Facing North (West); Rising East
I still haven't found what I'm looking for. Great song...bringing forth memories of listening to my Dad sing those lyrics. He failed to hit the notes, maybe fumbled over a few words, and most certainly, played a mean air guitar (even if the beat was off). I constantly sought the answer to the "Who am I" question, failing miserably each and every time. And just when I thought I was on to something, nope, it all was just an illusion. My Dad encouraged this journey, periodically asking me the unanswerable, yet pointed question every few years. I tried to answer it with a politician's answer; my bullshit on display for him to see.
For many years, I'd identify with quotes and pictures (whether personal images or ad campaigns) that boasted freedom and comforting visions I thought would help in 'finding me'. They invoked a motivation and I hung them all around as a positive reminder of a goal, a vision - something worth attaining. Some of those tattered pictures have traveled with me through the years, being displayed in new spaces, yet holding on to the same feelings.
I distinctly remember one ad from The North Face - a full page ad of an older woman hiking grazed the pages of a running magazine. This life-experienced looking woman had long dark hair, capped off with a wool hat, and wrapped in a lightweight thermal jacket. She appeared to be positioned somewhere on a mountain trail. I admired the lines in her face and the clarity in her eyes. She looked like she had it figured out - she had the answer. I ripped out that ad, and plastered it on my refrigerator.
I can't tell you where that picture is anymore, but I can tell you that I think about it occasionally. I scoured the internet, conducting numerous searches, trying to find her face to no avail. The search for the answer is a never ending process. Just when the answer seems so close, it falls out of view. And if the answer becomes clear, it's only held for a short time before slipping away.
The past few months I've begun noticing what I call a crack in my sidewalk. I know it's there, but it's not doing any damage. I step over that crack noting that it needs care; however it's no big deal. Right? I realize, with time, the crack will expand; it's actually expanding now, little by little. A small observation could develop into a major problem, requiring more resources to patch. Maybe this is a bit dramatic, I digress.
A few days ago I was given the gift of time. Instead of doing my reading, folding laundry, or unpacking another box, I opted for a picnic dinner and stand up paddle boarding on a local lake. I felt no guilt leaving all those adult tasks behind. The evening yielded a gorgeous sunset and low humidity. At one point, my board faced west towards the setting sun. I felt the warmth of the sun awaken my skin. Even with the blinding reflections off the water, my eyes opened wider as if I was breathing through them. I stood taller on the board, rooting my feet in the surface's grooves.
At that exact moment, I felt the calm in my head, the clarity in my eyes, the lines in my face. Whatever that feeling, that WAS what I was looking for. The gap in the sidewalk closed just a bit. I held onto that moment for as long as I paddled to the trees, then back to shore. As with the tattered picture (where ever the hell it is), the memory will fade, that moment will dissipate, and those feelings will lessen, but knowing that there was a time when it all came together, even for just a few minutes, doesn't matter. Some people go through life never experiencing that.