Propped against the narrow sill of my cousin Phil’s upstairs bedroom wooden cross-pained windows I was suddenly pondering a cold and crisp fall migrating rapidly toward winter. The windows that looked out over the wooded landscape up behind my aunt and Uncle’s relic three story home… there, on the hill, alone. I loved the room, one with an angled ceiling and the cushioned bench beneath the row of windows.
Music played on his small radio by his bed. My parents were visiting with the family down the stairs and in the living room graced by a crackling fire, it’s shadows dancing about the walls diminishing any consideration of the chill beyond the walls.
His room was warm, filled with all the things a young boy idealizes an older high school student possessing. Colorful patchwork blankets on the bed, posters on the walls, a trumpet on a small table, chemistry set on the floor in the corner, a few books beyond my comprehension for the time, lay set upon a small unfinished pinewood desk. I had been resting on that sill for some moments studying the now wintery barren birch and alder, standing as guardian sentries across the dirt rutted drive separating the main house from the outbuildings. The densely forested conifers stood more deeply imbedded in the woods behind the cold and barren trees and I watched as wisps of fog drifted slowly across the panorama and moved almost imperceptibly among the stands. Dreams of summer had gradually disappeared and an unforgiving winter was encroaching within the bitter cold outside even discarding the withering leaves of fall behind. Christmas was then but a few weeks away.
The grayish skies, and muted hues amidst the trees and the bleached stands embraced a slight breezes lament. It was a quiet winter’s dance of sorts. In all its somber resolution, i was reminded of aloneness, of wonder, of pensive nothings. I could dream of summers past and embrace dreams of summer again. Yet, there was, of sorts, a beauty of the winters vista I had never noticed before. Rain would drive the fog away, but I imagined the nature of fog – a unique creation and wished for it to remain within the visual picture before me. There was mysticism about its presence. Everything seemed so very still. I realized that I liked the fragile, precious state of stillness. There seemed evidence on that day of my awakening of the eternal power of love. I was a young boy discovering the romance of nature. Little did I know it would later influence my experiences as a long distance runner or mountaineer. But I do, however, remember from where the genesis emanated and it began on that day as a gentle dream when I had time and solitude to actually integrate it into my psyche. I hope all young people have such opportunities, for such experiences shape who we become. Perfect dreams arise in the heart of distant horizons. They arise above the Delphines in our lives and are as great as the star Altair or the depths of the universe. These windows, the ones with a view, make it possible.
These times and places we call life are but a spec of time and occupy a spec of space in a grand universe. So what is it that we are to learn here? I do believe it is in thoughtful experiences and insight that we nurture our values. These experiences are silent steps to, and within the soul. Regardless of our season, they emerge as songs beneath our moon. These moments are glorious celebrations rich in power and resonance. T.S Elliott once wrote, “I’ve been freed from the self that pretends to be someone, and in becoming no-one, I begin to live.
These were small moment of change that last a lifetime.