Lately, between long swaths of editing photos, I am captivated by the image outside the window to my left. The vines that grow on the north side of our house surround the glass in a dreamy foreground, the leaves fade each day from brilliant green to yellows, oranges, reds. I look beyond, and the great old trees in my neighbors yard seem to wave, dance, greet me in the happy October sunshine. I answer the call, and wander out my front door.
I walk down my front steps into that same sun, I lift my face upward, eyes closed, and breathe. I pretend I am a tree, and all I must do is grow my roots deep into the ground as I reach, stretch my branches into the sky, cast sweet shade onto the ground, become a home for birds and bugs, and dance when the wind comes. Something about the simplicity, the absolute clarity of that existence calms me. The sun gently kisses my face, and it almost feels like if I love it hard enough, I could stop time. I could stop time, and dance in the Autumn splendour for the rest of my days.
But reality is a cruel alarm. I know this thought is only vapor, the mist of my dreams. Swipe a hand through it a few times, and it’s gone. I’m grown now. I can no longer live entire days in the comfort of the imaginary. I have responsibilities, obligations, roles to fill. There are rivers and chasms in the landscape of my face that weren’t there before. I’m not as soft anymore, not near as gentle as that October sunshine. Not as hopeful as I used to be.
I’ve been here too many times before to allow such notions to sweep me away. I remember too vividly the pain of hitting the hard earth again when those gusts of delusion settle. I don’t know how to hold onto her anymore, the little girl who tugs at my jacket, begging me to play in imaginary. I don’t know where she fits among all of this harsh reality. The truth is, she’s grown up. It’s done. She’s grown and she cannot go backwards. You never can. That’s the trick of it, time. When you’re younger, it feels fluid, bendable, fickle. But as you age, it becomes so strict, stiff, hardened like lines in your aging face.
I am now a grown up girl who knows that time can’t be altered, that seasons can’t be put on pause, that loving something enough will never transform it into what you hope it might be. Even if you wish for it with every birthday candle, desperately beg for it in every prayer, give up your identity to help it find its own. No matter how many times you take it by the shoulders, and shake it with violent motion, it will never be enough. It is out of your control.
It is a losing game, always, to spend your precious effort on transforming what was never yours to change.