The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparell’d in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it has been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more!
The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose;
The moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath pass’d away a glory from the earth.
Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
And while the young lambs bound
As to the tabor’s sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief:
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,
And I again am strong.
I grew up in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I had but to walk a half mile to end up on a mountainside shrouded in pines and aspens, and riddled with tiny streams leading to larger creeks, white crested with the swiftness of the water's current. I spent nearly every day outside, in my paradise, during spring, summer, and autumn. It was my place of peace.
About one and a half miles from my home, there were some sheer rock ledges which stretched nearly 100 feet high. By using a circuitous route up the adjoining mountainside, one could get within 25 feet from the top. Then the climb tilted to a steeper angle. Only the most fit climbers could get to the top. I was there often--because I was usually alone. From the top one could see a view of the most amazing green valley hedged by low mountains, topped, always by a deep blue sky. Occasionally cloud formation obscurred that sky--but the view was still spectacular.
Empty white snail shells, approximately 1.5 inches in diameter, littered the ridge. There were so many that a crunchy carpet was formed. My goal, when I started running, was to be able to run to the top of the ledges as fast as possible, and I did it--one time only. When I got to the top I could hardly breathe, and I spent a little time doing the runner's puke. I laid down on top of all those snail shells, and actually fell asleep (okay, it's possible I lost consciousness briefly), got up and puked some more, and vowed I'd never do that again.
I never met anyone on my ledges--and the only one to ever accompany me there was my cousin, Jeff. Others started the climb, but were unable to make it to the top. All in all, it was very private. I spent much time there.
I remember one time, feeling so much pain, so much helplessness, so incredibly sad. I went to my place of solace. I stood at the top of the cliff. I looked out over the beautiful valley. I wanted to take that incredible flying leap, to connect solidly with the earth, to never feel anything ever again. And I knew, there was no question in my mind, I was going to do it.
I stood on the edge a very long time. And then I turned away and went down the path that would take me back home. Part of me deeply regretted not jumping, but today, I'm really glad I didn't.