Monthly Archives: April 2011

Spring in the City

It was the last day of the month. Apart from the fact that lunch with an old client had been a really enjoyable experience, the day itself wasn’t particularly noticeable, so I really wondered what could bring so many people into the street in the middle of the day. My client had agreed to drop me off at my next appointment but there were three fire trucks blocking the road and the police were redirecting traffic, so I had to go the rest of the way on foot.

The people hanging over the rail of the footbridge had their eyes riveted on a spot just below them. My gaze was irresistibly drawn to a small group of people milling around something on the ground.  Then I caught a glimpse of legs in stockings lying side by side on the footpath. They wore shoes. There is something deeply shocking about legs in shoes lying prone on the footpath in broad daylight in the middle of the day. I had seen legs like that at another time in my life when I was driving along the motorway and there had been an accident. My mind had taken an unforgettable photograph of slim bare legs caught in sunlight streaming through the open door of the passenger’s seat. Her floral dress fell in folds just above the knee. It could have been springtime then, too.

I got to my appointment on time. It was a great brainstorming session, so I was feeling very positive when I left the client two hours later. I headed back the way I had come. The fire trucks had left the scene but there were still curious onlookers standing around just staring. She was now completely covered in a gold tinted space blanket, so the legs were no longer visible. She was lying close to the fence line and at the foot of a high rise, typical of the Paris business district out at La Defense. A passerby said, “She jumped from the second floor, you know.” “Just over there,” he added pointing to the balcony. He seemed keen for me to know this and, for some reason, I was keen to know it as well. I wanted to linger and stare. I caught sight of a faded red tea towel dangling from a branch below “her” balcony and wondered if it had jumped with her. It hung in undisguised distress amidst the dreary grey of unmitigated concrete. “She’s missed spring,” I thought. I dragged my eyes away and hurried back to life. I popped by the supermarket on the way home to pick up something for dinner. It was hard to stay focused on the shelves as I wandered up and down the alleys wondering who usually fixed the dinner at “her” house. Was there some kid coming home to no dinner on the table and a space blanket on the ground? What the hell had gone wrong at lunch time on March 31st that made a two storey drop more attractive than “life as usual?” I came to the conclusion at the check out that I had absolutely no idea but that I had a lot of ill formed judgments to contend with. The night brought no wisdom and I had to pass that way again the following day. There was a pile of sawdust on the ground where she had lain. I wondered how much blood could spill out of a body that hit concrete from an altitude of about 20 meters. I felt the lick of the winds that would eventually erase all memory of her from the street. I noticed the persistence of the tea towel clinging to its naked branch. I imagined the blossom that would soon soften the edges of the violence done to life in one second on one day at the end of one month.  

And who hasn’t, at some point in their journey through life, thought about putting an end to the pain, the hurt, the suffering, the despair, the guilt, the shame, the disappointment? It is not uncommon.

A friend sent this quote to his network last week. I share it here because its words glimmer brilliantly in the darkest of black holes and speak to all that spring holds in its arms:

“The current of the world has its boundaries, otherwise it could have no existence, but its purpose is not shown in the boundaries which restrain it, but in its movement, which is toward perfection. The wonder is not that there should be obstacles and sufferings in this world, but that there should be law and order, beauty and joy, goodness and love.”

Rabindranath Tagore(1861 1941)

Bengali poet & philosopher

Nobel Prize for literature 1913

So a black hole is like what for you and what happens to it in spring?

Enjoy the blooming in April



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