Unlikely Places of Rest

It would be a gross understatement to say that life has been a tad busy lately. I’m no stranger to busyness, and in fact I thrive on it. Throughout my adult life, I’ve always found ways to impose a highly occupied lifestyle upon myself, and through this I’ve learned to multitask and handle pressure well. I cram life full of experiences, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do try to find balance by stopping to smell the proverbial and literal roses, and taking some time to enjoy recreational activities of one kind or another.

Now, as important work deadlines loom, I’m also writing papers and preparing for exams, being a mother, wife and homemaker, enduring the renovations in our house, and still trying to maintain sanity with some exercise and leisurely reading. The pace of my life is largely self-imposed, and to be honest, I actually enjoy it most of the time. However, the opportunities for rest and for pleasure are currently few and far between. My social life is practically nonexistent, but I know it’s only a season before I’ll be able to enjoy more of the delights of life again.

This evening, I had an MRI done on my knee for the old ACL injury I’ve mentioned in a previous post. I’ve had two prior MRIs and the noise and confined space don’t bother me. I lay on the table for my 20 minute exam, and rested. In fact, I came extremely close to falling asleep. When the tech came in to tell me the exam was complete, I asked him if I could stay a little longer. He laughed emphatically and told me that nobody had ever made that request of him. Thing is, I was serious.

As crazy as it sounds, this unlikely resting place provided me with 20 minutes to lay still and just be. No place to go, nothing to think about, no one to talk to. Just me, the machine and the rhythmic and unexpectedly soothing noise of the magnetic resonance. It was nice; like a short date with myself.

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Feeling.

Aching.
For a past with a different future.
Hoping.
For decisions that come easily.
Striving.
For balance and harmony.
Wanting.
An unrealistic result.
Pining.
For understanding without judgment.
Realizing.
Apologies come too late.
Contenting.
Regrets serve no one.
Living.
With a desire to acquire wisdom.
Considering.
The opportunity in pain.
Appreciating.
The many joys and pleasures.
Imagining.
The panoramic potential.

Plane Spotting

This post will be a bit different from my usual writing, but it represents the prevailing nerd in me and my ardent interest in three things: science of all kinds, the mystique of nature, and great, powerful machines. In addition, I’m posting photos but I am not professing myself to be a photographer. I just want to share what I experienced….

On Friday, much of Ontario and Quebec received some very active weather. There were tornado warnings, extreme thunderstorm alerts, fallen trees, power outages and floods. My husband and son and I were visiting family in Toronto and were at my dad’s house Friday afternoon and evening. We spent a few hours in the sun; it was a hot, humid and windy day. To me, the quality and scent of the wind declared that some active weather was developing. About five minutes before my dad went out to barbeque, black clouds began to rush in as quickly as I’ve ever seen, and huge drops of rain began to fall sporadically from the sky. Only a couple of minutes passed and we were observing a tremendous downpour as part of a powerful thunderstorm. My family found me on the covered front porch, intently observing the storm as I love to do when opportunity permits. I was fortunate enough to be literally shaken when the storm was so close, the interval between lightning bolt and thunder was a mere second or less, and it felt as if the earth might divide beneath me. (If interested, I wrote a poem about this storm and posted a photo of the ensuing rainbow here). Once the rain slowed, we left my father’s house en route to my mother’s.

Years ago, when I was living in the Toronto area, I discovered a location where airplanes can be observed landing at Pearson International Airport. Here, you can literally sit in your car or stand in the parking lot and airplanes fly so close overhead that you can hypothetically hit them with a pinecone. It is an incredible rush to watch the approach of a jumbo jet. We made a pit stop there on Friday. Unfortunately there were no jumbo jets landing on this runway at that time but it was an exciting experience nonetheless, despite relatively small aircraft. The best I can do to describe it is as follows:

I positioned myself directly under the flight path. Far in the distance I perceived the glimmer of a plane’s headlights. Soon my heart began to pound as it drew closer. With its final approach I held my breath, hoping the pilot and onboard computers were going to successfully guide the plane to the runway. Blood pumping through my arteries, I had to employ great self-control not to flee my position.

The sound of jet engines from such proximity is astonishing. In addition to the adrenaline rush I always experience, the passing of a jetliner so close overhead creates in me a deep appreciation of how incredible and powerful they are. If you’re lucky enough to be present on the rare occasion of the arrival of an Airbus A380 or even a 747, it almost becomes an extreme sport!

After the storm had disappeared, the weather in Toronto became quite calm, but we were left with very interesting cloud formations. As you can see in the photographs accompanying this post, they resemble cotton balls. These types of clouds are termed mammatus (they look like breasts, I guess). They are indicative of severe weather like thunderstorms and even tornadoes, but often appear subsequent to such extreme weather rather than beforehand. Mammatus clouds are formed when up-currents carry highly saturated moist air into previously formed clouds. As the air spreads horizontally through the cloud, the ice or water droplets that are heavier fall to the bottom and essentially sag beneath the original cloud.

The particular formations in the photographs are quite minor compared to some of the wonderful mammatus formations you can search out online, but they are cool nonetheless. Really incredible ones form on the bottom of anvil clouds; large cumulonimbus formations which usually occur after thunderstorms. Observed around 8pm, the beautiful cloud configurations here, lit by the setting sun, were a magnificent sight. Combined with the rush of landing jets overhead, this proved to be a very enjoyable pit stop.

For those photography buffs, these shots were taken with a Cannon EOS Rebel T3i and specific info is contained within the gallery, for each shot. Again, I am not a photographer!

