This evening I went for a walk around the northern area of my suburb. I started thinking, as I do at such times, about the cycle of life. I looked at the houses, built in different eras: some, cubic colonnades apparently designed by a flamboyant geometrician, standing side by side like so many misshapen dominoes; others, built in the 70s, dolled up with wrought iron handrails, yet still looking like beach shacks; and others from 20 years previously, further back from the road, standing on limestone blocks, with concrete paths and steps and narrow, multi-paned, tilt-open windows. I looked at the bigger picture, at the lights of the streets and houses that formed the grids of the suburb, following the swells and dips of the land. What would the first settlers have thought if they could have seen Perth now?

I thought about the people who lived here; who they were, what they had done. A baby is born and grows up here; he goes to school and makes friends. He moves into the work force and earns money. He takes up sports and hobbies and makes new friends. He meets a girl; they fall in love and get married. They move into a house and make it a home. They have a baby, who grows up, goes to school, makes friends, perhaps goes to university and then into working life. His parents get older. He meets a girl, they fall in love, marry and make a home and have children. Their grandfather and grandmother die, and their parents get older, and the cycle continues.

When these children get older, maybe they travel to another country, maybe they become famous in their field. But outside that field, they’re unknown. Take Frankie Manning. He’s almost 90 I think. When the Lindy Hop began, he was there. During the Golden Age of swing, he was there. Frankie is a dancer, an innovator – he created the first air step – a choreographer, a global ambassador for Lindy Hop, making this swing dance better known. Living in New York, he’s seen the world at war, from WW II to Korea to Vietnam. He’s seen the space age, the technological age, the cultural revolutions. When a couple of young adults in Sweden saw Lindy Hop being danced in the old movies, they wanted to learn, and they sought out the people who danced it. Frankie was one of them. You could say that Frankie Manning is the quintessence of Lindy Hop. But outside the swing music and dance community, who knows him? Who knows what he’s achieved and what he represents?

Frankie Manning is only one person in the cycle; a cycle that goes back thousands of years. Imagine yourself living in Asia, two millennia before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, during the rule of one of the great empires: the Akkadians, the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Sumerians. Even in those ancient days, the cycle was turning. People fell in love, married, had children, politicked, danced and fought; but now, they are lost to time; and who remembers them? Millions of people lived and died through nations and empires and ages, through inventions and plagues and wars … and now it is our turn.

In my suburb alone, one among countless others … what stories does it hold, and the thousands of houses it contains? What histories? What laughter and relationships and suffering and achievements? And my fellow suburbanites, living at this moment in history, the result of the lives of so many other people, we are now part of this cycle. Right now, this is our time under the sun; but we too will grow old and die, and the next generation will take our place.

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