Monday, 21 February 2011


I’d forgotten about the sky. For how long, I’m not sure. Months? Years?

When I remembered, it felt like waking from a cramped dream.

A few weeks ago, early in the morning, I was running. The sun climbed bright in the east. The moon, chalk white, lapsed in the west. And I was running beneath them – on the ground, next to water, up a hill, and around a bend.

I had been worried, anxious, impatient. But, beneath this sky, I couldn’t remember what about. So I wiped my brow and leaned into the wind.

Tolstoy remembered this sky. Here’s Prince Andrei, in War and Peace, just struck on the head by one of Napoleon’s men:

“What is it? am I falling? are my legs giving way under me?” he thought, and fell on his back. He opened his eyes, hoping to see how the fight between the French and the artillerists ended, and wishing to know whether or not the red-haired artillerist had been killed, whether the cannon had been taken or saved. But he did not see anything. There was nothing over him now except the sky – the lofty sky, not clear, but still immeasurably lofty, with gray clouds slowly creeping across it.

“How quiet, calm, and solemn, not at all like when I was running,” thought Prince Andrei, “not like when we were running, shouting, and fighting; not at all like when the Frenchman and the artillerist, with angry and frightened faces, were pulling at the swab – it’s quite different the way clouds creep across this lofty, infinite sky.

“How is it I haven’t seen this lofty sky before? And how happy I am that I’ve finally come to know it. Yes! everything is empty, everything is a deception, except this infinite sky. There is nothing, nothing except that. But there is not even that, there is nothing except silence, tranquility. And thank God!” (281)

[Photo by Herman Bustamante]