People are not defined by what they look like. It’s true ’a book should never be judged by its cover’; I prefer to think a person is defined by their actions, what they choose to do, or not do, and leads them to do/not do what they decide to do/not do. Considering what causes people to choose to do and not to do something, I came to the conclusion that it’s all about ratios: the ratio between how much you want/do not want to do something, why you should and why you shouldn’t do something, and each person evaluates the whys with different significance, leading to everyone having different ratios, therefore making different decisions, taking different actions, being different people. This goes for every decision we make, the need to go shopping for food over the desire to sit about doing nothing, feeling hungry. The decision about where in front of the left foot the right foot should go when walking. The ever-fluctuating ratio between the desire to run off a platform, to have the adventure and experience, the need to follow the person ahead maybe (the need to get the shots and live up to expectations of others for some individuals) against the risks, the risk of being seen by the wrong person as you run down those little steps, the fear of being seen by anyone at all, fear of misplacing left foot in front of the right and touching the third rail, the chance of workers being down that dark tunnel, the desire to sleep instead due to being exhausted from the days leading to that point, sleeping rough and climbing every night..... When the ratio is right, the person will run, if it’s never right, they will never run.
On the East Coast of Brazil, there’s a beautiful island. From what I can tell, it offers everything I could ever wish for. It hosts the capital of the state – yet there’s also countryside, beaches, rivers, lagoons, forested areas, whales swimming by, friendly and kind people. I guess the only thing missing is a snow capped mountain for winter sports, although that’s not too much of an issue when the sand dunes offer sand boarding. Although none of those things were what I noticed when I first came to the island of Florianopolis; what I noticed was the huge, beautiful structure joining the mainland to this island. A large suspension bridge, the icon of the entire state, lit up like a Christmas tree by lights dotted along its cables. On the first night on the island, Pierre, my kind host for the visit there, and I crept out of the boat house, into the pickup, and headed to the bridge, shamefully stopping at McDonald’s en route. The island side of the bridge was less than encouraging, being next to both a fire station and a police station. Once at the base of the bridge on the mainland side, where the cables came as close to the ground as they ever do, we were confronted by many loud dogs, threatening to give us away, but we waited for them to calm down and continued snooping. On the foundations, the starting line, there were some loose coins, not money but coins from a fair or arcades, with the words ‘For Amusements Only’ on them. Looking up at the bridge we couldn’t help but giggle, we pocketed the coins and headed back to the boat house. The ratio wasn’t right that night. The ratio of how much I needed to empty my bowels over how much I wanted to be up there was skewed most uncomfortably towards me being close to pooping myself. After a brief stop to use some porta-loos on the island, and a brief contemplation of the ratio between the need to wipe/have warm feet, I continued back to the boathouse with Pierre – sockless. Returning the following night, with a fresh pair of socks on, I made sure I’d been to the loo before we set off. With empty bowels and full intentions of climbing, Pierre and I had that always enjoyable conversation, the one about what he thought might happen if we got caught climbing a national icon in South America. Nothing good you might guess. He suggested things much worse that I would have though; despite these new concerns we pushed on, in dark clothes, bags and equipment ready... this time the ratio was right, the climb was fun, and was done for amusement only. Once down, we went past the barking dogs, and threw our coins in the water under the bridge. I couldn't help but think about the fact that, two days earlier, I’d never met Pierre in person and never seen that bridge with my own eyes. Things change, and everything that changes affects the people involved, affecting the way they see and evaluate things and the way they act, the decisions they make, and in turn, this makes a person different, not a different hair colour or eye shadow!