Thursday, March 17, 2005

A walk in the park

I came back to where I am staying just after midnight, after a good day of work, playing with my little girl, dining and catching a movie in the good company of my friends. I dreaded the thought of going to sleep alone in my basement room, and the stars were pleading with me to come out to play with them, admire them, join them. I was cold when I started walking down into the botannical garden. This place is a true haven, especially in summer, when it turns into a magical forrest with colors that are uncommon here, secret passage ways through the bush, and a thousand little hiding places where a young boy can curl up and daydream. I found myself heading for one of those places, which I haven't visited in a couple of decades.

Even though the earth is bare, it is frozen solid. When I reached my destination, I had become tingly and numb from the cold, on my feet, legs, arms, hands and face. It worked with my drowsiness to create a state of comfortable sedation.I lay down on my back, spread out my arms and legs, and looked up at the sky. And there they were. These faint but bright, somehow unapologetically pure fountains of light. And I fell into the Now. I saw Time, churning slowly like a towering steamroller, slowly crushing the moment under its unforgiven metal. When I closed my eyes, I could feel myself peeled to Earth, slowly revolving with her around herself, while hurtling through space around our star. It has been a while since I've felt that uncanny feeling, like being glued on your back to the surface of some giagantic ball that slowly turns as it flies through the air.

It might be true, that life is what happens to you while you are making other plans, but it is magnificent all the same. People will tell you that it would be arrogant to think that we are alone in the Universe. That there has to be life out there, somewhere. "Pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space, 'cause it's bugger all down here on Earth." But that belief bypassess the simple truth that life is a miracle. Just the fact that you are here is a living, breathing testament of something overwhelming. And humbling. And therefore the arrogance may be in expecting this to happen more than once. Perhaps we really are alone. It just might be that there is nothing out there. That we are it. That this day is it. Today is all there is. The billions of lives drinking in trillions of experiences today, tasting a drop of nectar from their bottle of life, burning moments that will never come back. Just that is a true gift. The stars that sparkle silently down from the void can help you realize how small we are in the great scheme of things, but they should also serve as a reminder that this precious gift, too, is fleeting.

I am writing this with pale blue fingers, aching joints, and shivering hands, but also with an uncontrollable smile on my face, A slowly beating heart, cheeks that my blood is turning red from quickly trying to thaw them out, and with eyes that must be sparkling from having been in the company of stars in the sky while on my walk in the park tonight.

This day is gone forever, but I truly lived it, with no regrets. I promise to try to live the next one as well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A good day

Last night, as I was falling asleep, alone in a small basement room, 2403 miles from home, I did not foresee that today would be that great. I was exhausted from getting an hour of sleep in almost 48 hours. I went straight from the airport yesterday morning, after a challenging two-hour bus trip and a five-hour plane ride with a toddler, and charged into a full day of work, with long meetings and bad coffee. And I usually don't even drink coffee. Then came unpacking, endless phone calls, putting my daughter to sleep in an unfamiliar bed. And I knew I had my plate full today too.

So I went to sleep, weary and wary.

And I woke up this morning to my daughter patting me lovingly on the face, giggling. The sun was reaching by her through the window, also caressing my cheek. Already, the day was full of promise. After stuffing myself (food always tastes better when you don't make it yourself) and kissing my little girl good-bye, I drove off to work. I actually left a house—a home—and drove to another house—an office—and worked, there. After spending most of the last few years sleeping and working in the same house, this feels like heaven to me. Being surrounded with other people that are talking, scurrying about, smiling, picking their noses, listening. Looking into your eyes. Do you realize how precious that is? How much of a social animal we really are? I mean, my daughter's company is great, I wouldn't want to trade that for anything. But so is quenching the thirst for using words that contain more syllables than two. Then, I got phonecalls from people that were telling me good things. Like asking me to meet them. In the flesh. Not just talk to them on the phone.

The sunrays kept landing all around me.

I can swear to you that the colors are more vivid here now. The air smells sweet. The light is brighter. Everything is so vibrant. And fast. Maybe it's just city speed. Maybe not. At the end of the day, I got a phone call from a TV news magazine host. She chose to ignore my question about how she got my number and cut to the chase: I was a tech lawyer, right? I live in America but flew over here yesterday, right? I am an authority on legal aspects regarding defamation responsibility for content publising on the web, right? I hardly got in my "Uh, yes", "Yes, but how did you..." and "Well, hardly, actually..." before she said, politely but firmly, that she needed me to show up in make-up an hour later. For a live broadcast. So I did. And it was sort of fun. I have done maybe a dozen or so TV interviews in my career, but this was my first in almost three years. So I felt a bit rusty. But luckily not nervous. I used to perspire so much before doing those that it felt like I was taking a shower. One time, the make-up person said she wanted to put some extra-waterproof make-up on me. Which gave me a kind of pale-blue hue. Not a good experience. But this one was.

Then I went home. And there was my daughter. Who flew around my neck, all smiles. She had apparently run to the TV as soon as I came on, and hugged the thing, yelling "dadda! dadda!" I actually hugged the TV sometimes when I was a kid, but that was because it was my best friend. But I digress.

Now I'm back at work, and I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow. And the next day, even more. And the days that follow. My heart is so grateful for these days. And the promises they fulfill.

I can't wait for more of them.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Sun and snow

The view from where I was working on Friday morning:
Sun and snow
The view from where I was working this morning: