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As If We Had Wings

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.
— Mary Oliver, Starlings in Winter

In between letting the puppy out for her morning relief and her post-breakfast exercise, the world lit up in orange. I would love to say I saw the whole thing, but really I only caught the tail end of it. To be in a place where the sky’s open all around you is the thing in such moments. Places like mountains and oceans and vast grasslands. The forest lends itself to its own wonder, but hides much of the sky. Sunrises and sunsets are missed with notable frequency, but we accept the trade-off nonetheless. Still, there are days I wish I could fly up to meet it.

The world is full of wonder and beauty—far more than we’ll ever see in our lifetime. We simply can’t have it all. In fact, like the tail end of that sunrise, we witness precious little in our days. So seeking it out becomes the thing. Awareness and giving yourself permission to be awed by our insignificance offers a window to view and wonder. We know that we’ll never see everything, but perhaps we’ll see just enough to love our place in this universe.

I know I should write more, and better. I know I should rise to meet the day, to put myself in the way of beauty as Strayed’s mother used to say. We see the days passing by so quickly and feel the urgency. And we feel the commitment of place and time and love for one another. There is a season for everything in this lifetime. We must believe that, mustn’t we? But some things will never be seen in favor of other things. We aren’t gods, you and I. This is the trade-off of being human. We must prioritize what’s truly important over everything else.

Life will take our breathe away in both it’s beauty and in beauty lost. We know this to be true. The only way forward is to breath again, and rise to meet the day. As if we had wings.

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  1. “Life will take our breathe away in both it’s beauty and in beauty lost.” You’re the most quotable writer I’ve run across in a long time. This one is simply beautiful and beautifully simple.

      1. You’re quite welcome. I discovered your blog just this morning, and I’m really enjoying what I’ve read so far. I appreciate your “live every day” approach to life; I’m trying to incorporate that into my own. I’ve wasted quite enough of my 64 years on this planet.

      2. We both have. Only a few years behind you on the timeline. I try to live like it’s now or never.

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