As much of a cocktail party conversation starter as anything, The Girl asked me a very interesting question on one of our walks this week: If you’d passed awayi today and could only come back to Earth for 5 minutes with your body, and that you could do anything, anywhere in the world, what would you do?
Quite surprising myself, I answered the question more quickly than I had any right to given that I’d never consciously considered this exact formulation before. My answer? Bicycle down Haleakalā in Maui at full fucking speed, at sunset.
Why this particular place and this particular activity? Over the three-and-a-half decades that I’ve been on this planet, and across the 40+ countries and hundreds of cities that I’ve visited, there’s no singular scene more unencumbered, more visceral, more adrenaline-infused, more scent-filled, more eye-watering, more thrilling, more representative of peak human civilisation, more free, and more alive than that mountain on two wheels going 80++ kph!
Free-wheeling past the farms, estates, churches, gardens, nurseries, roadside restaurants, and quaint gift shops, on the traffic-free roads with pristine pavement, as the fire globe on the horizon tucks behind the edge of the oceans and islands in the distance, it’s just *chef’s kiss* perfection.ii
Now would I have anyone with me? Or am I so devoid of desire to connect one final time with my fellow (wo)man? My first instinct is that’d I’d prefer to be alone as befits my natural inclination, but perhaps The Girl could be with me at the start of the run, kiss me farewell, and tell me she’d meet me at the bottom. I’d like that. Of course she’d never catch me in only 5 minutes…
But that’s my 5 minutes of earthly delight, what’s yours?
The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch (completed in 1510)
- No, there’s no “dying”, don’t be such a vapid narrow materialist. After we’re done this life, you think our energy just *poof* and disappears? Fuh real?!
Yes, mortality has been on our minds a lot more of late… but as long as it doesn’t cripple us with fear, maybe that’s not such a bad thing? Though I’m increasingly wary of over-analysing anything, this being the failure mode of the left-brain dominant worldview. “Analysis paralysis” for thee but not for me! ↩
- Driving an F1 or LeMans car would be cool and all but just way too complicated. The simplicity of a bicycle and the freedom it affords is simply unmatched in my opinion. ↩