Summer Downpour

Sweltering heat is made thick by the wetness of summer rains, still hours away.
Syrupy air is difficult to breathe yet it carries the sweetness of the season’s blooms.
Fervent winds cool sunbathers’ skin, soaking up the heat pined for in winter.
A storm brews in the distance.

Blackness suddenly creeps into the atmosphere.
Soon a few patient raindrops fall heavy from the sky.
Then ardently, the pent-up moisture descends from the heavens as if in a solid pane.
The air is instantly cooled and its electric quality is palpable.
The pitter-patter of drops on pavement draws out the scent of the city.
Wet asphalt suggests renewal; superficial, fleeting.

Short-lived, the intense storm is burned up by the returning sun.
A rainbow is left, a brief reminder of nature’s conundrum:
Magnificent beauty and ruthlessness, power, necessity.
The entire sky glows as crimson sunlight bounces off cotton-ball clouds.
The earth is nourished again.

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Wishes

Whisper sweet nothings with hot breath,

Deliver me a honeyed chorus

Of inspiration to my mind’s eye.

Yearnings evoked, wishes granted.

Observe me; I shudder with delight,

While soft fingertips amuse,

And create heat that melts inhibitions.

Passions provoked, creativity enhanced.

Hear me inhale and take you in,

Fragrance with impressive influence

Provokes memories that permeate me.

Imagination imbued, arousal infused.

I Run With Scissors

When I was a young child, I got ahold of a pair of scissors and teased my mom by flashing them before her and promptly running away. I left her with a very dangerous conundrum: chase me and risk me falling on those scissors, or ignore me and risk exactly the same fate! Not a very pleasant decision to be left with. I can’t say that the rest of my childhood and teen years left my parents in a much easier position, because I had the dangerous combination of intellect, determination and a predilection to all things naughty. That’s not to say that my parents weren’t and aren’t proud of me, or that I wasn’t balanced by ethics and a conscience, but I have heard time and time again that I was not the easiest of children to rear. Now that I can look back with some perspective, I can see why they were right. However, I can also see that with maturity and life experience, that boldness is partly what makes me the resilient woman I am.

Now in my early thirties, my propensity for risk has been moderated by common sense and a measure of wisdom, discretion and patience. I now have a passionate and clever child of my own to care for, admire and contend with. I have a strong focus on setting and achieving important goals around career, education and other personal interests. Personal relationships are important to me so I try to be careful to preserve or enhance them. As an adult, I recognize how my choices colour my own life and its progression, and therefore my decisions have a more evident impact on me than they did when I was a 3-year old with a thirst for making my mother sweat.

Still, I sometimes run with scissors. After all these years, my motivation for doing so is not to make anyone fret, but rather to push the limits of life and see if somehow I have improved a circumstance or come away with a meaningful experience. I firmly believe that life is not really lived if there is no risk involved, and correspondingly we cannot grow if we don’t stretch ourselves sometimes. I don’t believe that people achieve great professional success without some risk; applying for a job we aren’t qualified for or confidently networking with an intimidating professional powerhouse. I think that, too often, we miss out on incredible encounters because we are fearful of outcomes we can’t possibly predict. Then, we spend a good portion of our lives wondering what might have been. And in the end, whether we take the risk or not, we still can’t predict the outcome of the status quo situation.

{Let me stop for a minute to make a clarification. I am in no way encouraging purposeful and premeditated risks directly involving someone else’s life. Though our personal choices inevitably affect others, I am merely deliberating the idea that often, with great risk comes great reward. And having been on the receiving end of pain as a result of others’ choices, I can furthermore conclude that I am a stronger person as a result of those situations. Moreover, I am not trying to indicate that I bear distaste for stability or consistency in life.}

I was reminded yet again this week that we never know when we may have lived our last day. People die in disastrous, unexpected circumstances every day, and scores of others die during their daily commute (excuse the melancholic moment, but it’s the truth). Living according to this philosophy may encourage us to take more risks, and also treat differently our relationships with others. I personally try to build straightforward, fruitful relationships in all facets of life, treating people well and striving to perhaps enhance their lives somehow. Ultimately, I really never know when they might move on. So, it is in the relational matters of life where I tend to take the greatest risks; putting my heart on the line, speaking my truth, going against the grain.

The principle of risk-taking can be applied to nearly everything in life, from career decisions to romantic forays, financial investments to extreme sports. We each have unique risk tolerances in each part of our lives. I would argue, nonetheless, that we don’t gain anything by sitting on our hands and thinking about what we could have done, accomplished or experienced. That’s not to say that decisions involving risk are easy to make, but I have begun to realize that my gut feelings are usually right and over-analysis only complicates matters. That same over-analysis which might strike fear into my heart would also inhibit me from having an amazing and life-altering experience or an opportunity to learn something profound and empowering. Sometimes we must seize an opportunity, however scary, in order to benefit from inexplicable growth or joy. And while our fears may become reality and we might get genuinely hurt, I would challenge that those occasions offer us invaluable life lessons and opportunities for self-reflection. The alternative to healthy risk-taking is that we in fact risk much more: the slipping of time like sand through our fingertips, without having experienced it fully.

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.” ~William Shakespeare – The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

There My Life Shall Follow

Where my heart resides,
There my life shall follow.
In pain, I’ll seize moments of joy.
In struggle, I’ll capitalize on strength.
In imbalance, I’ll be steadied by wisdom.
In confusion, I’ll recall resilience.
In emptiness, I’ll draw on possibility.
With confidence I’ll stand firm,
Guiding my heart purposefully,
Knowing my life will follow.