Hello and welcome to this bit! You will need: nothing. Not a thing. Zilch. Leave it all behind. This bit is an obligation free bit. No shipping fees. No “administration costs”. You won’t get a parking fine or a late fee. You don’t need to bring a present or a plate. You don’t even need to get public transport. Just step into this bit. Stand here. Take a moment. Have a think. Nobody else will bother you. It’s just you, hanging off the edge of the world, having a bit of a think. Want some things to think about? Don’t worry. It’s not a BYO situation, not unless you want. We have a long list. So here are some things to think about in this bit. This is a Public Service Announcement.
Think of the smell of brand new knitwear.
Think about the feeling of having a much-needed shower. Everything thick and heavy falling away, just a little bit, with the water.
Think of the first belting wave coming at you in the surf. Ducking under. The silence. Emerging with a roar.
Think about the person you most like to visit. Think about their teapot. Their towels. The hand-cream in their bathroom. Think of how their sheets smell. Think of how different it is from every other place on earth and how generous it is to show another person all of that and how that person is you.
Think of magnolia trees and hundreds-and-thousands and the fact that they are called hundreds-and-thousands and also bicycles and the colour turquoise.
Think of the sound of an ice cream truck late on a summer afternoon.
Think about sparklers. Who invented sparklers? Fire you can hold in your hand! Fire that explodes in beautiful sparks right into the faces of small children who have never seen anything like it before and who are up well past their bedtime. Fire that costs a dollar for a packet of twelve and can make you the most fun auntie or uncle on planet earth.
Think about how you could have a line in someone else’s life. You could be the first person who is nice to someone all day. You could be the person who helps someone get to the person they love. “Oh yes”, you might say, “The airport is that way” and maybe, just maybe, that person will change directions and gets to the airport just in time. I know a man whose family came to Australia with brand new Australian visas a few decades ago. They approached the official at the airport. He took their passports, stamped them, then leaned forward and said “welcome home”. That guy got his line right. Try and get your lines right. You never know what impact they might have.
Think about music. How did music even happen? People experimenting with banging and sawing away at things and now look: there are music shops and concerts and musicals and rock stars and people teaching other people how to play and sing right across the world. Without the innate human desire to feel music soaring through our nervous systems, none of it would exist.
Think about the way people communicate when they can’t speak the same language. The mimes they do. The gestures. It is surprising how quickly humans can find ways to understand each other.
Think of a bird coming in to land on water. Imagine that lovely draggy-feet thing they sometimes do that stretches a huge V-shape out across the surface of the water.
Imagine the feeling of doing something you can no longer do. A dive off the big kids’ board. A handstand. A cartwheel. Rolling down a hill without stopping. Getting a dink on a bike.
Think of the feeling of rolling over from a sleep-in and having nowhere to be. The light coming in from somewhere and outside the sounds of Saturday.
Think of the singular sensation of going for a walk and stumbling upon an animal you didn’t expect to see. The shock of the moment of discovery. The animal watching you. You watching it. Nobody else to tell. Don’t want to move to photograph it. But somewhere nearby a branch snaps and it hurtles off and you’re standing, the reverence falling away into something approaching foolishness. “I saw a wallaby” never quite captures the magic.
Think of these things and other things or no things at all. Feel free to stay in this bit for as long as you like. This has been a Public Service Announcement.
This column first appeared in The Big Issue. Buy The Big Issue when you can - now you can even do t with a card instead of cash.