Recollections of the strangeness of life
Russ Grayson recalls an aerial mini-adventure of several decades ago.
TRAINING WAS MINIMAL, just brief instruction beside the strip on how to exit the aircraft with a couple practice exits while still on the ground. Then some serious sounding instruction on deploying the reserve chute – just in case – and a little practice at a parachute landing roll. Then it was “let’s go” as three of us climbed into the seatless space behind the pilot of the Cessna 182.
JUST A BED, a wardrobe, desk and chair and my portable record player. It was a pleasingly simple arrangement there in that attic with its sloping upper walls that followed the shape of the roof. There, I would spend time sitting at the desk just looking out over rooftop and hill, not focusing on anything in particular but letting my eyes wander over the folds of the city. Sitting in something of a free-flowing mental state, I again experience that sense of calmness that I had earlier known when looking into the distance from some high vantage point.
A CHILD’s LIFE IN BRISBANE towards the end of the 1950s was prescribed by the particular urban geography its family inhabited. That was usually limited to the route taken to and from primary school and by the social relationships the parents had. Friends in those days were local because there simply wasn’t the mobility that children today enjoy. Life was lived in a territory defined by the immediate neighbourhood and the route taken to school, with occasion forays into the city.
It’s a morning ritual. Pick up the surfboard not long after sunrise has paled the eastern sky and descend through the rainforest to the small beach below. It’s a good day if the Pacific’s swells are pumping and it’s a good day when the swell is only small. For many who live in this fortunate part of the country, every day is a good day, or should be.
IN THE BRIGHT LIGHT of an early afternoon in the summer of 1970 I stood atop that long flight of stone stairs that connects the valley of Woolloomooloo to the ridge of Victoria Street. There I stopped and looked out onto a city that then seemed full of skyscrapers.
HOW DO YOU ACCOUNT for the different way that life turns out for people, even when they share much in common?