I’ve just recovered my own meaning of the popular phrase “the best things in life are free”—I’m settling down from an hour bike ride through one of the most beautiful parks I have seen, at least in any city. After a day that feels wasted (sitting on the laptop, Whatsapp, CNN, SABC, waiting to hear the fate of Nelson Mandela, all cooked up in the house) I felt I should explore that park I wrote about in a recent post; the one that is adjacent to the Amstel River flowing to the East of Amsterdam.
It is a magnificent park and was a treat to the senses. When I left home I was playing Mylo Xyloto on my iPod, but when I arrived at the park, the melody and symphony of the birds begged for my attention, and I obliged. It was eternal music for the soul. There was life chirping in the air! Their beauty was unmatched, these birds of different species, from the ducks, sharing with humans the novelty of taking walks with their family in the great outdoors; to the land birds that do not really take off, their beaks simultaneously magnificent and unnerving; to our flute players in the air.
The smells were my favourite. The Netherlands is naturally a wet country, as I have mentioned, we have oceanic weather here; so the air in that park was moist and crisp, not humid, and carried with it fragrances of roots, barks, branches, and leaves that bedeck the forest-like vegetation. I could pick up on onion-like bulb smells, and also minty-towards-eucalyptus grassy smells. After 40 minutes of riding the park’s width and breadth, my nostrils unblocked and the crisp air went straight from nature to my lungs. It was a great feeling.
The freedom that comes with biking openly and uninhibitedly—watching out for a rabbit that crosses from bush to bush every now and then—is priceless. The best things in life are free because they have no price tag. They are free because they offer you release, freedom, and therapy that cannot be accumulated with any currency. I feel lighter, happier and more positive after engaging with what many may pass without a second glance—I do not take it for granted! As the Visa advert would have it, yes
Dinner at a good restaurant: R300
A good bottle of wine: R220
Tipping a great waiter: R50
An uninhibited moment of bliss: PRICELESS
There are some things money can buy, for everything else, give yourself a break and go smell the jasmine in the park! Go feed the ducks …