Crossing The Threshold

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Looking Out on the World

This is a strong image for me, an image from the past,

A remembrance - sitting in my bedroom window at Tandderwen. Late at night, silence, quiet, looking out over the world.

Tandderwen was the name of my house when I lived in South Wales. It is not unusual for houses in Britain to have names rather than numbers. Tandderwen is Welsh for Under the Oak. I don’t speak Welsh, but when the house was nearing completion and I was pondering what to name the new property, a friend lent me a book of Welsh words (along with their English meanings). Tandderwen jumped out at me as I thought of the big oak tree that stood by the small gate leading to the house. It was a beautiful old tree, and I valued its presence standing guard over the gate and land, rooted deeply in its age.

I lived in that house for ten years. I think about it from time to time, and though my life has moved on and changed, I do miss my old home and what it gave me.

I lived there by myself. Situated in the South Wales countryside, it was quiet and peaceful. The house was designed with extra thick walls, full of recycled newspaper as insulation. The triple glazed windows added to the stillness within the house, cutting out sound.

A couple of windows, including my bedroom window, protruded out from the side of the house. The bay that they created offered up a seat on which to sit and survey the surrounding countryside all the way to the distant Black Mountains.

On occasion I would sit in my bedroom window at night, all the lights in the house turned off, gazing out into the night. I felt as though I was looking out on the world. In the distance I could see the orange glow of city life. Nearer by lights of neighbours’ houses across the fields shone out from behind curtains. Car lights moved through the country roads. Aircraft flew overhead, lights blinking.

I felt removed from the world. A part of it, and yet distant at the same time. From that vantage point, both physically and metaphorically, I was able to reflect on what it was that I was a part of, the world in which I lived. I felt in someway as though I was looking out on the lives of others, looking out on the world. People going about their nightly routines, returning from work or an evening out. Joys and sorrows, struggles and successes all happening under the night sky. We were all in this together.

In that I felt a comfort. A comfort in being able to step back for a moment and reflect on the bigger picture. A reflection that I could take out into the next day.


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