It begins with a rumble and we're falling. Falling. Free falling to the ground. It's terrifying and exciting. Where will I go this time? How long will I get to stay?
I land on a leaf and each time I'm down it's always the same: it's like the first time. I feel so free and different here. I can feel the air on my edges, I can feel where I stop and the wind begins. I can feel that I am something, and small or not, I am real. I can feel that I am a solid part of this glorious world. There is no feeling like that moment you realize again what you are and what you are a part of.
The leaf is so much greener, so much more vivid up close. It's so complex and so different from me, a simple, round drop. I wonder what it's like to be a leaf. To feel wind over you and hear it too as you brush against the other leaves around you.
I slip from the leaf and I'm falling again. No no no no no. I want to stay here, I want to enjoy this tree. A bird is coming. The sun is breaking through the leaves in a way that is so perfect and beautiful. Each time the leaf sways I get a little sun, and then I bounce back and cool.
I can't hold on though. I can't fight this. I get only a glimpse of the bird's textured gray feathers as I fall, plummeting closer to the ground. I land on a rock. That feeling is always strange, to feel my soft, delicate body moving over the hard and rough surface of the rock. We couldn't be more different and yet something about it feels so natural.
I'm again lying in the sun. The rock is warm and although this feels good it's concerning. I don't want to evaporate. Not yet. Not here, not like this.
I put all of my energy into turning. I start to rock back and forth, back and forth. This is hard work but I can't sit here, waiting to go back to the cloud. It's too soon. I refuse to let this be it. I have so much more I want to see and do. Come on! Turn! Turn!
My effort pays off and I begin to tumble, spinning wildly, I hope my aim was right. And suddenly I'm plunged in and I know it was right. I'm with billions and billions of other drops. We're rushing around, forward. We speed down and away in something called a river. It's the most incredible feeling because there's no friction, no indication of the wild power we have when we're together like this. It's smooth and free, just drifting on together. Sometimes drops hit rocks or logs and they're momentarily stopped. I hope I don't hit one, but to be in the river, is worth all the risk. This is one of my favorite things to do on Earth.
I drift to the bottom as we fly forward. I see the smooth colored rocks that comprise a river bed. I fly past a fish. And another one. And another. Everything is happening so fast, I want to take it all in, but I don't want to stop and think. There's too much to see. I come to the surface and fly past bunches of wild flowers. Oh if only I could stop and hang on one, just for a moment. But there's more and each moment brings something new and if I stop and think on the flowers then I don't really see the willow tree falling so delicately over the water. This is the thing with the river. There's so many incredible things happening you wish you could pause the world, but you can't. You just fly onwards, grateful to be in it.
I plunge into a rapid and lose all sense of direction. I'm terrified and overwhelmed and just when I want to scream I pop back up and drift forward.
A bird flies down. It's coming for a bug. The bug is clinging to me. In an instant I'm inside the bird's mouth, sliding down into darkness. This is always the strangest feeling, to travel inside an animal. Everything is dark and yet so much happens around you. In some ways this is amazing because I am a part of a living thing. This is the closest I will ever get to breathing and moving on my own. The darkness doesn't scare me. I only wonder where we're going.
Time passes. How much? Who can say? Does it matter? Suddenly I'm in the sunlight again. It's amazing all over again. I love the sun so much, even though it's always what causes me to go home. I drift down in a stream, but I know this isn't a river. There's too little liquid. I stop. I soak into the dirt. This is the end now. There's nothing I can do but look up at the sky, and say thank you. Thank you for letting me come and play this time.
Soon I am evaporating. I'm going. I'm dying. This is the end. But as any drop can tell you, no end is really the end. Nothing ever really dies. I'm still going, just invisible now, I'm going back to the cloud.
I'm in the cloud. I'm looking down. I love this view over everything. After my wild journey home always feels good. It's calm and serene and I can gaze upon all the things I want for as long as I want. There's no need to pause the world from up here. Things move slow in a cloud. It's perfect.
But I can't wait to get back down there. To do it all over again. I wait for the rumble. It begins with a rumble, and then I'll be going, going on that wild, unpredictable journey to places I've never been and places I know so well and never grow tired of. I love it all.