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Melbourne Perfection (1)


Melbourne, Australia, June 2016:
I am here to teach a two-day workshop on mindfulness applications for worry, dysthymia, substance use, anger management, etc (through TATRA). I get set up: PowerPoint slides – check, mic – check, a glass of water – check, coffee – check… The conference room of the Darebin Arts & Entertainment Center slowly fills up with local psychologists and mental health clinicians. With fifteen minutes to kill, I step outside to check the grounds. The venue sits on a beautifully landscaped park that commemorates the Lebanese immigrants to Melbourne.
With a cup of coffee in hand I start out on a winding path through the park and I stop: ahead of me – to be more precise, under my feet – worms. It had rained and these silly little bastards crawled out from cracks in the pavement. I know the horror that awaits them – in an hour or two, as the Australian sun takes off the invisible runway in the sky, these worms will turn into bacon, fried alive. They somehow know it – they are hustling away from the pavement, towards grass. I hear the swooshing sound of bike tire on wet asphalt and I step aside – a kid on a bike plows through, oblivious to the tragedy down below.
I flashback to a similar moment in my childhood: the Arbat neighborhood of Moscow, I come out for a bike ride – meaning well, meaning no harm – and yet becoming an unwitting instrument of Darwinian selection as the tires of my own bike turn the asphalt below into a chopping board – as I plow through earthworms.
My mind returns back to its objective moment of now – the one in Melbourne, not in Moscow. I put the coffee cup down on the sidewalk and bend down to look for a tool of rescue – for a twig. I find a suitable enough piece of wood – pliable, gentle, gnarly enough to hook up a worm without doing damage to it (him? her?). To my right I see a tall guy come outside – a guy I just saw a few minutes ago in the conference room of my workshop. I turn to him and say: “I have a job for you.” He looks puzzled but open-minded. I hand him a twig and explain the tragedy of survival that both of us are in a position to witness. Still puzzled and still open-minded, he says “Sure” and puts down his cup of coffee on the sidewalk. And we both go to work – scooping up these silly little writhing bastards from the frying pan of the sidewalk, from the killing fields of pedestrian traffic.
His name is John. He is a handsome fellow, a kind of Crocodile Dundee with a touch of Bohemian intelligentsia in his looks and manners. But humble as hell and self-disclosing. Tells me that psychology is his second career. Tells me that he just succumbed to his kids’ plea to get a pet hamster and he has been suffering ever since as he watches the pet hamster “incarcerated” in a cage, as kids, of course, quickly lose interest in this little pet project.
John is a fellow sufferer – a perfect helper in this strange project of street-side salvation.
I tell John about my crazy notion of “neural tribe” – “a neuron is a neuron is a neuron… there is no difference between my neurons and your neurons, John, and the neurons inside these worms… we are neural diasporas – one of a kind – scattered amidst infinite body-forms, life-forms… body is but a house on legs… an RV – a recreational vehicle… neurons – the info-processing charioteers… all the same…”
He gets it. “Intriguing,” he says.
But time is running out – we can’t save them all, we go back in, to talk about mindfulness, to talk about the possibility of radical transformation – from fear and anger to compassion.
The alchemy of awareness…
The ordinary perfection of life recognizing the validity of life..
Just life on Earth, you know, amongst us fellow earthworms…
Melbourne Perfection (1)

Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.

Pavel Somov, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice and the author of 7 mindfulness-based self-help books. Several of his books have been translated into Chinese, Dutch & Portuguese. Somov is on the Advisory Board for the Mindfulness Project (London, UK). Somov has conducted numerous workshops on mindfulness-related topics and appeared on a number of radio programs. Somov's book website is and his practice website is

Marla Somova, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Pittsburgh, PA. She is the co-author of "Smoke Free Smoke Break" (2011).

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APA Reference
Somov, P. (2016). Melbourne Perfection (1). Psych Central. Retrieved on June 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Jul 2016
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