Faced with loud, unfamiliar noises, our imagination tends to leap into action. That’s what happened to my friend Nina.
Nina’s probably one of the funniest people and greatest storytellers I know. She’s got that Erma Bombeck kind of humor. For those too young to remember, Erma penned a funny newspaper column about suburban family life for about 30 decades, until the late 1990s. Like Erma, my friend Nina could easily be writing her own column. Lucky for me, Nina’s been supporting my journey by regularly sending along humorous emails about life back in Virginia.
But this week Nina’s intended humor turned into a different kind of — and unexpected — gift.
In her email update, she joked about how her hearing has been declining. My hearing has been declining, too, so I can relate, even though Nina’s quite a bit younger than I am. I guess that encouraged me in a weird kind of way. So, right away she peaked my interest.
“My hearing is shot,” Nina writes.
“It’s been a steady decline for 15 years. However, I REALLY thought I was ‘hearing things’ yesterday. Is it my heartbeat? Is the ringing in my ears getting worse? Am I now schizophrenic? Because I HEAR noises that are SO LOUD?”
As would happen with most of us at this point, her imagination has kicked in.
“What did I do yesterday to worsen the condition?” she muses. “Maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that cheese enchilada at El Agave!!!!”
She is obviously baffled, and maybe just a tad anxious. Yet Nina ventures outside to her porch, where she is bombarded by this unidentifiable, VERY LOUD NOISE!
Thousands of swallows have alighted on the trees in her backyard. Nina relaxes and watches as the birds fly together from tree to tree, casting shadows over branches and earth. In the process, they create magnificent hues of darkness and light, like figures dancing across the sun.
“It was a little gift to me,” Nina writes.
And a very special gift to me. Because by the time I got to the end of her story, I was smiling.
Not because she had made me laugh. It was much more than that.
Those birds in flight represented a powerful metaphor: my own freedom.
Not simply because the image of birds flying symbolizes freedom. What really struck me was how the sound they had created was initially unfamiliar and somewhat scary.
Just like in my own life.
Here I am at another crossroads. With another decision to make. In about one week’s time. Living in liminal space can definitely create a little angst. And possibly lead to more risk-taking as I try to listen more deeply and follow my heart.
As a wise friend assured me, the risk involved is a small price to pay for the freedom of following our bliss.
The freedom to be who we truly are.
The freedom to live from our deepest self.
The freedom to create from a place of vulnerability and compassion.
Sometimes we can be surprised by the sound freedom makes. But if we are willing to venture out and follow the source, we may discover something breathtakingly beautiful.