There is a wilderness, home of behemoths issuing from a floor carpeted with life. There is a wilderness, labyrinthian, trees milking the sun, ushering its golden light from the heavens to the earth upon extended wooden fingers and forearms. There is a wilderness, still in the coolness of morning mist, buzzing with the heat of the day. This is my wilderness, here I am lost.
Yesterday, when I should have been practicing piano, I found myself wandering, as I so often do when I’m supposed to be firmly planted in my seat. My mind uprooted itself and was treading through a meadow, somewhere deep in that vast wilderness of mine. It was a small clearing, bordered by poplars. I could tell it was June, but snow drifted lazily from a pallid sky. Frosty glass encased all the bluebells and the clover in the meadow and their stems snapped when I reached out to brush their petals with my fingertips. I grew melancholy for the flowers and grass; their vivacity had been cut short by this untimely blast of winter. Their hues under the frost, although not lost, were muted, reminiscent of dried flowers on a grandma’s nightstand. I longed to be warmly greeted by the deep purples and golds, but I saw only periwinkles and cremes. I kept wandering, perplexed by the absence of heat on this June day, when my mother’s voice shook me back to reality.
Keep playing darling, you’ve barely touched the keys all summer.
My fingers obediently found the piano and listlessly pattered around, but none of the notes made sense to me and the ivory felt oddly chilled under my fingers. The high notes sounded like glass shattering and the low notes like doors slamming. I could not find the music hidden in the hammers and strings. I could not coax out the song that usually flowed so readily from inside me. I stood and closed the keylid, startled by an icy draft that billowed from somewhere in the instrument, raising the hairs on my arms.
Later that night, I found myself hunched over a sketchbook, pen tip bouncing off the table, blank paper looking up at me, waiting. As I stared at the blinding white page, I found myself transported to the same June meadow, now in the midst of a blizzard. What a waste of a summer, I thought. I lay down in the snow drifts and they began to accumulate on top of me. The once lovely flowers were completely obliterated, now just vegetation in the permafrost of this once lively landscape. I remember coming to this meadow when I was younger, when it was yet spring. Such jubilance I had then, endless laughter. I picked flowers from the never-ending fields as the May sun warmed the earth. I was inspired, passionate, deliberate, purposeful. Maybe all I did in a day was collect a few daffodils, but they each meant the world to me. Now in a day I accomplish so many things, things I am told are important, things I believe I must do, things that are just things and nothing more for I do them and then forget what I have done. These things mean nothing to me – I would trade them all for a single spring daisy, for a flower I picked from a meadow with no consequences; I would lose no sleep; keep it in a glass, dry it when it died, glue it to a paper, draw it again and again until I knew that flower better than I knew my own hands. Now my hands stab at a keyboard for hours until they forget how to waltz across ebony and ivory, but they remember how to stumble around qwerty. My fingers trace lines of text I am to memorize, but they forget how to trace the forms of roses I want to paint. My collection of dried flowers was crushed by my collection of to-do lists. And now as it snows in my once-beautiful meadow, I wonder, have I ignored my summer and now fall is almost upon me?
Am I wasting my summer, this moment of life and passion? Am I expending all my fire on useless pursuits? Despite the June sun, I am buried in snow-drifts of endless to-dos and must-dos and should-dos and could-dos but have no want-to-dos. Pretty soon it will be July, with September following shortly after, then January and February will come into view. Am I wasting my summer, this short sprint before my energy fades and I find myself gasping for oxygen, before the light in the world grows dim, when the lemonade doesn’t taste as sweet?
I look back down at the page of the sketchbook before me and see that something has been drawn, a crude form. I stare for a moment, not sure I understand. Then I see it. Out of the blizzard-bleached white of the paper, a sun is emerging. It is flanked by peach-pink cloud wisps that soon melt away as it rises and shines ever brighter. Summer is not over. Perhaps spring is simply ending and has blown away with one last icy spell. The snow begins to melt and I resolve to visit my once-forgotten meadow more often and, while I am there, to collect as many flowers as I can.