Monday, May 29, 2006

Dangling my feet over the edge


I am back from Tuscany, a land of hills and mountains and towers. During my time there, I climbed a tower only to find that gazing down from steep heights still gives me vertigo. It's hard for me to watch my kids lean against railings, much less sit on them. I know that many people sit on the edge with excitement. I also know that they are excited because they are confident that they will not have to cross that edge, certain that they can dangle their feet without jumping or falling.

There were trees growing at the top of the tower I climbed, the tower in Lucca. Looking at the picture, it is easy to imagine that it was taken from a look-out in a park on the hillside. It was taken from the top of the tower; I reached the top by climbing a series of progressively more narrow and twisty steps. Somebody made the tower and planted the trees.

The top of the tower is the perspective of the holiday; an artificial interruption we use to gain different perspectives. We pause, look down and around, and think about whether our "trip" back to our real lives will feel more like a descent, a spiral or a fall downwards. When we get to the bottom of the stairs, the end of the holiday, we see with double vision: our lives as they look from the middle, our lives as they look from the distance.

From the tower, we are more aware of how many different paths intersect our own, and how easy it might be to change our path. We are aware of the movement around us that is hidden from the ground. We are aware that to stay in one place is not to avoid change, for we see from the top of the tower that the scene is always changing around every possible position. The place we reach when we climb back down is not the place we left.

So I sit this morning, dangling my legs over the edge of my time in Italy, and taking one last look at the panorama spread out before me, learning again in my own experience what clients experience each time we take them out of their lives and into our courses, making even the familiar look different, showing them rooftops and paths not taken.

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