Saturday, May 9, 2015

just a morning in May

In another life, I thought I wanted to be an artist, so I did all of the things I thought an artist ought to do. That is, up to a point: the point at which it becomes difficult. At that point, one has to fight in order to continue. That is where I stopped.

In yet another life, I found myself on the path to becoming a scientist. This time, I recognized as soon as my foot touched the path that one has to fight to continue. And so I fight every day: I fight my laziness and my self-doubt, and I tell myself, if you give up, what will you have? You can only stop fighting if you have something else worth fighting for.

Today I was supposed to work on my data. But I said to myself: it’s a beautiful spring day. Why don’t you just be a living, breathing thing today? Forget the data. It will still be there tomorrow. So I had my coffee in bed with the window wide open, watching the morning unfold.

Then a bird hit my picture window. He bounced off and landed in a spruce tree just at eye level.  I grabbed my binoculars. He was a small thing, and his mottled coloring suggested he hadn’t left the nest all that long ago. For perhaps an hour he did nothing but sit very still, and it was clear he was in shock. I fully expected him to fall dead off his perch into my yard, because when do you ever see a bird sit still?

After that first hour, he limped to a different position on the tree, more inside the canopy. Most likely because the neighborhood had begun to wake up and there were all kinds of noises: car engines, bush planes, chattering squirrels and our local raven, who I’m convinced is nosy because he (or she) always flies low past my windows as if to see what I’m up to. I thought my little friend had been spotted and it was only a matter of time before Nosy would ambush-pluck him away from his hiding place. But my friend stayed still, puffed up like a small dark-feathered ball, and seemed to be napping off and on. After another hour, he began to stir, and groomed himself meticulously, flexing every feather.  Soon enough he began plucking at the twigs, foraging for bugs. After perhaps another hour the mild sunshine began to fade and a steady breeze blew. By then he was hopping from branch to branch, looking for more bugs.  The speed of his recovery was astonishing.  It was clear he was getting ready to fly away. After one short experimental flight to another part of the same tree, he launched himself into the wind and flew away.  All that was left were four little downy breast feathers stuck to my window. Soon enough, these flew away too.

After he’d gone I realized: what a lucky fool I am! I get to decide what to fight for: artist or scientist, soldier or pacifist, mother or childless woman. He could only be a bird, and that was the only thing he could fight for. But he did so splendidly.


No comments:

Post a Comment