My office looks out on a parking lot. Across the parking lot are several silos. At times, I’ve stood at my window and looked up at the silos, attempting to have a profound thought. I’m relieved when nothing profound occurs to me. Because nothing profound has ever occurred to me, I’m always relieved.
One morning, I was looking out at the silos and I saw a figure step out from the little cabin at the top of one of the silos, and walk down the railed catwalk to the very top of another silo. The top of the silo the figure stood on had a circular railing at the very top, kind of like something on a World War II era military boat. If you stood at the very top of the silo, you’d be surrounded by railing with the stairs behind you. You’d be five or six stories up and completely safe. The figure stood there. I could tell the figure was male.
After standing there for a fraction of a moment, the man hoisted himself up over the railing. The top of the silo is a slick looking aluminum, and it slopes sharply away from the peak. You could take a few running steps down and leap out into nothing and land on the weed-broken cement below and have made all of the important steps towards becoming a corpse. I thought that I was about to see the man jump off the silo. And something not-profound occurred to me: I found myself holding a sliver of a hope that he would.
I didn’t want the man to die, obviously. I didn’t even want him to get hurt. But I did feel that witnessing a person throw themselves off a silo would be to touch something enormous and close by. Like sitting in a kayak on the ocean and putting my hand on a blue whale.
The man stood there, still holding on to the railing. Then he jumped back over and into the circle of protection. I had another not-profound thought: I was glad he didn’t jump off the silo. But then, for a couple days after, I caught myself looking out at the silos and wishing to see someone up there, walking out to the circle at the top. After a few days of this, I stopped looking out the window. Now I keep the blinds down.