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Perspective

August 25, 2012

Today has been an up and down sort of day…emotionally. Old family issues will likely soon come to a head.

And I worry about that. Not about what’s right. I know the right thing to do. I worry about the twists and turn this journey will bring. And what it will leave in its wake.

I wish I could have a better perspective…you know, a bird’s-eye view. Somewhere high above where I could see what dangers approach. Something like the view we saw from the top floor of the Enger Tower.

Naturally, the best, most unobstructed view is from the top floor. A three hundred sixty degree panoramic view…of everything…the city with it’s residential streets and business districts, its parks and green spaces, and golf course. The lift bridge going up and down, and the ore boat going through the canal and into the harbor.The cars waiting for the bridge to be lowered.  Park Point, that narrow strip of land jutting out into the big lake. And there’s Lake Superior and the St. Louis Bay. Sailboats in the harbor along with the Vista Fleet gracefully moving about on the water. Traffic flowing through the web of streets and highways, the freeway and the bridges that cross over into Wisconsin. You can see the busy-ness of everyday life. People coming and going from here to there. Houses, church steeples and shopping centers. Treetops and sky. We could see it all.

But we weren’t part of it. We were removed…bystanders…observers. We could not shout a warning to someone on the ground had the need arisen; couldn’t have warned anyone of an impending accident. From our perspective, we would have seen it coming, but would have been powerless to change the course of events once they were set in motion.

So, I asked myself if I wanted to be a bystander, not really involved, just watching the events of my life unfold. Hmmm…food for thought.

The view was still wonderful from the fourth floor of the Tower, but different. We could still see most of the lift bridge, the canal, the harbor, roads, and streets. The same houses and businesses. But there were areas we couldn’t see quite as well as we could from the top. Hidden areas. A bit of mystery. I wondered what was behind that tree or beyond that building. We were detached from the activities of daily life.

And I asked myself this: is this how I want to live my life…on the periphery?

We descended to the third level…and again the view changed. I remember marveling about that. We were looking at the same stuff, but the view was so different. The canopy provided by the giant oaks was now closer to eye level…we were still above the trees, but closer. We could only see a corner of the lift bridge from here. And some of the streets were hidden from view. But more details were beginning to appear as well. We could hear the voices of those on the ground. A father and two small boys just emerged from the Tower and were walking down the path; the boys straining against their father’s protective grip. Soon, they were swallowed up by the oaks, and I wondered what they were thinking. They had just been up here; we passed them on the stairs. Were they as awestruck as I?

And again, the question…is this how I want to live my life?  Not close enough to suffer hurt, but not too far away, either. Still out of reach. Protected, or out of touch?

Now, the second floor. Where there are huge oak trees with massive trunks…from here, we had to look up to see their tops. But we had more detail here…we could see what we thought were acorns on the paths below.

And more was hidden as well. We were still a removed, but we could interact more; we could shout a warning if need be. But it would be difficult to have a conversation…to really interact with anyone on the ground. To be part of life.

Was this how I want to live? Just out of reach? Out of touch? Safe and protected. Might I get lonely here? Might I become bored and lonely in my tower?

Seventeen steps down to the first floor. We could walk inside the Tower or out. We had twice as much space to roam. Far beneath the treetops, close to the ground. We couldn’t see the city, the lake or the harbor. The highways were gone. But we were closer to life. We could hear the buzz of human activity. We could see the park with it’s huge trees, and walking paths strewn with acorns. We could see the flower gardens. We had less sky to view, but it was still blue. Still there, just out of reach.

We read the plaque detailing the history of this Tower. We read that Bert Enger, a Norwegian immigrant, had spent much of his time in this place, wandering around, appreciating it’s beauty. He loved it enough to donate a large portion of his estate to the city, and because of his generosity this beautiful bluestone tower was built and dedicated by Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Martha of Norway on June 15, 1939.

We had to share this level with small children and their parents or grandparents. Kids running from inside to out, jumping up and down. Dashing around the building and not always looking where they were going. But they were having fun. They were part of life. And so were we, having to watch them so we could step to the side to avoid them as they careened around the building. So carefree and happy.

Still a few steps above ground level, we were protected for the most part. We were closer, but still not quite ‘there’. A three foot high bluestone wall kept us safe. We could look over this wall and see the acorns strewn on the paths below. We could see the rocks, too, with their sharp and jagged edges. They could cause pain; maybe even injury. But they were solid, too…they would be a place to sit and rest. Those rocks were a constant in that life below. They were solid and beautiful, as were the gardens with their hosta, coneflower, and gaillardia.

On the first floor of my Tower, ugly gray bars on the windows obstructed my view. Made me feel trapped. And the light inside the was dim;; it was a dreary place with cool stone walls, devoid of warmth. We were so close…but still just out of reach.  Still safe.

So, did I want to live my life in ‘safe-mode?’ In here, I would be protected from the bumps and bruises I would surely encounter if I descended those last few steps. Would I be satisfied in this cold, dark place, with the protection it offered?

The light beaming through those barred windows was alluring, it reached out to me. It spoke to me of warmth, and opportunity. The chance to challenge myself, to test my limits, and to push them a bit if I wanted. To step outside the box.

Should I take that step? Should I become an active participant? Knowing that I could and would experience pain, physical and emotional, should I step out? I’d be knocked down and ridiculed at times. Misunderstood. I’d need help to get back up again on occasion. Would it be worth the risk? Could I handle it? So many questions.

And, ultimately, as I must, I made my decision. I took a deep breath and stepped through that doorway and into the sun, raising my face to the warmth, soaking it in.

Here I am. I have arrived.  I feel strong.

Bring it on.

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One Comment
  1. I have stayed in the tower.

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