"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

Sunday, November 17, 2013


One afternoon on the way home from work this week I drove into a massive field of blue over which shreds of cloud drifted. A half moon, pregnant toward full, sat in the middle of everything, emulating the clouds around it. An unclasped necklace of geese scattered across the sky, moving purposefully toward a destination I could not discern.

Often when I'm outside in these shortening days I can hear geese calling even when I can't see them through fog that seems to be the handmaiden of winter darkness. Come join us, I hear. Vestigial wing buds twitch and burn beneath my skin.

A morning driving in later than usual, late enough that the thickly clouded sky reveals both texture and form, I realize that beneath the myriad shades of gray flickers the faintest fire of pink. In the west. Not the east where one would expect to see a sunrise. I look behind me to be sure, and the east is as gray as the down of a goose. The pale blush stays with me for most of the trip to school before it's absorbed by sky mountains of thick moisture.

Even in these days when Persephone has returned to Hades and her mother's grief leaves the world to fend for itself, surprising bits of color manage to survive. Nasturtiums glow orange and gold. Geraniums offer flecks of magenta and salmon. Even roses unfurl hopeful reds into gray days.

Occasionally a strong wind will swoop out of nowhere, first tickling the tops of trees, and then scouring everything in its path below. Blizzards of leaves fill the air, along with maple seeds rotoring madly to the ground. Nakedness follows in its wake: trees stripped, the air empty and clean, my defenses breached.

Always this time of year fills me with a formless longing. This year is no different. Except the quality of yearning has shifted.

Before, I thought I knew what my wings would carry me to if I could only find a way to release them. That destination changed from year to year, but there was always some concrete missing thing or person or accomplishment that I believed I was destined to find. And that I believed would once and for all be my ticket to a life in the sky.

I finally know that it's not that simple. There will be no one event to release me from this sense that I'm missing something important. This feeling that life is passing me by and I'm approaching the end and I'll get there without having done what I came here to do. I feel more fully alive in these days of darkness in which everything is magnified like the flare of a dying star. Maybe that's enough. Each day received as a gift, approached with a sense of adventure, spent thoughtfully. Maybe the longing itself is an offering of love meant to be accepted and treasured and explored.


DJan said...

This is very beautifully written and profound. It is something I know well, that longing. Although I cannot express myself as well as you, I could have written this post. It speaks to my heart.

Linda Myers said...

I am remembering your description of your trip to Belize, when I believe you had a sense you had found something.

Barb said...

Hi Deb, Just back from a cross country ski! Enjoy those lingering flowers and leaves for me. I'll enjoy the white stuff for you. Your metaphors and illusions are wonderfully descriptive. I sometimes see that pink blush over the western mountains at sunrise, too. I'm hoping we can both feel fully alive until we are literally released. I do view each day as a gift.

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

A moon "pregnant toward full," an "unclasped necklace of geese," "vestigial wing buds," and so many more. All these lovely turns of phrase in service to a very meaningful post that rings true for many of us, I suspect. I felt that longing for a long time, though I didn't identify it with flight. (Or not the airborne kind, anyway.) Now that I'm retired I feel much more at peace and able to feel satisfaction (and even success) in appreciating a lovely moment. And by the way, reading this was one of those moments.

Pam said...

Yes, as mentioned, this post does ring true. I'm still trying to come to terms with that longing myself, identify and clarify it, and your post has helped Deb. Perhaps as Blissed-Out Grandma has noted, retirement may hold the key.
It would be good to come to terms with it, or understand it surrounded by beauty as you have done.

yaya said...

Your post is so beautiful and thoughtful. Growing older is feared by society, but I believe it's getting to that "older" stage that helps define what's really important and what we long for now is not what we thought was so important years ago. I'm grateful for that knowledge..I just wish I could express it as beautifully as you!

patricia said...

You have a gift of weaving words to express emotion so precisely. Love you friend!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I understand that longing. Not many do and, often others get upset when I say that. They remind me of past successes, but I am thinking "What have I done for me lately?"

Your idea of each day approached as a sense of adventure sounds most comforting. Also, in this piece I saw how I need to work on description. I'm out of practice.

Deb Cushman said...

A feeling that I have so often beautifully expressed yet again. You always find the words that catch the essence of life. It's great to have such a wise friend!

Sandi said...

So much of what was written here spoke to me, but what really got me was, "This feeling that life is passing me by and I'm approaching the end and I'll get there without having done what I came here to do."

I'm there with you. I'm finding myself struggling to get to sleep at night, lamenting another passing day in who knows what days I have left. Don't mean to sound morbid, but I'm so aware of how swiftly time is passing, not wanting to be left out. Knowing that I have no control . . .

I want to hold onto your last sentence, "Maybe the longing itself is an offering of love meant to be accepted and treasured and explored."

I want to believe in the hope of things not seen, at least not yet.

Linda Reeder said...

May I just "ditto" Blissed-Out Grandmother? She responded so well to what you expressed so beautifully.
As I was reading your thoughtful post, I realized that that sense of longing has faded. I think it's good that it is not completely gone. One must not become too complacent. But a peaceful spirit is a good thing.