After yesterday’s horrendous flood in my apartment, the second in a week, I collapsed into bed and didn’t stir until 6.30am. I was exhausted by 4 hours of mopping yesterday and all the stress that went with moving all the rugs out again and putting the furniture up on blocks (again). This was the same rugs that had only arrived back from the cleaners on Thursday.
Magic morning. Met the BBC group at Manly Surf club and we headed off at 7.30am into an ocean that was flat as a pool table and had the consistency of gin. Jimmy Arnold, Duncan Adams, Jan Davies, Barry Feyder and Alison Maunder set a cracking pace down to Queenscliff with Lou Stevenson and I coasting. The water was so clean. We were joined for a leisurely breakfast at Manly wine bar by Rob Johnson and Adriana. The sun sparkling on the ocean was mesmerising. No one seemed in too much of a hurry and we didn’t depart my apartment until 10.15am – Barry, Adriana, Rob and me. I decided to try 15kg in my pack. My sore tendon got sore almost straight away but it was bearable. We were soon a typical a group of friends ambling along the Sydney harbour foreshore, one of the world’s most theatrical, urban seascapes, on a Sunday morning. We talked about whatever came to mind. Three men, one woman, dissecting the morality of euthanasia, whether terrorists should have their Australian citizenship cancelled, whether Islam, which doesn’t recognise secular, state laws can exist peacefully in Australia, and why the ABC is so biased. And the all pervasive subject of personal health and what particular part of your body was hurting or broken. Children and family were also discussed but that is a given. We are, after all baby boomers, and these are the issues which exercise the minds of baby boomers.
While it was beyond our random ruminations, it hangs over every baby boomer discussion: we are aging. Our hike embraced nothing less than the labyrinthine process of growing old. I am celebrating today that I managed to carry a 15kg pack for 17km. I’ve worked up to it! Ten years ago I started training with a 15kg pack. On exactly the same walk we did today, I’ve carried 35kg in the past. Barry asked at one point, would I like to do the Larapinta Track (18days, 223KM) in the Western MacDonnell ranges carrying a full pack. “I’d love to do it but it’s probably beyond me now,” I replied. I couldn’t believe those words came out of my mouth. I felt a bit ashamed.
Such moments invite us to ponder life’s passage. That was one of them. Here I was struggling along under a relatively light pack, my leg with plate and screws aching, my neck stiff from a fusion of the cervical spine after a horse-riding fall and my left arm partly paralysed as a result. It is the paradox for the baby boomers – we get to live longer and our bodies are slowly wrecked by life. We surge on regardless, driven by a desperate desire for existence and a refusal to concede that it will one day be over. Slouching, reluctantly towards Bethlehem.
What drives us is the confronting baby boomer balance of hovering between living and nothingness. We have to learn to be fired by aging, rather than being frightened of it; to embrace life while defying God who, when touching us on the shoulder, is told, “Piss off, I’m not ready yet.”
We are not ready to look at life in hindsight.
After leaving North Steyne at 10.15am we reached Clontarf Park at 12.30pm. A sit down, a drink, a few health bars and more philosophising then we headed back at 12.50pm, arriving at North Steyne at 3pm. Some restoring mushroom soup at Jellyfish restaurant, then it was into the shower for me and I passed out. I was tired and my leg felt weak but I wasn’t in any pain (not much anyway!). A 17km walk in 4h 25m. I wasn’t worried about the flood in my apartment any more. I’m definitely on the mend. I was however very dehydrated which I’ll have to watch in the NT.