I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my idea of heaven on earth; the place that, if I could or can, I would want to spend a bundle of my days later in life.
In my youth, I was a devotee of the shorts-and-teeshirt dream — a beach, sand, sun, heat and the ocean. The occasional splash of late-afternoon rain, monsoon-style, but not much more than the occasional bit with a couple-times-a-year downpour, just for variety. The dream really boiled down to ‘better too hot than too cold’.
But a strange thing has happened in the last few years.
The dream has turned and, now, my ideal is I realised cold, and stormy, a bit remote. Grey skies, and green slopes.
It’s a strange thing to realise this given how, last time I really thought about it, it was the complete opposite.
I can trace some of this change back to simply having become tired — as in sick and tired — of being too damn hot when I lived in George Town in Penang, Malaysia, through 2015. The humidity was crushing for my mid-to-late-40s temperament, and it was also unceasing, unrelenting. A cool day in local terms was still like having a wet blanket over my head; a hot day was like trying to carry a wet mattress around, dawn to dusk. It was just too much, and for too long every day.
And, after Malaysia, I stopped in Vietnam, in Ho Chi Minh City, for a few months, knowing that I’d soon be heading back to Australia but not quite willing to accept that the dream had changed. Whilst the climate there is noticeably different — with city breezes down surprisingly green avenues at times — it was still just too much. The humidity, again, tipped the balance; 24 hours a day, every day, with the only feeling of momentary relief coming from sitting in airconditioning. Which, obviously, defeated the purpose of being there.
So, then a return from those places — lows (so-called) of 27 degrees — to regional Tasmania, and a town that in winter reaches zero fairly often, with average temperaturs of around 12 degrees. Sounds fine, right? The thing is that, when I lived there 12ish years ago, I couldn’t stand it because I was in grip of the shorts-and-teeshirt dream. I wanted blinding days, and long, late nights.
Now I dream of twilight, and long, distant sunsets that shed light but no warmth; of a green bit of land, not concrete; and the sound of trees in cold winds, not the sound of a city’s industry.
It’s changed an entire lifetime’s view of, well, my future.
And, importantly, in that is the knowledge that I’ve moved from a dream state to a real world condition, from an idea to a goal, a static image to a sequence of steps that should be taken.
Like I said, it’s been a strange thing to realise this.