20.Perched up High,no Wings to Fly


BLOG 20: July, 1997—I am sitting in my bed in the livingroom of my home in California’s Oakland hills. I have nowhere to go now, no matter what I want to do. I am no longer working and I’ve applied for temporary disability. It’s a strange feeling to be in such a beautiful place with a gorgeous view of San Francisco, the bay, and mountains all around. I am a bird perched up high, on a bed of all things, and yet with no wings to fly. I’m only able to watch and to be still. I am strangely feeling a sense of peace with not moving. I have nothing to prove, nothing to become, nowhere to go. I am here, just me, with permission—possibly for the first time in my life—to be with me.

Prior to coming out west, and before living in New York City for a year, I had spent a summer at Omega, a holistic retreat center in New York State. I had lived in a tent and was first introduced to dance, shamanism, and earth-based cultures then. I used to stay up at night, reading Federico García Lorca’s poems in my tent under the rain, and I felt the preciousness of those moments where art and nature held me in their embrace. Back then, I tried meditating under the trees, but I kept hearing my father’s voice, telling me to be useful. It was a challenge being still, being with myself. This meant defying how I had been raised.

But here I am, and for the first time, I am not hearing my father’s voice, or maybe that of my ancestors, telling me to keep moving, to keep making something of myself, to be tough. I’m broken here in my bed, surrendered in my brokenness. There’s space for me to listen. There’s peace for me to be. During the day, my downstairs neighbor plays Roberta Flack on his record player, and rather than ask him to turn it down, I yell down for him to turn it up. Roberta Flack’s voice resonates “Killing me Softly with his Song” over the hills as my neighbor enjoys a moment of spontaneity. I make the most of life that happens around me, since it’s all I’ve got. And I stop for once in these hills of Oakland.


10 thoughts on “20.Perched up High,no Wings to Fly

  1. What a beautiful post. I love that song by Roberta Flack. I just retired from teaching German for 40+ years and had a great passion for the language, country and culture. My book is a poetic memoir called A Past Worth Telling and I enjoyed your remarks about nature. I try to be in nature daily here in Upstate New York and be an observer. It inspires me often to compose poetry. Thanks for an interesting visit today. https://drniemczura.wordpress.com


    • Thanks, Mary Ann, for joining my blog and for sharing your words and experiences. I like your blog as well. Very authentic. I speak German as well, but from my earlier years with my family in Switzerland and then speaking it at home…meaning, a child’s German that can function, but with grammatical errors. That said. Thank you for your sweet words here, and yes, isn’t Roberta Flack such a beautiful singer. When I first heard her that days in the hills of Oakland, played on an old-fashioned record player (wow!), her voice really sang into the hills as new life sprouting. I like the sound of your book as well. I just released my novel, Child of Duende, the story of a magical young girl in Spain who is named “Duende” (the spirit of the earth). She dances with Gypsies and goes on journeys into the sea with a nature spirit, while a 28-year-old German journalist, Ingrid, who is called to Spain for a story on supernatural vine. Her story and Duende’s weave together to awaken “duende”, the spirit of the earth that resides in all of us. Blessings to you, and thanks for sharing.


      Liked by 2 people

      • Such a thoughtful comment by you. I read about you and your book and connected immediately as a former German teacher. My blog also has an Amazon link to the book where you can read reviews. I look forward to many future visits with you and your blog and wish you a creative writing journey.


  2. hi Michelle, I love reading your comments and specially to learn that my brother – your father – told you to be useful at that time. What a truly German remark, we heard it at home all the time
    when we were kids.. I’m glad you freed yourself to become only “YOU”.


    • Si, tia/tante Ingrid…we all had the privilege of being useful. It took a lot of work to undo needing to be useful all the time. Pero, ya, todo bien. Un beso, abrazo. Michelle (pon un “like” en la pagina tambien, si quieres).


  3. A nice vignette of the broken-winged free spirit I remember so well. I don’t remember if I ever told you my father also loved Roberta Flack, even learning to play her music on piano.


  4. I just had a funny cartoon play out in my head upon reading this. I imagined your ancestors up there in soul realm going “well, shoot, we broke her real good with our misguided advice.. I think we should just shut up now…” with teardrops and stormclouds in their thought bubbles; while in the panel below, you are going “ahhhhhhhh.. relief!” and having this penthouse view and suite and the luxury of being in bed all day.

    I found peace walking for many miles walking in nature, for two years. I would wake up every Sunday morning at 3:30am, and be out the door by 4am, to walk 12.3 miles through the backroads nestled in woodland to a Vedanta temple, and arrive RIGHT before service starts at 11am -every time. That would bring immense peace.


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