I have a friend, a brilliant writer, whose name is John Tarrant. I say he’s my friend though I can’t say I’ve known him long or even well, in the way we mean that in today’s world. But we’ve sat together … he’s shared some koans. I’ve read his books, and he’s sent me poems. And he’s read mine. So we know each other … perhaps in the only way two men really can ― beyond the show. He’s opened his soul and I’ve opened mine and we’ve journeyed inside together and read the words and felt the pain and laughed a bit at the absurd nature of it all. That’s why I say he is my friend.
I want to write like him. I knew it from the first line I read:
Inside each shard of time is a glow everlasting. Getting lost and distracted in this way is what life is for.
I don’t think I’ve ever told him this. Like most of what he knows of me he’ll read it for the first time. But I’d like to write as he does. He inspires me, takes me to a better place. Not like Disneyland but a truer place, one of authenticity and possibility. I don’t think if I shared this with him he’d agree. He’s not that kind of friend, the ones who hope to make you as they are. Instead, I think (perhaps I know) he’d say I should learn to write like me. And then instead of teaching, he’d shine a light … on me instead of on him. That’s why I say he is my friend.
I wonder how many of us have friends like this. I wonder if we ever allow the time. Do we ever invite at all, or crack our hearts and make room for the new? Not the news, the endless summary of all that’s been. Not that. But the new, what’s yet to be, our hopes and dreams and possibilities. That’s what I mean when I say friend ― a carrier of possibility.
My wife and I have this place we go to meditate in the morning. A bench perched on a lonely road high atop the redwood forest. It’s a long walk, a mile or two of steep inclines. The kind of walk that tests your resolve to get to wherever you’re going. It’s a straight shot uphill until it’s not … and then you’ve arrived.
The bench sits on a lookout amidst a sea of redwood trees. If you relax your eyes and look beyond the trees you can see all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The sea through the sea. I like that … a meditation spot that’s a metaphor for relaxing into life and seeing beyond what rests in the foreground.
Recently, as we were walking back down the hill from our meditation, I saw a little boy walking with a young woman. By the interaction between the two I guessed her to be his babysitter. The boy was full of energy ― he darted from one tree to the next, looking up ― marveling with his sparkly blue eyes. The giant redwoods seemed to pique his imagination as he told the woman, “I want to fly!”
“Then fly.” She responded, without missing a beat.
“I need wings,” he replied.
The woman looked around her. On the ground lay the fall leaves of a large maple tree. They decorated the ground like a patchwork quilt of nature’s colors ― red, yellow, burnt orange, golden brown. The woman reached down and picked up two of the larger leaves and handed them to the boy. “These are your wings,” she said. “Now you can fly.”
The boy, having been given the gift of possibility, flew away down the path greeting everyone he came in contact with by flashing a toothy grin and exclaiming as he flapped those big maple leaves, “I have wings … I can fly!”
That experience of seeing the boy, his nanny, and those maple leaf wings touched me. The truth is, I felt a twinge of jealousy ― a longing for the innocence of youth, for the days before I ― and everyone around me ― understood the real world so well. The time before my wings were clipped by that realness ― by conflict, and money, and responsibility. I wished, silently, for a return to a time when I still believed that I could fly … for those days when I, with my red undies on top of my yellow pajama bottoms and a bath towel tied around my neck, ran around the house pretending to be Mighty Mouse singing “Here I come to save the day…!” I too was a boy with wings … and possibility.
I wonder where it’s all gone … all the possibility we shared in the sandbox as children. It wasn’t that life wasn’t real back then. We had our problems and worries, even as kids. I think we just allowed some space in the midst of it all for a little magic. You know? Life was real but so were the wings. We had agreement around that fact … and that agreement created the possibility … we gave ourselves hope and wings to fly … even as we cried.
Perhaps that’s what we really lose as we grow up. We lose the agreement that we can fly. We go from having a circle of friends with their action figures and dolls who all believe anything is possible to having a group of friends who are so busy doing what adults do that there isn’t any time to believe in much beyond our to-do list. Over time we forget that there’s anything more than work and taxes and death, and before long we are having labored thoughts about work/life balance and making time for ourselves. In our adultness, we clip the wings of possibility and forget that we can fly.
I’ve learned that the little boy with the maple leaf wings who believes he can fly is never too far from the surface of my life. He gets lost in there, for sure ― hidden under stacks of reports, or call lists, or the bad news of the day … but he’s there nonetheless, just waiting for a little agreement that it’s safe to come out and play. I find him in my meditation and we horse around a bit. Some days, while meditating with eyes open, looking out at the trees, I invite him out and we fly with the hummingbirds. They’re fast, and we can’t keep up with them as they dart around from tree to tree, but we try, the little boy inside and I. Sometimes we fly together all the way out to the ocean on the other side of the redwood trees. We lie in the sand and make angel wings with our arms. Sometimes, in the middle of it all, I sneak a peek at my wife when I say I’m meditating but really flying around with my pretend wings and I wonder if she’s doing the same. I think she probably is, because our marriage is a playground. That’s the gift we give each other … possibility and agreement that it’s okay to fly. That makes me smile as I close my eyes and fly some more …
This week I invite you to fly. To find internal agreement around your hopes and dreams and possibilities ― to believe that it’s okay to let go a bit and play. I invite you to read a passage from an author that inspires you the way John Tarrant does me; or to take a walk in the woods and marvel at the tall trees; or to watch your kids and their fantastic world of make believe and remember that you too have wings. Open up anew to the wonder of life, to the possibility that you can fly, and perhaps most importantly … that you deserve to.
Big hugs of love… and possibility,
Authenticity, self-love and living a life that matters…
I invite you to listen in on this beautiful podcast conversation between Rich Roll and I: click here