Monday, June 9, 2014

Walter Scott Jr. Observation Tower

Life is generous, it seems, with chances to face your fears. Today it is the Observation Tower you visit before heading home from the family reunion (full of activities and conversations and time and food together, quieted by goodbyes and memories and the things you still want to know.) The fear is small. It does not keep you up at night, but it shows up on days like today.

You are the last one up, partly because you took a few pictures, but also because the farther up you go the sicker you feel. You have been higher than this, many times, but a mountain under you feels different than this thing that is simply up, that is so transparent, so vulnerable, so naked. It is nerve-wracking like a bridge—too many coulds flowing through the structure, too much swaying, too much noise.

Halfway up you stop yourself for the view. Everyone else is at the top—running, banging around a little, calling down. You could stop right here, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But passing up a chance to go to the top because you are uncomfortable—that’s something you promised yourself you were done with. So you take yourself all the way up to the top. You admit to everyone that you don’t like heights very much and try to leave it at that. This is not the kind of fear to share with people who are enjoying the view.

And the view, yes—the hazy far away, the closer treetops, the green new and mature, shadowed and lit. The air, yes. Even the swaying, yes—all of it yes. You did not turn away.

Coming down is easier. You are still quieted, still full. You still lag behind the others, but now it is not because of fear. Now it really is the beauty that slows you down, so much easier to see.

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