I went on a hike with the kids yesterday looking for birds to watch, photograph or draw. It felt like spring here, gorgeous blue skies and people out everywhere. I picked the wrong trail to hike on though and instead of looking up for birds, we spent most of our time looking down, trying not to slip on ice, mud and slush. Treasures do still exist no matter where you look, and among the wet leaves and ash gray branches we found delicately dessicated seed pods, rusted, mint-green pipes, and abandoned birdnests clinging valiantly to bare-boned bushes. Near the end, three black-capped chickadees cheerfully crossed our path on their way to taking a slushy, mud bath. They were the only three birds we spotted on that hike.
I find so many answers by stumbling on the evidence that nature leaves behind. The stunning intrigue of hollow pods and empty nests, nothing new to nature but profound to those of us that desperately cling to what once was or what will soon be lost. Would it be any easier to say goodbye if we knew what’s on the other side was better, even transcendent? Nature tirelessly cycles season to season, from birth to death, or is it death to birth, reminding us over and over again to not be afraid, to employ the remarkable senses we’ve been given, to inhale all of it and mark our moments, knowing that we must eventually exhale and let it go before starting all over again. How often do I catch myself holding my breath, greedily trying to store what I am or what I think I know for safe keeping, too naive–or afraid to release to a higher purpose I am not suppose to understand, not yet.
I think about these things as I walk in the woods on muddy trails and dead leaves, when I think of friends fighting cancer for their beautiful and remarkable lives, when I think of an uncle who has fought the odds for years, knowing there are time bombs ticking in his head. Despite all the knowledge we’ve attained, what lies beneath everything is an inherent, instinctive will to survive. Our most essential and primary purpose. We fight for what we have, we fight for the ones we love, we fight for our lives no matter what is on the other side. We fight until we can’t anymore, until Nature rests its heavy hand on our shoulder and tells us it’s time to let go. Until then, everything thing we walk through is a passage gilded in hope, faith and courage, a bridge built by the lives we’ve spent a lifetime to create. In hollow pods and empty nests, in the crisp, cruel winters that try to knock us down, the will to carry on remains.
thinking of the umber dove, my uncle, and all those who fight,
much love to you all