It had been a really good day at work.
Starting any new job is fraught with hiccups, splutters, guttural blockages and various nerve pinging pressure points. Anyone who has gone through the process is certainly very familiar with, just make it look as though you actually do know what you’re doing thing, yeah? Just walk it, talk it and act it routine, yeah? All the while you’re trying to feebly ignore and block all those voices in your head, especially that one with the endless repetitive mantra about having told you over and over that this change was a really bad idea.
Working in a different country, trying to learn a different language, getting used to a different way of relating, responding, reacting, being, and living. All these adjectives sound challenging, exciting, scary, amazing and totally out of comfort zone. It’s completely all that and then some and then some more and then a bit more on top of all that.
So after what seemed like a few lifetimes, I found myself smiling bigly upon leaving work for the day. Riding home with a warm tropical breeze on my face, life was finally back in balance and the voices of torment doubt and ridicule began to quieten. I was feeling good, so good that I decided for a change to take the scenic longer road and really enjoy the chance to just be present without any mental distraction. Everything appeared fresh and new; colours more vibrant, smells crisper, sounds clearer.
Upon exiting a particular beautiful area and rounding a bend there appeared to be a commotion on the road side nearby. A rice farmer was struggling with what appeared to be a very heavy sack of rice that he was attempting to tie onto the rear of his old geared motorbike. One must never pass, on an opportunity to assist, especially when it’s obviously an elderly rice farmer. A man of the land who has probably toiled in the fields all day, who probably just wants to get home and who is having a very hard time getting his heavy rice sack tied off on his very old bike.
With thankfully no need for language due to the obvious and pressing nature of the problem, it only took a few seconds to establish a rapport with the weather beaten muscle bound elderly rice farmer. He needed help getting his heavy rice sack back on the bike, an old two wheeler that was now leaning at an angle that made it impossible for him to achieve. He was on his own and it appeared there was no one coming any time soon to help him.
So with enthusiasm, gusto, determination and synchronized team work, two humans from vastly different cultures began to lift rice sack and old bike to their rightful upright position. It felt good to be helping, good to be achieving, good to be useful. For a few months I had been feeling out of balance, it felt so damn good to be rapidly re-balancing. This rice farmer and his heavy sack and leaning bike would be the highlight of a great day. With one deep breath, bent legs and rice farmer on one side and me on the other, we silently nodded, smiled at our good fortune and proceeded to heave him and his rice bike up and on their way.
There’s something incredibly disconcerting, shocking and terrifying when something so plain and simple in linear terms goes completely and drastically wrong. Physics dictates that when a heavy object is lifted from a squat position by two forces facing each other then said heavy object must go upward, not rightward and at great speed.
With bike, heavy rice sack, rice farmer and I careering at speed across the road, the look of horror on his face most probably mirrored my own. Different culture or not, fear confusion and terror generalizes universally. What unseen demonic force could inhabit stationary metal and totally destroy good deeds. As we continued our unexpected detour with our hands literally glued to the handles in a vicelike grip of life and death, an absolutely and ridiculously bizarre thought leapt into full blown consciousness, just as a drainage ditch loomed large and very deep.
Had I lifted my side by gripping and pushing on the handle just as he had attempted to re-balance the bike by gripping and pulling the handle on his side? Was the bike actually on with its motor idling when I rushed to help him? Could that be the reason why we were both now airborne with the precipice only a few meters away?
Whatever calmness had built up on such a good day was instantly evaporated as I released my grip on the throttle. There’s a universal death stare that crosses all cultural boundaries and there’s a time to make good on whatever good fortune one can salvage.
As I rode away feeling desperately embarrassed, I reflected on the horror and humour of what just happened and realized that life events really are just a series of sliding door scenarios. Fleeting moments where intent and chance really are at the whims of fate and folly with a good dose of luck thrown in.
Observing whats real is becoming increasingly difficult. This site is my view, my perception and my commentary on what I believe to be real, from my own unique position.