On Sunday evening, I was in Mendocino. It'd been windy all day -- rattling windows, peeling back shingles kind of wind.
I had dinner at a restaurant called "The Ravens" and was nearly alone in the dining room, with a wide view of the bluff above the outlet of the Mendocino River flowing to sea. Scraggly, wind-whipped pines rocked and swayed at the brink of the bluff, backlit by a slow sunset.
As I watched, several large black birds (ravens, undoubtedly) swung by, dipping and veering in the wind. Occasionally they'd attempt to alight on one of the pine boughs, and just as quickly be swept off, their wings flapping rapidly to regain equilibrium.
Perhaps the metaphor is a stretch, but it is lingering. Motherhood is like that wind in my life. It is a force completely larger than me, has a direction and a power that I cannot reign in or control. Truly my choices are limited to these: ride or resist. Neither is going to help me gain control of the pressures at work on me. That isn't an option.
I am a mother, at the whim of the unbearable depth and power of love and responsibility that was my daughters' afterbirth -- and all of the ways it buffets my ego and calls me out of the comfort of my own little cozy conception of who I am and what I'm supposed to be doing. It's beautiful -- exquisitely so. Often pleasurable with a joy that is worth life itself. And yet -- it is a kind of violence sometimes, too.
I can resist that, and flap my wings, expending that energy fruitlessly, fearfully, and exhaustingly. Or I can open them up, glide, and let it take me where it is going. Which is not without its own fearsomeness -- but is, at its most practical, a much more efficient response, and which allows for an exhilaration that isn't possible otherwise.
May I ride the wind like a raven, reminded when I resist with a gentle push from which I can recover with a rapid flapping and another surrender. Over and over again.