The Swing

So… the other day, Tuesday, was the shortest day of the year.
Shortest amount of sun of course–its the same number of hours on the clock. But the day is the sun.

In my apartment, in the back of a huge apartment building, facing the back of another huge apartment building, there’s not a lot of sun to begin with. Sunlight drops in there during part of the day but seems to take a look around, decide its not a place it wants to be, then backs on out. -So this time of the year is the worst. The anemic light shows up around 7:15 am, hangs around for a few hours, gets bored, then starts to pack up and go home around 3:30.

So… Tuesday, the shortest day; its around 11:30am and I get off a few stops early from the bus that runs up alongside Riverside Park…
I decide I’ll attempt a ten block walk–see if my central nervous system can push my old muscles up the slight hill to the street where I live.
This is one of few times during the year you can see the water from the park walk– the trees have to be mostly or almostly completely bare of leaves to a look at one of the biggest rivers in the world.

I stop at the crest of the hill, look at the cold, silver-green river shining in the winter sun… And then I become aware of a great PAUSE…
The slight breeze stopped blowing, the remaining brown leaves hanging from the trees ceased to rattle, the shadows from the trees lay on on the pavement as if stenciled on the concrete and cobbles. Even the river seemed to have stopped flowing, the boats holding still as if in a trance.
The soft, pale sunlight hovered over everything…. I wasn’t even aware of the breath moving in and out of my body-Everything perfectly still.

I felt as if I was in the center of a great pivoting in time and space. The only thing I can compare it to is that feeling when you’re on a swing and you go waaay up– then, at the very top of your upward motion, headed straight, it seems, into the blue sky, you seem to stop for a measureless moment, then- whoosh, you’re you’re moving again…

The river, the shadows, the sun, the leaves, my breath, my body, time and nature paused there at the that moment… the shortest day, the shortest minute, the shortest second of the year…
I looked up and saw on the lowest branch of a tree the hard/soft buds, new leaves wrapped tight in their little cases, each like an embryo in a mother’s belly–folded in and around themselves, still but ready for the motion to begin–the motion that will unfold them into the world.

Ah, what a beautiful pause… knowing everything is alive but suspended, just for that eternal moment.

– Mike Feder (New York City – December 22, 2010)

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