August 16, 2019

Suspended at the top of the world

At the top of Scex Rouge, as part of the Glacier 3000 experience, there’s a suspension bridge between two peaks that sits 9,800 feet above sea level. Around you, as you traverse the bridge, the wind whips by between the mountains that stretch out as far as the eye can see. The bridge swings very slightly in the wind; there’s a moment of quiet contemplation that occurs as you stand in the middle, between two summits on a swinging bridge, lost in a quiet Alpine reverie.

Peak Walk by Tissot - Suspension Bridge Between Two Peaks

People gather at both ends of the bridge, seemingly working up the courage to make the traverse. You can see the emotions in their faces, a hesitancy that turns into determination and then wonder and fright all mixed together. The first few steps are daunting; the next few marvellous. By the time you hit the contemplative middle, you are ecstatic that you made it this far but also in a rush to make it to the other end.

I stood in the middle for some time, watching some people hurry by, some people pause for a deep breath, and others snap photos all along the bridge. I am lucky to have been born with an ease of heights, so the gentle swaying and the whipping wind did not bother me; instead, I was able to stand in the middle of the suspension bridge and be grateful. There, between two mountain peaks, I reminded myself just how lucky I was to be able to have this experience, to have a moment of pause in my life—tumultuous of late—where I could just look out at the expanse of mountains around me and not worry about the world, if only for a minute or two.

The best part of that suspension bridge was not the summits at either end, but the idea of being suspended at the proverbial top of the world, between everyone and everything, and not feeling like I had to choose which way to go. I could just be there, be me, swaying gently in the wind.

Me on a suspension bridge between two mountain peaks

A few photos of mountains from our trip to the Alps:

View of mountains from top of Scex Rouge summit

Cable cars going up Mount Pilatus

Lake Sarnen surrounded by mountains

View of mountains from top of Scex Rouge summit

House in the middle of Swiss Alps

View of mountains from halfway up Mount Pilatus

A poem

Small Kindnesses
Danusha Laméris

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover 
from the Bubonic plague. Don’t die,” we are saying. 
And sometimes, when you spill lemons 
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you 
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot, 
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile 
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress 
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder, 
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far 
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange. 
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these 
fleeting temples we make together when we say, Here,
have my seat,” Go ahead—you first,” I like your hat.”

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The translator, then, is the ferry operator, carrying meaning from words on that shore to words on this shore.”

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