When I was in college I participated in a study abroad program in England. We had classes, but no one cared for them much.
Our reason for going abroad was to experience something new. Day tripping was my favorite pastime. Each excursion was memorable for one reason or another, but the one I recall most often was to Somerset, where I climbed the famed Solsbury Hill from the Peter Gabriel song.
Not particularly tall, the hill is more like a giant mound—but no use splitting hairs. It was built as a lookout or battle station, or something medieval like that. As a radio listener, I knew it best as the place Peter Gabriel reportedly had a vision.
When my group arrived at Solsbury Hill, I asked some other students if they wanted to climb it with me because it was a famous place from a song. No one volunteered to trek it in the rain and cold, but after I climbed it, a young man who sort of admired me from afar went up as well, to see what he could see.
Alone, on top of Solsbury Hill, I waited for an eagle to soar above me, but the air was empty, save for low hanging clouds. I stood still, wanting a premonition, or an insight, or an answer, but there was only silence. Nothing. Within myself, I did experience something—a sense of well-being.
I was lonely, tired and homesick, but I was okay. I was standing atop Solsbury Hill, which may as well have been the top of the world. I was able to do something few others I knew could do, which was to pursue a dream, like finding the spot where Peter Gabriel discovered his spirit, and wrote a famous song.
Later, I traveled to Ireland, France and Scotland. I ate delicious food, drank my weight in Guinness and flirted endlessly with an older Irish divorcee who was younger than I am now. Abandoning my anxious ways, I tossed fate to the wind for a few months and found myself cradled in the bosom of the world. Outside of myself I was safe, I discovered.
The human experience wanted to be explored.
Lately, “Solsbury Hill” has been playing on the radio again. A few stations I listen to in Portland put it in their rotation. Listening closely, I can hear in it that moment of surrender I experienced that Mr. Gabriel must have experienced. I know I am home in this world, in myself, in manifestation.
I am here.
“Today I will show another me
Today I don’t need a replacement
I’ll tell them what the smile on my face meant
My heart going boom boom boom
‘Hey,’ I said ‘You can keep my things
They’ve come to take me home.’”
~ “Solsbury Hill,” by Peter Gabriel
Maureen Andrade is a writer and artist from Washington State. Her work is posted at www.thepoliticus.com, www.barackobama/wa.com, www.open.salon.com, and in various printed journals. Writing, painting, and teaching are some of her favorite past times, but being a mom is what Maureen loves best.
Assistant Ed: Jennifer Spesia