a slow and continual falling in love with the spouse who thirsts for her so perfectly.
The sea gull circled above me, above the bell tower, above the sea-smelling tidal river. A marten (or a magpie) crossed the gull's path.
Swirling in the blue sky, across the patches of rainy clouds floating past, the birds darted through one another's flight patterns, creating new pathways in the air.
The hillside was one of those blessed spots that instantly welcomes you home.
There you are at last, it says. Have a seat, here. You know the ground like you know the soles of your feet. The air around you seems to just Fit, like an old sweater or your mother's arms. Your body sinks into its welcome as it sinks into an old, familiar chair or corner of the couch.
From the hill, you can see the city sprawl down to greet the river, and splash around it on the hillsides, as though the houses were washed up by the tide and beached there. And you can see, so clearly, the green countryside hills bordering the city.
My mind does cartwheels, like the starlings in the air. What if, What if, What if, they cry shrilly.
I never understood the draw of the theory that there are multiple different universes, parallel worlds in which all our different choices were contained. It is only in the past few months I have begun to see the appeal of such a system. Decisions made by our September selves are regretted by our May minds. And how can we not play with the ideas of all our different selves, spinning out their in their different galaxies, playing with the lives that might-have-been in our minds?
We meet someone, we hear a word, we are reminded of a place or a position we rejected, we think: oh I could have been there. Or I could have done that instead. Is our present path the chosen path? Or is it a detour that could--and worse, should--have been avoided? What if we had chosen something else instead? Would we have made the same mistakes? Would we be better, more innocent, more kind? Would we never have encountered angry, sad, and lonely sections of our soul that were better left untouched?
What if, what if, what if, the starlings cry.
As the birds fly in unintentional--or perhaps it is purposeful, I do not know these birds' thoughts and hearts-- harmony with each other, I am reminded of all the ways in which my life has woven so serendipitously with the lives of others.
Perhaps looked at, on its own, my life is just a string of choices, a series of switches that could have been flipped any which way. But when looked at in relation to all the other stories my story's thread is woven into, perhaps then, what are simply choices made at random become something meaningful. Perhaps it is the other stories that my story has intersected with that give her movements grace and beautiful design.
The design does not demand. It does not dictate or predestine. It arises from them, like the patterns created by the birds in flight above me. It does not set a course for the bird's flight. It is created by and through them, and comes from something beyond them. It seems to be a law of nature, or better said, perhaps, nature's gift, or miracle: that things move in harmony, that birds will fly together, or apart, and the ribbons of their motion will weave something beautiful between them.
But because truly being here is so much; because everything here apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which in some strange way keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all. Once for each thing. Just once; no more. And we too, just once. And never again. But to have been this once, completely, even if only once: to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing.”
--Rainer Maria Rilke