You’re standing on the edge of a rocky cliff, the tips of your shoes just peeking out over the ledge.
The trees below are so far below that it’s a mass of green; you can barely make out the individual tips.
You readjust your footing slightly, and a couple of pebbles and dirt scuttle off and fall away, quickly becoming invisible with distance.
A breeze makes the edge of your shirt flutter, and you realize that with a single movement you could be toppling over the edge.
Something else flutters too, but this time it’s inside you. Somewhere deep in your gut, it kind of feels like you’re already falling over the edge.
It’s the feeling of something coming, like you’re bracing yourself for what’s about to happen. Something within is being stirred about like a breeze lifting leaves in a small tornado motion. It’s gentle, but building and growing stronger, like a friendly giant is perpetuating it with his own breath. And maybe something like that is happening, in a sense.
You don’t want it to die because then that gentle tornado would settle: all the leaves, both green and soft, and brown and brittle, would fall to the ground and lie there, stilled. It would be…normal again. Zero stakes: nothing at risk, nothing to be gained. And that’s more than fine, but sometimes this is necessary. Sometimes this sense of being on the verge of something, of glimpsing whatever is whipping about inside that vortex, and wanting what’s inside, needs to be.
What is that?
It’s that feeling that rises up on occasion, that was seeded within you to sprout unexpectedly. That feeling that, when it hits you like the wind, it might scare you or maybe it beckons you. Either way, when it comes you may find yourself stepping into it because you know that something has been placed inside, something there for your good – for the good. Probably not something easy, though. It’s something that you’ll talk about later as you’re sitting on a porch, regaling some young version of yourself, complete with shifts in voice and hand gestures.
Later, when that windy time you’re going to tell about, ends, you walk out of it with your hair mussed and your smile muscles activated. You spin around to see if you can jump back in, but it’s already settled. And that’s how it works.
It comes and goes – maybe for some people, it comes more often. Maybe for some people, their heart is a beacon for that gentle tornado because they were born ready for it. For others, maybe it has to sit on that time, sleep on it, and wait upon it before it’s once again ready for that excitement. They haven’t finished recording their prior adventures, haven’t finished processing them yet.
I’m that second person. I don’t do back-to-back tornadoes, even if they are gentle. Or maybe I can and I don’t know it yet, but I’ll leave that to the maker of those tornadoes. I tell you, though, I love me some adventure! When it’s organized and researched, all the better.
Then that’s not adventure, you might say.
But that’s how I’m in Korea right now, I’ll reply. I researched the crap out of this and organized it as much as I could, because that’s how I fly. Sometimes I can’t do that because it’ll spring upon me, freshly-coiled, and maybe it’ll feel more like it pounced on me, like Hobbes catching Calvin unawares, but that’s when I’ll do my best to rely on Jesus for the rest.
And y’know, I think that gentle tornado is filled with different things for me, than it is for you. Sometimes it’s when a beater car breaks down on a hill in traffic with your best friend, sometimes it’s when you miss your train in a foreign country, and they tell you the next one’s all sold out, but then something tells you to ask again, so you do and suddenly there’s another seat available. Sometimes it’s when you signed up to pull off something you’ve never done before, and then you do, but you don’t, because it’s not really you. It’s when you wander around Pike’s Place Market, stumble upon this weird wall covered in gum, snap a picture and think, “I think that seems familiar,” then find out later that it was. It’s that time when you’ve lived in one place since you were five, and then you leave to go halfway around the world because of a lot of prayer and ideas and restlessness and open doors. And, it’s when you’re trying to buy street food from a cart across the way, stuttering the first syllable because you’re still nervous about using your Korean in public.
Hmmm. Maybe some things I dub “Adventure!” aren’t what you’d call “Adventure!” And that’s okay.
I know it’s stitched into me, though. Since I was a girl I knew, standing on a 2 foot-tall dirt ledge, pressing my shoes harder into the ground to make the dirt and pebbles scuttle the short distance down, and imagining it was a grand cliff. I remember being near the edge of a massive one in Jasper, Canada, on vacation with my family. My parents wouldn’t let me get close enough to skitter pebbles down the edge. Then at 17, in South Africa for a missions trip, I really did stand on a cliff and see the pebbles fall toward a deep distance. There, I felt it again, tugging inside.
Shortly after, I went home and picked my books back up because that was enough adventure for me then. Actually, I feel a lot like Bilbo Baggins: being bombarded by adventure, getting caught up in it, getting the hang of it, finding some neat things along the way, vanquishing some big things, then returning home to a cozy hobbit hole a different person.
Still, I feel as though some who knew me back in Canada would be saying, “Who is this person, talking about how she loves adventure? Didn’t you love reading second-hand adventure, all sprawled out somewhere comfy?” I feel like saying that about myself too. “Who am I? Where have I gone?”
But, in answer, I think I’ll say this: “Yes, I do love second-hand adventure, but a peculiar wind has changed course again and gusted me places I didn’t know I could go, into its gentle tornadoes. It’s altered me and upholds me, and I’ve learned to trust this wind more than anything else. In fact, I’ve gone with it.” That’s what I’ll say.
So…do you feel it?