I think I’ve found a new favorite refuge, sitting here on a cold cement balustrade in the damp January twilight. It is the only thing left from Meyer Library, which Stanford demolished last year in a project that morphed the seismically unsound structure into a verdant circle of greenery and flagstones. Normally I walk right past the out-of-place block of concrete, but tonight I paused for a while as dusk faded to deep blue. Settling down in the driest area I could find, I watched as illuminated windows turned to gold and became the spines of books lined neatly on shelves, bursting with a thousand imagined worlds.
Above me, branches fringed with silver-green needles held back the ghosts of dissipating clouds. Lamps along the path floated like spheres, their posts fading into the dusk until the lights seemed suspended from the sky — the lures of stars fishing for dreams. I watched the ebb and flow of people around me: a lady in high heels and a glittering dress, a toddler trailing behind his family, countless bicycles and their riders. It was like being a drop of water, watching the ocean.
My brain has been a hundred whirring gears, ready to overheat with too many questions about life and not enough answers. I had decided to go outside partly because I needed to mail a letter, and partly because the paced rhythm of walking has a calming effect on me. Now, settled beneath the trees, I found it remarkably soothing to simply sit and focus on the illuminated geometry of rectangles and spheres before me. A line from one of Coldplay’s songs echoed over the clamoring of my mind:
Lights will guide you home
I let my scattered fragments of attention converge on the rails leading down to the paved circle where Meyer Library once stood. They were lit from below, and the gleaming lines looked like spiderwebs beaded with dew. Lights guiding the way.
It felt amazing to just sit and notice the metaphors and similes around me. It was like I used to do all the time as a kid, before college and adult life carried me away from my imaginary worlds. Stopping to notice things with an open mind is so simple and yet so difficult — like trying to catch sunlight. Conceptually, catching a sunbeam should be easy: to grasp something, you simply put your hand where it is and close your fingers snugly around it. The execution is nearly impossible: no matter how many times I clench my fist in the light, I cannot hold it.
It is only when I place my hand into the light with an open palm, that finally, it rests there.