Don’t you love how the leaves twirl in the movies?
You know what I mean. The camera fades out of a poignant scene, and when the screen comes to life again, it’s a tight shot on a pile of leaves that stir and suddenly rise like Ezekiel’s bones.
Or it might be the snowfall just beginning against sunrise. Or perhaps the characters we last saw bundled in parkas are now planting in spring furrows of rich earth. Or the dog comes running and we hear barking before voices. Or sails against a sunset.
Transitions, right? These mechanisms tell us the story has moved forward. Somehow, though, they always feel like a set-up and we—at least, I—don’t believe they happen in real life quite that way. (That would be my life.)
Not so long ago, however, before the weather finally made up its mind to shift to winter, I was out for a lunchtime walk, crunching purposefully through dry leaves. (I LOVE stepping on them. Well, stomping is more like it, the better to hear the crunching.) The wind gusted just as I approached an intersection, and the leaves huddling against the curb coiled upward in a perfect spiral, floated in a secret-sacred instant, then wafted back down and landed in a never-before-seen formation.
I actually stopped my forward motion to watch. Could. Not. Believe. It. Frank Capra himself could not have manipulated a better movie moment.
And I thought how not every assumption we make is true. And I thought how things never go back to the way they were. And I thought that life does change, and we do go on. It was a mystical, breathtaking moment of ordinariness that glimpsed the other side of something.
Now I think of that helix of dry brown leaves every time I walk past that corner, and I remember the sensation of stopping my breath to watch.
And I wonder if I will ever be able to satisfactorily capture a moment like that in the pages of a novel.
We’re just about at the end of this year, with the next one soon to rise on the screen. I hope you can see how your story is moving forward, and that you can look back to some breathtaking moments that linger in your soul.