To My Father, Far and Near
This morning, a reflection on a youth that was mine.
A walk on a path leading to some woods on the opposite side of the world from my origins, last week’s rain skipping, giddy, toward today’s greenness and vibrancy.
There are sprouting flowers on shrubs and grass to light the way, and I’m overcome:
I don’t know how it started, but in one moment I can’t frame or measure, I am not here,
I am someone else that was once me.
A weekend trip, a hike somewhere in that childhood magical landscape belonging to no one else, a walk in a wooded place with my father, who was everything, who knew it all and lit my world with his bright eyes and
infectious smile, so that a quiet stream became an odyssey in crossing (our mother hen clutching his camera for him, wondering if her whole family might be washed away on a Sunday afternoon),
the trees our navigation, our plaything, our home in every forest and jungle. He taught us to climb, and to see the world from way up there (I am always trying to find my way back up there).
I’m still with him, now: the walk with all those red leaves, and twisted branches shaped like alive things we could never resist. Did my sister win or lose the bet that had her carrying a rock the size of “I love you thisssss much” back to the car, where my mother had a picnic waiting?
She carried it well; my father helped her know there was no reason she might falter.
There were many times like this in my childhood. My father juggling with the dishes, breaking a few but succeeding in letting us in on a little secret about how gravity might be toyed with.
Times like these.
Taking his girls-who-were-not-boys to the hardware store, or his enormous warehouse spaces of work, transforming wherever we were into our very own land of play and adventure. Giving us that freedom.
These spaces that keep expanding with the emotions, now, that fill it, without end, nostalgia on top of old euphorias.
All the woods in the world, the ones who have seen me and the ones that await
meet me today with a kind of breathless force:
I never quite knew what I loved and I can’t have it back,
But I can come close to knowing what is still there, what is now, what made me, the making of love.
(The purple flowers that drew me into these woods this morning, invite me, and so I find my brimming-heart place of now, and I enter.)
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Provide by author