By Allison Stein
“What if you trusted the wind / To propel you to the heights of your dreams?” The final lines of my poem linger in my soul as I drift off to sleep and wrestle with my own dreams. I already know the words will be tough to publish, tough to let go of. Poems are like friends in that they somehow become part of me. They make me braver. This one forced me to open the crevices of my heart.
The title poem of my most recent chapbook, “Trust the Wind” is a tapestry of childhood wonders and adolescent wishes. In fact, the core of the piece was conceptualized at age eight while I spent a spring afternoon saturated in soft rays of sunlight. I sat cross-legged on the grass, the blades caressing my skin, and looked across the circle at 10 other faces—some familiar, others nameless. I don’t remember being afraid. Aside from preparing to make our First Communion, we had no common ground, but back then, we didn’t need any. We were all people, all worthy of friendship and love. We danced to the same universal song of childhood. Our reactions were simultaneous, instinctive. When our leader passed out bottles of bubbles, we eagerly held our wands up to our lips, watched our very own breath create crystal spheres.
The bubbles were supposed to give us perspective, to illuminate the truth our leader cemented in our young minds. She was chasing a metaphor, but she didn’t call it that. She just asked us if we could see the wind.
We exchanged glances. Not one of us could see it.
“But you believe it’s there?”
Of course, we did. At that very moment, the wind was carrying our bubbles to the opalescent clouds above.
Well, it was the same way with God, she told us. We couldn’t see Him; we could only read His signs. But we could believe. We would always believe. As the words solidified in my spirit, I let the bubbles from my wand escape my line of sight. The way I understood it, if only I trusted the wind, they would get where they needed to go.
I’m older now, and the world is tougher to trust. New experiences have shaped me, strengthened me, hardened me. People have let me down. I’ve learned that friendship isn’t always forever and love isn’t always unconditional. Regrets of yesterday cloud the horizons of today, and I wonder whether I’m truly that good person I used to imagine laughing in the mirror. At eight years old, I was my own hero, but I’m no longer innocent. My mistakes are footprints in the sand, impressions the tide will never wash away. Yet before I can fill the voids I’ve left in the past, I am thrust into the future, thrust into today.
Here I am. The world is colder than I remember, and its evil is darker. Nightmares have evolved from villains in Disney movies to villains on the six-o’clock news. Is the universe honestly so vicious, so hungry for the next tragedy? I want to believe people have good intentions again.
In the past few years, humanity has been conditioned to hate. Or perhaps it always has been—perhaps I have only now opened my soul to the injustice ever-present across generations. Maybe the adults can’t close my eyes anymore. Maybe I have to be brave.
I guess my heart is good—I was baptized clean—but as an individual, I am powerless. Still cast under the childhood spell of insomnia, I lie awake contemplating a nefarious force I am part of but can’t break away from. The monsters I fight are more real than ever. No longer will a night light assuage my worry, for the fear is no longer an illusion—it’s the truth I’m scared of.
Writing is my only freedom. I write to resurrect the emotions of youth, to reconstruct the wonder of watching those iridescent bubbles pirouette in the spring-kissed wind—a small miracle before my eyes. Or maybe I write to conquer fear, to remember what it means to not be afraid. Putting words on paper makes me feel somehow less alone, like my heartstrings have entwined with others’. Writing gives me faith.
I’ve given up searching the world for truth because my hope lives within me: Every night, I go to bed knowing that God has made a place on this earth for me. Yes, I’ll awake to a world scared to love, but I’ll look to Heaven, look to the sunrise, take comfort in another silent sign from God. I’ll still believe in hope.
Learning to trust the wind again has set my soul free. To believe my life is propelled by the will of God—that somewhere out there, a future for me is inscribed in the stars—is to break away from the fear that shatters my faith. Let the breath of God carry my heart. I’ll get where I need to go.