. It was only when he was able to shake the dungeon and blow off steam that he came back down out of his head, and expanded into the rest of his body, and especially his heart, that he was able to re-emerge into the fullness of life.
In this way, he ate all of life’s fruits with his bare hands, devouring the delicious and bitter flesh both. He savoured all the sweet and strange array of aromas, enjoyed the fragrant juices that dribbled down his chin. And he wore with pride the moist elixers that stickily stained his hands and naked glistening chest.
He was able to summon immense levels of stoke just by thinking about his joys, which were his people, his surfing and his music. But for all his knowledge he was never selfish with it; he taught others about love for each other, love for the ocean and love for metal. The people who gravitated to him learnt such amazing things that they considered him a hero and a guru, and sought out his opinions on which album to listen or which board to ride.
He held blistering, nuclear levels of love for those he kept close. And when he spoke about his loved ones he mythologised them, turned their triumphs and battles into epic sagas. In this way he transformed his loved ones into a pantheon of gods who he proudly sat beside.
And after he had lived his deep and expansive life, he returned to the Ocean.
His disappearance from the fabric of life left a massive gaping hole, and everyone who loved him dearly were left with their threads frayed and hanging.
His absence would always be felt. Nothing would ever repair the cloth to its former integrity. Especially for someone as big as Kai – not just physically big, but in how huge his heart was.
The only thing his loved ones could do was to reach out and across the place where their beloved Kai used to be. They reached toward each other and wove their hanging threads together across his absence. They tied themselves together with stories, memories and music, reconnected to each other in the vast tapestry he’d woven them into. They knew they would never replace him, but they began to make the cloth strong again, to honour his work.
And to continue his great legacy, they carried his fire onwards and outwards, and headbanged as hard and surfed as passionately and loved as fiercely as he did. They took the things he taught to them and taught them to others too. They particularly learnt to perceive when their loved ones were trapped in their own minds, and shake the dungeon to help them escape.
And through the re-weaving of their broken cloth people held on to each other the way he would have wanted, and so the immensity of Kai’s love was able to transcend even death.
And now he resides in the repository of our collective memory – in our stories and in our hearts – where he radiates as powerfully as ever.
© Mykaela Saunders, 2019