One fine day, after all was tried, said, and done, I took my mother’s bicycle out west. I was already 38 years old. I pedalled through the city park alongside the lake, passed the prestigious yacht clubs, the campgrounds, cranked the old wheels over dirt-roads, bridges, through small villages. I kept going. I never rode out west that far before. I went hard for almost two hours. Then I stopped.
There came a deep breath. I breathed in, I kept it for a few moments, then the air passed out again. My body disappeared from my senses, dissolved, for the overwhelming beauty of the land; I could feel my heart, my breathing, how I balanced my head over my shoulders over my pelvis over my feet. It was summer, early afternoon. The air was rich, warm, a friendly kind of hot. Here the land was flat. The high mountains, the foot of the alps in the far distance, tiny and cute with their little snow caps – as if somebody put them there to complete a romantic landscape. The bicycle path put the corn and sunflower fields in my back, the marshland to my front filled the view to the left and to the right. A bird reserve and sanctuary. Green and brown and golden coloured reed beds stretching out under a blue sky. A few full grown meadow trees here and there. The lake glittered in the distance, the sun danced in it. I could smell the lake. Clean, pure lake water, the pride of the local people, drinking-water quality, life. The reed grass, the sun, the water. Calm wind brushing over the land. Over my face, over my clothes. The sounds of summer. The feeling of summer. Suddenly.
Suddenly I smiled. I smiled. I felt my ears pulling back. My lips parted and stretched my face wide. I was the one who was smiling, and I was the observer who felt myself smiling. I felt my upper lip move up over my teeth, up to the top of my gum line. It surprised me. It did not shock me, it surprised me. This is me? I can smile like this? I didn’t know that my upper lip could move up that far in a smile. I smiled a little bit more. I turned my head around, to the left, to the right, yes this was me. I smiled. I allowed the smile to get hold of my whole self.
It was not my first time to be by myself, on my own in nature. I’ve seen beauty before. I did go into nature before. I came to a lake side often, any lake. Or to a river, any river. Or to an ocean. Any ocean. To be in the day, the night, under the stars. The land, unaltered, preserved land. The water. The wind. The animals. When others were busy building their careers and families I was standing in forests. I had my moments with the fox, and with the rabbit. I stood in creeks. In the emerald streams up in the mountains of Taroko National Park in Taiwan. I jumped into the ice cold spring water in the forests of Alberta, Canada. I stood in front of streams as wide as lakes. I felt the earth under my bare feet. I felt the trees. The air. The water. The land. But there was always seriousness in my heart. In my face. In my feet. Hopes and dreams, expectations to live up to, failures to digest, things I needed to know, things I needed to figure out, things nobody talked about, things that were obviously right in front of me but I couldn’t grasp just yet. I knew about longings, desires, disappointments, assertions, lies, promises. „Not everyone gets to be an astronaut when they grow up”, someone wrote jokingly years before. I laughed back then, I thought that poster was brilliant.
But that fine day, when I stood before the overwhelming beauty of the land, suddenly, this seriousness was not in my heart anymore. There was no here-or-there anymore. No in-or-out, alone-or-in-company, faith-or-science, true-or-false. The sickness was gone. Just as sudden as electrical light shies away the terrors of the night. I never saw the darkness as darkness, but the darkness let go of me. And I never saw the light as light, but the light embraced me. The light was probably always there for me, all around me, waiting for me. Even though I worked on it relentlessly, I don’t know why it took me such a long time to get there. All I know is that it did indeed take me a very long time. From thereon after life was never as hard again as it was before.