Scorpio hangs poised over the camelthorn tree on Dune to Nowhere. Heat lightning dances across the flats, but I can’t see any isolated bolts. I lay on my back, my eyes drawn to scorpio. It’s my zodiac sign. But I don’t know what it means or what the prophesy from it is for me. I rarely saw it in the northern hemisphere, maybe if ever. It takes up a lot of sky space. I learned a new star, right at the base of the tail of it – Antares.
I’ve been lost in thought thinking about swallows all day. I received a story in my inbox from a climber/author whom I subscribe to, Chris Kalman, yesterday. It was one of those moments when coincidence feels too serendipitous and you have a hunch the world is up to something or the stars aligned or whatever other clichés there are. Below, quotes in italics and thoughts from the story with free-falling swallows.
Fluidity is an absence of preconception. A phenomenon called underactuation where movement isn’t calculated, rather spontaneous. The scene of a swallow free falling into flight replays in my mind. Every movement is a spontaneous reaction to the spontaneous movement that came before. If my perspective on how I want to live my life needed validation, these would be the words I would read or be told or say to myself. I thrive in movement, and apparently even more so in unplanned, uncalculated, spontaneous movements. The only thing constant in my life lately is change, unrooting change. From moving to new places, branching off into new career paths, or chasing new dreams – I’m always on the move, it’s the way I work.
In the last month or so, I’ve experienced more movements and shifts than I was expecting. In the physical sense, I traveled throughout 4 different (fairly big) countries in 19 days. I’m beginning to pack up my life, again, but this time I’m not entirely sure where I’ll be going or for how long. In the cerebral sense, I felt failure in not obtaining my goal to work in Chile on a Fulbright grant and I gave up on plans to travel to Kenya and Namibia in June due to the pandemic chaos. But life doesn’t have to be made up of straight-line vectors that either dead-end or send. Fluidity provides a ripple of possibilities to move through. I realized it wasn’t the grant I really wanted, or a way to further my career. I wanted to put out an idea to help protect the environment and see if it works. So, I’m going to do it. And with the borders closed, it just means I’ll explore in South Africa instead, and a farm within the Drakensberg mountains sounds like a pretty cool adventure. And if that falls through, something else will happen and it will probably be great. Maybe I won’t be able to sail across the ocean to go back to the US, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never learn to sail or experience the sea – just not yet, not now.
I felt like I was tripping on my failures and obstacles. But while I tried to regain my footing, eventually I gave in to the free fall and decided to see what happened. I’ve been really happy and feel lighter after shedding the weight of calculations and expectations, mostly of my own. Failing is just falling. Falling is a part of flying. Act spontaneously and deal with consequences as they come. Don’t be afraid to miss; don’t be afraid to fall.
Photo by the talented Will Russack, Lopez Island WA