Leaves loosen their grip on life and become blown about by the wind. Trash by the roadside billows up and gets swept along in the wake of the traffic passing by. A tumbleweed bounces and rolls across the emptiness, only stopping when a tangle of brush or a fencerow rises up to halt its wandering. Things that are dead get blown by the wind, things with no mind of their own – lacking in intention.
I remember watching the pollen from our backyard Chinese Mulberry seemingly explode into the sunlight to drift like fog upon the barely moving breeze. And the maple seeds… I’d watch them helicopter down from the tree tops, landing nearby or far away as the particularity of their structure and the movement of the air dictated. Yes, and I’ve come to learn that those “dead” tumbleweeds disperse their propagules as they go, or when they’re stopped by something rooted in moist and life-giving soil. Things that bear life get blown by the wind – things that carry in them the intention of something larger than themselves.
I spent the day today as I do a couple of times each month, working at a place where new immigrants and refugees gather to learn English and become acclimated to life here in the United States. I speak with them about their intentions regarding work and education given the new circumstances that they’ve been presented with. How could a young Somali woman growing up in a refugee camp have known that the winds of conflict and compassion and geopolitics would blow her life all the way to St. Louis? But now that she is here she lives with renewed intention. Likewise, how could a young Iraqi man, while cooperating with the U.S. military in his war-torn country, have known that the winds of those chaotic world events would one day blow his life to a place that he never thought he’d even visit in a hundred million years? But now that he is here he lives with renewed intention. So…, when do we allow ourselves to be blown by the wind and when do we root ourselves with intention?
My partner is busy with some meetings this evening, so after leaving work I let myself get blown by the wind up and down South Grand Avenue – browsing through Dunaway’s bookstore…, photographing things blowing about the streets and sidewalks…, eating Vietnamese food at Pho Grand…, shopping for ethnic groceries at Jay International… It felt rather good to be a “bachelor” once again – blowing wherever the wind might take me. And since I’d no idea where the wind might take me, I put only an hours-worth of coins in the parking meter – just long enough to browse the bookstore a block up the street and then return to feed the meter once I realized where the wind was blowing. That was my intention, anyway. The wind, on the other hand, blew my attention this way and that, and it wasn’t until it had blown it back to my car a couple of hours later that I saw the parking ticket on my windshield. Ah, but I didn’t let it get me down. My intention was to be fully and truly alive!
Some of us are blown through life, rarely living with the kind of intention that roots our awareness in the ground of our existence. Buffeted, we are, by whirling gusts of karmic wind – like dead leaves swirling in the alleyway. Others of us are blown through life, actualizing an intention that encompasses the entirety of our being – living each moment like a wind-borne seed that has just sensed the most perfect conditions in which to sprout.
My writing has had a different energy of late. I’m working on longer pieces – guided steadily by intention – even as I remain open (as intended) to the creative process bringing forth posts in a single day or evening like these posts of late. What is the wind and what is intention? They seem to merge at times – or perhaps they arise from the very same place. Does not the intention inherent in the wind-borne seed exist in perfect harmony with the wind itself? Perhaps that is the very best of intentions we can form – to be one with whatever winds might blow us about.
Later in the evening I found myself blown down to Meshuggah Café in The Loop, intending to write a post about wind and intention. I like to write there in the evening sometimes – sitting at a table watching the pedestrian traffic getting blown by the wind up and down the bustling boulevard. Unbeknownst to me, however, it was Noir at the Bar night, and I walked right into the middle of a crime noir reading, replete with the requisite violent imagery! How could it be that the wind and my intention to engage in a spiritual exploration combined to root me in such a place at such a time? And so it is that our intention and our awareness can find root in the unlikeliest of places. This post is one result.
Copyright 2013 by Mark Frank