I Believe

In 2004, the author John Marsden approached 100 eminent Australians to contribute to a new book titled ‘I Believe This’. It was to be personal philosophies of remarkable men and women exploring life’s big question. Don McIntyre was one of those 100. Here is what he wrote:

As an 11-year-old boy I was shocked to the core when I discovered I only had two years to live. At that age your horizons are justifiably close. The big picture hasn’t entered your head, apart from what you learn at Sunday school. There it was in black and white on the pages of Australasian Post Magazine… The world was doomed! A giant meteor would collide with earth days before my thirteenth birthday. I was going to die! The article was truly scary; overpowering the bikini clad women on the preceding pages.

I was bewildered and confused that this situation was out of my control and worse no one seemed to care! Why weren’t people making preparations? Where were we going to hide? What could I do?… nothing, I was going to die. 

Discovering my own mortality was profound and now 38 years later death is still indirectly the catalyst to a driving force greater than survival itself and a partner to ‘This I Believe’. When you come to terms with the inevitability of death you appreciate and value the gift of a healthy life and the passion you must give it.

Having faced death as a little boy, my next awakening came as a teenager, camping in the country on a clear night, laying on my back searching for satellites and falling stars. My consciousness began to race beyond the stars, how far to the furthermost? What was beyond that? The black bits between aren’t the ceiling of a room so where does it end? How far out is forever? Where are the boundaries? I had real difficulties comprehending that space had no boundaries and if so why should life? What am I ? What are we? What’s it all about ? The big picture was intriguing and told me to live.

This book is loaded with diverse beliefs and I am sure reading between the lines many are similar, as we are all human beings on one earth exposed to life. When, where, how and with whom you are born sets the foundation of your exposure to life, but then it is up to you. I believe in many things… you make your own luck by meeting people and grabbing opportunities others don’t perceive, or do and pass up to live with regret.

I believe you have to dream before you plan so why not big dreams? I believe being satisfied and content with what you have shouldn’t stop you trying for the lot. I believe in having a go even if others say you shouldn’t. I believe experience in anything is better than no experience at all, which brings me to flat lining. This I believe dearly. If you get hot, on goes the air conditioner; if you get cold; on goes the heater. We all do it to some degree but if you are good at it, life will surely be boring. What is wrong with contrast, pushing the boundaries, being a little scared, moving outside your comfort zone, getting a little hot or cold. Say ‘yes’ for a change. Life is meant to be about emotion with its ups and downs, highs and lows. If these extremes above and below the line become lower and lower, you will be very comfortable as a flat liner but life is boring and you feel empty. Experiencing adrenaline, challenge, disappointment, joy, happiness, hot and cold is life itself. Sometimes it is meant to be raw.

I believe there is nothing so good as giving yourself to your partner. It makes life so real and sometimes nothing else matters. It is all you need when all else fails especially when you are well below the line.

Sailing the world in my twenties I discovered myself and that you work to live, not live to work. If you believe in only one thing, you must believe in yourself. If you abuse yourself how can you enjoy a fulfilling life? No one is perfect and we are all different but surely the evidence is there, cigarettes and alcohol are a drug, they are bad for your body and soul, shortening your life. While some people die living their dream on the side of a mountain, it is not quite the same for a smoker when they say, ‘he died doing what he loved best!’. I believe good health is a wonderful thing and hey you can’t do much without it.

So here I am about to enter my fifties. I still gaze to the stars, contemplating the big picture. The meteor strike is now main stream media with no fixed date and poor Random House…. they have been trying to get these few words out of me for nine months. Over the past two I have had regular weekly phone calls talking deadlines and each week I tell them it is tomorrow – only to be distracted by life. There have been diving expeditions in Vanuatu, two major car rallies, an ultralight float plane to bring from Sydney to Tasmania, my 22m expedition schooner ‘ICE’, to truck cross-country from Darwin to Yamba, three weeks in the French Riviera sorting out a boat, property developments to coordinate, this summer’s Antarctic expedition to organise and helicopter lessons. 

Today’s call. No more deadline extensions! It’s finished! I am sending it by fax from the boat as I head north to the Great Barrier Reef and Papua New Guinea diving, fishing and exploring for three months.