I always think of their shoulder blades as wings.  Their wings, poking through their skin.  And his little back has two freckles on it now, marks marring his white, skim-milk skin, my skin.  Life beginning to make its mark on my child.

The wings, though, are on my mind today.  The wings.

This past winter Whit went through a phase when he slept every night with his hand clasped around the little compass my parents gave him in his stocking for Christmas.  I always wondered, when I went in to kiss him goodnight, where his dreams were taking him.  Where was he flying, in his sleep, guided by the true north he could always check in his palm?

May they have both a compass and wings, my children.  Oh, please, please: never let them lose that physical sensation of wonder, that feeling that I always associate with wings beating in my chest.  And please, please: let me help them each find their own internal compass, that needle that tugs north.  That internal compass which can be trusted to orient us, no matter what whitewater we tumble in.

I’m still looking for both my compass and my wings, and, oddly enough, my children provide them for me better than anything else in my life.  They seem to have both already.  Maybe we’re born with our wings and our compass, and the task of our lives, at once simple and enormous, is not to lose them.

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  1. Posted June 29, 2011 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    All that they need is someone like to nurture them, and then, I assure you, they’ll fly.

  2. Posted June 29, 2011 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    A compass and wings – oh yes. I always used to tell people that “my head is in the clouds, but my feet are firmly planted on the ground.” Same sort of idea, but yours is so much more eloquently put!

  3. Posted June 29, 2011 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    yes, maybe our task is not to lose our capacity for flight navigation. this haunts me often, daily (that i am lathering my children with my own neuroses/doubt/anxiety, impeding their flight…and trusting that I can find a way to let my children to know what they know, be who they are). thank you, lindsey.

  4. jj
    Posted June 29, 2011 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    Loved this post.

    Instead of writing about the tension between our urges to explore and yet be rooted, you described having both wings and a compass – both being inherent in us and deserving of protection.


  5. Posted June 29, 2011 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    *So* beautiful.
    Thank you.

  6. Posted June 29, 2011 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    This is gorgeous, Lindsey, thank you.

    I think we are born with wings and a compass, and they get mired down in what our world teaches us on a societal level all too often.
    Then, if we are lucky, we get to dig them out, clean them off and we are able to use them for the time that remains…

  7. Kim
    Posted June 29, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Love this. Makes me want to run out and get a compass and wing charms. Fly with direction. Take a leap mindful of where you are leaping.
    Have you read the Atlantic article

  8. Posted June 29, 2011 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    That last line hit me right in the chest. Maybe that is the task – not to lose the gifts we’re born with.

  9. Hilary Levey Friedman
    Posted June 29, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Amazing! I need a compass to sleep with, too.

  10. Posted June 29, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    This post and photo took my breath away. A compass and wings. So simple. So beautiful. Thank you.

  11. Posted June 29, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    The picture is so perfect that you almost didn’t need to write the words — but, as always, I’m glad you did. Standing in my garden at dusk, I hear wingbeats every night as the birds come and go to the feeder. And it is the most beautiful, wrenching sound, full of mystery and magic and spirit. I close my eyes and listen, and wonder what it would be like to fly.

  12. Posted June 29, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Love the whole notion of not losing our wings and compass. I love the idea that I have them all the time, that I don’t need to find them. xo

  13. Posted June 29, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    What a beautiful reminder of how important dreams remain

  14. Posted June 29, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    You have such an incredible way with words and to say I draw strength from your well of wisdom is an understatement. Thank you.

  15. Posted June 29, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    It’s alright.
    I do not tan either-my freckles just connect! Whit is is looking rather ripped in this photo-what kind of workout plan do you have him on?

  16. Posted June 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    I likely would not have thought of wings and compass as the symbols but they eloquently capture what see as a universal wish a mother has for her child. Fly and soar, but maintain strength internally to bear whatever may come their ways.

  17. Posted June 29, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Such a beautiful post. Something I think we all should hold onto. The thought of wings and a compass.

  18. Posted June 29, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    So gorgeous.

  19. Posted June 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    I grew up thinking they were called Angel Bones. I was gently informed otherwise by a doctor at some point in my 20s. I quickly got a new doctor.