The bright afternoon turned suddenly dark as ominous clouds appeared out of no where. It was about 4 o’clock on a Thursday. Luckily, I had just finished laying the final brick for the day. I walked into the alley that extended deep into the neighborhood facing north where darkness fell.
Spits of hot breath like an exhale from god ripped up the road toward me casting dirt and stone ahead of the storm. Shadows were running in glimpses along the edge like chaos surfing a dark wave
Closer. I watched it pass old man Johnston’s place where Martha was probably watching from behind those heavy red drapes. Her neighbor, George, had just come out to get his trash cans secured. My own bucket of tools were still in the yard. It didn’t matter – they were tools and the winds would be here any moment.. seconds, so I prepared.
My eyes were shuttering against debris and I could feel the pressure build against me. George’s place was obscured already and barely a slit remained as the garage door finally came to a close.
This was my chance. I leaned in as far as I could, past the tipping point where gravity pulled me by the belly and my equilibrium teetered. That’s where I felt it – in my gut like butterflies with a shot of adrenaline that surged just as I was about to fall. It must have been gusting near 80 with a hot wind that tried to melt my face but I wanted to fly.
It didn’t last long enough but I felt a sliver of fear – an urge to bail out. Maybe I had? I recall hearing about a man who walked around the world and along the way ran into many obstacles. Without a home, how would he shelter against this? His reality was different and maybe there is a middle place for him and I to meet? Of course, we would never meet.
Tree limbs were dropping but no widow makers, yet. Fortunately, the last big winds cleaned quite a bit from the large elms that towered above the cottage. A woman had lived there when times were harder but she was resilient and tough as nails when it came right down to it. She’d sit out there on the porch and complain about the president while puffing on her long stemmed pipe and quoting scripture.
As I thought about her, trying to remember her name, which was in itself a marvel since she had lived there for over a year prior, I wondered how she was. I’m not sure what that meant for me, but she would volunteer at the Humane Society since she couldn’t have her own rescue due to some previous charges related to dog fighting and her boyfriend, at the time. Her probation officer had contacted me without her knowing to talk to me one day, that is how I knew.
The wind blew me away and the girl too. No tellin where she was now. Turning back, I could see George poking his head out of his side door checking to see what the wind had done and if it was over. “Hey George!” I hollered over to him, waving halfheartedly.
George looked around and quickly ducked back inside. He rarely talked to people and so I didn’t take it personally. I stood there at a cross-road in the dirt, exposed and vulnerable due to my uncertainty for the best emotional posture when it came to interacting with others. The woman in the cottage seemed to know this about me and used to talk about tricks she knew whenever life was dealing crappy cards.
“Make like a tree.” her voice wafted on the breeze, dancing on the remains of those hurricane winds. I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on the faint reminder. A slight rush of warm air ran up the back of my neck. Hot sun burst through the dark sky to beat down on my bare scalp washing white light over my mind as I continued to focus. Tingling in my arms buzzed and felt heavy, burning slightly. I took a deep breath and guided that light deeper into every fiber of my body, just how she explained it. My exhale made more space as I continued to empty myself of all the burdens of the day. As I became pure energy, I imagined my limbs reaching into the earth and spreading out like roots pulling me down into the ground. I felt the light burning through every nerve ending following the path of my roots that reached out, digging deeper into the ground. I felt the heart beat of the earth and my body had become pure energy in the oneness of everything and was whole.
After several long minutes of counting in increments of ten and feeling the temperature change as dark clouds and the sun sparred for time, I slowly opened my eyes. I felt heavy, grounded but unfazed by the phenomena of the wind and the pollen dust and all aches and pains were gone, foreign to this experience. I was a tree that stood fast and dug roots that pulled me deeper into a state of quiet. Clear minded, I took a step and could feel the sensation of my foot pulling up from the ground. I stopped and noticed I had left no foot print. I was light as a feather which seemed counter-intuitive to being bound like a deeply rooted tree and feeling so heavy. But then I noticed there was no burden. There was no anxiety of feeling overwhelmed from things outside of my control. Love overcame me and I wept with gratitude.
Before another step was made, another strong gust came upon me and I stopped to feel it. It was not letting up and so I turned toward it and leaned in. This time I reconnected with the tree and dug my roots in. They were strong and I knew as the wind blew with force I was OK. I leaned in further keeping myself positioned against the gale force winds that rushed toward me. I continued to lean and closed my eyes, focusing on the white light of the sun bursting through me while I planted myself firmly and continued to lean in. I felt an unusual sensation and opened one eye just a sliver to see that I was facing the ground. It meant nothing I told myself and that was all that I allowed to enter my mind.
Slowly, as the wind died I returned to an upright position. I felt like I was landing in Hong Kong after a long flight over the pond when the stewardess mics in to return to our seats… There were no words at that point – no thoughts as I was completely empty consumed only with the exhilaration of flying. Just then I was startled when a drop of rain hit me and looked up in time to see Martha waving at me.