It sat there, statuesque, on the roof peak—a real-life cliché. Except bigger. Its broad shoulders exceeding those of the young children sleeping beneath the perch. Exactly as I met the owl's gaze, I blinked. I could barely comprehend the sound before I felt the breeze. Whoosh. My eyes, bent to the night sky, struggled against the snowfall. It was gone.
I had come outside to greet the storm. To smell it. To test the flakes' shape and form against my hand, my jacket. To decide whether tomorrow was the day. The day to find an excuse. The day to readily abandon the shackles—jobs, lovers, friends. Was tomorrow that day? The day to say, fuckit? I cracked a beer.
And in this moment of quietude, of absolute solace, I was not alone. The shrouded, solitary owl was on the hunt. Its rodent prey now contrasted against a new, white blanket. I shuddered as its wings thrust a burst of air down upon me. In a diving arc, the light from the back porch flickered. Then silence.
My brother-in-law, Marc, was split-boarding in Japan last spring. He was the godfather to my son. He and I shared the same birthday, December 20. We both hated Christmas. We both loved snow. And in a white-out, on traverse, he uncloaked a sheet of sheer blue ice. He slid sideways. Over the edge. Away.
The thing about a goddamned cliché is that there's usually some truth buried in there. Try as we might, when our will has been exhausted, we cling to them. To words. To undeniable truths.
Live for the moment.
Count your blessings.
Go in peace.
I had come outside simply to greet the storm. Instead, I found my life—our lives—contrasted against the snow. An owl's eyes peer deftly, relentlessly into the darkness. They fly only forward. Confidently. On hope. On resilience. On the chance at good hunting.
Tomorrow—if we're lucky—is all we've got. There is no excuse necessary. No shame in flying forward. It is our only choice. For we are here. Now. In a snowstorm. In an instant.