Tunnel vision

It is hot outside, it has been for a while. We are walking along the new Nordbahntrasse in Wuppertal. Trains used run up and down this line. Now the asphalt is glistening with heat and children are playing on the track. My eye is caught by gleaming white birch trees in front of a freshly painted station house. We walk and talk, haven’t seen each other for a while and a lot to talk about. A sign says “364 m”. There is a tunnel ahead. Grateful for the soothing chill, we enter and take in the surrounding scene with all our senses. A new layer of concrete on the natural stone bricks gives the place a clean impression. Would fear come sooner in winter? “Certainly”, my friend says. “The light makes us feel more secure now.” We watch the light waning as we move, and after we pass a slight curve, we can suddenly see the end of the tunnel, the sun painting a picture of the exit like a slide being pushed into a projector.

Left and right of the tunnel there are bends that someone has barred with rods. Were they trying to keep people from hiding there? Not very convincing. We are both glad not to be alone right now. Finally, we emerge from the vault and feel the heat on our skin again. The view is wide open. We are on a viaduct, at eye level with the roofs of the city. My friend is telling me about her future plans. Thinking back, I associate different roofs with different scraps of our conversation. Then and again we stop, look down and enjoy our peculiar perspective. On our way back she asks me, the way only old friends can ask, about the remnants of a painful loss I suffered long ago. One of those experiences that, as if on cue, lets you dive head first into a cocktail of emotions. I talk, take a picture of one more house before we go into the tunnel again, and after talking for some time, I stop and realize we have already made it back through the whole tunnel. All my senses were on pause, all my attention absorbed by those emotions from the past.

My Miksang workshops are about sharpening our perception by being present with all senses, by really experiencing our surroundings. On our way back through the tunnel, I experienced the exact opposite. Although I somehow, as if I on a different sound track, knew about crossing that tunnel, my conscious mind was somewhere else at the time.

Translation by Susanne Lück