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Clearest Day

Mountains small in distance

Mountains small in distance

On a clear day you really can see forever. The movie of that title is surreal and weird to me, possibly due to being stuck home sick in high school watching it as anything its creators intended. Today the sky is like that movie, like the 1970 in which it was made: brilliant, everything distant, the world open and amazed.

A dazzling week of sun has confused the seasons and my sense of time. Is it a fall day those first years in Texas, my child mind a little less confused by some coolness, finally, in the air? Is it the brilliant but still-brown day in high school, the Sunday the time changed, the world bright and silent as I walk between algebra assignments? It cannot be true that it is 2012 and I walk around Microsoft’s suburban streets. 2012 was to have had us living in lunar domes, or scrabbling through radioactive wreckage. No book I read ever considered such a fanciful year would be so mundane as to have us riding the bus to work.

I am walking with a friend when I take this picture. A hard walk, he has adopted it as his strengthening and longevity program: six miles or so up and down Seattle’s urban hills, up and down a half-mile of steps. He is much faster than two weeks ago when we last did it. The sun amazes with its unnatural brilliance. We pause and take pictures, longer for him with his newer iPhone. Look at that. We sound like our grandparents. If this weather holds, two weeks will make this view will be a riot of green.

You should look at this time as recovery. My friend told me this our last walk two weeks ago, and the idea has stayed with me. I’ve never had a drug problem and barely drink, but the obsessive need to be something and somewhere else I’ve known for as long as I can remember. Why else Star Trek?

You’ve gone through a lot, everybody says. You should give yourself time to breathe. You barely breathed in Hawaii. What is it like to breathe knowing you haven’t been?

The view looks out at the University of Washington, north to the Cascades. It’s hard to see with the wide angle, but the mountains extend in either direction, dazzling with snow. The clouds are high and cold and soften the light. When evening comes they will spray purple and orange, colors from other worlds.

A view like this in the heart of the city–down where you live and all business is done–breaks you loose. Even if only for a second, that second is full of time-paused anti-gravity. Deep time is there, the soundless force emitted by the mountains and the celestial spheres. No one ever hears it, but in these moments you can feel it. Thinking stops. This is what it must be like to walk on the Moon. 

I am glad for the day and my friend who likes having me along. He’s older, working through changes too. We all have company, all around, and some days it is sunny.

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2 comments on “Clearest Day

  1. This is how I used to get away from my school-day mind when I was a kid. Up in the hills, looking down on all that stuff which seemed so important a couple of hours ago. Precious times.

  2. It’s funny how each element of a childhood day was its own, self-contained world. At least, that’s how it felt to me. Watching TV before leaving for the bus, the bus ride itself along country roads and morning mist, waiting around outside the school, and then of course all the multitudes of worlds each hour there. After school and before dinner was a long descent into magic. I’m remembering how to look without looking and find that place again.

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