Attention, please.

 Word count: 370            Reading time: 2-3 mins.

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans,” John Lennon sang in Beautiful Boy.

Our house in Sydney, Australia perched on a ridge overlooking the Forestville Ferrets Junior Rugby League Football Club. A wide border of cliffs and eucalyptus forest separated us from the clubhouse and playing fields, one hundred feet below. We spent many evenings sitting on our deck, watching the faraway games. One Sunday morning, as we worked in the garden, cars started to arrive at the clubhouse: normal weekend activity at a sports club. Half an hour later voices, strong and melodious, rose from the valley.

Throughout the day the parking lot filled and the choirs swelled. Rich Māori voices serenaded us as we built an orchid rockery, hung out laundry, washed the dogs, ate lunch and then dinner. The haunting music drifted up to us until the next morning. Then car doors slammed, tires crunched on the gravel of the parking lot, and silence slipped over the world.

We lived in that house for fifteen years but the Māori singers gathered at Forestville Park just once. When I close my eyes, I can see the groups standing in circles on the playing field. Still I wish I’d paid more attention to the different choral exchanges, to when the singing was the strongest, to how many children were in the crowd, and to the aroma of the food wafting up from the fire pits. I wish I’d been living more and making plans less.

In an interview in the Fall 1965 edition of Paris Review, William S. Burroughs said, “Most people don't see what's going on around them. That's my principal message to writers: for God's sake, keep your eyes open.” 

How is your writing life going? Are you busy making plans or are you living each day fully? When you ride the bus or drive your usual route home every day, do you stare into the far point of the tunnel, to your destination? Or are your eyes wide open? Do you see what is going on around you? Are you ready to seize the day when life delivers a free Māori concert when you expected the grunt and clamor of a rugby game?


Photo by: Alan Bolitho, LM