Today's wind is harsh, cold and gusty. I start my walk at a brisk pace, the dog needs to go and I do too. I don't particularly like the wind although it was my constant companion most of my life, growing up on an island in the north Atlantic. I head off to run some errands,the usual, pick up my paper, grab something at the grocery store, but mainly I'm out for the walk. My tag-along, an overgrown, shaggy pooch who loves walking in any weather, pulls and yanks in excitement at this unexpected outing. Me, I grimace and pull my collar a little higher, tuck my iPod earplugs in my ear and walk along behind him.
It is impossible for me to walk outside without being in awe of my surroundings. Nature always impresses and bewilders me. This wind is mild compared to the wind we experienced overnight. There is evidence of the previous night's winds all along my path. The neighbour's decorative lights have been blown off their hangers, street signs are blown about, some shingles are off of a new house being built in the subdivision I call home and various bits and pieces of rubble are strewn helter-skelter throughout the neighbourhood.
I duck my head, bending into the wind. My cheeks start to sting from the cold and I pull my hands up into my sleeves even further. I am still close to home and I consider going back and taking the car but something says to me to go on, that it will be worth it. I keep going. I need the air and exercise. I think it was my subconscious telling me to go, because my conscious self was friggin' cold. Then I turn, heading north and the wind is to one side of me. I feel my ear getting cold from the wind and I shelter it from the gusts that are working against me. I take note of the wind's direction and even though I know it's a longer route I decide to take a different path to the store, a longer path, but one that will have the wind at my back more.
Having the wind at my back enables me to stop struggling and to realise that nature isn't quite as filled with the misery I originally thought. I look at the sky, full of heavy grey clouds in the distance, moving at a breakneck speed across the blue blanket of the sky. Where are they going I wonder? What distant land will get wet when those clouds, heavy and ready, eventually give birth to the life-giving rain? Right now though, here, a fine but bitter dusting of snow is blowing around, whipping through the barren trees, stark against the backdrop of the church steeple. So strong and tall, yet even the trees have succumbed to the strength of the wind, their branches scattered hither and fro like dandelion fluff in the autumn.
I carry on, noting last years leaves blowing along and follow them with my eyes as they twirl and play a happy dance along the sidewalk. They seem to have no complaint with the wind as they use its whistling tune as their rhythm. They dance a golden maple-leaf jig, original and choreographed by nature. The ease with which they twirl gives me the notion
that if you let the wind guide you it takes you where you have to go and the wind blowing on my back reaffirms this realisation.
After a quick stop for my paper, my chores done I head back home. Again I take a route that will give me the least amount of time with the wind in my face. It will take me longer to get to my destination but my walk will be more pleasant for it. I again start to take note of the things I see and I cannot help but notice another thing that the wind has done that,while not so pleasant, is a necessary task.
As with life, when the winds are at their wildest and the most difficult to walk through, the garbage rises to the surface. It's sometimes during stormy times that we see the uglier, less desirable side of human nature. I also observe though, that some of the neighbours have come out to clean up their yards and pick up the bits of paper and empty dirt-brown Tim Horton's cups that have been revealed in the storm. The wind has provided an opportunity for humanity to clean up the mess and it will get cleaned up, tucked into so many receptacles and bins, deposited accordingly and hopefully responsibly.
I walk by a Seniors residence, there are many in town and I see an elderly lady walking towards the residence door with her groceries. I recognise her, I've seen her around town, walking, riding her bicycle. She is wearing warm clothing, a beautiful hat and looks quite content walking along in this blustery weather carrying two bags of groceries. I feel a little ashamed at the silent whining I had done earlier in my walk. Maybe, once I've walked in as many windstorms as she has I will have learned to accept more and whine less. I hope I gain that wisdom and patience. I take note.
I move along, getting closer to home, suddenly realising that while the sting in my cheeks is still there, I've forgotten about it. My hands are no longer in my sleeves and they aren't cold. As if on cue the clouds above me blow a little further along and the sun, its rays well hidden behind their thick grey curtain, suddenly appears, warm and gentle on my face. I realise that I've been given a gift suddenly and I acquire a new appreciation for the work of the wind.
Because in my lamenting the wind I forgot that the winds that blow the clouds in, also blow the clouds away, the wind that blows the garbage out, makes it visible so that we can clean it up, the winds that blow the ocean into an angry lady also sail the ships that gently glide upon its surface.
But the wind blows best for those who choose not to waste their time fighting it and walking into it. Sometimes, to get to where we are going we have to face the storms but whenever possible it's best to ride the breeze and let the winds of life blow us wherever we need to be. I arrive home with the knowledge that to fight the wind will make life hard and is a useless endeavour, and in fact, to ride with the wind is to learn to live in the very flow of life.