These were the last of the ten questions that Poet David Whyte says are the questions that have no right to go away. They grabbed my heart and my attention as I felt compelled to find out an answer or even answers. I wasn’t going to accept my mind providing ready made answers that it collected through the wisdom of others. It is too easy to give into cliches and then feel miserable as I cannot possibly live up to the expectations created through these answers of others including scriptures, even though there is a distinct possibility that’s what I would arrive at anyway.
So, being a long weekend, I decided I will go for a long walk with this question and just keep coming back to it every time I thought I had an answer.
What is my real conversation with life? What do I care about most?
My footsteps were rhythmic to the beat in the question even as my eyes were scanning the horizon to be mindful of a small winged creature sitting on top of the gum tree in the park, ready to come down at lightening speed to swoop the stranger walking past its nest where lie its helpless little, yet to grow wings, magpies.
Yes, that would be the most important conversation a magpie would be having and caring most about – how to protect its little ones from remote and perceived danger.
The dog training club was in full swing as I walked past Alexandra park. German Sheppard, Border Collie, little Chihuahua, a Doberman – all on a leash pulling crazily trying to be friendly with each other, as the owners trying to control them and listen to the instructions of the trainer on how to keep their pets obedient – all at the same time. For these dog owners, Yes, that would be the most important conversation of life and that’s what they care about most.
What do I care about most?
The Willy Wag Tail bird was wagging and eaves dropping loudly at a distance from the couple who were taking turns to hold each other whilst doing sit ups in the park. Exercise is the most important conversation for them right now and the little bird is encouraging them perhaps, even showing how to by twirling its behind to the music of its voice.
Is singing and dancing to life’s questions I care about most?
I continued my walk still with the question, past the tennis courts and athletics fields where old, middle aged and young alike were playing tennis or running – all with one aim – to keep fit, to beat the clock that seems to add and subtract, crinkle and dimple indiscriminately, creating a desperation to conquer the inevitable and it becomes the most important conversation in life. Is that why I am walking? May be. Is that what I care about most? May be not.
My mind chimed in to say – “but you care most about your family, your job, don’t you?”
I wasn’t ready to take that as ‘the’ answer. No, that is what I would like to think but is that the only real conversation in my life? I wanted to find out what my friend thinks about it. So even whilst walking, I messaged my friend – if she can meet me for a coffee in half hour. Didn’t get an answer in thirty seconds, so I rang her. It was urgent for me to know what she thought was the most important conversations we have in life. Got her voice mail. Hmmmmm..obviously it wasn’t important for her to wait for my random phone call to discuss life’s importance.
By this time I have arrived at the bridge that runs over the highway. Vroooom!! went past a red shiny Porsche convertible with its top down and a slightly balding gentleman behind the wheel trying to adjust the wisps of hair on his bald patch flying with a mind of their own in the glorious spring breeze, probably smiling to himself and satisfied or may be not.
What would that man care about most I wonder? What would be the most important conversation in his life? His car perhaps? Don’t know.Anyway, why do I think people driving expensive cars, a symbol of wealth, are automatically happy satisfied people?
The buzz of the main street is increasing as I crossed the bridge over the traffic on the highway. Cars whizzing past to destinations where they could have conversations over life with loved friends and families during the long weekend – perhaps.
My mind continued to give me standard answers which I wasn’t buying. So it changed tactics suddenly and loudly whispered – ” I know, Love is the most important conversation and that’s what you care about most.” Yes, it smiled with satisfaction. Do I? Do I think Love is the most important conversation of my life? Don’t know. Sounded too vague and an abstract of a concept.
Paper buyers, coffee drinkers, shoppers waiting for shops to open – the heart of the town was busy with people at 9:30 on a Saturday morning, having important conversations with life. I rang another friend, she wasn’t ready to go out yet. “We should do this walking business at least twice a week together, don’t you think?” she asked me. Yes, I agree even as I looked at my new device strapped on my wrist that said 6,750 steps. This was a device I bought for my husband for Father’s Day because I felt exercise and getting fit should be the most important thing he should care about. After seeing the device sit on the bathroom bench for a week, I decided exercise and getting fit is the thing I care about most and strapped it on my wrist. Obviously what is important to me is not important to him.
