Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wednesday's Words for July 30, 2008

Isn’t it strange, sometimes, the way our minds work? As I was out driving the other day, I happened to look up to the sky. There, high above me and heading east was an airplane. It was a passenger jet, very much like the one I’ll likely be on as you are reading this essay.

Suddenly, I was a child again, lying in the lush grass of our country home, gazing up at the sky and dreaming of what ifs. The summer-warn wind wafting through the open car window became the sweet breeze that would soothe me as I dreamt of the future and all the amazing things I could do when I became a grown up.

Now, more than four decades later, I can barely recall any of those dreams; but what did come flooding back, in detail so stunning it made my insides leap, was the sense of those days and dreams, the feel of them.

No clock to watch; no chore to do; not a care if anyone saw me, or what they might think of me if they did; there was just myself, the blanket I was on, and my dreams. Thinking back, I recall that this was something I did on a regular basis, both during the day, and sometimes even at night.

Some days I’d haul my pillow outside with me. I’d be so comfortable, usually in the shade, that I would close my eyes and drift on the edge of sleep. Looking back to that long-ago me, and filtering the experience through my current mind-set, I’m astounded by how liberating those times seem to me now.

At night, I would ponder as many what ifs as there were stars in the sky. Oh, how spectacular was the view, there in my rural yard, with no ambient light at all! Some nights we were lucky enough to enjoy the rare spectacle of the aura borealis. I know these days you have to travel further north than where I live now—which is only a couple of dozen miles in distance from where I was then—but in those years the Northern Lights could occasionally be seen from Southern Ontario. Usually they were just white light, a rippling curtain to the north, but I do recall one night—I have no idea what time of year it was—when Daddy woke us all up and brought us outside so that we could see the lights in their multi-colored glory.

Of course, we can’t live forever in the carefree realm of childhood dreams. But isn’t it a shame that we have to lose every single vestige of them? You’d think we’d be able to retain, at the very least, some sense of wonder, some sense of the endless possibilities of life.

My husband and I are in a unique position. When we were raising our kids, we had very challenging times—in more ways than just financially. But as we’ve aged, life has gotten a bit easier for us. We’re not rich, not by any means, but we have learned some of the lessons life has handed us. We no longer fret about things we can’t change (overmuch). We no longer wish for things we can’t have (too often). We no longer assume the worst is going to happen (every time). We are more patient than we used to be (for the first little while, at any rate).

The best lesson we’ve learned, however, is how to be content within ourselves. We’ve learned that we can be alone, and in that aloneness—we’ll call it solitude—we can once more bring to life some of the dreams of childhood, some of the wonder of new adventures, and a taste of the endless possibilities that are out there for us, if only we look closely enough.

So when I see a far-off jet in the sky, I can imagine the exotic adventures just waiting for the people aboard it.


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