Capturing life in words…
Then into my vision flew a hawk. Actually, he glided into my field of vision just yards above the tree tops. I watched him effortlessly float in circles, not flapping for flight… he went round and about; naturally and silently floating on minimal air current. I counted each completed loop — 1, 2, 3, 4 …
So breathtakingly beautiful as he glided gracefully above my yard. I thought of the shows I had seen by the Cirque De Soleil– how humans needed steel beams with pulleys, wires, braided cables and weeks of planning and practice to mimic the grace and beauty this creature did with ease. Not a single wing beat yet and he was completing his 17th round — amazing! Although only gliding, he did not lose altitude. I was frozen in time watching this creature, quietly cheering him on, as if HE cared how many loops he made merely by gliding with the air currents. 20, 21, 22 and then he made one single flap of his wings as another hawk came into my line of vision and joined him… and they were gone.
I continued to sip my coffee thoughtfully, savoring in my mind the beautiful dance in nature. I reflected upon the elegance and literal ease of this beautiful creature as he utilized the natural elements of his environment to stay adrift with almost no effort. To do so requires he work with, not against the rhythm of nature. By going with the stream of what exists, the bird was able to gracefully, and elegantly move within space and time. Also, very little energy was expended in just basically “maintaining” or “staying afloat”. As I contemplated the metaphors of life, such as a recent metaphor (I think by Lamott)– life is a river and a good writer lines up, per se’, parallel with the river of life and like a straw, pulls a stream out here and there. It resonated with me… it is what I hope to do with my writing.
I realized my coffee was cold and I had been sitting thinking about the hawk and how he seemed to have life down better than me (which to be honest is annoying because I know my brain is bigger); and my middle age body was no longer comfortable in the wooden rocker.
As I rose, I absently wondered if birds get arthritis, and maybe I should change religion — trading out my Christianity for Buddhism and ask to be reincarnated as a Cooper Hawk, when I hear a loud, rustling and breaking of small limbs in my maple followed by a shrill, animalistic shriek. I look up to see the hawk, zooming out the left side of the maple tree, it’s wings now making a rhythmic rustle as it flapped and arced around, flying straight above me. Just as I began to once again feel awe, I noted a robin clearly choked in it’s talons. It already hung limply. I don’t know why, but I felt very conflicted, as if tricked. It came together in my mind the soundless, gliding circles I admired as art was actually predator behavior. In a sweep for its own survival, my perspective was challenged regarding Mr Hawk. Suddenly I questioned my first impression– leaping quickly from awe of breath-taking and majestic, to a revulsion which pierced me like one of the hawk’s talons. I involuntarily shuddered as I recalled the image of the limp robin’s lifeless body and limp legs I had seen. I had been feeding a robin and it’s family — along with many other birds, but there was a robin’s nest in my tree since spring and I had been privy to a front row seat to the first few flights of the babies. I worried the robin I saw was one of those… and if not one of the babies, was it a robin lured here by my plentiful food supply at the feeder? My mind was making dozens of cognitive leaps from the unexpected observation of nature in action. Irrational questions briefly appeared in my mind before I ruled them out as ridiculous: Should I continue to feed the birds if Mr. Cooper Hawk was going to eat innocent attendees of my backyard banquet? Wood a plastic owl on the barn scare the hawks? Do predators fly south, no, only ducks…. it was truly a peak at my humanity. I still have some work to do in getting comfortable with the whole process of life. As Lion King nobly shouts it out in song, “The Circle of Life” includes ucky, yucky, ick. Period.
As a species, mankind is often disturbed by the inherent, natural, messiness and pain in life. We avoid, deny, suppress, ignore, medicate, hide and blatantly tell ourselves lies to not deal with messy truisms which exist. The messiness, pain, issues and uck must be present if life is being fully lived. We all have seen divorces due to one or both partners do not want to deal with “the messy and not so pretty” side of life. Alcoholics drink to numb and avoid pain; or dealing with life on life’s terms. Hollywood gets boob lifts, tummy tucks and collagen because aging or physical changes with childbirth should not be visible. Parents tell their children, “You can’t play with Johnny anymore,” when it’s really because the parents are in conflict and cannot deal with fixing the mess they made. It’s everywhere — the avoidance and disdain of the less pleasant side of life.
But, I can only work on me.
So, I must close for now, as I need to fill my bird feeder.
Linda M Thomas
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