I’m obsessed with wings. What they are. How they function. How to grow a pair.
Before I was five, I was convinced of the power of belief and much was said about it at morning mass where we were dragged daily until school-aged. I barely remember what the priest did while we were there. I browsed the daily missal and tried to figure out its arcane mixture of numbers and words.
Somewhere along the line, I learned faith could make anything happen.
I was deeply faithful when I bounced extra hard on my mom’s Victorian couch (bought from the Stanford Faculty Club, reupholstered in dark green velvet.) I can still remember the feeling when my bouncing was hard enough and my faith took over, and I knew it was time to leap. I spread my arms, felt certain their prickling sensation was of feathers emerging from my skin, took a final bounce, and burst into the “sky” away from the safe branch of Mom’s sofa.
I was glorious, airborne, rising higher, up and up, until something went terribly wrong: I came down, down, down onto the footstool of a red naugahyde armchair which scraped away a section of my left eyebrow.
Faith doesn’t always work as we expect it will. But, in that moment, it worked well enough and I flew, though not to Africa as I had planned. The scolding I received for the blood and the mess was worth it. I had flown.
My later flights included running and leaping from a fifty-foot high wall into a giant pile of manure and straw accumulated from the mucked out stables of the Brennanstown Riding School, then located in Cabinteely, County Dublin in the company of Myles, my friend.
In my dreams, I fly everywhere, lifting off from hard running on land or on water, spreading my arms, holding my fingers close together in tight formation. I swim-fly through the air and feel the incredible. Short of dreams, it’s mostly the birds of the Bair Island that fly where I fail, that break the air with their sudden motions, their short flights on blustery, reckless days when wise winged souls stay grounded and safe. This is a crow I saw on a windy day at the Starbucks in Fort Bragg, his right wing pinned to the roof to try and judge where to set down, the wind and fog so persistent that even the shortest of flights were reckless ventures. Watching the birds judge the air and flying conditions is so much like flying a plane, except they make their assessment by intuition and experience. Somedays, when condition are worst, you see the best sights. Yesterday, was terifically windy, grounding all but the heaviest of birds. I have a nice lense, but not large enough to get some of the better shots. I have to rely on quiet presence, trust won from slow encounters, and strong vibes that I’m not looking for dinner. …that and being in the right place at the right time.