Sometimes I find it really hard to get my head wrapped around how time keeps marching on. Most days I don't feel any different than I did in my younger days. Oh, there's the occasional morning that I wake up all achy and can hardly get out of bed because I have overdone it a bit at the gym or tried something new and suddenly discover that I have muscles in places I never really knew I had them. By usually, at least in my head, the passing of time is sort of irrelevant.
Then there are those moments that will jarringly snap me back and make me realize that time is not at a standstill and in fact it is whizzing by at lightening speed. Often this time travel involves birthdays - not mine of course, those are just a number to me, sort of like the ones on a scale - but those of say a now teenaged child (how the hell did that happen?!) or the anniversary of a death. It has been over nine years since my father died. In some ways it seems like yesterday; in others, like an eternity.
My dad was not a religious man, but he was a deeply spiritual man. He saw god and beauty in the trees and the birds, in the mountains and lakes. And in simple acts of kindness. He was a modern-day Frost, Audubon, Thoreau, Muir and Teddy Roosevelt, all rolled into one. He didn't need to walk into a church every weekend to prove his goodness. He proved that everyday to those who had the good fortunate to know him. He had nature to justify his existence and his purpose on this earth. And that was good enough for him. In many ways, he was timeless.
One of my favorite things about my dad was that when he went somewhere, anywhere, he never went and came back the same way. I think that he did that because he saw beauty and goodness where most of us don't even bother to look. He always just enjoyed the ride and the view. I like to imagine that when he died he took an interesting trip back, to a peaceful place where dreams and eagles soar - a beautiful place that is worthy of the beautifulest of souls. And that he saw amazing things along the way.
On my first trip to Burning Man, I took with me my dad's ashes and the ashes of my dear friend Abby. I hoped that it would be a way for me to try to let go of some grief that I had been holding onto for way too long. The morning that I spread my dad's ashes at the temple was a spectacularly beautiful morning, as most are out on the playa. I wrote my message to my dad on the temple, scattered ashes, and then sat in the dust and cried, letting go of so much pain. It was like time was standing still and whizzing by at the same time.
At some point, as I sat there amongst the dust and ashes, I looked up and through tear-filled eyes I saw the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, standing in a purple velvet dress and hat. She looked to me like a time traveler of sorts. She smiled softly, walked over to me, knelt down, and put her arms around me. She held me while I wept some more. I don't know how long she stayed with me and at that point time was irrelevant anyway. We never spoke. She just held me while I let go of so very much that needed to go in my life. And when the right moment came, she knew it, and she stood and walked away in a different direction from which she had come.