This post is from yesterday… forgot to hit publish.
Once in a while I purposely take the long way home. Usually it happens when a great song is playing and the car windows are rolled down or the top is down. Overcast or misty days are the perfect settings for this.
There is a great winding road near my neighborhood that cuts through part of our state park. It feels like it’s miles from nowhere yet it’s not at all. It branches off from a much more direct route to its end, so there are usually few cars on it. And right when I reach my neighborhood entrance, it’s like my car sometimes knows when I need to recharge for a just a moment or two. And when I need to keep going straight and follow this road, making an extra loop before returning home.
I’ve decided this little road is sort of like my own little spiritual retreat. Like a drive through recharging station. This is where I crank up whatever song that most likely inspired me to blow off my original turn. Usually Janis Joplin is whaling about Bobby McGee, Rod Stewart about his sexiness or the Beatles about places they remember. Any old song that makes me a little sentimental.
And as I make the wide bend of the road (the best part when I go a little too fast) and refocus, I almost always notice a flock of birds in formation. I’m always in awe of how these birds can perform such a complex and scientific maneuver. Did you know that birds can fly 70% further with the same amount of energy when in formations like this?
I must admit that I have very little affection for birds. I had a really bad Blue-Jay experience once when my dog found a baby bird, so I am pretty much terrified of most birds. I’m not sure what kind of birds these are, but I would assume geese or ducks. And they never cease to fascinate me when flying in formation.
I love that there always seems to be that one little guy at the end of the formation who can’t quite seem to figure it out, probably losing out on much of the drag reduction benefit of the whole exercise. I always wonder if his cohorts are giving him a hard time for being a slacker and that just stresses him out even more.
And then at that moment I remember a reference in one of my favorite poems. A poem that I have given to many dear friends in their times of sorrow. It’s called “Do Not Stand” and the author is unknown from what I can tell. It’s written from the perspective of someone who has passed on speaking to someone they’ve left behind in this world. They urge the reader not to stand at their grave and weep, for they are not there. They are a thousand winds that blow, the diamond glints on the snow, the sunlight on ripened grain, the gentle autumn’s rain. And the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.
I can feel my heart leap up as I watch the formation pass over me and I think of my sister. Maybe somehow I connect with that little guy at the end of the formation. Like it’s my sister reminding me that everything’s okay, even for the little guy trying so hard to keep up. I think a therapist could have a heyday with the psychological theories that might explain this series of thoughts. Probably many theories would be spot-on, or maybe I subconsciously want to be reincarnated as Janis Joplin’s uncoordinated pet bird? I’m not sure, but I suspect there’s more to it than that. I’ll be sure to save up for that session.
Then as I turn my car around at the traffic circle and head back home the opposite direction, through this same stretch of winding road, I breathe a sigh and I am renewed.
Today I am grateful for my long way home.