After The Fall

A photo of the National Cathedral reflected in the lenses of Ray-Ban Wayfarers

Winter is in the air and my extremely reassuring daily routine has been knocked off-kilter for almost a week. I’m staggering, trying to find equilibrium.

This morning (Tuesday) I deemed it too rainy, too chilly to walk to Tryst for coffee and writing. I’m also suspect of my stability. I’ve written how I’m prone to tripping. Uneven sidewalks are my literal downfall. Feeling a little shaky, wet leaves create a literal and metaphorical slippery path.

I’ve holed up at Open City at National Cathedral, a gem of a coffee shop, housed in the Baptistery Building, on the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral. The building is a cozy, eight-sided edifice, built in 1904.

The austere interior gently nudges my attention to the architecture, exposed rough-hewn wooden beams supporting a spectacular vaulted ceiling, stained-glass windows, a simple slate floor, a sense of solidity I am slightly desperate to infuse my own spirit with after a challenging Thanksgiving extravaganza.

Not too long ago I would have never come  the  grounds of the National Cathedral. The hallowed home of National Cathedral School for Girls, where all three of my daughters were educated, where I spent almost two decades, supporting  the community, attending back-to-school nights, assemblies, plays, pageants, and graduations.

The mourning of a life no longer mine would have been too overwhelming. I would have scrutinized the room, speculating  who are parents of current students, the ghost of  my Christmas past.

I’d look for familiar faces, parents of alumni who know me only as I was, one-half of a couple. The daunting task of explaining who I now am, weighed me down like a man treading water while holding dumbbells.

After living four blocks away for six months, Sunday was the first time I stepped foot on the grounds of this complex complex of schools, chapels, gardens, and history.

At the time it didn’t occur to me what a big step coming here represented. I knew of Open City’s existence for ages. On  my Sunday walk, knowing I needed to be somewhere, I found myself here. No fanfare. No confetti.

Today, however, I’ve take a deep breath,recognizing the moment and its import. I am moving on. Despite a Thanksgiving that could have gone better. I appreciate the reality it could have gone much worse.

Now I wonder if there is something symbiotic going on between the Baptistry Building and myself. I do feel more solid, more grounded, than when I arrived.

In a previous post, Enough About Me, I wrote about John Ruskin’s critical theory, the “pathetic fallacy.” Poets anthropomorphizing nature. “The skies are weeping over her death.”

Perhaps, I’ve done the same, the “Architectonic Fallacy.” Anthropomorphizing the architecture.

Maybe I’m just stronger than I realize.

Stay in touch. Connect.

Jon

P.S. I took the cover photo of the Cathedral Sunday. Maybe I wanted to memorialize my visit without knowing it.

P.S. I wanted a clip that emphasized falling and this was all I could come up with. I’m not complaining. I love this movie. I just have gone to it twice before. Enjoy.

3 thoughts on “After The Fall

  1. My favourite movie. I just quoted the “life is pain…” line to someone yesterday!
    Love the photo too. And “architectonic fallacy”…
    This is interesting. I’m not sure it’s about weakness or strength when trying to find equilibrium?…I think western culture has interesting definitions of those things.
    I am happy for you that you were able to do something that has been so hard for a while!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting point about equilibrium not necessarily having anything to do with strength or weakness. I’m wondering what it takes to find one’s balance when reeling. On airplanes, the altitude indicator displays the horizon.

      Is it the strength to tune out the doubts and fears?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that really, it just takes time to adjust to any new surrounding. And I don’t think we should define ourselves by ‘strong’ or ‘weak’ in the process, because analysing the doubts and fears can be helpful. I guess, I feel sad when people beat themselves up for being ‘weak’ when really they are going through a natural grieving process, one that may never leave you, and that’s okay, or being introspective, or compassionate, or insightful, or humble, or just plain trying to be more empathetic. I like to take each doubt and fear on its own, evaluate it, talk to someone I trust if necessary, then decide if it’s valid. I try to steer away from thinking whether it’s to do with weakness or strength. I don’t agree with our culture’s definition that self sufficiency equals strength. Hmmm maybe I am completely missing your point? 🙂

        Like

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