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Around The Sun: Passing Before Your Eyes

An imaginary walk across Sydney harbour bridge brings a clear and contended perspective on life to Steve Harrison.

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I see myself walking across Sydney harbour bridge, meeting everyone I have ever known. They greet me, then say goodbye.

They say in the moments before you die every event in your life passes before your eyes. I like to think this is true. Every event and situation is right there, stored in your grey matter.

I started to collect my thoughts with a view to writing a book. An amazing experience! Long forgotten events came flowing in from somewhere. Cobwebs fell away. My own history began to unwind before my mind’s eye. Not surprising then if the brain does reveal all its captive memories before we go off to some other region of being.

As I get older I seem to be always surrounded by familiar-looking people. Wherever I go, no matter how far I travel, I find someone who takes me back to my past, a face that reminds me of David Elsey or Timothy Green. I follow older men who remind me of my long-departed father. Not by face or stature, but in the way they walk. Sometimes I have followed them for a while in a direction I had not intended to go, feeling good for some minutes to think that I was following in my father’s footsteps.

Maybe this is the way the mind protects itself as we get older. The things we had hoped to achieve become unobtainable, so we began to look back, reflecting on the life we have led.

So here I am in my mind’s eye, in this most spectacular location, Sydney harbour bridge, an illustration in engineering of the genius and creativity of mankind. It represents strength and solidity. This is one of the few bridges I know that enhances it’s surrounding.

I have walked over it, ridden a bicyle over it, roller skated, driven a car and a truck over it, ridden a motorbike over it, jogged over it, crawled over it…and clambered to the top of it.

This is a beautiful bridge.

It is appropriate that in my mind I should see myself here when I go to meet my past. I am walking from the north side, towards the city. Each person coming towards me glances in my direction. It occurs to me that I have met them before, but I can’t recall where. I can’t put a name to any of them. More and more people come towards me. The bridge is crowded. They are all familiar, all nameless.

I exchange furtive glances. We seem to know each other. People from all walks of life, and all ages. Children, workers, grandparents… Some badly dressed, others looking as though they are going to a party. Some dragging along, others marching with confident step. All shapes and sizes, creeds and colours. Some seem to want to shake hands, but there are too many to greet.

All of them familiar, some of them turning for a backward glance after they have gone by. I am walking towards an oncoming tide of people.

This walk would actually take about 30 minutes at a brisk pace, but it seems to last forever. I am surprised at the number of people I know. And still they keep coming…

My heart swells with delight and pride. I have not collected objects, things. I have won people’s hearts, and I am happy.

I once saw a bumper sticker on the back of a Porsche car. “He with the most toys wins.’’ A terrible lie, that. He with the most friends wins.

So I am walking across Sydney harbour bridge, my head filled with happy memories. I never do reach the end of the bridge.

Well, I haven’t done so far.

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