Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wanted: weightlessness

First home game of the season at Dodger Stadium. Seeing the news footage of the park, surrounding hills and the crowded plain of Los Angeles reminded me that once, some 45 years ago, I went for a ride in the Goodyear blimp. What is most vivid in my memory is the red dirt of the stadium as we drifted, low and slow, above the terrain where I had spent my first 20 years.

The word which repeats is lightness and the reason it speaks so emphatically is that it seems to be MIA these days. Reality is heavy and dense; it would sink to the bottom of the pond and need to be raised with crane. Good luck trying to pry it loose with a stick or even a crowbar. A light heart, a quiet mind, a tranquil spirit - is this too much to ask? At times, it seems the answer is yes.

From a long-forgotten source I have a quote which says, "Life should be like floating." And it should be, navigating our days without that pesky anchor snagging on every rock. Oh, for helium, for fizzy lifting drinks, for either the fog or equanimity that sorts events by their true proportion. If the world is too much with us, the challenge to let our thoughts soar, to find humor in dark moments, to be at peace begins to feel like a life-and-death struggle and reality seems to have the advantage of being, simply, too real.

Earlier this morning I commented on a friend's blog in which she asked readers to tell of their guilty pleasures and my first response was daydreaming. I arrive at truths and happiness by the grace of drifting, which is not always an option. Perhaps my chemistry is off; I feel terribly earth-bound and not the least bit silly. Is it earthquakes and volcanoes, unemployment and budget crises, or is it annoying gnats of projected - and pointless - worries, gaining in strength and number until their swarming cloud obscures the sun?

It could be that tranquility is something we receive on loan, something which was not intended to be a permanent gift. Or this could be an over-reaction to a temporary patch of disquiet. Granola-like clumps of troublesome thoughts arrive and eventually depart. When they are here they seem the size of Jupiter; when we step back they look more like cupcake sprinkles. Balance, proportion's best friend, is a slippery trickster, whose great appeal may be its seeming elusiveness.

That I carry the imprint of riding the current through once-smoggy skies gives me a tangible goal; I know what weightless feels like. I have found it down here on the ground and held it for longer than I would have thought possible. I want it back and I know that chasing it will only drive it deeper into the woods. With enough time for my mind to dawdle, I may be able to devise a temptation, luring peace near enough to catch hold of and we can be airborne once again.

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