My youngest child turned seven in January. For his birthday he asked for a boomerang. We were walking through REI when he saw it a few weeks before his birthday. You would have thought it was his long lost love. He had to have it. He carried it over to me with pleading eyes and placed it in my hands. As I held it, I looked at the price on the back and said something to the effect of, “Good to know. You can add it to your wish list.” His bright face darkened with disappointment as he sighed a resigned sigh, muttered, “… Okay …” and trudged over to replace it on the shelf.
His exhale and sadness lingered just long enough for me to rethink the situation. As painful as it is to admit this, I knew I’d be my usual last-minute-self and never quite find my way back to REI before his birthday. Owning this, I turned to my son and said, “If I buy it now, it won’t be a surprise.”
He didn’t care. “That’s f-i-i-i-i-i-ne!” he said with drawn-out enthusiasm; waving his hands dismissively in the air. “I really want it. I’ll forget you bought it!”
With that, I did buy it and we left the store without a surprise but with a happy boy.
It snowed on his birthday. That night as he opened his presents, he tore open the weird-triangular-package, yanked out the boomerang and darted for the door.
“Wait!” I yelled. “We don’t know how to use it! We need to read the directions!” He kept running for the door despite my efforts to stop him.
It’s SNOWING!” I shouted. He stopped, slowly turned and said in that way that he does, “It’s f-i-i-i-i-i-ne, Mom!” and rapidly resumed his full sprint towards the door.
“Stop!” I declared in demanding desperation. “What if you throw it and it doesn’t come back? It will be buried in the snow all winter!”
He halted in his tracks. Turned his bright eyes up towards my own imploring eyes and calmly said, “It’s okay. Don’t worry. I need to try it!”
Before I could conjure up another challenging plea, my birthday boy scrambled into his boots and pulled on his coat. He skipped out the door, lunged into the snow with me following in pursuit. As he leapt into our yard, he threw that boomerang with all of his might.
It soared so high! Our eyes bugged out of our heads. Our mouths dropped open and we grinned at each other as we watched it take flight in the shimmering snow. My heart was racing with adrenaline. I remember thinking, “Wow! You did it! You really threw it and it’s flying!”
Just as I was thinking that, the boomerang started its nose-dive-descent towards the ground; gaining momentum as it plummeted into the snow.
We looked at each other. I bit my tongue and cast my eyes downward to keep from saying anything.
He ran to where he thought it landed. “I think it’s over here,” he pounced like Tigger. “No! It’s here,” he sang as he bounced over to where he thought it was. Within a few minutes he had trampled the snow with hopping footprints but found no boomerang.
I looked at my son, expecting him to be devastated. He wasn’t. He simply shrugged his shoulders, smiled at me and said, “It’s okay. I’ll find it when the snow melts.” He went back inside to join his dad and siblings. To have cake and sing. To blow out candles and make wishes for his seventh year. To continue celebrating his special day.
I think what he got that day was the sheer magic of receiving the gift he wanted. The joy of opening it up after anticipating it for weeks. Ripping open the packaging. Holding his boomerang in his hand and feeling the liberation and delight of launching it free — up into the snow-filled sky. For him, that was enough.
Nearly three months later the snow is just starting to melt. My son hasn’t once mentioned his boomerang. He remembers everything so I find it unlikely he’s forgotten. I think he’s just holding a space — trusting as the seasons do — his boomerang will come back around when Spring finally does as well.
As I write this, it is the first day of Spring and the snow is coming down again. Winter’s last trick. I hope. My children are dismayed about today’s snow. They are ready for Spring. They are positively pining for it. And I get that. I do. Despite my understanding, I find myself wondering if I am the only person who is a little ambivalent about Winter’s end.
This year, the ceaseless snow afforded me the luxury of slowing down. Blanketing all of us in a time of quietude, of slowness and of lowered expectations to join the outside world. Covering me in an afghan of comfort as I ventured out into this new way of being in the world — sharing my stories and my writing here. I find I am reluctant to have it melt away. To lose my protective cover.
My hesitation feels much like exposing my bare skin in the early Spring mornings. Wearing shorts for a run when it’s still too cool out; knowing that as I run I’ll get too hot in my running tights. Reaching for the shorts because the mere thought of yanking the black-elastic-stretch-tights up one more time feels too unbearable. I opt to embrace the chill knowing that as the miles pass I’ll warm and be glad I wore my shorts.
I can almost feel that crispness — the invigoration of wearing a Summer dress in the brisk Spring morning as I walk my children to the bus stop. When the air is still too cool for bare arms but I expose them anyway. Shivering both from the cold and from the excitement of Spring’s arrival.
Maybe that’s it — perhaps it’s just about writing it down. Sharing that I’m noticing my thoughts ebbing in and out like the ocean tide. Winter. Spring. Winter. Spring. Back and forth with some rhythmic reluctance.
Acknowledging my sadness about Winter’s passing. Perhaps that is enough. Maybe expressing the vacillation is all I need to get myself ready for the seasons to change.
Sharing that I’m a little frightened to be out in the world.
Knowing my arms will be flecked with goosebumps as I expose them to the early Spring air and appreciating that even with the hair prickled up on my arms, I will always choose to expose them regardless. I will always welcome Spring wholly.
My son’s boomerang will surface. The snow will melt. I will continue to do all of the things I’ve always done but I will learn to do them in new ways. With new hope and possibility. With a new way of seeing myself.
We will try to learn how to throw the boomerang to ensure that it swings back to us. Maybe we’ll only throw it just right once in a while. Most likely, the other times will find us scavenging for it on the ground. Racing each other to see who gets to it first. Throwing and clamoring and throwing again — for the sheer magic of setting it free and finding it again.
We will choose to dive into the joy of throwing it despite the risk of losing it.
Life holds so many possibilities if we can let go of our expectations. If we can just throw ourselves into it with abandon. With hope. With fear and with courage. That is the journey. That is, in fact, enough.