single autumn leaf on concrete ground

The Answer My Friend…

According to Bob Dylan, “the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”

It was 8:45am on a Monday morning. We were forewarned that there would be no electricity for several hours at our house due to scheduled maintenance.

With the pending severance of the most co-dependent relationship in the history mankind (our need for the Internet), we saw it as a fabulous opportunity to get outside for some exercise until the power came back.

On cue, the Spring weather had started to rise to the occasion following a series of sunny and pleasant days. My wife and I often walk the nearby bush track as the kids ride their bikes. That way the kids don’t complain about having to walk the whole way, and we get to ‘close our rings’.

WomanWalkingThroughForestTrack

I was sitting at the dining room table in my blue track pants that have lasted me more than 20 years. A miracle, I know. As I finished breakfast and the last few sips of freshly ground coffee, I continued reading my book as the kids got dressed and ready for the adventure.

As I turned the page, I overheard my son yell out to my wife.

“Mum! What is the weather today?”

Amanda was in the middle of doing something on her phone and asked Jayden to “wait a minute”.

A minute passed…then Amanda said “can you ask Dad to check?”

My Son tore through the middle of my serene morning moment like gift wrapping gone wrong as I put the book down.

“DAD! WHAT SHOULD I WEAR FOR THE BIKE RIDE?”.

I had already scoped the weather forecast that morning when I woke up, expecting a top of 19 degrees Celsius and relatively clear skies. I was sitting about 3 metres from a window as I leant across in my chair to eyeball the conditions outside. It looked sunny enough.

I then looked down at my watch for even further confirmation of the conditions, which informed me that currently it was 14 degrees Celsius with a projected top of 19 degrees. 

“Well son, it’s currently 14 degrees Celsius and somewhat cool, with an expected top of 19 degrees Celsius and sunny conditions”.

“So what should I wear?” he continued to enquire.

In that very moment, I engaged full mental rocket ship thrusters to bravely head into the unknown and search for the best possible answer to his question. I started modelling current and future scenarios:

Hmm… long pants and a t-shirt will probably work best once the temperature has increased, his heart rate has elevated, his core body temperature has risen somewhat, and he is in a steady rhythm of exercise with the sun to warm him occasionally via the gaps in the trees.

However, right now it is actually quite cool, so perhaps a jumper would be great to start with, which he can then remove as the ride goes on. Usually he would tie the jumper around his waist when it isn’t necessary anymore, however that does tend to pose a challenge when riding the bike because the long sleeves of his jumper can get caught in the spokes of the rear wheel if he doesn’t secure them appropriately.

I was about to reach for Einstein’s theory of relativity to get a conclusive answer, when thankfully, insight arrived.

…and I stopped…

dominoes, small, stop-665547.jpg

From the comfort of my chair that I was still sitting in, I switched off my flurry of thoughts and slowly turned to my Son.

“Jay”, I said.

“Yes dad?”

(I paused)

“Walk outside and find out for yourself”

So he took 14 steps toward the front door, briefly went outside, came back in and then promptly got dressed. All on his own, without needing to be told how to prepare for this moment in his life, or needing an elaborate verbal citation of the precise weather forecast to inform his choice of attire.

4 minutes of spinning plates and overly complex thinking. 1 brief moment of clarity.

  • Usually – the answer is simple. We just tend to make the process complex.
  • Often – if you listen to yourself, you already know the answer or at least know where to find it without asking for help.
  • Almost always – the guidance on where to find your answer, comes from within.

“Walk outside and find out for yourself”

The most important, true, and trustworthy answers in life always come from a single source -> from within. You can listen to as much outside information as you want, but you are still the one doing the listening, the processing and the one taking action.

Before you ask someone else to model your life, to forecast your problems and feed you solutions, just take a few steps forward first, to see if the answer was right there the whole time. Not in your head, not even blowin’ in the wind, but hidden in plain in-sight.

People asked Bob Dylan what the meaning was behind his song “Blowin’ in the wind’.  Bob put it simply:

“Blowin’ in the wind was just a feeling I felt, because I feel that way.”

The answer was not on top of the wind or cast in the clouds by a sign writing plane. The answer, as always, was in the wind.

Amanda and I have been listening to classical music a fair bit lately. I’m not sure why. It just feels right.

Classical music was playing yesterday morning as I stood in the kitchen with my wife. She drew my gaze up toward the neighbours’ clothesline where several towels were hung to dry in the strong Spring breeze. “It’s as if the towels are dancing with the wind in time to the music”.

It was true…I stopped everything I was doing and just watched these towels playing with the elements and the music. It was beautiful.

A tear came to my wife’s eye. And to mine. The answer was blowin’ in the wind.

You may have seen the movie American Beauty. There is a scene where one of the more curious characters (Ricky Fitts) says “Do you want to see the most beautiful thing I’ve ever filmed?”.

And what follows is a quiet, almost reverent video of a plastic bag gently circling a street floor covered in leaves, rising and falling with the breath of the wind.

“It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing and there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. Right? And this bag was just dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That’s the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember… I need to remember… Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.”

I cry more often than I used to. I never fully subscribed to the whole macho “big boys don’t cry” mentality, but still I suffered from holding some belief that it was a dog-eat-dog world and that thick skin was a necessity.

Most of the time now, when I cry, it is from the sheer beauty I see in moments, in people and in nature. I cry tears of gratitude and happiness.

I guess you could say I just see things differently now. And there is beauty in almost everything. Not for the lack of sorrow or pain, that is just part of the human experience too. But for the incredible life in all things.

If we could just step outside for a brief moment, to hear it. To feel the gentle whisper of the wind. To see what we are looking for. To feel what we long for. To hear the answer blowin’ in the wind. 

Look a little deeper and you will discover that Dylan’s lyrics echo many passages that were written long before.

“They have eyes to see, but see not; ears to hear, but hear not” (Ezekiel 12).

Or as Andy Warhol put it “people should fall in love with their eyes closed”.

Once you find THE answer, you will see it, hear it and feel it every single day.
You will see beauty in the most ordinary of people, places, things and moments.

And with the answer no longer hidden, only one thing remains…

… your invitation.

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