Surfers Paradise. Saturday, 5pm.
From 77 floors up, you get some perspective on the world. I’m on the top floor of the highest building in the southern hemisphere, the Q1. (Named by a robot.) From here, you can look south, above the Gold Coast skyscrapers with their rooftop pools and forested penthouses, all the way to the border ranges and beyond – to a pale blue Wollumbin.
Normally, such heights give me vertigo. I’m susceptible to height sickness. The Cuban heels on my dress boots can make me feel nauseated, until I sip on a remedial shiraz. But here at the top of the glittering Paradise pile, I have no dizziness. Maybe that’s because this is a bar and, over the years, bars have made me comfortable with nausea.
Yes, from a height you gain perspective on things. I reckon that’s why the monks meditating atop the Himalayas are wise enough to know that true enlightenment means peace with all living things. It’s not the religion, stupid, it’s the height that makes you understand.
Normally, the current state of the world gives me ground-level depression: It’s a war on everything. But this highest bar in the land has ceiling-to-floor glass walls and you can see in all directions. Get high and get some perspective. I do like this bar.
To the north I can see the Nerang River, deformed by canals, straight-lining and right-angling its way through expensive suburbs, to suddenly fatten and push its way through the Spit to join the ocean.
It’s a big ocean and the slight bump of dune that separates that huge muscle of water from the bitsy business of humans seems small and vulnerable. If, say, the ocean were to flex its muscle with a tsunami or a wild storm, the giant buildings and massive homes, the jet skis and jetties, the roads and Hummer limousines below me would disappear as surely as Atlantis.
Luckily, if such a breach of the fragile dune were to happen right now, I would be safe enough with a well-stocked bar behind me, plenty of overpriced spicy wedges with sweet chilli sauce in front of me, and enough people from all over the world to start a multicultural high-rise society. Sustainability would be a real aspiration then, not a buzzword.
Height gives you perspective. And what is higher than the moon?
When Neil Armstromng landed on the moon back in 1969, he spoke of peace. ‘It’s a great honour and privilege for us to be here representing not only the United States but men of peace of all nations,’ he said to President Nixon, an Earth-bound man not much into honour or peace.
Armstrong left a disk on the lunar surface that contains messages of peace from 73 world leaders. The moon had pulled a tide of lofty aspirations from many world leaders, who looked beyond the pettiness of national self-interest to a dream of global peace.
Prime Minister of India Indira Ghandi wrote, ‘I fervently hope that this event will usher in an era of peaceful endeavour for all mankind.’
Canadian PM, Pierre Elliott Trudeau: ‘May that high accomplishment allow man to rediscover the Earth and find peace there.’
Eric Williams, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago: ‘It is our earnest hope for mankind that while we gain the moon, we shall not lose the world.’
Sometimes I fear we have lost the world, Eric. But here, in the cloud bar, there is perspective. And, maybe, even hope.
As the sun sets behind the mountains, as the high-rise throw their shadows across the beach, as the boys cruise Cavill Avenue in noisy cars, I see the moon hanging over us, and I embrace the messages of peace and hope there from leaders who lifted their eyes higher.