I can’t remember the name of the film. I thought it was ‘Life Climb’ or ‘Natural High’ but perhaps the brain cells just ain’t what they used to be. About forty years ago I was teaching at a Secondary School in Brisbane. Regularly I would get films out from the Education Department to show my students. One told the story of an American businessman who had had a heart attack. After the heart attack he decided to change his life style and he began mountain climbing. The film follows his ascent of the Matterhorn in Switzerland.
Last week I was pretty tired from a couple of weeks of travel and heavy facilitation. I am currently ‘home alone’ as the other two Brothers are away. I returned from Sydney on Friday night, got out some ham bones, split peas, carrot, crushed garlic and onion and while I watched The Voice cooked myself a batch of pea and ham soup. Saturday night found myself sitting quietly enjoying the fruits of my Friday night labour. So at about 9 pm to get some fresh air and stretch my weary limbs I set out on one of my regular walks. I parked near the Hamilton Hotel and began walking towards New Farm along the edge of the River. It was a beautiful night.
Just as I got near the Breakfast Creek Hotel I noticed four young men sitting outside the hotel vaping. I walked on by. About four hundred meters further on I came around a corner beside the River and there was a young man and a young woman with a small sound system – dancing on a landing overlooking that reach of the Brisbane River. It was so intimate and beautiful and their free abandon said to myself and anyone else who happened by, “We don’t care who is watching – we’re having fun!” It certainly wasn’t a waltz – but some sort of South American dance.
Some five hundred meters later I reached my turnaround point. Back I came – my young friends still oblivious to all and sundry, dancing their night away. When I rounded the corner near the Breakfast Creek Hotel things had changed. One of the young men was now being quite ill into a garden. I put my head down to walk on by until I heard, “Pricey!” The other three young men had recognised me from some talk I had given at their school and now claimed me. So, I stopped, made sure their friend was OK and then after inquiring about whether they were working or studying continued on my merry way.
One of my first ever blogs several years ago now (you can search the archive on the web-site ‘Encounter the Heart’) was all about five second choices.
Dancing the night away by a Riverbank or vaping your lungs into oblivion?
Rising before dawn, waxing your board, and surfing gold tinted windless waves or waking up oblivious to the events of the night before?
Tending a loved one with the onset of Alzheimer’s or watching another soap opera?
That last stretch to the summit of a mountain and then the vista or another computer screen of mindless manipulation?
Coffee with a friend, the recall of good times and not so good, but together or alone at the bar with only a Billy Joel song for company?
The peek and boo game with a child or the “I’m too busy” mantra
The dog taking you for a walk in the morning freshness or the stock market report
The book that inspires or the habit that binds
The music that shuts your eyes and takes you to places of silence or the empty noise of canned ‘music’
Weeding the vege patch, your hands in the soil or sterile living away from adventure
The sideline cheer and bucket of cut oranges or the selfish cave of “I am an island”
The edge of the seat with the Matildas or the endless mountain of emails
The glass of wine savoured or the plastic one-minute meal
The kitchen mess creating the gastronomic masterpiece or the rushed drive through takeaway
The road less travelled by or the monotony of the same after the same after the same
The risky challenge or the compromise of values
The snuggle up next to a loved one or the emptiness of the one-night stand
The awe of a sunrise or sunset or the grey of confining walls
The quiet mewing of a baby content and warm or the thoughtless manipulation of a ‘shock-jock’
The early morning row or ironing the ‘if only’ t-shirt
The gym session that leaves your exhausted but proud or the litany of excuses
The quiet sit with your God’s arms wrapped around you or layers upon layers of ego I do this alone
The journey of truth or the falsehood of lies
The alone voice you are proud of or the bleat of the herd
Trusting your own inner voice or giving over your power
The cycle with the wind in your face or life only ever half lived
The rough sea with spray in your face or the boat always tied up to the quay
The forest walk amid the cathedral of nature or the plastic pews of gadgets
Dancing in the moonlight by a River Bank or Vaping your lungs into oblivion? It is the five second choices of life that define you, create your adventure and gift you with freedom or a prison with a different set of bars.