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.