Coming into this world, I’ve always resonated with trees, forests, hills, and anything that gives me perspective on just how small I am in the world’s bigger picture.
At 18, I was forced to ask myself – what is the world’s bigger picture for me? One week before my senior prom, an unexpected blood clot landed me in a coma for months, prompting over three years of being unable to eat or drink, and once 27 surgeries turned my life around, I found solace in what had always given me comfort – nature.
Leave it to the world, I had always loved to find a place inside my heart, making the world my home once again. And leave it to Spring, when the entire earth majestically awakens, to ignite that fire in me that I wondered if I could ever feel again.
I saw hummingbirds for the first time this Spring, lying on a Berkshire hill. I was a bit disillusioned when I discovered my first little songbird; they looked more like mosquitoes than the glorious birds of song that I had imagined. They made me dizzy. They were chitchatting in bustling clusters, bouncing up and down like kernels at the mercy of a popcorn machine, or maybe just unsuspectingly suspended from dancing fingertips. But they were hovering above a flower, so miniature and fast that I kept losing them in the sunlight.
Sunlight. How did it work its way through the cold with such sympathetic grace? Somehow the sunlight spilled over the rigid edges of cold and oozed between its sheets. It eased the cold, massaging the air like lotion working itself into weathered skin. And consequently, it was a knowing sunlight. A pastel sunlight stroked with a kind blue, gentle and subtle as if the sky was contoured with a ring finger. I didn’t think twice about it at the time but looking back, it was very special – now a memory locked in a wistful bubble.
The sunlight – the sunlight who understood – lit the hummingbird bunches and blades of grass from behind. What made the day so surreal was how the sunlight chocolate-coated the cold, how the air felt grainy, rich and sweet. And when you pawed at it, how it felt like you could reach into a breeze and grab a handful of rice or shiny Raisinettes.
It was fluttering sunlight, strewn but so clearly part of a whole, drizzling through leaks in the sun. This was soothing. And, for the first time I truly loved the sun. I really mean this. It was extraordinary. It didn’t feel so mind-blowing at the time; it just felt right and fine. I guess that is what happiness feels like. That, and shiny Raisinettes.
To think that I felt so much magic at the time, but was too unconsciously blown away to even recognize it as such! A fairytale so delicate, so tender and swollen with godlike magic that if you moved too hastily you might pop the moment-bubble and symphonies would pour through the holes – yet all I felt was simple ease, like an idiot. It was a painting of a storybook landscape and I was its welcomed intruder, but to me it was just a restful haven I found in the Berkshire hills.
I want it back! I want some kind of keepsake, a photograph, something I can touch!
It’s strange what I’m feeling now, this consuming urge to piece together the day again, to replay the moments over, to recapture what made it so effortlessly special. But I don’t think there is such a thing as indirect happiness. I want to sprint back in time and live it again, knowing what I know now. The remarkable (and frustrating) thing was, what made me so happy was that fact that I wasn’t even aware of my happiness or how the bliss satisfied me.
I was just being, without any need of recognition or affirmation. I can’t even recall a thought from the day. True happiness is only realized and appreciated in retrospect, which is the way it should be. So I’ll cloak the memory in detached appreciation, let it drift away, wait for another bottled moment, open it, and just let it spill.
Oh, there’s way too much to take in, and we do it all so wildly, so uninstructed. Can we really be so on our own, left to indulge in all of this? With no one to catch us all with our hands stuffed in the cookie jar? We are lost, but we’re so blessed! We have all the choices in the world, plus the capability to decide! We’ll never know what choice is right, or why things happen the way they do, but we’ve got our instincts. And it’s enough for now.
When I came out of my coma, I felt like a newborn child rediscovering the world once again. I remember seeing the sunset for the very first time, when I was first able to crane my neck towards the narrow glazed-over ICU window. I took a breath, and felt those Spring rays seep into my lungs, filling me with new life.
As I regained my health, I discovered that finding physical stability was one-half of the job, while regaining my soul took more effort, care and time. But thankfully there is always a Spring. Thankfully there are always the Berkshires. And thankfully there are always hummingbirds.
I found and re-found myself in those Berkshire Hills – once as an innocent child with her arms open to everything this world has to offer, then coming back to life rediscovering the world almost as a newborn does after months in a coma. And here I stand now.