They say mathematicians and astrophysicists peak early. War heroes too and ballet dancers. You don’t know when it will happen or what will happen when it does. Over the hill, a has been, burning bright and then burnt out. Forsaken. Forgotten.
I’m wondering about these top-down metaphors. I’m wondering about spatial metaphor in general. There are mountains but there are caves too. Some people love spelunking as much as others love mountain climbing. Rivers run downstream, and love too. And when we find ourselves in the place just right, ’twill be in the valley of love and delight. Snow falls. Ocean floors. Riverbeds. Must low always be lowly?
Take the word depression. Maybe the spatial metaphor of up and down is off. Are we down when we are depressed? Are we up when we are manic? Maybe emotions don’t go up and down. Maybe they change color, or texture, or tone. Maybe when we are depressed, we are not pressing anything down. Maybe we are holding something in.
Maybe time doesn’t go forward and backwards. Maybe the earth does not have a North and South Pole. Maybe the sun does not rise in the East and set in the West? Maybe the sun does not rise and set.
Maybe being at the top of our game or king of the mountain isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It gets lonely up there. Lightning hits the tallest tree. Look down at people and they will not look up to you. It’s all downhill from here. Is that so bad? Downhill skiers love going downhill. And so do little kids on sleds in the winter. Downhill. No sweat. A cool breeze against your face. Picking up speed. Gaining momentum.
The other day I rode on the largest Ferris wheel in Japan. You only get to go around once. About two thirds of the way up to the top, I felt as if I were flying. I was excited. Anticipating getting to the top, I stopped looking at what was around me. Suddenly, there I was on top of the world. The Pinnacle, The Zenith, The Peak. Gone the moment it arrived!
What if there is no peak when we’re going around in a circle. Isn’t every point we are on equal distance to the center of life’s wheel?
Past the peak, as the descent begins, I feel the bottom sliding out from under me. Suspended out over an abyss. I feel nauseous. So, this is how it ends.
Then something happens. I feel myself floating down. I see lights below. I hear the sound of children’s voices. I hear a voice within me saying, “It’s okay. You are going to be okay.”
The ride ends. An old Japanese gentleman opens the gate, looks deeply into my eyes, lowers his head and bows.