Don’t put off till tomorrow, what you can do today!
Well, here I am on annual leave, in New Zealand, about 8,000 km away from Oman, and what’s this? Blue skies every day? Well, nearly.
Yes, I’ve swapped the 40-50 degrees, and perpetually intense heat of an Omani summer, for a New Zealand winter that had actually promised very little on our arrival three weeks ago, as floods ravaged the entire country.
However, the reality of floods in New Zealand is that most of the time they are only an inconvenience, and cause precious little damage to property or the environment. By comparison, it must be extremely difficult to plan effectively, for example, in Oman or the Middle East, for run-off and good drainage during heavy rains, when sometimes it only rains once or twice a year. It’s simply a bridge too far I think.
Since then though, we have experienced frosty nights, and wonderfully clear days, and my photographer wife has had me running “hither, tither, and yon.”
We’ve just visited Christchurch, in Canterbury, which was seriously affected by a 6.3 earthquake on February 22, 2011 though, and fortunately that’s one thing that Oman doesn’t have to fear too much. New Zealand, though, sits on the Pacific ‘ring of fire’ which is a lively volcanic structure that includes countries such as Japan, Indonesia, and much of South America.
At 12.51 pm, as many were enjoying their lunchbreaks, the quake shook the city for only 10 seconds, but causing enough damage to leave the city reeling, and 185 dead. In fact, when the quake was analysed, most experts could not believe the minimal loss of life in what was New Zealand’s second most populated city.
To see, hear and feel the stoical resilience of the Cantabrians was really uplifting given the challenges they have faced in the intervening six years, and never more so than when visiting Christchurch’s City Square. The Square, in the very centre of the city, was always alive with traders, performers, music, soap-box debates, and they even had a Wizard, Ian Brackenbury-Channel, who was a live work-of-art. In spite of all those attractions, it was the manner in which the architecture, ambience, and personalities had been weaved together over decades to create a tourist and life experience to remember.
It was so sad, and so depressing, to see the Square now, today. It’s surrounded by scaffolding and containers, with many of its landmark buildings demolished, while others, like its world famous Cathedral await decisions on their futures, as insurers, councils, government, and the owners, try to decide what’s the best course of action, though in spite of all their good intentions, the grand old edifice stands brutalised by nature, shorn of
It intensely affected me, seeing this solid building of massive stone construction torn apart by a force of only a few seconds of action, and the worst thing was that I couldn’t reconcile what I could see of the iconic structure, with what I knew of it, and on reflection, I believe it was because most of the other elements that made the Square all it was, were gone too.
I looked around me, and saw that I wasn’t alone, as busy city workers glanced at the old building as they stepped lively on their way to work. For all of them, was it my imagination, or did I really see the sadness of seconds, as if a moment of time was slow-motioned, producing mournful looks, regret, heartache, discomfort, anguish, and nostalgia? I’m sure I did, before they quickened on again.
The lesson for me is that we must appreciate all that we have, while we have it. See all we can see, and experience all that is there for us, and do all that is to be done, while we can. Don’t put anything off till later. Do it now.