We Are Not Our Small Stories
Outside my window there are planes passing overhead, marching in straight, sleepy lines from one crowded dream into another. When I stop and listen I can feel the tumbling and sucking of the Pacific.
Until I paused I had been very far away from this prickly, tired city with its now-scarce rolling hills, scrub oak thickets, and dry stream beds.
I had been seven years old, driving west across the colorado plateau at sunset. Peering out in hushed reverence through the sticky windows of my family’s mini-van, toward a mysterious and beckoning horizon of stacked, crimson sandstone… out across streaming prairie grasses that glowed like tiny lanterns with the exhale of day.
These were my favorite times when our whiney restlessness gentled itself to the awe of evening as if something much larger than our boredom, and our petty pestering began to press in through the windows, and whorl up from the vents like the red, tangy dust of this place.
These were the times when it happened.
These were the times when the little girl in the van in the springtime of her life slipped through the crack of her own becoming and dreamt an audacious dream. And though it may have looked to my family that there in the same seat I remained, as young ones are aught to do I followed my longing into a world that seemed always to be awaiting my readiness.
In my imagination I sat astride a magnificent stallion - larger than you might have seen before, his great dark body contoured golden and rippling like a night fire on water. I laid flat and bare on his back, slick with sweat and trembling alive, drawing into me his musky, salted scent.
The rootlets of his mane blended with my dark hair, leaping and whirling in tangled eddies along the rivered banks of the wind. I felt my frenzied heartbeat and the wildfire burning in my eyes, as I felt the beast of his animal body pounding the earth like a great drum.
Each step a thundered prayer.
This vision has hunted me for years. Always returning at sunset. Always in places where water hides, and the blood red bones of rock whisper their secrets of lives made full and rich and holy.
Still, it took me years to know…
I am that stallion running west into the night.
I am the golden sun that folds the heartbreak of day into dusk. I am the whipping wind that lashes relentlessly the sweetest of new skin. I am the little girl who dreams of freedom. I am tenderness and beauty, and the terrible immensity of earth and sky.
We are not the small stories that press our days with vacant pettiness. No. We are something more akin to that stallion, running on behalf of life, carrying awe and innocence as a gift of possibility laid bare for all to see.
I once heard an elder say we, humans, are holy amnesiacs. We forget in order to remember again. When I slip sideways into the sunset, I remember this wildness in you, and in me.