(Photograph courtesy of Julia M. Hayes and No Worries Farm)
I get lost when I gaze into this picture taken on my farm in Eastern Washington one frigid winter morning. The peace that comes over me when I stare and lose myself is immeasurable. Looking at this image I'm reminded of the feeling of surrender, which depending on the situation can feel horribly vulnerable or ultimately freeing. I've reached a place in life where I'd prefer to be free than resist the flow because of an incessant need to control its outcome.
I remember reading a teaching about letting go by Anthony De Mello. The imagery used is similar to what I describe in the narrative that follows. My intention for writing the piece is to remind you that when you surrender into falling, nothing but freedom occurs.
In her mind, she walks along the edge of something—a tree branch, the land, the water, the world. Her mind decides this precarious rim is a cliff. She looks at her feet powdered by this dry pale crumbly precipice. The image fails to soften the intensity of her racing heart. She feels on the edge. Being here is against her will. Pausing, she stares into something, nothing, squinting to flatten the curve of the vast view. She peers down into void, her eyes wide searching for reassurance—something, anything that will support her grounded need for control.
She bows at the waist hoping the intensity of her gaze will unravel her knotted innards. As she straightens to take a deep breath, the streudel-like ground beneath her feet gives way and she falls.
She silently screams with her eyes closed as her flailing arms reach for anything protruding, while her legs run, hoping to grasp enough land to escape this descent. The rush and speed of the air is oddly both warm and frigid. In a matter of a few blinks, she sees growth emerging from the side of the cliff. Jutting stones and gnarled tree roots withered like a crone. Frantically, she reaches for a root to arrest her fall. Her security lasts a second. The arthritic earthen finger gives way and it, too, begins to fall. She reaches for a stone but it pulls away from the cliff face like a hunk of bread torn from a loaf. She can’t help herself. Reaching, grasping, pulling, yanking to stop the fall and nothing helps.