Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dusk on the Hill

Up The Hill
A couple of weeks ago, Younger Daughter and I took a short car trip up a hill.  No big deal, but farther and deeper than I thought.

It was a late spring night, and for about an hour, up there on the hill, we just took it all in.  It was nice to have at least a few moments to disconnect from the routine and busyness of these days to enjoy something simple, like enjoying the simple pleasure of a sunset over  the city.  I can't remember the last time I took time out like that.

Daughter wanted to head up the hill and take in the sunset, and get some photos of it, from a lookout at her school.  I am not sure what motivated her to ask me, in the kitchen after dinner, if I wanted to go.  She had just finished her sophomore year, perhaps this mid-point of high school; a marker in the ground of sorts.  Parents:  when you get asked to do something like this from your fiercely independent kids, drop everything and just go.

Top of the Hill
At the top of the hill above the Rose Bowl, you are surrounded on three sides by the City of Pasadena and its suburbs.  As dusk settles in you can hear the low rush of the freeway below.  This world we live is in constant motion, rushing from here to there, never ceasing.  Standing above it all, I suddenly feel out of place - thinking that we had stepped out of that racing world below to a separate place, one of relative calm and reflection.  Above it all, if only for a while.

Am I like all those people down there on the freeway, rushing headlong forward, not perceiving what is really happening to me, letting life flow past me, and not learning?  There is so much going on around us in each moment, and we rarely take the time to stop and listen.  And wonder.

There I was on that hill above the city, in a place I could not imagine being even several short years ago, with a young lady taking pictures by my side who, its seems just yesterday, was just half as tall and confident as she is now.  Am I taking this all in? Do I know what is really happening in the mystery at the core of this life?

Over The Hill
Recently, I heard something on a podcast that has had me pondering, remembering my Dad, and reflecting on that night up on the hill.

It was a thoughtful conversation about the spirituality of Alzheimer's and aging, presented on Speaking of Faith.  Psychologist Alan Dienstag described his relationship with Anna, an Alzheimer's patient, who was at the point of forgetting almost everyone and everything in life.  They both shared a love of the beach, and Alan told his patient/friend Anna that he was going to be heading to the beach soon for vacation.  The beach, Anna thought, her face turning pensive.

Anna smiled, her face lit up, and after some thought she replied...."There is some kind of music that lives there."

In the fog of her mental decline, there was a mysterious place where Anna remembered the essence of being at the beach, and perhaps of this life itself.  The music that lives there.  Where did that memory come from, in a mind that everyone had just about dismissed as non-functional.  Perhaps it was a prayer. Its a place between knowing and not knowing. Its a mystery.

And there we were, up on that hill, taking in the sunset.  Dad, at nearly 52, and daughter at just more than 16, standing in the gathering dusk.

There was music living there too.
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