Monday, September 6, 2010
Would that life were like the shadow cast by a wall or a tree, but it is like the shadow of a bird in flight.--The Talmud
In Oklahoma, where I come from, summer can be a petulant, passive-aggressive jerk. Every year, millions fall for its easy-going charms and laid-back lifestyle. Hang out with it enough, though, scratch its surface a bit, and one quickly finds out how neurotic it can be. Complain just once about its annoying habit to go to extremes and it digs its heels in and refuses to budge. I always feel a bit guilty about this change of heart since I had seemingly, just moments ago, embraced it with open arms. However, when lengthy negotiations to talk it down from its ledge carry into late October, I secretly wish it would just jump already.
Imagine my surprise this weekend, in the Rockies, when I watched summer bow out...gracefully. There were no histrionics or middle fingers tossed as it left. Like a pleasant house guest, it graciously made its bed, started the coffee and then quietly slipped out the back door while everyone was still sleeping. One summer afternoon, we drove into the mountains and marvelled at the uniformly green slopes and then, magically, the next day, the verdure turned to lovely golden and amber hues. The change coincided efficiently with the calendar year's symbolic end to summer, Labor Day.
During the drive back to Denver, I contemplated how quickly and quietly summer had exited. The whole experience reminded me of a sunset I saw in Maui--so gorgeous, it bordered on obscene. I remember trying to will the rapidly slipping sun back into the sky in a vain attempt to prolong the pleasure of watching it settle into the ocean. I could have kicked myself. Why hadn't the same sun and ocean captivated me as profoundly for the previous 13 hours? Why, in the last fleeting seconds, did it not allow me to look away?
It's funny. We spend an inordinate amount of time trying to build solid, lasting shadows in this life but it is usually the ephemeral that ends up capturing our attention. When something overstays its welcome or hangs on unnaturally long, we oftentimes bristle at its impertinence. In our core, despite our wish to prolong it, we fundamentally understand that life is fleeting.
In the end, I guess that I am ultimately comforted by gorgeous sunsets and the efficient change of seasons...it's strangely soothing to get a brief glimpse of a bird's shadow in flight.
Posted by Nancy B at 7:44 PM