Life moves along outside my window
BY JOHN W. FOUNTAIN email@example.com April 3, 2013 6:00PM
''The Bean" in Millennium Park. File photo. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: May 5, 2013 2:52PM
From a downtown cafe window, I inhale the ebb and flow of life up and down Michigan Avenue 30 minutes before noon.
A Lay’s Potato Chip truck inches toward Madison Street for a right turn, followed by two taxis. Smiling, a group of three ladies wearing long, dark coats, one clutching a camera, passes.
Inside, the music blares — the sounds of 1972.
“…Papa was a rolling stone.”
The Temptations take me back.
Back then I was 12. But this is now — a new season, a priceless moment in time that may itself someday crackle and pop in the memory of my mind, like an old LP playing on my phonograph, if I can remember at all. But this is now.
Now I am 52. And my days ahead are surely fewer than the days that are now behind me.
Today, just beyond my window perch, I see a lanky twenty-something guy in a tie and a dark green, button-down sweater, his black hair neatly combed back and parted on the side, walking as if without a care.
Today, a cool breeze blows on the other side of my lookingglass. The wind kisses a young woman’s long, brown hair, its edges dancing softly in golden sunlight. She smiles while listening to the spiel of a dapper young man in a black leather jacket.
Across the street, at Millennium Park, the sun beams off the iridescent Bean. People stand gawking at their own reflections, at the mirrored image of downtown buildings, blue skies and white, cotton-candy clouds.
Inside the cafe, another song plays. “Drifting on a memory. Ain’t no place I’d rather be…” The Isley Brothers take me back — 1975.
Back then I was 15. I can remember slow-dancing on summer nights with pretty girls, some of whose names I no longer can remember — those days come and gone.
Today I spy an old lady in a black, velvet cap and long, purple coat. She passes by, her steps measured. Wrinkles, now spread across her unblemished face, are a reflection of the years and surely some tears shed over her lifetime.
Life and time, both are visible today.
Life stares back at me, like the emerald arborvitae, just a few feet beyond this window, pointing toward heaven from a sidewalk planter. The breadth and beauty of life are as clear as a little girl resting without a care on the shoulders of a man, perhaps her father, as they pass by my window.
I see a picture of life in two young women out for an afternoon jog, cheerfully chatting while waiting for a light to change. I see it in mothers pushing babies in strollers, in the man making his way with the assistance of a seeing-eye dog, and even in the two plump pigeons purposefully pecking the speckled sidewalk.
I can also see time passing — in the quick-footed pace of pedestrians and the spinning wheels of buses, taxis and other motorists who zip up and down the street as if conscious that time waits for no man. I see it in cold, barren trees, some still laden with green strands of Christmas lights that soon will sprout green with leaves.
And what I see and hear reminds me of how quickly today’s moments can become fuzzy memories, of how thin a line there is between life and death, or the difference between living and existing. It reminds me to inhale every moment, every season, every day, because life is as good as it gets.
From where I sit, that’s as clear as day.