I watched him from the kitchen window as I washed the dishes. He bent his blond head over the purple riot of echinacea and moved a cupped hand slowly over a single bloom. He pulled his hands to his face and discovered they were empty, just as the object of his affection fluttered to another part of the garden.
He approached the Tiger Swallowtail a second time, cupped his hands, and caught it with a shout of delight. He brought it close enough to trace the black markings on pale yellow wings with his eyes. Then, he reached above his head, opened his hands, and let the wings beat air against a blue summer sky.
Like the little boy, I have seen beauty and chased love. I have run after dreams. I have reached for one vision, only to find another a bloom away. I have imagined the world in my hands, and I have caught it, spinning there. I have cupped so much abundance in my hands, and still felt the beating of wings against my palms, the innate desire for many of these gifts to fly free.
For a moment, I called them mine. But, over time, all wild things return to the freedom of green and petals and honeycomb and sky. I have released homes, friendships, and the voices of a wiser generation. I have cupped Inspiration until it fluttered away. I caught words, and then, just as quickly, let them go. Jobs, callings, cities, desires, children–every one a single whoop of joy, a triumph, then a flicker of wings, a call for release.
I often think of Robert Frost’s poem, in which he closes with the line, “Nothing gold can stay.” I have found this to be true, over and over again. Love is the only thing that remains after everything else flies away. I am living a long season of catch and release, and it is at once joyful and also full of pain. There is grief over the losses, but also love has grown here. I have held beauty and courage and adventure in my hands. The brush of something alive has beat against my skin. And when I have opened my hands to watch it fly away, they’re covered with a fine dusting of gold–a reminder that I will catch something alive again.