Saturday, May 9, 2015
When I learn to fly
It's hard for me to tell stories these days, without the aid of birds. And so I start here.
I wanted to die a little, of embarrassment, of self-consciousness, the other night when my I asked my husband to take these photos of me. We visited the Museum of Flight for the express purpose of seeing a tiny exhibit tucked against a wall, below all the impressive historic airplanes: How birds fly.
From one end of this wall to the other, we watched videos and beheld stunning photographs, studied artifacts and framed wing displays and skeletons, honoring the sacred mystery of flight that has existed long before airplanes. My eyes misted over as I watched a short video clip of pilots raising Whooping Cranes from hatchlings to young adults, flying 1,200 miles with each flock to teach them their migration route, in hopes of raising their population to greater numbers. I held my fingers up to brush against photos of birds I may never see in person, to trace the edges of wings. I took this all in, breathless, that no matter how sophisticated our technology becomes it will never compare to the innate intricacies of bird flight.
And then, I saw these graphics on the other side of the walls.
Something in me rose up to hush the dissenting caw of embarrassment. I needed to meld myself to these backgrounds, allow myself to become one with them, or part of them, because this is my not-yet-visible reality that I'm leaning into. I have wings and one of these days I will learn to fly.
We belong to each other, these birds and I. This whole of creation and I. In ways I yet have no words to convey but know so much deeper and more primal than many of the things I claim to know. And any chance I get to participate in this reality, even in the form of a painting on a wall, I will. Because I must.
Because birds, for me, tell a parallel story of my own unfolding journey, and sometimes the most I can do is speak of myself in metaphors, mirrors of them.
But, oh. How there are things I'd like to share here, discoveries to quietly utter, stories to capture in words, transformations to pay my respects to in writing, relationships offered to me as gifts, from this past month of life. But even as they are being written on my insides, in the darkened places not often privy to the eyes of others, I find that words elude me. As they often do when so much is taking place right on and far below the surface of the everyday. I used to fear, and sometimes still do, if I didn't transcribe them from experience to words they might slip away forever, forgotten in their un-telling.
I'm learning to get over that paralysis.
And yet, perhaps I'm learning to tell these stories through mediums other than written words. Through photos and laughter and tears and voxes and painted bottle caps, through road trips and binoculars and walks and yoga poses and all the quiet, pregnant spaces where life expands to fill.
It's only a matter of time before these wings are formed enough to fly.