May 31, 2011
My birthday. At 15,000 feet and climbing, I spend a part of this first day of my 50th year in reflection. I find myself looking forward to looking back (ha) as I have so little time when both the desire to write coherently and the brief openings in my days align.
My mother says I was born in a storm that shut down power briefly to the hospital. Crashes of lightning, dark skies and rain accompanied my way into the world. My cries might have been stifled by thunder.
Leaving Chicago O’Hare, I saw lightning strike in the distance across the progressively ominous horizon. The planes seemed like nervous geese, moving around clumsily on the tarmac to group up together as if for safety, and all choosing the same path out of there – to the south and west, towards the calmer skies.
Now at cruising altitude, this clumsy goose has become the albatross, as I believe Baudelaire described it. Soaring confidently in the bright blue sky with a carpet of white clouds underneath, we are not of the earth, and we are not of the heavens, but somewhere in between.
Yin to the yang, this space is purgatory’s sister. Struggling for clarity, a broader view, a more hopeful future, we ascend to take a peek. Gravity, that grave companion! Ever with his hands around our ankles, we can’t get but so far. Only the astronauts have beaten gravity at his elemental game of tug-o’-war.
Gravity will lower my bones or ashes to the ground, eventually. My abiding hope is to live each day as my last in the most positive way. Loving those around me, taking care of people, creatures and plants. Doing the best I can to leave a positive and invisible trace on this place that I now look down upon from way up here….
Somewhere over Illinois.
P.S. I landed and was shuttled to a Cedar Rapids hotel where, sometime in the early evening, under perfectly clear skies, the power went out.