egg has just been laid. Would you like to carry it up to the house? She placed a
chickens egg in my eager cupped hands. It was white and still warm. I had never seen
anything so beautiful, never been given such a responsibility. I gazed at it in awe.
We were in a chicken yard under a hot Australian sun. In the gloom of
sheds which surrounded the yard on three sides, backed by a row of gum trees, there was
straw, and occasional eggs, if you searched carefully. Hens clucked
and fussed around for corn; cocks crowed all across the valley.
I was three. The nine-year-old watched me set off up the track, as fast
as my chubby little legs would go. I got about three yards before the egg fell to the
ground and broke. I could not pick it up to carry it again.
In an instant, pride turned to shame and loss. Not just the egg, but a
trust too was shattered, which had underpinned the game we were playing. We had been
farmers harvesting our produce. We had played mother and child, joined in the wonderland
of discovery. Now we suddenly had to learn that life is irreversible, that broken eggs
cannot be put together again. She would not risk placing another egg in my hands, though I
pleaded and pleaded for us to find one, even an old, cold egg. Something was ruined. A
fragile joy was broken and thats what imprinted this incident on my memory for more
than fifty years. Now I have placed it trustingly, dear reader, in your hands,
still warm from the recollection.
We have all placed ourselves, or been placed, in someones hands.
We have all been dropped, disappointed, let down, mistaken. We have learned to pick
ourselves up and try again, sooner or later. And if we have still not learned, it is not
too late. And if we are grown-up, then we should not leave the child quite behind. For it
still needs our attention! The child is father of the man. As a child, I
learned that line from a poem and I have understood it only as I write this: the child
that I was gave existence to the man that I now am! I have inherited some
genes from each of my parents. But I have inherited all my genes from that child. I
can learn from it now what I failed to learn then.
From the earliest memory, I was dedicated to fulfilment, drawn
instinctively into life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". And in this I
was no different from you and everyone else. The twists and turns of fate have made that
quest a long tortuous path, a pilgrims progress through darkness and ignorance to a
clear view, which justifies the entire journey. From here on in, I savour every moment,
every breath. Its been worth waiting for.
Theres a photo of
me at the same age, again in a situation with eager cupped hands. We went up some narrow
steep stairs in a gloomy office building in central Perth to the photographers
studio. Just as we reached it,