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  • Writer's pictureJena Ball


"By what reason or justice does the rain weep its joy?" - Pablo Neruda

Never have I felt more alive, more present, more myself. I am standing naked atop a rocky outcrop as the sky darkens with water soaked clouds. The ozone infused air is gathering strength, inhaling and exhaling in explosive gusts that nearly knock me off my feet. As I lean into the wind, the sky ignites with lightning and the first warm, wet drops plop against my skin.

Laughter and sudden tears open my heart. I'd forgotten what it was like to meet the Earth head on with nothing between us - nothing to disguise the fact that we are both the miraculous results of the universe at play.

I lift my arms over my head and shout. There's no one to hear - no one to tell me to keep my voice down or mock me as I hop and stomp and spin in dizzying circles with the storm egging me on.

Yes, I am computer generated, my pixels dancing on a virtual boulder created from mesh. But I am also the child who escaped my mother's notice at the age of five and sneaked out of the house to greet a storm wearing only my birthday suit and flip flops; the summer intern caught in an unexpected thunder storm huddling beneath a tree that was hit by lightning years ago, praying that lightning won't strike twice. And I am the older, though not necessarily wiser daughter sitting by a hospital bed watching the sky darken as she waits for her mother to awaken from surgery.

In my avatar I have found a link - a trail of pixelated breadcrumbs back to myself - back to raw, unfinished, unedited memories that remind me that I am someone who feels a deep and visceral connection to the planet - someone who loves with abandon and grieves with unexpected ferocity. I am grateful.

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