Pic of the day: And there it is. Like a portal opening up before me, the trees frame a familiar view of breathtaking beauty. The waterfall ...
Before a fall
I will write, while I still remember. For even memory is not safe. But I will remember.
It is Sunday, 9th of September. It is the second day without rain on the farm. The farm on the west coast of Norway, where I grew up, and where I am visiting. This is my chance to get up on the Oak Ridge, a forested shelf in the mountain above our home. I used to go up and down there regularly when I was a kid. The goats passed through there every day on their way to the mountain. Sometimes I followed them, other times I walked alone. In the summer, I would bathe in the river (stream, I guess I would call it now). I have so many memories.
I climb over the fence. I find the path and realize that the ground is still wet and slippery. But I don't want to turn away now. I used to go there all the time, when I was a kid. Yeah, I guess I was more kid than most kids ... I climbed where only goats dared to go, and hardly even them. But that was then. This is now.
The path is just a small track in the vertical mountain side. Did I really run here with no thought of fear or risk? Now I feel the deep sucking at me, napping at me like a hungry wolf. Whispering: 'Fall already! Fall, fall, fall!' I lean as tightly as I can to the rock wall on the other side. I wish to grip it and hold on. But I force myself to go on. What happened? When did I become so obsessed with my own mortality? When did I lose confidence in myself? I don't know. I vaguely remember that it was like this last time too, but I don't remember when that was.
Finally, the nightmare fades. I stand on more gently sloping ground, and start to move in between the trees. They are old, mature trees. Any new ones are eaten by the goats. I guess it is only a question of time before the ridge is without trees entirely. But they have plenty of time, these trees. A human generation does not change them much. They are like I remembered them. Perhaps a bit larger. But those are the same trees, and this is the same path. Is it really 30 years?
I look out from the ridge, see the valley through the top of the trees underneath the cliff. Yes, they have grown too. I used to be able to see much more from here. I turn west, walking toward the familiar sound. What I really came here for.
And there it is. Like a portal opening up before me, the trees frame a familiar view of breathtaking beauty. The waterfall, or rather the upper falls. There is another lower fall, down that same mountainside where I walked. But this is my favorite. Like a giant bridal veil, the white water falls in a constant movement. Always at rest, always in motion. With awe and love I step out from the shadows. Into the sun, into the song of the waters, into the fresh wetness of powdered water drifting on the wind.
I close the camera. The fog from the waterfall would cover the lens anyway. But I wish I could show you the sunshine being broken in the water dust into a nearly full circle rainbow of stunning detail. And I remember that it was here, in front of that unmoving rainbow, that I realized for the first time in my life: To see the rainbow, you must also face your own shadow.
The smell of the broken water is the taste of my youth. And there before me is the pond where I used to bathe. First with my brothers, who dived for stones at the bottom and threw them out to make a dam. It was large enough to swim in, just barely. After my brothers, I had the pond alone for a few years until the neighbor's daughter started to show up, scaring me away with her girliness. And anyway, it was my time to leave the farm. I was 15. Time to go.
Now I am here again, and like one who returns to find his first love. I climb to the upper pond, where the long waterfall streams down like a shower for giants, hard like the strike of a cane but playful and tickling like the hair of a lover. The sound drowns out my thoughts, and I start to sing, the words coming to my mouth directly from my heart. I am unable to sing in choirs, I cannot blend my voice with other human voices. But I can blend it with the song of the water. And in a harmony that dissolves the self, I remember.
My face grows steadily more wet as I stand with my arms wide and begs forgiveness. Forgiveness for forgetting my first love. I will not forget again.
Now and forever, I am a part of everything, and everything is a part of me. Everything, and everyone. All of creation. And then some, perhaps. What is not to love?
Finally, I turn and walk away. It is September 9, 2001. The world has still some innocence left.
Visit the Diary Farm for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.