Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I've been to the mountaintop ...

He wasn’t sleepy so we went for a walk in the park. The sun came out in the early afternoon, just enough to chase away the bitter cold of early morning. We were in the Stadtgarten, the oldest park in Cologne, with trees wide and tall that remind me of the live oaks I used to know as a child in South Carolina, although these trees bare no moss and this is clearly not the Deep South. I expect that many of us have had moments like these, perhaps they were experienced on a mountaintop after a heavy snow, when the clouds cleared and the world was laid out before you in all it's glory. I remember a passage in “The Snow Leopard” a marvelous book of self-discovery by Peter Matthiessen. He was in his tent, high in the Himalayas, I think he had just smoked a bowl of something he had been carrying with him on his long journey from New York following the recent death of his wife … It was a moment of realization, of cosmic clarity, when for some reason he, a mere mortal, was given a glimpse of truth. Today I was sitting on a steel bench in the Stadtgarten, and had not been smoking anything exotic; the only stimulus I’d imbibed was a strong cup of coffee made with a bag of Aldi’s best. But what I experienced was no less remarkable than a moment of truth on a mountaintop.
A little before 1:00PM a train passed by, it was the sound of the train that captured my attention, then I noticed the dappling of light in the bare tree limbs above and then I saw my son, all 15 kilos of him, struggling to pull his body up the last two steps of the ladder to the tall red slide, the same slide that only yesterday he cried for me to stand under while he climbed those same steps. He didn’t announce that he was attempting the ascent on his own for the first time, nor did he call to me when he approached the summit, he simply walked with conviction to the slide, addressed the ladder and climbed.
When I saw him there at the top of the steps I nearly wept, I knew I had witnessed something momentous in his life, a marker, another signal accomplishment in his steady migration away from the nest we have so lovingly crafted for him and out into the world that could care less who he is or if he lives or dies. I was instantly sorry that his mother had not been able to witness this moment with me … I had slipped the camera in my pocket before we left the apartment and later restaged the event for her, but that could never compare with being where I was on that park bench this afternoon, and I know that and she knows that, although it will never be spoken between us. How life tortures us, spacing these moments of pure joy, with certain pain.

5 Comments:

Blogger Cathy said...

Richard;
I actually got teary reading your post. Such beauty and love in your words. I so wish that more people would stop in their tracks, take themselves out of their selfish minds and watch, listen, smell their lives unfolding in the surroundings of a simple act of a day in their lives. Our lives are full of these moments, aren't they? It's up to us; our challenge to see them; take notice.

Your words in this post are very powerful. Hair on the back of my neck kind of moment.

1:33 AM  
Blogger Expat Traveler said...

ah that is so cuuuute.

5:41 AM  
Blogger Rich said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

Yes I agree! You have a very powerfull way of describing things. I really enjoy reading your writings... Espescially the writings about you and your son. I am expecting a baby in august and your writing makes me want the delivery to come now! I loved you blog called "Dear self...make a note." I think that your writings are very insperational for a soon to be father. Thank you!!

7:07 PM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

And thank all of you for your comments - I genuinely appreciate the time you take to read these posts and leave your thoughts...This is a strange new medium here - this autobiographic give and take.

9:36 PM  

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