The following is a story I wrote toward the end of a serious manic episode I had early last summer, so please forgive me if it’s a little heavy on the metaphors.
After The Whirlwind
In the dreams of a middle-aged woman with silver in her hair and the marks of a difficult life imprinted on her brow, she stands in the middle of a lush green field, watching as a stray leaf dances gently on the winds. Her eyes follow its inevitable downward trajectory, and she smiles as it finally alights on a patch of tall grass and perches there delicately, as if waiting to be picked up by the next strong breeze. She cannot help noticing how well this tiny miracle of Nature serves as a metaphor for the course of her own life over the years.
After all, she herself has been on similar journeys many times, swirling madly on an unseen current before falling from the skies…sometimes landing softly, but far more often crashing to the ground in flames. Even sleep itself has become precious to her. For a time, it had seemed as if the healthful slumbers of long-ago nights were as far out of her reach as the “normal” life that had never been hers; even as she consumed the medicines she had been given in the hope of achieving the rest her body needed so sorely, sleep had proven elusive.
It had not been many days until her mood and demeanor had caught the crest of a storm-driven wave, which then rose to heights she had never before reached and then hurled itself onto the shore in a crescendo of wildly creative, yet utterly disorganized thoughts.
Shaken to her foundations, she had at long last sought help from others who were wiser than she in the ways of madness, for surely no one voluntarily gave up everything she lived for in order to dance on the very edge of insanity, no matter how tempting the view from there might have been. And yet……she very nearly had.
Her memories of that rush of days were blurred; she guessed that they had faded quickly in much the same merciful way as the alcohol-fueled blackouts she had experienced in her youth. Even so, she recalled with horror the spontaneous and never-ending monologue she had unleashed on an unwitting co-worker…….the humiliation of being unable to control her agitation during a crucial meeting…..the curious expressions of family and friends when she had loudly announced her extreme happiness to all who were within the considerable range of her voice.
Now, she has arrived at the proverbial crossroads. Which road shall she take—the one that promises excitement, indulgence, and no small element of danger? Or the straight and narrow way that she is secretly afraid will bore her to tears, but also grant her the peace for which she has yearned all her life?
She stirs ever so slightly in her warm bed, unwilling to awaken just yet. But the vision of the lone green leaf, floating whichever way the winds blow, will remain with her long after the dream fades away……..not simply as a symbol of the love she still holds for the whirlwind, but as a reminder to treasure the earth which is ever stable, long after the storm has passed.