It’s been a funny week for me. I’ve been sick. Not terribly unwell but it’s been enough to throw me off my axis. Illness will always do that I’ve found. It takes just enough from me that even if I do manage to complete my usual tasks they become a struggle. There’s a part of (healthy) me that romanticises being sick, that builds it up as a perfect excuse to do nothing and just luxuriate in a state of laziness. What healthy me really wants is a day off work. Unfortunately being sick is work, at least for your immune system, with the added bonus of feeling crap. The romance I build up while healthy quickly evaporates when I start tasting sour mucus at the back of my throat and become weighed down with a lethargy that makes my head feel like it’s full of cotton wool and my body want to lie down on everything. It took a full week but I’m now starting to feel normal again. The cotton wool has dissipated and now I only want to lie down on a few, more specific, things; and for that I am grateful.
With my health on the improve I once more rode to work this morning. My ride is mostly a nice one, full of greenery and solitude. As I leave quite early in the morning I usually get to see the birds doing their early morning thing of getting worms and singing songs, as well as snails who slowly cross my path leaving a slimy trail behind them, and rabbits who bound away from my spinning wheels while I call out good morning to them (as I have a pet rabbit at home I feel they warrant a greeting).
Towards the end of my twenty kilometer ride I head through a school district and so am often joined on my path by parents walking their kids to school. When people are on the path ahead of me I always feel a slight sense of trepidation. This is caused by the fact that I know with an almost certainty that I’m about to cause these people a shock. With surprising regularity pedestrians are either walking side by side, in the middle of the path, or weaving back and forth across the path thanks to the presence of their phone in their hands. So, I ring my bell. Just once. A loud confident ‘DING!’. This is where the shock comes in. It’s not that I try to sneak up on them but usually the people in front of me are unaware of my increasingly encroaching presence and so when they suddenly hear a ‘DING!’ come from a looming figure on a bike behind them they instinctively startle.
I don’t love that my presence routinely startles people but what I do love is the reaction from the parents. When they hear that ‘DING!’ the first thing they do is put an arm around their child. Every time. I could confidently place bets on it, and I’m not a betting man. That unconscious act makes me smile. Granted they’re trying to protect their child from me, but the fact that their first instinct is to protect their kid is so sweet that I don’t even mind. I always cry out a thank you to them as I cycle past, both for moving out of my way and for making me think maybe people aren’t so bad after all.
Sadder news from my world is that on Sunday morning I found my budgie (pictured above) dead on the bottom of his cage. He was around six years old and hadn’t shown any signs of sickness so it’s a bit of mystery what caused it, other than perhaps simply natural causes. His name was Sherlock, a name which was well suited to him as his temperament was not precisely friendly, but he will be missed. We are a house in mourning.
The last thing I’ll share with you all is a poem my Dad wrote. He shared this poem (from his home in Traralgon) with me (in Melbourne) and Brother Jonathan (in London) through the magic of our individual smart phones, internet connections, and viber apps; because that’s something you can do when you live in the future. Quite appropriately the poem is on writing.
giving form and clarity to
forged/trapped deep inside
hoping for the banks to burst
to be free
And now they are.