Outdoors/Adventure

Like a bird playing in the wind, accepting change and going with the flow can be liberating

In the middle of the night last week, I heard the wind pick up. It roiled around, whooshing through trees and bringing a breeze to my face through our slightly open bedroom window. Gradually, I was wide awake with a few stressful thoughts — What if we lose power? What if a tree falls? — so I got up and drowned out the sound with a fan for white noise.

I slept soundly the rest of the night, but through a cascade of vivid dreams. When I woke up, it was still windy. Palmer is going to Palmer.

We’re moving out of our house soon, and I have the both looming and heightened awareness that my time in this particular spot is finite. It’s a strange feeling to have a set move-out date for what is a brick-and-mortar residence, but also an entire era of my life.

No wonder I’m having wild dreams.

That morning, I pushed myself to go on a walk. I’m a 10,000-steps-per-day person now, so even with the many moving parts, loose ends and endless chores that come with implementing a move, I needed to fulfill my routine.

The wind wasn’t exactly a draw, though. I zipped up my coat high and braced myself.

Then a few things happened in the span of about a minute.

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The first thing was seeing a raven wheeling around in the wind before settling on an electrical post. I don’t consider myself a bird watcher. But I enjoy watching clever ravens, even and maybe especially when they’re being a nuisance — pecking over their typical trash spot in downtown Palmer; fighting over a bag of frozen pizza bites in the middle of the street during my run.

This bird rocked a little back and forth on its perch and shook out its feathers. Alert, it looked at other nearby birds who were also seemingly playing in the wind. Swooping elegantly nearby were other ravens and a magpie, riding invisible arcs through the sky with wings outstretched.

I felt something in my chest open, like the wind was moving through and somehow inflating a part of me to free up, too.

It reminded me, oddly, of a brief moment from the week before.

Which leads to the second thing that happened: As I was watching the birds and feeling a shared sense of freedom and possibility, I remembered when, suffering from the onset of a migraine, I’d hopped on a video meeting.

I showed up in sunglasses. Before others joined, I saw my face on the courtesy premeeting, waiting room reflection offered by Google Meet. I laughed at myself — ready to talk, but wearing bright green sunnies indoors and staring into my laptop. I put them on because just before the meeting, and I felt an aura creep in on my vision — a telltale sign of an oncoming migraine headache. Lucky for me, I can ward off the worst of the pain by taking a few ibuprofen when I first sense the onset of a headache. But I still have light sensitivity.

On top of that, in the background of the video call I could see the stack of earthly belongings my husband and I had assembled to donate. It was one of many, many piles and stacks throughout our house as we prepared to move.

Oh, and I had COVID-19. A very mild case, but still.

My coworkers logged onto the call, and one remarked on my sunglasses. In trademark “me” fashion, I explained the shades, and the COVID, and then the stack of items just behind me in one breath.

And, I asserted that even with all this chaos, I’m fine. While I don’t want to have COVID, or a migraine, or to navigate the hullabaloo of moving, I’d much rather be here than in stasis.

My mind really goes haywire with too much comfort; too much sameness and stability.

Too much sameness and stability. I thought about this on that walk, watching the birds play in this wind that I’d considered a nuisance, but they seemed to be enjoying. I thought: My life is windy right now, and I can brace myself against it or I can be in it and even, potentially, use it.

I felt buoyed in a way that I needed just then, and it seems to have carried over into the subsequent week. I’m adapting more fluidly as things are in continuous motion all around me. I feel a little less overwhelmed; I shrug more off. I feel (dare I say it) a little more playful, a little more open.

Alli Harvey

Alli Harvey lives in Palmer and plays in Southcentral Alaska.

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