Memories From the Balcony – A Place on a Hill

This place is very special to me.
it’s real and sturdy and while I understand this place has been there long before me and hopefully this hill will be here long after me; there is something so delicate about this place to me – like an article from old newspaper that came from your grandparents house – old and yellow. If you fail to handle this carefully, the paper crumbles and falls apart.

This is a reflection of how delicate this memory is to me.
Beautiful as ever, like a brilliant memory that will live on forever.
I remember this well.

There was snow on the ground. I remember this day. I was about to go down the hill on my belly with a trash-bag over me. They called this a poor man’s sleigh. You take a heavy duty trash bag and prepare it with a hole that was cut open for my head to pop out and two openings for my arms.
I never heard of sleigh-riding like this. Then again, I wasn’t sure when the last time I rode on a sleigh and went down a hill.
I was young, I suppose, Really young.
But this was different.

By the way, I’m not sure if you have ever seen snowfall in the upstate New York mountains. I’m not sure if you ever saw the sky so blue and everything below was frosted and crystallized in a blanket of white.
All of the trees were laced with snow. There were a few traces of thick white clouds in an otherwise clear blue sky. As for the sun, she was around, but only around to shed her light because her warmth was someplace else.

I go back to this moment in a dream from time to time. This was a place where I lived at the end of my teenage years. This farm is where I lived for 11 months. I can’t call this a vacation per se; however, this place was better than my other choices at the time.
I went here to let go of an old version of myself. I was here to learn about a new me.
I went here to learn how to live a new life – or better yet, I was here to be taught how to live a better life. It was a clean life where I let go of the ideas that almost killed me.

I admit that I struggled in the crowd. I admit that I seldom (if ever) let down my guard. I rarely stood away from the image and the ego which is what I used to both defend and protect myself.
I was closed off and hardened by my short history. I was too young to understand anything else, except the fights or the pains and the self-inflicted wounds that dug deep.

Sure, I was all image. I was fake. I was someone or anyone else but me. To be clear, I did this as a means of protection. Besides, who can you hurt me if I couldn’t hurt myself?
I did this as a means of survival because, in all fairness, the world is far from an accepting place.
Life is not always so kind.
Let’s face it, kids can be mean.
Let’s point out the obvious and say that status and popularity are the governing structures of the young.
At least this is how I saw it.

It’s not who you are, it’s what you wear and who you hang out with.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know or where you went to school.

I have stood in front of people as young as grade school students, up to middle school and high school and all the way to college and advanced psychology classes and even in front of law enforcement and corporate America – and I have discussed the different variations of the crowd and our need to fit in and be liked.
I have talked about the need and the desire to have status or to “mean” something.
I have discussed this to rooms filled with people who nod their head in agreement because it’s true. We all want to be wanted and included. We all want to be valid and accepted.
We want to be invited and honored; yet, there is a need.
There is a draw or fascination to be liked. Even if this means we might not like ourselves or that we’ll do things just to be accepted; there is a commonality about doing things or preforming for the crowd just to be liked.

I had this fascination too.
I go back to this memory of mine which takes place on a hill behind the main house on a farm. I go back to the moments of how I felt at this time. I was lost.
I had just said goodbye to my Father, The Old Man, for the very last time. 

I was always so guarded. I was always hiding behind a mask of some sorts.
I would never laugh too loudly or smile because if I did, what if this was flawed or silly (or stupid)?
But not this day. No, I was fine to let this rest.
I was fine just to be happy.
I didn’t think about the sound of my laugh or the crookedness of my smile.
I didn’t wonder if I sounded or looked strange or stupid.
No, I just wanted to have fun.
(You know?)

I decided to enjoy the ride on my belly, speeding down a hill with a heavy-duty trash bag over my head and sleigh-riding with a so-called poor man’s sleigh. This was perfect.

I can say that this was the saddest time of my life yet right there in the middle of my mourning and melancholia, I found myself absent from my usual thoughts.
I let go, even if only for a moment.
I gave myself the permission to be happy.

I have dreams of this hill from time to time.
Not all of these dreams are during the winter months. Some are during the resurgence of springtime.
Some dreams are of the hill in summertime.
There was a tree on this hill which is slightly different in my dreams than it was in reality. However, I dream of this place because I see this hill and the moments I shared as a place of personal rebirth.

I view this place as a personal resurrection and more, I see this spot as a spiritual Mecca for me.
I lost my Father when I was here. I lost my childhood and let go of the wreckage of my past. I buried the remnants of my secrets and surrendered my pains and my scars (at the time).
I opened up here. I told the truths, even about my lies.

This hill was in the palm of a few nearby mountains. The view had an overlook that spanned outwards for miles. I could see the sky and the long-winged birds who hovered without moving their wings -they didn’t fly so much; instead, they’d glide through the air. Below them was Earth. Below them was me. Below the heavens was a place in which I can say that somehow this was the redemption of my young life.

I wanted to share this place with you with hopes that you can close your eyes and see the view.
You’re up there now, in the middle of nowhere and far from anything man-made.
I want you to think about standing on a hill which slopes downwards. I want you to think about this being in a pocket between other surrounding mountains and outstretched is the heavens.
Out there are literally billions of people. Out there is a whole new world. But beneath me, this is the ground where I chose a rebirth for myself – and behind us is a tree, perfect as ever. Not tall but wide and spread with branches that represent the ever-loving reach of the wonderful Mother, outstretched and lovingly awaiting her children who need the birth of a brand new life.

I want to share this with you because this is one of my most special places.
This is a symbol of who I am. In some ways, this is a place where I go to (in my head) and while my use for prayer is not the same as others – I use this place as a center for healing. I use this here for my own personal acts of contrition.

This is where my Apostles creed rings true and similar to the creed of the well-known, my creed is similar in I believe.
I believe in the almighty of heaven and Earth. I believe in the conception of self- resurrected from the past and forged to move forward in a new world, conceived by me who was dead in ways, buried and reborn to the idea that I have come into the light; that I have been redeemed through the rights of my endurance and that I have endured; in spite of all – one – day – at – a – time.

I use this place and this memory of sleigh-riding in the winter months. I also use the late-night memories of star gazing when the sky was lit by a full-moon.
I use this place because it has meaning to me. This place has depth. While I get it, if you’ve never been here before or if you’ve never seen this hill – you might not know what a beauty she is.
Or, maybe you do.

But this place – to me, this is a home inside of my head.
This is a breath of redemption and a moment of salvation at a time when I was lost.
I was resentful and sad; yet somehow, there is and was something so beautiful about this place that in spite of it all, I found a way to heal – at least for a while.

I can say this to you now –
I have seen some incredible places in the world
But this place – this is like the womb of a mother’s warmth
Ongoing. Unhinged
Unwavering and unwilling to let me ever fall –
or be where I was again – alone

This place is one of a kind.
Then again, so are we, which is why I wanted to leave this here –
I’ll leave this here in case you ever need a spot to find yourself or a place where redemption falls from the trees like leaves in the autumn. (just to add some color . . .)

Did I ever tell you about the time I was near the farm and drove on the property just to see the hill.
She was still there, exactly as she was – like an old friend who you hadn’t seen in forever, smiling, as if not a minute had passed and just like that – you know your heart is full again.

Like I said, I wanted to leave this here. Just in case.
Just for you if you need it.
or, like the song says:
believe it if you need it or leave it if you dare.

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