"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Big Picture

We were in our second day of traveling the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, doing a slow slalom around remote islands, when I realized the source of my discomfort.

Walt and I were guests onboard my brother Frank's (and his wife, Clare's) 53' catamaran - a floating condo with all the amenities of modern living, including a fully stocked galley, flush toilets, and room enough for the four of us, and two delightful pups,  to relax comfortably.

Frank, who is an accomplished cook, took pride in feeding us well, referring often to the menu he had tucked in a pocket, and asking his sister from time to time what her preferences for certain recipes might be. The only discomfort there came from eating too much.

I love being on the water with Walt. Was thrilled to be able to share in my baby brother's pride in his dream-come-true floating home. Enjoyed girl time with his brave and spirited wife. Relished the soft rhythm of ocean waves rocking big boat under my bare sailor feet. There was not one bit of edge to be found in my company or the environment.

It was actually a Bald Eagle sitting atop an ancient Douglas Fir, and his nest, a haphazard mess of branches in another equally aged fir several trees away that helped me identify the tilt. Because they were so far away, the eagle and his nest seemed tiny. As had all the Bald Eagles we'd seen so far on the trip. And the seals. And the dolphins.

Even the craggy Coast Mountains showing bright bits of glacier from the mainland seemed miniature in their majesty.

Everything seemed so little and far away, and because of that the world seemed so huge. I prefer my adventures in texture-exposing close-up, not in panoramic splendor. I prefer one Bald Eagle flying directly over my head to the dozens in the distance we saw on this trip. I prefer the intimacy of hiking a mountain's flank over the breath-taking beauty of an entire range hovering on the horizon.

In that dawning awareness, I took another look at the vastness we motored our way through and toward. What did this new vista have to offer me? While I don't think I have the whole answer just yet, a part of it came on our return home.

Traces of adrenalin were still bubbling in my bloodstream from our last wild rolling ride over stormy seas to the port where our car waited when I read the news at home. A former neighbor was lost at sea from the opposite side of the island we had just left,  along with three companions - their fishing boat found floating hull-up. They'd been missing for days.

We are a very small part of existence - as tiny as the eagle in the distance. Our lives hang in a tenuous balance that can tip at any time, one we have little control over. The sky and the ocean live and breathe by their own rules and we visit at our own risk. Yet not immersing myself in the miracle and magic of their power, seems to me a life only partially lived. Not seeing the big picture, staying safe in close-up, doesn't  provide safety. Knowing that I'm a part, however small, of the larger whole - somewhere in the vast spaces of that knowing is the safety I've been seeking all these years in smallness.


Elenka said...

Wow, what a story. You have great insight.

M said...

I loved the analogy of our smallness in this vast world we live in. The irony is that even as small as each of us are, we have the capacity to impact it in great ways. Your writing does that for me.

Welcome home.


patti said...

I'm reading Crazy Love, a fabulous book, which talks about all of us stuck by gravity on a chunk of rock that's hurtling through space at 67,000 miles an hour.

Kinda gives you the big picture. And makes me stand in awe of the Creator.

Blessings, dear one. You had tragedy and splendor all in one short time.

Loren said...

What a beautiful story Deb! So wonderful that you could share in your brothers dream. Nothing like being on the open water to allow the Lord and HIS beautiful creation to speak to you! Thank you for sharing it with us so beautifully!!

Love to you,

kario said...

I am covered, head to toe, in goosebumps, thanks to the last two paragraphs.

I once heard someone say that the difference between children and adults is that when a child goes outside to see the night sky, vast and full of stars, they think that they can be and do anything. They equate that vision to a vast set of possibilities for themselves and their world. Give an adult the same sight and they will feel small and inconsequential by comparison. I wanna be a kid again!

Love you.

Terri Tiffany said...

I love your take on what is around us and what we should be seeing but don't always.

#1Nana said...

My husband and I also own a sailboat, although ours is only 28 feet. My husband used to love to sail, but has now moved on to new adventures (current hobbies of choice trap shooting and fishing.) I always loved the idea of sailing more than the actual experience. I loved nautical outfits and social events at the Yacht Club, but I only liked to sail when there wasn't any wind! I was never comfortable on the boat...because you can DIE sailing!!!

patricia said...

Now we HAVE to meet up soon to talk. We also knew one of those men. It has been the focus of the last week for our family. Anyway, let's chat early next week, as we are headed out of town for the weekend. Love to you!

Tabitha Bird said...

Deb, I love the way you see the world around you. Thank you for your encouragement on my blog :)

Carol@ Writers Porch/ Book House said...

Your writing is wonderful and I'm glad you got the chance to do this albeit I'm jealous! :)

Carrie Link said...

You've done it again! WOW!

Carrie Link said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pam said...

You have sailed in areas I would love to visit Deb, and yet your story shows that tragedies can happen anywhere, at any time. We are constantly learning lessons and you absorb so much! I find your posts inspiring.Some people never learn. Others, so much so, they should become teachers. Have you considered using your writing (as well as/apart from this blog) as a medium for this? You really have so much to offer.

Amber said...

Oh so well said.
I love seeing through your eyes.


Suzy said...

When I grow up, I want to write like you....

Love you,


Wanda said...

I love sailing up there. Love. It.

colbymarshall said...

I sometimes have trouble looking at the bigger picture. That might be why I'm horrible at relaxing. Duely noted.

She Writes said...

Love the last line of this. Beautiful and simply put, Deb!

Jerri said...

Gorgeous writing. And...Deb? Your heart, your soul, your talent can be described as many things. None of them are "small."

I truly love vast, grand vistas that hold me in the balance between recognizing how tiny I am and seeing myself as part of All That Is. That balance is a place of comfort and gratitude.