Summer was in full bloom last night as Ellie and I wandered the rolling plains of our favourite park. Wild flowers dotted the long prairie grasses with glorious interruptions of colour like confetti strewn across the golden carpet of a wedding. The wind tugged at my hair and tickled my face. In the north, dark clouds gathered on the horizon as Ellie pranced along in front of me, her nose on constant alert for new and enticing smells, her eyes continually scanning the grasses for cheeky gophers looking for a game of Chase.
I love this park. Love its rolling grasses, the Poplar trees that stand sentinel along the ridges, leaning together against the wind, their leaves whispering with a thousand stories as they give each other support to withstand time and gravity so they can stand up tall. I love the silence. The quiet. The solitude. It is a vast place (over 280 acres) of rolling hills and dales and grassy knolls and plains. Wildlife roam throughout its spaces, coyote, deer, porcupine, the ubiquitous gopher, skunks, fox, yet somehow we seem to be able to find space for each of us without interfering in the one another's journey.
As I crested a hill last night I faced into the wind and felt its cool breath upon my skin. I closed my eyes, stretched out my arms to either side and began to turn. I felt the wind shift. No longer cool upon my face, it picked up my hair and cast it like rune stones around my head. I breathed and let my feet carry me through the grasses as I spun a silent dance of praise for the beauty of the world around me.
I breathed in the air. I could feel the rain gathering. The denseness of the air closing in. I opened my eyes. In front of me, upon the undulating ridge that crept along the horizon, a giant purple arc danced upon the wind. I gasped in surprise. The arc bounced up into the air like a giant upside down smile, hung suspended upon the wind, and then collapsed earthwards. From where I stood, I couldn't see if it was tethered to the ground or if a human held it in place. I could only witness its constant struggle to fill itself up with air before collapsing once again from sight.
Ellie bounded to my side. Barked in mad exasperation at this apparition that did not make sense to her. I laughed and told her we must investigate.
Boldly I walked towards the purple ribbon of colour while Ellie pranced warily by my side, her hackles raised, her body alert to any danger.
As we got closer I saw a man holding the ropes as the purple rainbow arced into the sky. He let it fill with air and then gave it a mighty shake before quickly pulling it back to the ground. This time, when it landed, he quickly gathered up the ropes and began to roll the purple fabric up.
Ellie was much too eager to run ahead and get entangled in the purple mess now that she could see it wasn't a threat. I made her sit and stay while I approached.
"I was hoping to watch you fly," I said to the jean clad stranger who was by now struggling to fold the fabric into a big white envelope-like enclosure.
"Not a good day for para-sailing," he replied.
"Oh, I would have thought with all this wind it would be perfect."
"It's only a good day for flying when the wind is," and he held out his left arm to the east and swept it westward along the escarpment to about a 90 degree angle. "Here to here."
"But," he continued as he packed up the final ropes of his parasail. "It's a perfect day for airing and drying it out, and," he paused momentarily before adding with a smile. "Dancing." He pointed to the north where black clouds gathered. "Rain's coming." And he bid me good-bye as he wandered down the trail that led to the parking lot below, the big white bag bouncing against his back.
I stood and let my eyes follow the line his arm had etched upon the horizon just moments before.
I thought about his words as Ellie, tired of sitting and waiting for me to return to my senses and let her roam, came gambolling over.
Were there really good and not so good days for flying?
I thought about flying free. Of soaring. Of letting go.
I thought about the winds of change. Of time’s journey away from that place from which I’d been released four years ago.
The journey hasn’t always been one of flying free. It has been one of breathing into the wind and letting it move through me and within me. Of catching my breath, and filling my sails as I measured the journey before me. No matter the direction of the wind, it was up to me to continue taking one step in front of the other. It was up to me to dance.
Sometimes, the wind is not in the right direction for soaring free. Some days, it feels as if there’s not even enough wind to hold me up.
Sometimes, the wind is a gentle breeze, a breath of fresh air blowing the cobwebs from my mind. Other days, It’s a ferocious gale forcing the depths of memory to crash into my mind, dragging the deep and hidden sorrows hidden within me to the surface. Sometimes, it’s just an angry storm churning up the sands of time into rolling waves rushing to be freed upon the shores of memory. And at times, it is a balmy whisper soothing my troubled soul, easing the burdens of memory until I am strong enough, safe enough, stable enough to hear the call of time passing, freedom rising.
There have been times during the past four years, that grief crashed into me. It ripped through me. Tumultuous waves of sorrow frothing and foaming as they raced to be freed from deep within me. At times I have fought my tears. Struggled to tame their unruly progress. Helplessly flailed against their demands to be free. At times, my tears have been a gentle rain nourishing my heart and mind, reviving me, restoring me, replenishing me. No matter the direction from which my tears flow, I cannot control the wind. I can only set my sails or rig my craft to keep me safe. Sometimes, I can only ride out the wind. Anchored in a safe harbour, rolling up and down with each swell, lulled into sleep by the push and pull of the waves moving back and forth within me, I ride out the storm until it is safe once again to venture forth without fear.
Healing can be a very complicated process ... I can keep it from happening, but I can't make it happen.
Some days are not very good days for soaring. But they're always perfect for letting go.
Some days, to heal, I cry. Some days, I laugh. I fly. I fall to the ground. But always I can dance.
Last night was a perfect time for dancing.
As the wind picked up and the clouds rolled in, I stood upon a hilltop, the city spread out beneath my feet, the mountains a dark and brooding dragon stretched out along the western horizon. In joyful surrender, I spun about, my arms flung wide, my laughter a joyous song awakening the world around me to the beauty of my life today. And as I danced the rain came down. Cool, refreshing, rain. It washed away the dust, the turmoil, the noise and freed my senses to the ions dancing upon the air.
Last night I danced, the pooch ran amongst the prairie grasses in search of a dream of one day capturing a gopher and the rain came down.
Life is a continuous journey of tears and laughter, sorrow and joy. No matter the weather, no matter the winds, I am free to dance.
What a glorious place to be!
May your day be filled with tears and laughter. With energy and strength. And may you dance.