I have a super power. For some odd reason, my brain automatically combines idioms. I don’t have to even think about it; it just happens. Not sure when it started, but it’s second nature to me now. When I consciously try to stop it, I can’t. And when I just let it go, I somehow combine two ideas/sentences/idioms and create some warped hybrid. For example, I’ll say, “I am beating around a dead horse.” People look at me, knowing some part of that sounds sort of true, but they can’t quite figure out where I botched it. Yeah, people. I get it. It baffles me as well.
I’m used to the weird look, followed by, “How the heck did you do that?”
I blink. Crap. A ‘Melanism’ must have struck again. “No idea.” I am no longer surprised when people ask me what country I grew up in.
It may be stretching it to call it a super power because I’m also quite aware that, when this happens, I sound like the offspring of Yoda and Dory.
This ‘trait’ of mine makes story telling…unique. It’s not my gifting. I am well-aware of my shortcomings. Doesn’t mean I stop trying, especially if I’m not afraid of potentially sounding dumb around someone.
“Hey, did you hear the story about the old eagle?” I said to a friend recently. I went on to recall a story my mom told me about what happens to eagles when they get older. But as I recounted the story, my facts seemed a bit fuzzy. Even to me. And they blurred as each sentence droned on.
“And then the old eagle flies waaaaaaay high in the air and dive bombs down to the earth” (I’m certain by this point I’m looking about as crazy as I sound) “…and loses ALL of its feathers.” Wait. This doesn’t sound right. Think, Mel, think! Oh well. Gotta finish the story at this point. Just go with it! Wait, is this it? “And then it hides out on the mountain until the feathers grow back.” Big finish. “And THAT is why it’s called a bald eagle.”
Said friend bursts out laughing. “MEL. NO. That’s not accurate.”
I take some comfort in knowing that the original story passed on to me, while uplifting, was proven to be false.
This is the story my poor mom tried to drive home to me:
The eagle has the longest life-span of its species. It can live up to 70 years. But to reach this age, the eagle must make a hard decision. In its 40′s its long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey which serves as food. Its long and sharp beak becomes bent. Its old-aged and heavy wings, due to their thick feathers, become stuck to its chest and make it difficult to fly. Then, the eagle is left with only two options: die or go through a painful process of change which lasts 150 days. The process requires that the eagle fly to a mountaintop and sit on its nest. There the eagle knocks its beak against a rock until it plucks it out. After plucking it out, the eagle will wait for a new beak to grow back and then it will pluck out its talons. When its new talons grow back, the eagle starts plucking its old-aged feathers. And after five months, the eagle takes its famous flight of rebirth and lives for 30 more years.
Yeah. I wasn’t even close.
While false, it still inspired me as I’ve been intentionally seeking renewal on this cold and quiet mountain. I’m doing what is instinctual right now because I have hope that I can finally, FINALLY be healthy from a 16-year battle with a disease that I have let rob me of so much life and happiness. Whether the facts of the story are fictional or my version of it is far from accurate, Psalm 91:4 holds a promise. “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
I have benches scattered throughout the woods. From those vantage points, I have watched the eagles soar above the Battenkill valley in all four seasons. If there are more benches in the world, maybe more people will take the time to pause and see the beauty all around them.
So my current mission is to build more benches.
Mission accomplished. Now to figure out how to move this to its new home. How quickly I forget that I told myself I’d start building lighter pieces. Instead, I once again build something that resembles Lincoln Logs on steroids.
A beautiful reclaimed wood slab treated with Waterlox, reclaimed rough walnut 4×4’s, and black walnut chainsawed logs make up this piece.
Sam tried running off with a log (really, Sampson, REALLY?) until I scolded him.
When I see those eagles flying overhead, it’s a reminder of my own painful process of change. I don’t regret the growth process for one moment; I regret not being honest about my daily battle and abuse of food for the past sixteen years. There is so much vulnerability in authenticity that sometimes YOU can’t even handle yourself, let alone admit to others just how bad it is. Because you know some can handle it. And others can’t. And that’s ok. It’s unfair to place unrealistic expectations on people in your life. It isn’t necessarily about who is going to try to pull you out of the abyss when you fall; it’s about who is by your side while you are there in the darkness.
I fell into a trench in Africa a few years ago while running through the village, away from harm, snapping back and breaking all of my toes at once while a mob scene formed in front of me in the darkness. I was terrified. No, beyond terrified as I lay four feet down in the dark, covered in the filth that those trenches served a purpose for. I don’t know who pulled me out. I was told a group of local men did, and I’m forever thankful to those kind people who helped a stranger. But I will never forget the few friends who wouldn’t leave my side while I was in that trench, who knew the dangers of the scene unfolding around us, who quietly let me lean on them when I could hardly walk on my own after I was pulled out, and who guided me home without ever chastising me for my mzungu ways.
Lauren Bogess wrote recently, “The ghost of voices long past rise up to meet me decades later, in the midst of the darkest season. And I struggle to hold on to what I know is TRUTH. Because this wraps its black fingers around the hearts of all those who are bound to the afflicted. It hurts the entire family. The thing I know most about seasons – is that God made them to change. And it is in the passing through them, the move from one season to the next, that true beauty is brought forth.”
Winter is ending.
And if you see a bench? Why not take some time to sit on it…because as busy as you think you may be, you do have time. Stop looking at your phone. Just be present. You may be surprised to see what you’ve been missing.
Lincoln Log Bench: $175 (seats three people)
If interested in purchasing this one of a kind art piece, please let me know before it goes to a local store!