Saturday, 2 March 2013

The Lion's Larynx

I’ve been in the ‘City of Trees’ for almost two months now. Fifty one days to be exact. It’s been almost six months since I last blogged. One hundred and sixty three days to be exact.  Has anything changed since my most recent entry? I cannot do it any justice, so my simple answer is ‘yes’.

Above was my convoluted way of saying ‘I’m back’. Perhaps the two words alone would have sufficed.

Years ago, Columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Caen, wrote this: ‘Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.’

I’ve always been fascinated by the African Lion. Picture books and images taught me at a young age that it was the King of the jungle. I never asked any questions, nor did I give it a second thought. It’s fact – it’s black and white. Going off that foundation, I want to look into one of the things that makes it such a beautiful animal. A key element that separates it from the sheep we see grazing in our paddocks.

One of the things I’ve come to realize is that setting doesn’t necessarily matter. Whether you’re in Sydney, San Francisco, Orange County or the African Savannah, your bones are either wet, dry or on fire. Of course, our environment can be the catalyst for inspiration…and after all, Hans Christian Andersen notes that ‘to travel is to live’. However, there are some people in this world that will yawn at a Yosemite sunset and others who will fall to their knees in their living room. The reality is that some individuals simply lack conviction. That’s the word I’ve taken three hundred and twenty five words to finally get to. Conviction. You see a lack of it on the train and in the park. You see it in the mirror. Like I’ve written about before, we get swept up in just living life and we end up barely surviving – we end up with bones that might as well turn to dust.

Speaking of dust, the African Lion’s roar has enough force to raise an enormous cloud of it and can be heard up to five miles away. Now that, in one word, is conviction. When I hear sheep, I don’t hear animals that are about to shake the pen. I don’t hear animals that are ready to leap over their barriers, or jump up to eleven metres like the lion can. I hear dull, monotonous sounds which quite frankly resemble our own lives sometimes. Don’t worry, this isn’t yet another ‘carpe diem’ blog. This is just my heartfelt encouragement – that in all that we do, we draw on conviction.

Winston Churchill, while in power, asserted that he ‘was not the lion, but it fell to (him) to give the lion’s roar’. I love this quote. Maybe in your group you’re not the leader, or in your relationship you’re not outspoken, or in the morning you’d rather stay in bed, or at the checkout you’re not friendly. But what if you are being drawn to that extra mile? What if it has fallen to you to be the best that you can be?

Over the centuries, individuals have yearned for longevity and even immortality. To me, one obvious way to be younger than we are right now is to simply tweak our daily attitude. The Lion’s roar is actually much like the cry of a human baby.  Obviously, a baby’s vocal-cord anatomy is different to that of a lion, but the principle is the same. Lions are able to sustain their sound because of a layer of fat and lung pressure. Babies, because of a gel-like layer, are similarly able to vibrate their vocal cords hard enough to be heard a mile away (or worse still, keep their parents up all night). When we were tiny we had a heightened level of wonder. Do you remember that? We were awed by little things and we made the boring activities fun.

In the end, why don’t we seriously take the time to think about the world we live in – rather than pouring all our energy into simply trying to stay above the surface. There’s a society out there that eagerly awaits the lion’s arrival and return.

Quote Bank: "You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough." - William Blake

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