After our family trip to Disneyland when I was in high school, “Mr Toad’s Wild Ride” became a metaphor in our house for those days (or weeks or months) when everything all happens at once and you feel like you can’t catch your breath– or a break. “What have you been up to?” “Oh, it’s been Mr Toad’s Wild Ride around here! Whew!”
The ride itself is insane. There’s never time to get used to one direction; the entire experience is an amalgam of blindsided jolts to somewhere opposite and unexpected. While spinning. And with various illuminated creatures popping out of the murk at your face– cheerful creatures, I think, but still. It’s unsettling and breathtaking and easily the most memorable ride we went on.
For me, right now, the ride is wild all right. The winding road gets twistier pretty much daily and I am strangling my safety restraints white-knuckled.
But underneath, I keep hearing my sister’s voice in my head. Whenever I do something that leaves my niece round-eyed and awestruck (like, make her stuffed animals sing The Clash), my sister bends down and whispers to her:
“Auntie keeps her wings hidden.”
My niece’s tiny face turns toward me when my sister says this, and she nods solemnly. She has no doubt that I am a fairy dressed in human form, magic exuding out of every pore. Once she reached her little hands up and rested them feather-light just inside my shoulder blades, to feel my hidden wings herself.
When I’m trapped on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, I think of this poem, which has become my lighthouse:
And I think– I can go any direction I want. Deep chasms and wild rides hold no fear, if you have wings. Even hidden ones.
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