Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The sound of flapping wings

It feels like a crime saying this, in this the age of gratitude and happiness projects, but life feels really stupid sometimes.

Shame on the person who wakes up in the morning and thinks,

My life feels stupid.
Time to make the donuts. We do the same thing every day.
What is it really all about?

But, honestly, I do wake up feeling that way sometimes.

Don't you?

I even felt this way, possibly even more, when I was a professional snowboarder. I spent month-long training camps at the same slopeside hotel--usually the Breckenridge Hilton-- eating, sleeping, training, watching video of myself training, working out, eating, sleeping, repeat.

Not only that, but I put on the same uniform-- first layer, speedsuit, ski pants, fleece, jacket, boots, helmet, goggles, gloves --day after day. I rode up the hill on a chairlift. I rode back down through a race course. I checked my time at the bottom, then rode back up and came back down the course, seeking a new line that would improve my time by three tenths of a second. If my time was less than 6% slower than the boys' time, I was within range.

Why do I always see symbolism in things?

The only difference between then and now is I had a coach telling me how I was doing, urging me on, bolstering that which needed to be bolstered.

I bet you never imagined that something as seemingly glamorous as a competitive sport career could feel like factory work sometimes. And the product is you.

But still, now that I've been "domesticated," the same sorts of things shake me out of my stupor and put life back into relief. It's usually art or nature.

Like this morning, on my gray walk, when that lone Canada goose flew, directly North, over our heads and flapped determinedly into the distant gray sky, calling, forlornly, to someone, anyone, wait for me, as it flew.

And, voil獺, life was unexpected again, and I was remembering the number of times we were startled from our stupor  by a flock of massive, honking swans flying just above the rooftops of our sleepy French village, so close you could hear the rhythmic pumping of their fluid wings as they flapped their way towards an instinctual destination.

That was a beautiful thing.


Emma said...

Insightful and lovely, as per usual!

Kathleen Trail said...

Just so you know, I've been listening a little harder for those sounds and looking a little closer for those moments after reading this. Your work reaches so many of us – I hope you know that.

Sheri said...

*sigh* I so needed this today. It's beautiful, I need to recognize these moments more. Thank you! xo

Sue Kol said...

spot on once again :)

Rebecca said...

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Dream Work)

Betsy said...

Thanks for this, Rebecca. I know this poem well, but had not thought of it, not at all. And reading it again, right now, it's almost eerie, recognizing the truth of it. How clever that Mary Oliver was. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

So I realize that I seem almost unable to leave a brief, yet poignant comment. I try to tell you my life story! WOW, maybe I need to get out more!

I think that we all feel like life is stupid sometimes. I bet that even Amanda Soule feels that way sometimes. Although I've never heard her sound that way a single time. So I could be completely wrong. I'll tell you, that woman is my hero. She's incredible and never makes anyone feel like they're lacking. She's humble and absolutely wonderful! I look up to her in awe and she's younger than me. I wish that I could be like her, but I just don't seem to have that much in me. Does that make sense?

I watched my 5 year old son and his friend (a little blond hair and blue eyed 5 year old girl)feed bread to a pair of mallard ducks today. The ducks were very skiddish and the kids were disappointed. Suddenly the female cocked her head to the side, looked at the kids, and struck out across the water. The male followed her and they ate the bread that we tossed. The kids were so excited. It was one of those days where you have those moments. I really love those moments...