The Moments We Don’t Expect Often Mean the Most

IN THE EVENING, thunder and lightning controlled the sky. In the clear blue morning, the remnants of the storm remain in beautiful disarray. Yellow and orange leaves speckle the black streets. The air is clean and sweet and the day feels normal.

But what happened?

The thunder was incessant; each lightning bolt turned the black sky red with electric energy. The sound of crashing rain kept me up all night. Every now and again the rain would stop for a momentary pause; I would listen to the wind, drifting in and out of sleep on its cold midnight current.

The rain would return, yet I couldn’t close the window, for that would go against every fiber in my being. I would listen to the sound with a smile on my face and let it inspire my heart and soul.

I think an unexpected storm will always bring me joy. The night becomes an adventure, and the following day a mystery. These are the moments which give life meaning — the ones we don’t expect. The ones which nobody can give or take.

What is it that makes this life worth living? What makes the world beautiful and poignant and gives us a reason to get up when we’d rather stay under?

How do we find the courage to face the world, despite its faults and our own inadequacies to overcome them; despite the pain of losing what we love or not knowing what we love; despite having a good reason.

Change — which comes in gusts like the cold autumn winds — makes this life worth living. Change is one of the hardest aspects of being human.

We don’t want to change. Although we may wake on the day after the storm when the world is clear. What’s done is done. Change has taken place, and we’re better for it.

Let go of the hurt and find love in your heart, for there’s more happening here than we can ever hope to understand. Find what makes you happy and return to that; we don’t have time to waste.

A Surf Before the Storm

This is my first fall living in San Diego, CA. I was surfing before the storm at midday, when the waves were clean and the water was a translucent, deep green. When the sun was out, you could see straight through to the sandy bottom of the sea.

It’s rather rare to get into conversations in the water when surfing; sometimes I’m afraid to speak up because I wonder if the other surfers are out here so they may stop speaking for a while.

Surfing provides space to let go.

There’s an intimidation factor too; we never know how people will respond to a stranger speaking up, and it’s always easier to stay quiet. But the moment was too beautiful to keep to myself. I started talking to a local who wore a subtle smile and horizon-locked gaze which only surfing can elicit.

Her poise and peaceful smile told me that this is where she feels free, and that this time of year is unlike any other. I reciprocated my gratitude with a smile and a few cordial words.

She told me about how fall is the best time of the year in San Diego. I’ve always loved the fall, so I ate this up. The world changes in some ways that are subtle, and in others, powerful. The world begins its descent into the introspection and slumber which takes full effect in the dark winter months.

But the fall holds onto the light of summer and blends it with the oncoming darkness; the planet shifts and the wind blows harder until the trees are left bare and delicate.

Where certain forces of the earth close their eyes for sleep, others come alive. The ocean gains a forceful clarity; the waves are rich and cold and bring with them the nutrients of the deep.

My friend told me that this is the time when the tourists leave and the spirit of the ocean ignites. It’s exactly how I describe fall where I grew up in Malibu, just a few hours north.

The Time We Get to Know Ourselves

Every local savors the time when tourists return to the place that they call home. Yet, while we’re local at home, we’re travelers too, exploring the treasures of the earth. This planet is all of our home, and we are all free to seek its mysteries.

But we all have a place which only we know in a certain way in a particular light. Often, that intimate perceiving takes place in the transience of fall, where home is home again, and we see it in a new, although familiar way.

In this time, we better get to know ourselves. All it takes is a moment alone: a shadow speaks to you under the light of an orange moon; an answer comes early in the morning while the street is shrouded in mist; you’re at work, and for the first time, see a co-worker no longer as just a person, but as a person.

We’re all just humans, figuring out how to make the most of what we have. I don’t know what to make of it all. But I know the signs are out there if we’re willing to look. The signs which help us find ourselves again.

A Bird’s Lost Feather

On the beach, I stepped over a grey bird’s feather. I questioned what type of bird it might have belonged to. Perhaps that bird had dug through trash and required a certain hesitance. But maybe, just maybe, the bird from which this feather fell was rare amongst its kind.

It sought only the highest peaks and flew atop the mightiest of gales. It, too, cherished the transitioning season, when summer gives way to winter and what’s in between is the mingling of opposites. The bird may be out there, facing the world and all of its change with one less feather as armor.

Perhaps it’s no longer with us, and has drifted valiantly to the bottom of the sea. Either way, the feather made me stop and think.

The feather: a symbol of the writer’s tool now thought of as obsolete, what with the modern pen. But there are certain things which, although no longer practical, lend beauty to the world.

There are certain things which are perhaps childish to love and unreasonable to believe in — but maybe we have it all wrong.

Dark and thunderous autumn nights.
A handmade tool that lasts a life.
A shell or a stone or a bird’s lost feather.
You look up at the sky, and didn’t expect the clouds to steal your breath away.
The words in a book or a phenomenal performance or even just a cat video break you down, and you don’t know why.

I sat at my desk as my dinner cooked. The rain fell hard through a lavender haze. The food sizzled and popped in a cast-iron pan.

In the moment it was just me in my room listening to the sound, yet I couldn’t help but write it down. The words that spilled on the page meant nothing but an expression of my soul.

This was one of those times that I didn’t expect. One of those times that shakes you. Wakes you. Speaks to you in a voice bereft of words. I know I’m not alone, and what I feel I long to share, this being all of our home.

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