Forty years ago, intent on solving the challenges of a growing society, I decided to pursue a career of civil engineering. Civil engineering soon morphed into structural engineering, which in turn morphed into architectural engineering and design.
Twenty years ago, I wrote the following article which was published in Healing Options in Spring, 1997. Now, after twenty years of letting go of the engineering career identity, I feel like I’m just now setting out again on the path intended for me, the path I felt so deeply when I wrote this article.
Tonight, I’m sitting on top of a mountain. The burning orange image of a rising full moon paints the sky purple as the blues of the sky get deeper and deeper. The long tail of a far-off comet starts to glow in the northwest skies. Stars start to twinkle above as house lights begin to twinkle below. I sit. I listen. I hear the whisper of the air as it moves through the branches of the trees nearby. They creek gently as they move in harmony. I listen some more. The whisper gets deeper, more like a deep hum or howl coming from far away and far above. I feel it move against my skin. I smell its fresh scents. I breathe deeply. The air blows through me. It seems to give me life and energy.
I start to move onward across the mountain top. But it’s almost as if I’m in a dream. My body is moving, lightly and easily, but my mind is elsewhere. It’s still on top of the mountain in a trance recapturing the spirit of the wind just felt. I’m reminded of similar experiences running on the beach or snorkeling in the ocean, hiking through deep green forests or biking across open fields. I’m reminded of similar sounds and feelings. I’m reminded of how the wind moves differently – sometimes with vigor, sometimes with gentleness – but it always moves. And it always makes sounds. I feel alive. I feel like I’m real. Everything seems to come together. Yet I keep dreaming…
For years I’ve worked primarily indoors performing a job that kept my mind challenged and my sense of accomplishment fulfilled. But there is something about being indoors that is stifling to me – like being stagnant and detached from what is really important. Inside, the wind is still. I sought the outdoors in my free time and continued to do what I supposed to do indoors. As a matter of fact, I still do – now and then!
For years I’ve studied and designed buildings, structures which give people protection from the wind and the elements of the outdoors. Some of these buildings were constructed with the sole purpose of helping people find peace and happiness. Homes, churches, and meeting places. That makes me feel good. But there is something about being outdoors which can’t be recreated inside a building. You need to experience it outdoors. Outside, the wind blows. It comes from far away and it connects through you.
It seems like years of thought and miles of travel, but I’m off of the mountain and back to my car. The moon is high in the sky and the stars are bright. My little story ends here. I must now go home to sleep, inside, hoping and dreaming that the wind will continue to blow through me…