My porch is a bit of a sanctuary, albeit a cluttered one. It is one of the few places I can go where no one else is around. Two 9-year-old, gray gravity chairs rest upon the newly replaced wooden wraparound porch, divided by a small, round teal side table. I often wipe pollen and dust from it to keep my books clean if I happen to set them down long enough.
I am not partial to one or the other of the two chairs. I take whichever chair is not occupied by my long-haired, Turkish Angora type rescue cat. My family recently started calling her the Albino Rhino—understandable if one watches her run. Her fir is pure white except for tan patches on her ears, a small spot below her nose that looks like snot, a brown patch by her butt—a fine joke in a house with a 10-year-old boy, black and brown splotches on the underside of her feet, and a black but graying tail.
One would think that a large, bright colored cat would scare away the animals and birds in my yard, but she typically has her eyes closed and peacefully snores the afternoons away.
With an orange tootsie pop in my mouth, water beside me, and book in hand, I happened to look up to enjoy a nuthatch on one suet cake and downy woodpecker at the other. A squirrel was eating corn below the feeder, and across the road was a woodchuck eating dandelions from the neighbor’s lush, rain nourished lawn.
Then, I looked up into the eerily changing sky. Rain was coming, but right then it was only quiet and breezy. A bald eagle was soaring above the creek. It was moving in a circular pattern stretching from the park closest to me and the Creekside Park with soccer fields just over a mile from my house—if you are not a crow.
I did not see the eagle flap its wings to move forward but rather elegantly dip from one side to the other in a stabilizing and hypnotizing rock. The eagle was dancing with and embracing the wind just as an 18th century couple would waltz in the ballroom.
As I sat, eyes trained on the symbol of freedom, courage, and strength, I realized something incredible. Not only was the eagle riding the wind, but it was also rising instead of falling. It was floating effortlessly as if gravity did not exist, and it was doing so gracefully. I have seen birds ride the wind before, but I have never seen them climb the way the eagle did. It all but disappeared from my sight.
When I was a competitive runner, I ran in wind, rain, snow, sleet, hail, scorching sun, and humidity so high that each in-breath hurt. I trudged through sand, cement, packed dirt, mud, snow and ice, rocks and roots, over and under downed trees, and up and down hills too steep to be safe. The course was always set for me, and I had to push myself beyond what my physical limits were at any given time. I could run in 100° weather with 98% humidity or in an absolute downpour. Those were my strengths back then. My weakness? Wind. Fighting headwind was brutal and keeping a good pace with a tailwind was difficult. The back and forth between the two typically left me feeling gassed. I was a strategist, and wind always ruined my strategy.
I have had some fierce winds in my life recently. The back and forth has exhausted me, and I cannot find and maintain a strategy to keep my strength. The problem is that I have been fighting the wind. I catch a tailwind and take off, but when the headwind comes at me, I try to maintain the same speed and direction. I keep pushing myself when maybe I am not meant to keep going down that path or at that speed. I get to be in charge of my path, right? I should get to choose whether I run against the wind or not. Riding the wind seems more graceful than stumbling against it. Why keep fighting now? Why not allow myself to go where I am taken and embrace what comes up?
The eagle effortlessly glided with the wind, changing directions, moving ever so slightly to ride the next gust. It did not fight the wind to fly upward. It rode the wind upward.
Ride the wind, friends.
“Whatever gets in the way is the way.”