When was the last time you experienced a ”wow!” moment? You know, a real ”oh, my gosh!” instant.
There’s no doubt that as we get older our ”wow!’ moments diminish.
As children, they were many, our days filled with ”wows!”. Learning to ride a bike, the thrill of catching a lizard, our first trip to the Easter Show, the first time we caught a wave. Everything was exciting and new and wonderful.
Everything was ”wow!’.
The wows continued into our teens as we tasted delicious moments of freedom for the first time. Remember the first time you kicked over the ignition without a parent in the car? Or when we stayed out past midnight kissing boys we knew our fathers wouldn’t like? And what about that first holiday away with our mats, no adults, just endless days of summer fun.
Down the track our ”wow!” moments became more life changing – our first job, settling with a life partner and having a baby among them. It’s when we head into our 40s and 50s that these magical moments become few and far between, not because life is boring, but because it is filled with routine and responsbility rather than dreams of adventure.
That was until I went to Canberra. Yes, I repeat, Canberra. That sterile, dull place where people choose to work rather than live. Definitely the last place I expected to go ”wow!”.
Of course I knew the War Memorial would blow me away, that Parliament House would be splendid and the Portrait Gallery inspirational, but they weren’t the triggers to the butterflies I experienced.
My thrill came from Shash and Tanzi, two magnificent cheetahs I spent 15 minutes with at The National Zoo and Aquarium. They were collected from Africa in 2002 by carnivore keeper Ryan Brill when they were just five weeks old.
Ryan’s father Richard Tindale bought the zoo in 1998 when it was an aquarium, his vision to support the conservation of endangered species. An encounter with the cheetahs is just one of several offered with various animals at the zoo.
Ryan led me into their spacious and grassy home with clear instructions. As much as I had envisioned frolicking with them and sharing meaningful cuddles, that was not an option. These were wild, alert animals with sharp instincts and their instincts when I popped in to to bond were to avoid me.
I patiently followed them at a distance while they lazily strolled about nudging and flirting with Ryan. It was clear they were his girls, and I was just an annoying interloper. Tanzi wasn’t having a bar of me, but eventually Shasha settled and apparently her low rumbling of contentment was an invitation for met to join her.
I reached out and stroked her. her fur was soft and silky, the end of her tail stiff and bristly (yes, she let me touch it). Her purring was deep and guttural, her manner regal and tolerant. Then she rolled, just like a cat, I mean really, just like the pussy cats you have at home.
I was captivated. I went ”wow!”