The Falls Ball

The wind was pushing against me from alternating directions. The sun was just high enough in the sky to tell me it was day without actually giving me any warmth or sequester from the wind. My mind, which should have been on the work ahead or the plans of the day or how the heck I was going to make it to my office without freezing, was nonetheless occupied by other, less than useful thoughts.

Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day.

This was a book from childhood by A. A. Milne. And it was a cartoon, also from childhood, that we watched whenever it came on. And this day, this windy, blustery, uncomfortably cold winter day had brought this old tale from bygone days to mind. And it was with these thoughts, of Pooh and Piglet and Eyore and Tigger and kites and tree-houses, that occupied my mind instead of where it should have been.

But were it not for these thoughts free ranging their way in my consciousness / subconsciousness, then I would not have noticed the waterfall I passed by each day. And not noticing the falls, I would have completely bypassed the fact that there was a ball, a big old summery beach ball, bobbling helplessly in the water downstream from the falls.

I should have moved on. I should have just gone to work and forgotten such childish notions and memories. I should have been a responsible adult.

But I did not. I was caught by a memory – and a sad, lonely beach ball.

I stopped.

And stared at this somewhat faded reminder of the warm, lazy days of summer, trapped in the assuredly freezing waters. Held in place by some low hanging branch. It bobbled, it swirled. It kept trying to get itself free.

But it could not. It was trapped, as was I, in this cold, barren day. We, both of us, could only swirl and bobble uselessly against the tide of winter. Both of us, out of our natural elements. Both of us discarded for convenience, left to drift.

Had I a tear to shed that morning, I might have, despite the fact that it would more than likely have frozen to my cheek before it could passage off my face. But I had no tears to shed for the ball, nor for myself, having shed them all many months before. When the sun was still warm and the air was not so relentless against me. When there was still life ahead of me that was good. Like the beach ball bobbing helpless, I was once loved and adored. I was once useful.

But in the harsh reality of winter, we, both of us, were let go.

Sighing, I turned from the sad little ball, turned from the happier memories of childhood, and moved on. My thoughts returned to the things they should be focusing on. The relentless chill of the wind assaulting me from many directions. I pulled up my collar. The drudgery of the work at hand and the day ahead. Schedules took the place of Winnie and his friends, plans for this project or that obscured the memories of Owl’s house crashing to the ground.

We, both of us – ball and man – struggle to overcome, knowing, in the end, we will fail. It is the nature of time, the attribute of nature. As spring turns to summer and then to fall, so does fall become winter. And an end of things. Unlike winter, though, we – man and ball – are not always subject to the renewals of spring. For us, there is an end.

Of the ball, I do not know if it still bobbles in the stream; I do not look that way anymore as I travel the path to work each day. But if it does still fight against the inevitable end, I know how it feels.

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