The Magritte house
A few times I succeeded getting up way to early for a morning run. It’s hard, leaving the warm cozy bed. Choosing between snuggling with my wife or getting out, dressed, stretched and on the quiet dark streets. Only now and then a car passes, with an early commuter taking the first step in a long journey towards that big center of steel and glass.
As most things in life, rewards come only later. In my case probably a lot later, when I’ll be 30 years older and still agile enough to walk. Maybe somewhat sooner, when I’ll beat my own personal record in a local 10k race. One reward starts unfolding during the run and continues for the next few hours, the famed runners high. All of these can be expected. What I didn’t expect was the real life recreation of a piece of surrealist art.
Five minutes in to my runs, I stop for a second round of stretching. Previous experiences thought me that I’m fairly prone to tendon and joint injuries, so it’s better to take care. Habit-forming as I am, I always stop at the same telephone pole. If it wouldn’t be so early, some of the nearby residents might already be nurturing prejudices about my presence there. Nevertheless, it’s there that it happens.
As the sky lightens up, anticipating the official beginning of the new day, the houses are still dark, the streetlights on. It creates a marvelous surreal contrast between bright sky and a street-scape still in night mood with closed curtains, some faintly lighted windows here and there, birds still asleep. The same surreal contrast René Magritte represented so nicely in The Empire of Light.
For years, Magritte’s The Empire of Light decorated the bare white walls of my bachelor studio. That was when I first moved to the big city. I selected a reproduction of this painting rather than one of his other iconic pictures because it gave me a sense of security and safety. The darkened street, cosy, a real home, but not unsafe, thanks to the bright sky. At the same time, a safe corner to retreat from the big open sky.
Whenever I looked at the painting on my wall, I always felt the surreal genius of the contrast between light and dark. So it was an unexpected, but greatly appreciated reward of my early run to see it so nicely depicted in real life.
Whilst my millennial mind regretted not having a camera, my old soul knew it was better.