Thursday, April 07, 2011


Yesterday was windy.

Years ago I read a wonderful book called Wind: How the Flow of Air Has Shaped Life, Myth, and the Land by Jan DeBlieu. Naturally I can't find my copy now, but from the Amazon review: "Jan DeBlieu lives on North Carolina's Outer Banks, where 'wind is culture and heritage... Wind toughens us, moves mountains of sand as we watch, makes it difficult to sleepwalk through life.'" At one point, I remember, she says that she feels strange in places that aren't windy like the Outer Banks--not just breezy, but what many would probably call blustery.

I thought of this yesterday, watching the giant redwood at the top of a hill in our neighborhood swirling its branches like some multi-fronded sea creature. My life is largely a still affair, with lots of sitting at desks and staring at words, which may create imagined movements in my head but don't engage in a whole lot of activity on their own. I sit in cars or planes and watch the world pass alongside or beneath me. I am not buffeted, except by psychological currents. In other words, I tend to think of wind as something wrong--as in, it was a beautiful day, but windy.

Wind is strange to me. The air, which normally I just walk through and don't notice, is coming after me, insisting I feel and respond to its presence, affecting the way I move. But why should this be bad? Sure, no one wants to get hit with a trash can lid or a falling tree limb while out on one's daily stroll, but apart from certain hazards, wind's strangeness--for the suburban knowledge-worker, anyway--is psychological. It's a reminder that things are changing all the time. And not just changing all around us, but within us and through us. We're one of those things the wind blows around.

Since I've been immersed in cosmology books lately, the wind also reminds me that we are always in motion, whether we feel it or not. The earth is turning and revolving around the sun; we (the earth, the sun, our solar system) are riding roller-coaster like around the galaxy; we (now expanded to include our galaxy and its compatriots) are shooting along to who-knows-where on the constantly expanding fabric of space-time. That's relativity for you.

I'm not as anchored as I think. Or, rather, I must think of being anchored differently.

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