Going forward standing still

January 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is Brunelleschi’s dome at the Florence Cathedral. It’s about 114.5 meters from top to bottom. And I climbed it, all the way to that tiny white lantern on top. I hadn’t meant to. I’d just gotten off the train from Venice and was exhausted from a 4-hour ride. I was looking for something to eat and my search somehow led me to this thing. I’d only seen it in books before and that doesn’t prepare you for the jaw-dropping awe you feel standing in front of it. It was just so beautiful and the doors were about to close. So I bought a ticket and this nice woman pointed me to the right. I thought that would take me into the church but it led me to a staircase, then another one. And so on. On the way up, the passageways get narrower and narrower until you didn’t even have space to turn around, the only way out is to keep going up. So with lots of cursing (I didn’t have water on me), panting and promises to God that I’d quit smoking if He would just let this end, I got to the top. And it was worth the climb. All of Florence lay before me, pale yellow sunlight shining on its red-tiled roofs, and I was content. I had to make that harrowing trip down soon but for a while I could just sit there, watch the sunset and be still. In those few minutes I could laugh at the way I do not think before I act, appreciate the things I discover when I do and brace myself for the eventual goodbye, because when you’re an uninvited guest, you outstay your welcome until you leave.

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