Apologies to Leonard Cohen for rephrasing his lyric: ‘There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.’ He made poetry of the idea that nothing truly beautiful is ever perfect; within the flaw lies a source of human inspiration and I would add, insight.
I look around me and find this is true. The philosophers among you might ask ‘what is perfection but a way of seeing, a subjective perception of how something ‘should’ be? For me, the idea of perfection resides somewhere in no-man’s land between perfect and imperfect. Without flaws how can we appreciate flawlessness? Without a crack how can the light get it?
Over this Easter weekend I spent time with my daughter on the Coral Coast (mid north eastern coast of Australia). It’s a favourite destination for back-packers, boating, sailing and fishing enthusiasts, and those wanting to visit the Whitsunday Islands and lower reaches of the Great Barrier Reef. Over the years, we’ve visited many times: sailed, snorkelled, fished, hiked and appreciated everything this part of Australia has to offer. The natural beauty never fails to take my breath away.
These days, my focus has turned to the wonders the hinterland offers. I love the ancient grandeur of the rainforests, the diversity of plant life and the rampant growth the climate promotes.
The view from the mountains makes you feel like you’re soaring. And in fact people do. There’s a purpose built platform for hang-gliders to launch from the edge of an escarpment at Eungella in the Clark ranges. Oh how I wish I was brave enough to try it. There are wood carvings of wizards and mythical creatures nearby that add to the feeling of magical possibilities.
But it’s being in the rainforest, the longest contiguous strip of remaining sub-tropical rainforest in Australia, that sends me into raptures.
Firstly there’s the ethereal light. It spills through endless shades of green, to dapple the forest floor. It’s like being in some wonderful cathedral – only grander. Then, there are the sounds, clear piping notes of various rainforest birds, the lower muted tones of others, the rustle of wind moving through the canopy, the buzz of insects, and babbling water never far away. I even like the smell of damp rotting vegetation, and the astringent notes of some native plants, and then, a sweeter scent – native orchids perhaps?
When I returned home I looked at my garden – and my life – with new eyes, with a deeper appreciation, as if a light had shone through some metaphorical crack.
Sometimes it takes something to be cracked to let the light through.
On the last day of our holiday we had a serious car collision. Both cars involved were destroyed, written off by the insurance companies.
Yet no-one was hurt.
Emergency workers and others who stopped to assist were amazed by this. I still struggle to make sense of it. A few seconds earlier, or later, the outcome may have been very different.