The last day of 2011 was crisp and clear. I mounted my bike onto the car and headed to Lake Patria for the last cycle of the year. I was leaving to Africa the next day and figured I’d better go for one last training session, since I was fairly certain the next ten days would involve plenty of activity which did not include cycling. I shoved on my gloves and helmet, stuffed a few cereal bars into my pockets, plugged in the earphones, clicked play on the ipod, clipped shoes to pedals and I was off. The next podcast lined up was an In Our Times episode with Melvin Bragg interviewing Richard Dawkins and Ian McEwan on their latest books on the subject of science’s revelations. The program ended up inadvertently discussing the meaning of existence or perhaps lack of one, when Ian gave a particularly thought-provoking summary of his views on the matter. It may have been the cold wind against my face, the adrenaline in my legs or sky the colour of the Napoli football team, but there followed that perfect moment of clarity on a perfect day. What he said seemed a fitting entrée to usher in the new year.
‘Contemplating the beauty of the physical world is a source of great joy. Once you’ve grasped that the universe is not about you, it sets you free in the most extraordinary way. Once you’ve grasped the horrible possibility, well horrible for some, that you only have this tiny crack in time of consciousness against all eternity, this 80 years if you’re lucky, then perhaps the burden is on you to make everything you can of the privilege of consciousness that you’ve got. I think there are ways of putting it all back together and make your life rich and possibly even transcendent.’ Mr. McEwan, thanks for penetrating a part of my personal crack in time of consciousness. May 2012 be the best year ever!