Earlier this year, on a very cold and breezy morning inside the Arctic Circle, I was standing on the snow covered bow deck of a cruise ship.
At 2 a.m. a call to my cabin had prompted me to dress in many warm layers of clothing and summoned me to this position overlooking the front of the boat. Under normal circumstances this message would probably have resulted in a certain degree of blind panic, but this was no dire emergency and we weren’t being required to don our life jackets and ‘Abandon Ship’ just yet.
So here I was at this ridiculous hour, waiting patiently, hardly able to move in the apparel cocoon I’d built around myself, my warm breath a white mist and my toes starting to tingle.
But I’m happy, expectant and excited. (see a man can multitask)
Hopefully I’m about to witness a spectacle, the main motivation for coming on this particular trip, the incredible and extremely illusive Northern Lights.
Understandably I’m not alone. The ship’s entertainment host has been keeping the entire company informed as to the possible occurrence and quality of the long awaited event. The signs are good and there is a palpable air of expectation among the waiting mass of well insulated, sleep deprived and in some cases (me) slightly inebriated passengers and crew.
Suddenly a distinctive mass of green light traces across the sky. It crinkles and tumbles like loose ribbons as it tracks along its pathway, then another a little brighter, and another.
I have worked in the theatre for many years but this was a light show to rival the best of the best, and as this audience marvelled at the amazing display the only thought in my head was stunning, truly stunning.
Then, totally unexpectedly, another phenomenon illuminates the assembled congregation.
The glow from several hundred camera screens suddenly cuts through the darkness to light up the entire area. With flashes going off in all directions and devices held high in an attempt to capture the unfolding atmospheric acrobatics the whole mood of the occasion changes.
Those with better equipment trying to take time-lapse images start shouting their frustrated abuse. Others, annoyed because their clear view has been ruined by so much light pollution, begin to tut and mutter. In the tightly assembled crowd tempers start to fray.
And I get to thinking……..
Today’s technology is all about allowing us all to have access to anything at anytime, information, communication and entertainment, but most importantly memory.
We require our devices to contain masses of storage space to ensure we can record and recall anything we need, but it has progressed from helping us to keep track of telephone numbers, addresses and diary type information to something more worrying in my very humble and obviously out-dated opinion.
The people around me on this evening seemed to be spending their time desperately trying to capture images showing the significant activity that was occurring, more time in fact than actually just watching and enjoying this ‘once in a lifetime moment’.
I wonder if we dilute an experience by our methodical efforts to confine any given remarkable spectacle to a record of a few million pixels, which will probably only get confined to the back of a drawer anyway.
With this kind of behaviour will we really be able to say that we’ve collected memories to last a lifetime……………or merely until the battery dies??
The eyes that I look through
Have seen so much
From the unmatchable beauty of each season
To the heartless acts of destructive man
These are the same eyes that saw
My first day at school
All those years ago, crying when left alone
Eyes blurred and reddened, confused
At twenty one they looked down the aisle
Toward the one
Whose eyes had caught my eye, captivated
To want to see her always
Clearer than a photo put away in a drawer
To be forgotten
My eyes hold the memory of seeing my children
Enter this world, and my mother leave
And as they focus they reveal what’s important
Everything they show
Affects the way I feel, and I shut my eyes tight
To see everything clearly again
I hope to die a young man’s death.
Still in my prime and feeling fine,
Not weak and over toiled.
Just quick and clean, not in between
White sheets, confused and soiled.
I hope to die a brave man’s death.
A hero me with city key,
Admired for selfless part.
Senility, please not for me,
That’s no way to depart.
I hope to keep my youthful looks.
My manhood straight, still working great,
Not limp and shrivelled bits.
Big ears, big nose, I don’t want those,
Nor skin that barely fits.
I want the right to choose my fate.
Don’t want a fuss, hop on that bus,
Depart for place unknown.
Heaven? Hell? It’s hard to tell,
As long as it’s like home.
I know I really ask too much.
And have no say at end of day
The way my life is shoved.
But I’ll stand tall and face it all,
Because I know I’m loved.
“There is only so much we can carry through life, and if we insist on clinging to too much of the past it might restrict us from collecting the very best of the presents…..”
Why can’t women fart like men?
It really isn’t fair,
To not announce to those around
There’s methane in the air.
A man will trump with dignity,
His head held high with pride.
Embarrassed not by loud retort
To be identified.
Now fuss-less knack the ladies have
Techniques that never fail,
With covert wind that barely moves
A mark on Beaufort scale.
But lack of sound just covers up
Foul breath released, and if
The lady be a beauty
More odorous the whiff.
They’ll pass it off and blame the dog,
Or point toward their man.
He’s had a chicken balti,
Several pints and keema nan.
But let’s just look at facts here,
From Queen to bears in wood,
To save us all exploding
Venting gas is good.
So come on girls, when passing wind
Allow your light to shine,
Give a hearty farty thrump,
And holler, “That one’s mine.”
On the way back from a recent trip to Italy I find myself sitting next to a man-mountain in the economy section of a well known airline company. The person sitting directly behind me has been constantly kicking the back of my seat throughout the journey so far, and now with two hours still to go before we reach Gatwick, the person in front decides they want to get their seat to recline well beyond its normal limits. They bounce it back so hard my free glass of warm water explodes into a million droplets, soaking everything I’m wearing. I can’t stand up to dry off because Houdini himself couldn’t escape from the microscopic amount of space I now have left around me, so I just have to grin and bear it.
I’m not a great lover of long journeys at the best of times, so with wet trousers and the added prospect of having a three to four hour drive after we’ve landed, I was wishing all this nonsense would pass quickly, I just couldn’t wait to get back home.
And I get to thinking………………………
Isn’t it strange that we all wish time away?
In our early years we were so desperate for certain things to happen that we would beg the hours and days to pass quickly. We lived for school holidays, birthdays and Christmas and nearly everything we said began with,
“I just can’t wait to be…………..” (Good idea for a song there I think)
But then that was a time when we had time, and plenty of it so we thought.
In our middle age we are still impatient…….to get home from work…..to go on holiday (without the kids)…….for things to get better, etc, etc.
But again, rarely do we consider time at this age except for the occasional,
“Doesn’t time fly………………..”
Recently a friend of mine was telling me how he can’t wait to retire, and when he does he claimed he would enjoy having so much more time to do the things he loves doing. The trouble is that when he finally leaves work then he’ll have to contend with the knowledge that another phase of his life has gone, never to return, and that in fact he actually has much less time to do the things he likes doing.
If we were to think about it then we’d probably discover that over the years we have spent most of our time waiting for another, hopefully more enjoyable time, a bit like my friend.
And while we muse, time marches on, it never stops, never rests and never sleeps. Sixty paces per minute 24/7 and by the time I’ve finished writing this, a passage of time will have elapsed never to return.
So I think it’s time to call time as it’s now time for me to head off to bed. In time I may actually learn the value of time but I will never have enough time to do everything I have planned because time will run out.
Why is it that time marches on but in the end it always runs out?
With knowledge obtained through age I would suggest we should never wish for the future to hurry up, but rather wait for it patiently instead. After all it’s guaranteed to arrive, and depart, a lot quicker than any of us will ever expect.