Thursday, May 21, 2009

Maybe the best years of our life are in the here and now.

I was a lucky person to have four grandparents until I was nearly 17 years old, not too many kids can say that. My sons were five and four years old and my oldest daughter only six weeks when their mother’s father died suddenly aged only 56. My youngest daughter knew only three of hers.

If I could instantaneously travel 51 light years from earth and gaze at those light captured memories of me to a place where I could catch up with my birth. And if I then began to travel back through those light shows and gaze as my life passed me by I wonder if those first 16 odd years of my life would pass by more quickly than they seem to have done in my memories. Because it is an odd quirk that time accelerates as we age, a year as a five year old or 20% of a lifetime then is equivalent in percentage terms to 20 years as a 50 year old. No wonder Christmas and birthdays come around so quickly these days.

And in that travel we could meet again those we cared about and maybe this time thank them for what they did for us. Maybe with the wisdom of age we would better recognize some of those seminal moments that lead our feet, and maybe our fate, in a particular direction. We couldn’t change it but maybe in the retelling we could understand a little better why we are who we are. Perhaps that understanding could see us change our direction again.

But I somehow think that the path of life is probably best taken when the direction ahead is shrouded in fog or maybe obscured just over the brow of the next hill, where the horizon is just a little beyond our sight and the knowledge of what lies beyond remains something we can anticipate with excitement and look forward to the passion which may come from around the next bend. And let it be with eager feet that we face whatever the future may bring and let tomorrow be the gift that constantly delights us.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Uluru and Kata Tjuta Panoramas

A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to visit Uluru and Kata Tjuta in Central Australia.  I took a lot of photos as usual and most I am still fiddling with.   Below though are three panorama shots which I had printed off to 1 meter long shots for framing.  I'm pretty happy with them.

Here's a bit of technical stuff for those who may be interested.   I use a Canon 30D and these photos were taken with a Tamron 18-250 zoom lens.  Each photo consists of around 8-12 separate images stitched together in Photoshop Elements.  I had to remove a few spots in the sky caused by some dust on the sensor and made some minor adjustments in the levels but other than that what you see is how it looked to me on the day.  The shots have been resized for web display.  You can click on the image to open a larger view.

 Uluru Sunrise
Valley of the Winds - Kata Tjuta
Kata Tjuta Sunset

Thursday, May 7, 2009

School Daze

I have been contacted by a couple of people from school in the past few days.  They weren't looking for me, but hoping to make contact with others who we shared time with some decades ago now.  I've spent a lot of time reflecting on childhood and the wonder years in this blog and I think that may well be a symptom of midlife episodes.

I do remember both these people but I cannot remember ever having spoken to them.  One is a girl and I was as shy a school boy as anyone would ever come across so it's not surprising we never had a conversation during school days - apart from being shy I wasn't a "jock" and being bookish I tended to shrink a bit into the background, which was probably exacerbated by the fact that some of my mates alwyas did well with the girls, if you know what I mean.

So for these two people I think I was basically one of those forgettable people, someone whose name you may remember, but whose face was never one that was going to leave a lasting memory, or be easy to recall when the name was mentioned.

There are some things I remember from Burwood High School that seem seared into my brain and will be there forever.  But there are far many more things that seem shrouded in fog and have continued to fade, not unlike the photograph here of the front gate of the school.   The contrast is going, fading to grey, the corridors and class rooms hinted at behind the walls of the building have also remained for the most part hidden from the view of my memories.   The six years spent wandering the quadrangles and learning the things that still echo in the man writing here today, are lost somewhere and may never be recovered. 

I could make things up about those days.   Talk about the clarity and the teachers who changed my life, or the lifetime mates who I still see.  But the truth is that whilst some teachers made a mark, there was no Mr Chips or John Keating in my life.  Not their fault either.

When I look back I realise that I was an observer rather than a participator and I regret that, as I regret that even in the observation I failed to record the things that mattered.  If I had, I may now be able to recall those days with greater clarity.  There's a photo of me here in the Junior Boys Basketball team and I feel I made that team by default too.  I could jump, but not dribble, I later learnt to shoot, but back then, I tended to be one of the kids who was last to be chosen in any team or group activity, so whilst I did represent the school I didn't get a lot of minutes.  As with the rest of my school life, the other members were far more outgoing and talented than I.  

Did I have self esteem issues?   No, that came much later on.  I wasn't aware of anything different at the time.  I was who I was and not capable of being anything else.  I froze in social situations and because it made me uncomfortable I tended to use excuses not to go to parties.  At school I hung around with a group, but was one of the less inspiring, tending to listen rather than participate.  I don't even know now if any of them actually liked me.  Maybe I was just tolerated, no threat, so no reason to be ostracised, no dill, so no reason to laugh at me, no opinions or personality, so no reason to be remembered, a bit of a misfit who didn't know he was one at the time.

Sometimes, when I'm alone and thinking of the past little bits of those times come back to me.  It's like peering through a window with a blind fluttering in the wind, sometimes revealing the outside world, other thimes threatening to, but rapidly closing it off again.   So I will try and reach back to understand why I am who I am, because the one thing I can say is the boy from that school carried baggage with him into manhood.