Friday, January 16, 2015

30. Being Above the Birds

In Maine, I stood on the top of the Bigelow Mountains, and tried to see if I could look back to where I began. The mountaintop is above the treeline, so there was nothing between me and the bottomless ocean of the sky. Somewhere out there, beyond the miles and months, beyond the tears and get-wrenching laughter, was the beginning of my journey. Somewhere out there was the before me. And somewhere ahead of me was the after. Just in between there was a raven, soaring far above the ground, and far below where I stood.

The setting sun reflected off the dark feathers, as it turned a gentle circle with the ease of a child, spinning with their arms outstretched just to get the feeling that they could lift off. I saw the smallest flash of rainbow as the light cascaded its way across the spectrum of filaments that gave this raven flight. Simply through the perspective shift of height, birds can see things happen before we can; they can see the world change. Far in the distance there could have been a fire, and this raven would know far before a squirrel. Does this mean the raven is a fortune teller?

When I was in the trees, I could only see so far. I had a limited knowledge of my future, of the path I was yet to take. All I had were some marks on a page in a book written by a stranger, telling me to trust that this was the right way to go. But suddenly I was above the birds. I could see for what felt like forever.

I think a lot of us get caught up in worrying about the future. We worry that we won't accomplish a certain goal, or that we'll disappoint ourselves. We worry that we won't make enough money to be able to get away. We worry that we'll mess it all up. We worry for the happiness and well being of the people we love. We worry and worry because we wish that we could see what was going to happen. Tarot cards and fortune tellers and psychics all exist because we have this devastatingly, heartbreakingly impossible need to know that it's all gonna be okay.

But then sometimes we are given a glance, just a moment, to stand on a mountaintop and look down at a bird. We're always looking up at birds, we only ever see one side, one perspective. We yearn to fly. We dream of flight so thoroughly that even thought we have these miraculous, complex machines that can hurtle us through the air across the country, it's still not good enough. It's not good enough because we want to fly with our own wings, unencumbered by anything but the wind. We want to be able to float above the earth and look in any direction, to know exactly where we've been and exactly what it will be like when we get to the end.

I could see, in that moment of the reflection off the tilted angle of a wing, that I didn't need to know.

Sometimes we get so caught up in worrying about the future that we forget to make sure that we're happy in the moment. I decided then, somewhere near the end of my hike, that it had been the right choice to take the risk. I was scared before I left. I wasn't scared of the physical hardship, or of the trail itself. I was scared that I was making the wrong decision, that I would get to the end and look back and think that it had been a mistake. If I had let that worry rule me, if I had been so preoccupied with knowing what the birds could see, then I never would have gone.

But I did go. And I learned to let go of expectations. I learned to put all my best energy into the world, and to accept what it gives back. And that's okay.

It's all gonna be okay.

Clever Girl

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