Yes, in the early days of my life, I recall we got a tricycle for a birthday or Christmas present. It was a present that we often had to share, all three of us. We actually didn’t mind sharing presents, it saved our parents looking stupid for buying 3 identical, or different coloured presents, and it also saved them the hassle of fights due to buying different presents, which would always be compared in fine detail to determine exactly who of the three of us were being favoured.
The metal tricycle we got, was pretty ok. Usually only two of the three of us wanted to play with it at anyone time, and with three, you could have 3 variations on a theme of two people on a bike at anyone time. The other resting in between turns and laughing like hell about how awkward the other two would look.
But pure serenity, when the other two were off somewhere, and you could take full command of the tricycle for yourself, your own bell, your own destination, and your own time. Of course, this led to higher risk elements, and no one holding you back with criticism. You could wander off into the bush, on a bumpy bush track and try not to crash too hard, with a bell to compete with the galahs hanging around in the trees, and the flies, and lizards wandering in and out of view. The three wheels were ok going slow, but instability increased with speed, resulting inevitably in cuts and scrapes and blood and slight bruising, which of course you would pretend did not happen.
Eventually tired and most probably sore, you would just sit, and listen, leaning on the handlebars, waiting to get your breath back, not talking, just listening, and soon more wondering at the bush around you. The quiet of the bush on entry would start to give way to more and more sound as the pain gave way, as though your hearing were amplified. Each chirp or rush of wings, or screech of a cockatoo would impinge on the waiting mind, and become more random, more a total soundscape.
After a while you realised, that the chaos of the Australian bush is not something the eye fathom’s real well. However the ear is perfect. Stereo listening with eyes closed gives you the panorama of life and what is happening. If the wind shifts, so does the sound. If the light shifts, so does the sound. You wonder what happens when it all goes silent, and you open your eyes, and blink, looking around to see who or what happened, and even what will happen, as though the bush life can sense something coming, like an earth tremor, or like a storm, or some change in the weather
But you would be sitting on the bike, as if to own it, and to prove to the natural world around that you, man, machine, were one, and ready to hike off back home at any point in time. Ready to return to the world of compromise and cooperation and sharing and scrapes.
Close your eyes. Longer than a minute, and listen to what is happening around you. It will inform you of a reality far beyond sight, which is much better suited for other things, like riding a tricycle.
Note: The sculpture featured in this post is by Stephen Gregory. If you happen to be near Goodwood UK you can visit the Cass sculpture park and talk to the all hearing tricycle rider sitting there, who itself is trying to fathom by listening, just what is going on.