By Johna Till Johnson


Three Birds Enjoy a Windfall on a Summer’s Day

Every so often, something wonderful comes into your life unexpectedly. You didn’t wish for it, or ask for it–it just appeared, providing you with great and wholly unanticipated joy.

For these three birds, the sudden appearance of breadcrumbs (perhaps a loaf from the grocery store across the street) must have represented the purest sort of windfall. Who knows who left the bounty, and why?  But there was no mistaking their happiness as the birds pecked away with great animation.

It’s a happiness I felt, too, when my greatest windfall appeared. Knowing Vlad was so unexpected, so out of the ordinary run of my life, that I couldn’t have conceived of it before it happened. Now that he is gone, there is indeed a “before” and “after” in my life–but not the usual kind. For most who have suffered a loss, the boundary between “before” and “after” is the loss.

My “before” and “after” is marked by meeting Vlad, not by losing him.

Before I met him, I looked at life in a prosaic and utilitarian way. Yes, twinklings and inklings of beauty crept in–sometimes I would pause on a summer’s morning, overtaken by feel of the balmy air and the rustling of bright leaves.

But I harbored the sneaking suspicion that appreciating beauty was something you grew out of. Proper adults didn’t forget their responsibilities and concerns just to gasp in wonder at the V of migrating geese across a brilliant blue sky. And they certainly didn’t go off for days or weeks in a kayak just to lose themselves in the briny air and expanse of ocean. Kayaking was something you fit into your days, not something you built your days (let alone life) around.

Vlad changed all that. Although his passion was science, his life was poetry. He sought–and found–the beauty in all things. And he was happiest spending days and nights in that marathon pursuit. Whether it was hunting down an elusive signal in the lab, or following a waterway to see where it led, his life was a full-throated, unabashed pursuit of beauty.

His legacy to me, and to all who knew him, was showing by example how to upend the usual conventions. Instead of fitting science, art, and poetry into neat boxes in your life, you spent your life exploring them, and following where they led. (And yes, love as well. He loved as he did all things: wholeheartedly and with great generosity.)

That legacy–of love, beauty, poetry, and the willingness to lose oneself in them–that legacy is my windfall. The lines from Tosca recurred to me in the hours and days after his death:

Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore,
non feci mai male ad anima viva!

I lived for art, I lived for love
I never harmed a living soul!

Before I met Vlad, those lines made no sense to me. Afterwards…ah, afterwards was entirely different. Meeting Vlad was my windfall.

25 responses to “Windfall

  1. This is just beautiful. Gave me goosebumps reading it. Hugs and peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful tribute to Vlad, Johna. <3
    I'm at loss for words. I send you a big virtual hug x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful tribute to Vlad, Johna. It’s moving my heart. Have a peaceful Christmas,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That was beautifully written. A wonderful tribute to a wonderful man – The world needs more people like Vlad.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a beautiful tribute. I only knew him from his adventures on the blog, but Vlad made a big impression. He knew what was important. Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There are all kinds of windfalls, aren’t there? Vlad was indeed a creative spirit, so thank you for allowing his legacy to live on by melding it with your own creativity. The music can continue….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful thoughts, beautiful post. Thank You. M:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. his passion was science, his life was poetry–Johna, those are such beautiful words, but to know that someone actually lived that way–that is the most beautiful thing of all. I wish you a peaceful holiday season and a bright and wonderful New Year. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a beautiful tribute….

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Such a beautiful tribute Johna. Wishing you peace and healing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow. Just wow. I love that he lived that way. I love that you classify your life as before Vlad and after meeting him. I am a true believer that people meet for a reason. It sounds like you two found each other for a good reason. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful heart speak.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wonderful words about your love!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The gifts, blessings and love of a soul mate, lover, and companion brings to ones life is so, so hard to put into mortal words, but you have done it! Done it beautifully, and profoundly.

    I can’t imaging my life without He-Man, but reality and life tell me one of us will leave this mortal world first, but, I believe when you remember him you bring him to life, and one day in the hereafter you two will be together again. I do believe that with all my heart and soul. I hope the memories of your time, and adventures together bring you peace, and comfort going forward with your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. What a wonderful tribute, Johna. I think the most emotional and best composed tribute I have read.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This is Good Medicine :)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Wonderfully written and wise. Thanks so much for sharing your feeling with us, and may we all heed your and Vlad’s inspirational words.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Such a touchingly beautiful tribute to a special man Johna!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I have only now read this. And I am happy to have have waited for a moment when I was able to concentrate on it without inner or outer distractions! It was wonderful to read, and I guess I learned something from it that will take time and effort to bear fruit – but is a good lesson! Thank you Johna!
    With this I wish you a wonderful Christmas time, at least as wonderful as my holy night here in Germany already has been.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Johna, a beautiful tribute, thank you for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you for this lovely sharing. I was reminded of why I took the paths I did. May there be many a windfall for you in the coming months and years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Why thank you! That is a most welcome thought, though at this moment almost impossible to conceive of. But life is long, and stranger than anyone can know… so maybe…!


  22. i love your story, thanks for sharing..
    i didn’t have any good love’s experience, meeting some1 that make me more special, not yet :D lol
    but i wish i could find him soon :D


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