Kenyon College

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Revelations in Hyde Park

On March 14 I am in Hyde Park in London, waiting for Karl's train to get into Paddington Station. One of the entrances to Hyde Park is very close to the station, and you come into the park near a little rectangle of fountains. I stand there, with my coffee, alone by the fountains, leaning against the rail. It is a brilliant sunny afternoon, a auspicious sign for the coming ten days. Sometimes the sun will disappear behind a cloud, and you can watch the shadow of that cloud creep over the rolling grasses of Hyde Park, and then you can see the sunlight slowly flood the lawns again as the cloud passes by. The park is full of people, mostly couples with children, or joggers with dogs, or photographers taking advantage of the park showing itself in its full glory. In the air is the fresh cleanness of spring, and you can feel it lifting everyone's spirits.

I am struck by the lightness of the moment, and the pureness of the contentment that I feel. Amid all the stress of paper-writing, and travel plans, and money, and the thought of returning home, there is this small moment of clarity. I realize that these worries are insignificant against such beauty, such life, and that there are so many reasons to be happy in the moment, and so many niggling worries that should not be bothering me.

A cluster of pigeons on a rooftop, disturbed, alight from the shingles. Their shadows sweep over the stones of the fountains as they circle and return to their places. Families circumnavigate the fountains, and I watch a swan swim round and round a small pool. It seems to regard me. The fountains bend in the wind. A father, seeing this, and predicting the trajectory of the spray, gently guides his young son out of the way. Moments later, the cement in front of them receives the arc and splash of water. Father and son continue their circuit.

There are eleven birds in the fountain-pool that I am watching. One big swan, several orange-eyed ducks, a seagull, some white-faced, pointy-beaked black birds. The fountains sway in the breeze; the sun cloaks itself in clouds.

The next day, in Bath, the sun is still out, and its light falls warmly on the unique Bath stone that forms many of the buildings. We walk in gardens, and along the River Avon; we share a cream tea and find a sweet shop that sells fried eggs. Experiences like these days in London and Bath are the moments I will remember about my time here, not the looming deadlines or financial worries, or the struggle of navigating a busy street. These days make all the difference.

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