|Memories of solsti past
||[Jun. 21st, 2009|07:12 pm]
Was it 1970 or 1971? Nearly 40 years later, I don't know for certain — nor does it much matter. It was a long time ago and I, if not the world, was young and already strangely happy in my own company.
That June 21st of whatever year it was, I was for the first time aware of the summer solstice; awed by the implications that tonight marked the longest day of the year, counterintuitively also marking the start of winter.
I was determined to experience this, "first", solstice in all its glory.
We lived in a small town then, Two Mountains, outside of Montreal. Our house was a small one perhaps six or seven blocks from a small commuter railway station and an accompanying strip-mall.
As the sun neared the horizon, I left the house and hoped on my bicycle to cycle down to the tracks. I don't know if it was simply the sound of the passing trains or the sense of unbounded possibilities of their little-known origins and destinations, or simply that most of the kids I knew were forbidden to cross those tracks, but — whatever the reason(s) — I also felt a sort of solitary comfort when near the iron rails.
And so I stopped my bike, propped it against a tree and walked along the deserted platform until I reached its end and so stood, alone, by the tracks and waited for the sun to fall.
God alone knows the specifics of what went through my six (or seven) year-old mind as I tracked old Sol's course towards the horizon. What I can remember now is inchoate, words attempting to fix feeling, to name sensation. But I do recall finding a strange comfort in my sensation that, not despite but because I was so small, aware (to some extent) of the great size of my world and the even greater universe of which it was a part, that I was nevertheless a part of that majestic, uncreated creation.
Silent, I gazed at the sky, listened to the evening breeze rustle through green spring leaves, and wondered ...
I said I don't remember the specifics, and it's true, I don't.
But I feel morally certain that I contemplate my past, that I fantasized about my future, and that I achieved one of my first real intimations of the simultaneous antinomies that (at least in part) define the human condition. That we are all, ultimately, alone; and that, at the same time, we are intimately bound not only to one another but to the whole of creation.
No wonder I don't remember what words went through my mind.
I do remember the sky growing dark, then darker. When the stars began to multiply I found my bicycle, said a wordless good night to the train station, to the long-closed shops, and to the sun itself, then began my ride up the hill towards home.