Sunday, 6 July 2014

Points of view

By chance, I came across an article my father wrote in 2002 about the view from our Genoa flat. The view was indeed amazing, over the greenhouse with its palm trees, the whole city and, on a clear day, the sea. To the left there was a castle. Throughout my youth, I used to look from the window, at the grey slate roofs and the castle, which, against the setting sun, sometimes looked like a skull. I loved that flat, and it will always be in my heart. So, holding back the tears, I read my dad's article, curious and scared to learn how he felt about the place. It turned out - and actually I should have remembered - that, while I, in my room, was looking ahead, at the buildings, the castle, and the sea, my father, in his study, was looking through his bay window at the winding road. And while he was looking and thinking of all the years gone by, of his ghosts from the war, he was also waiting for me to come home. This image, this different point of view, the looking ahead and the looking to the side, made me suddenly see a different person, not my father, the all-knowing, the powerful, the wise, the giant, but a man, a mortal, with all his insecurities, fears, and sorrows. As I don't have children, I never really think of what it must be like to be a parent, of how mysterious a young life must appear. Mysterious and worrisome, fragile, yet in need of space and trust in order to grow. Being a rebellious, exploratory and dreamy child, I must have appeared particularly mysterious to him, while he pondered on how to be a good father, looking at the winding road from the bay window. Sometimes, out of desperation, he would make me sit on the couch and read to me from the Ecclesiastes, 'To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:, A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted...' He was hoping to slow me down, to make me wait until I was more prepared. But the time was right, it was the right time for me. Now, I like to think of this sense of time as an intuitive clock, that has its natural speed, its right time for things. Even though my fast clock was cause of concern for my father, back then, I followed its rhythm, like a dog on a walk, sometimes running, sometimes stopping to investigate a scent or a movement. It was only later in life that I started fighting against my clock, wanting to learn things faster, to work harder, more and more, in order to get to that place that is supposed to be my destination. But my intuitive clock thinks otherwise, 'To everything there is a season... a time to get and a time to lose.' The journey will take the time it needs to take, for how valiantly I fight against windmills. I am glad I didn't know that my father was not omniscient when I was a child and needed to think it was possible to have control over our own lives. And I am glad that my intuitive clock has shown me a different version of my father today, today that I am the same age he was then, when he sat on his chair and read me from the Ecclesiastes. There is indeed a time for everything.

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