Eyes scanning the street even as I was holding the question firmly, I spotted another friend who is a taxi driver sitting in the tax rank waiting for a customer. I went and said hello. After a small chat, he said, “I have got a partner now even in this old age.” He is seventy plus years old and beaming, looked quite happy. Yes, sharing life with someone you love should be the most important thing in life, or is it?
I was happy for my friend. Saying bye to him, I walked into the Chemist Warehouse where I had to buy this particular brand, the name of which I can’t remember, hair dye which will cover my greys into soft black and does not last six weeks as it says any way, so that I will look younger for tomorrow’s public function. That was the drive behind the long walk as well so I can kill two birds. I ended up buying a pair of tweezers as well, you know, to keep in check the uninvited guests who periodically arrive on my face unannounced anyway telling me that personal grooming should be ‘the most important conversation’ I should be having in my life.
I continued to walk the final circuit back home via Office Works to buy pens that I love writing with, hoping they somehow would make my chicken scrawls (literally) better readable. Would you believe if I said that once upon a time, a long time ago, when I was knee-high (still not very high after all these years anyway) I used to have most beautiful handwriting? My teacher’s praise about it used to be a most important conversation of my green eyed friends. If they see it now, it definitely will be a conversation they would have but in reverse or so I think – why should my handwriting be a most important conversation in their lives? Narcissism at its best display right now.
I continued my exploration horrified and fascinated at the same time at how self-narcissistic I am. Still holding the question, I climbed the foot bridge and onto the bicycle and foot path along the highway shielded by twenty feet sound barrier walls, busy checking my mobile to see if I had a response from the friend I wanted to meet, I hear a voice say, “Fancy seeing you here Mrs Ayyagari..” I look up to see a friendly face smiling from under a helmet. It was another friend riding from almost thirty kilometers away from home on a bike riding challenge to raise money for kids with cancer. She had to rush off as the timer in her backpack was ticking reminding her the real conversation she was having with her life right now. We parted on opposite directions and I kept looking back at the disappearing figure on the bicycle path inspired and in awe.
My phone chimes and it is my friend telling me that she is sorry to have missed my call as she was busy organizing her brother’s fiftieth birthday – a most important milestone in a person’s life where we suddenly become aware of our belly buttons and thinning scalps – a most important time in life to start having conversations about what is real in life. 50’s is the new limit for mid-life crisis apparently. “OK, I shall leave you to it” I said continuing to walk the final stretch home.
I have been walking for an hour and a half and sitting down seemed like the thing I care about most right now. I left the footpath and turned into another street which is a shortcut to home as there was a sudden urgency dictated by an organ that works round the clock and keeps the toxins out of my system.
The shady Schubach street offered comfort from the glorious but glaring and hot spring sun. The daisy at the foot of the tall trees were smiling white and yellow, warming my heart. The loud noise of a bird made me look up and I saw a Rosella feeding its young peeking their heads out of the hole in the trunk. Yes, it is having the most important and real conversation in life – nurturing its young. The flowers below are doing the only thing they are capable of doing – smiling, broad and innocent, without any expectations of being rewarded. Their most important conversation in life is to radiate joy regardless of whether they are cherished or crushed.
I stopped in my tracks. YES!! That is the answer I am looking for. My mind and heart sang in unison.
Giving out radiance regardless of circumstances in life is the real conversation of life and that is what I care about most. Nurturing others through that radiance is the mission. Being happy, because happiness as a choice, is the only thing I should care about. If I concentrate on that everything and everyone will be affected by its contagiousness.
I decided radiating smiles like the daisy is my real conversation with life and that’s what I care about most. That thought and decision spread across my face and went through my body to my feet as they picked up pace. I started to almost sprint home, crossed the highway, past the tennis courts where people are still playing, past the dog training class where dogs are now obediently walking alongside their beaming owners, sitting when told to. I continued the walk still keeping an eye out for the protective magpie who is now busy feeding its young and not concerned so much about intruders.
I arrived home only to find that I have locked myself out. Getting my son to open the door fast was the only real conversation that my bursting bladder and aching feet allowed me to have in that moment. I banged on the door urgently even as my moments ago decided smile started to fade away fast.
What did I say I care about most? Ahem……
PS: Moral of the story…well, you tell me. I know what it is , but I won’t give away. Let me know what you think. What is the most important and real conversation in your life? What do you care about most? Please drop in a line, would love to hear.
Until next time
With Love and Respect