Monday, June 16, 2014

Bah ba ba, bah ba da ba ba.

Sunday 15th of June

"It is the greatest piece of music created by our species."

That is what I was planning to say if the two Generation Y characters I was travelling with woke up and struggled to understand or accept my choice of driving tunes. 

The road trip had started nearly an hour and a half earlier at 5:35am. Pretty early for a Sunday morning, and impressively close to the planned departure time of 5:30am. Yeah! We headed north out of Canberra on a fresh, rather than freezing June morning. The rain was coming down with diligence, rather than real enthusiasm. The wet highway to Sydney was sparsely populated, and the few cars out there were all keen to enjoy their own piece of it in solitude. 

I knew the boys were likely to slide back to sleep once we were rolling, and when the hoods came up and heads went down around me I settled in for a morning drive with plenty of thinking space in it. Following on from a conversation earlier in the week the thought resurfaced that I should take a luxurious trip through Beethoven's ninth symphony. 

As the beginning stanza warmed to its nearly two hundred year old task, I imagined it simultaneously coaxing the boys off to sleep and accompanying me on my journey. As the kilometres slopped by under the car, the rain slowly relinquished its interest and I slowly increased the volume. By the final movement the outline of hills in the middle distance were coming into view against the steadily lightening sky.

The highway was still nearly empty and the east bound road seemed to be leading us directly into the building sunrise. Our unique country rolled over on its side of the planet, directly towards the warm embrace of the sun that in many ways is central to its definition. 

Daybreak was coming and I was sharing it with a spectacular piece of musical work. The Ode to Joy rollicked around inside the car and the resurgent sun ignited the large bank of low clouds that stretched above the open road. 

The natural and the human shared their brilliance at the same time and I was a joyful witness to the scene. I was happy and grateful to be alive and aware. 

The fire went out in the clouds, the notes fell silent in the car. I rolled into the service station and the young men woke up. "Beethoven was a good choice Mike."

It had been a wonderfully satisfying first half of the road trip. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Bag End Birthday

As my father so tellingly pointed out in a recent birthday card, "even hobbits come of age at 33."

This was telling in that I am now 33 years old, despite the lack of large under hill housing inheritance, it was also telling in that Chris Neild is now just as Entish as always.


"I am honoured by your confidence; but you should not be too free all at once. There are Ents and Ents, you know; or there are Ents and things that look like Ents but ain't, as you might say."

Anyway that is probably enough fantasy for this afternoon. Mum and Dad's card was one of many thoughtful messages of birthday wishes from last week, and I'm very glad to have been the recipient of so much love. Thank you all.

It seems to me that one of the reasons birthdays are significant is that they form a natural point of comparison and marker in life's journey. It can be difficult to compare who I am now, or what life is like currently to who, how and what the story was in the past. We need significant changes to signpost our journey. If you move house, or finish school, these are easy points of reference, phases that can be understood and reflected on, compared.

Without those large events, recurring annual moments provide a natural and effective opportunity to think back, and maybe also think forward. This was certainly true for me this year. My 32nd birthday in May of 2013 was a different time. I was floating around in a loose time and space after a significant life phase, and before any real direction had materialised. I spent last year's event down here in Canberra with a lovely little community and experienced some wonderful, kind support.

It was a strange time, sad and also hopeful. Quite undefined, a space of emptiness that was inevitably going to fill, it was unclear though with what.

A year later I'm still not sure what my space will be filled with, it is however no longer empty. There is plenty going on for me this year and I'm really appreciative of the love and community I've experienced from new connections and old. My 33rd birthday was a happy one, I'm confident it will be followed by a happy year.

Finally, in traditional hobbit form I gave some presents on my birthday. Two lucky hounds were recipients of two pretty large cow bones from the school bone lab I did with some students during the week. It was awesome, enjoy the photos.

Love and thanks,