The First Time I Looked to the Water

My first day in the new office began slowly. It was a Thursday, and Wednesday and Friday were both holidays, so by 9:30, when I was one of four people out of thirty present, I started to guess that most had prudently taken the day off.

There was little to do but sit and think about things, which I wasn’t at all opposed to (y’all know me!). The view is great, from the Hong Kong office; the water to the north is right there, welcoming you to glance over for a quick dose of refreshment.  

I stood to look out and noticed on the window a small reflection of myself. It was coming from a big leaning mirror on the opposite wall, a large design piece we have in our showrooms. It was strange to be able to examine a little picture of myself, as close and real as if I was being projected out of R2-D2. Usually we look into our own faces, and making eye contact, recognize each other easily, quickly, without ceremony. Looking at the back of our heads, or our silhouette, from a distance, is different. It makes it easier to detach and examine from all different angles. I was no longer that young man I saw; I was another, observing him, more objective. I was no longer in that fresh season, just getting a new beginning in the next town, with the weight of it all; I was instead wondering to myself how this young one would traverse it all, how he would triumph and how he would fall. I wondered at the beautiful things which, by Providence, he would be granted to see, and the marvelous things which lay ahead, patiently awaiting their proper time to be revealed. I wondered at who he would become. He was so small, in that little square, and I thought it might relieve him, to tell him how small he was, when he really looked at himself. It is easier to be carried, when you know how small you are, and easier to ask for help, knowing that the true, heavy burdens are not for you to carry. When you are small, you must depend on others to take care of you, to guide you, to pick you up, to save you; it is easier, perhaps, to know that you must be given things, and easier to appreciate them and smile a big thanks when they are given. In a strange way, being small can sometimes feel less lonely. Being small makes it okay to look at things with wide, adoring eyes, like the water just to the north, already tired from carrying a heavy fog, though it was just morning. Many of the boats were still, sleepy, and others ambled along. None seemed to hurry. Kowloon looked back at us on the island, familiar friends, brothers. This was one of those mornings when there is a silence between dear friends and it is for the best, for no words are necessary, like moments you may share as the sun peers up over the world’s edge, and you drink something hot with someone you love, just looking. Or, perhaps, like those moments when you finally arrive at the place you have only heard of, or when you drive into a view of the ocean, or when you stumble across water crashing in the forest and fall to your knees at the sight of something you can only guess is called Majesty.

That morning I saw only one bird, and it was lazy, drifting in circles, looking for something, or perhaps just resting its wings in soft thermals.


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