As a boy growing up on a farm in Northeast Colorado I used to have to find creative ways to entertain myself. With acres to roam nature was often my playmate. Whether it was exploring the mostly dry creek bed, catching tadpoles in ponds, or making mazes in the wheat fields the elements rarely kept me from being outside. Today I was reminded of another “old playmate” when Facebook friends still living in Colorado posted comments about the wind. It BLOWS out on those plains! The damage to property and even crops is an adult’s enemy, not to mention the fact that people just get tired of it. But as a kid I would spend hours using that wind to lift my imagination to a level higher than the trees it bent. I’m sure most of you have experienced wind. Even strong wind. But this is a wind that blows so hard that it stops you from moving forward. You can lean into it and the incredible sustained force pushes back so hard you won’t fall over. As a kid I used it to pretend I was flying. Slowly leaning into it and closing my eyes as I extended my arms and tested how far it would let me defy gravity. I would play as if I was a giant and was SO big I could only move slowly as the power of the wind seemed to amplify my height to the tallest peak. Boom. Boom. Boom. I would play football with myself and through the ball into the air and then try to receive it as the gusts from my unpredictable opponent sent the ball in the opposite direction. And sometimes I would just simply try and out strengthen the wind my walking or running into it. Leaning my head into it and trying with all my young might to make it to the next tree or quonset door. It was just so fascinating how something completely invisible could push so hard against me and at times knock me clean on my ass. Yet, it probably was one of my favorite things to do.
All grown up now and far from the farm in San Francisco Bay. Oh it can get windy here, but nothing like Northeast Colorado. But five years ago a new wind started blowing and at this stage of my disease I get to play my favorite game almost everyday again. Tremor is mild for me with my Parkinson’s Disease. But the moment I wake in the morning and swing my first leg out of bed the wind rallies against me. Most every move I make feels like I’m leaning into that windy force. Even reaching for my phone feels like when you stick your hand outside the window of a moving car. Some days it blows less than others and, at this stage, blows harder on my right side then the left. Every step and reach forward is weighted by an invisible force. It’s funny how my childhood prepared me a little for this. My favorite game becomes my greatest challenge. Some days the wind makes me smile as the inconvenience reminds me of long ago and some days it just slams me on my ass and I just want to stay down flat in the ground and let the wind and the world blow over me. It used to represent careless freedom and a wonderment. I could get lost in it as I felt it against my skin and hair and heard it turn the world around me into a symphony of nature. Now it represents a battle for freedom. It burns as my muscles cramp and the silence it creates only separates me that much more from who and what I love. I lift my head from desperately leaning into the wind and see everyone and everything else move further out of my reach. I know I can never stop leaning and pushing against it harder but the truth is without a cure one day the boyhood gale that swept my spirit to far away worlds will beat my body into the ground. My goal and prayer is that young spirit never let’s go. Even if someday I can no longer rise from the ground I still see the beauty of those I love, the world around me, and even the wind.
So blow! Blow all you want. I will never stop remembering what you were. For you trained that boy well.