I have no reason to venture to Tahiti for Gaugin took me there years ago, and again on a visit to Chicago and one to New York, or was it Cleveland, it hardly matters, for I know that the Tahiti of my experience no longer exists, touristed to death, itself at constant risk of drowning.
I did have reason to go to Arles, and there searched far and wide for the sky that Vincent promised, or the flowers, but the few stars visible through the lights and pollution of the city were pale imitations of the brilliant lights I know were there aj century ago.
Now I sit in my yard and watch the comings and goings of a thousand birds who deserve to be painted and not captured merely in pixels, for memory, human and electronic, fades with time, while art if not artists can be immortal.
The question of the day is would you rather be a turtle or a snail, not to be sung to any melody by Paul Simon. Think carefully, for one day the question will have real impact and you will get your answer with a permanence that merits the most careful consideration. Today may or may not be that day. And please note, your choice is snail or turtle, not a land tortoise, so longevity shouldn’t come into play at all. So, yes, it all comes down to this, some child may try and grab you and put you in a glass terrarium and try to make a vegetarian of you or people will moan, seeing your tail and imagine you served with shallots In a small pond of melted butter.
As 33,000 feet, you want the smoothness that experience tells you, the sky will once again deny. Strapped in, you contemplate cursing the gods of travel, but no, they are simply meeting your expectations. Getting this close to heaven was once, she says, a mystical and spiritual experience, but then we transcended all of that with the first step on the lunar surface, overall a small step from one man and a crushing of dreams for all but the great religious cynics of mankind. With clouds below obscuring all you know the sun is mocking, surrounding your dark mood, painting it darker and you begin to hope that the thunderstorm that will greet your arrival can somehow wash away the hesitation of an eternity trapped in a seat on the lowest margins of heaven.
The manatees hide just below the surface sticking up their heads every few minutes, for a breath or to thrill the tourists who watch intently, because it is a thing to do in this part of Florida in winter.
The restaurants in the harbor don’t mind, it draws a crowd and takes pressure off the kitchen, for people waiting for sea mammals do not grow impatient like those waiting for just burgers or an order of fried clams with a side of fries.
The manatees will never understand humans, why they queue up in the sun to eat animals, when the sea provides a free feast for herbivores if you are only willing to immerse yourself in the search for a meal.
A singe egret sits calmly
on the lowest branch of a long barren tree, where hours from now a thousand birds will arrive for still another evening and night.
He stares at me as I am mindfully vacuuming, watching carefully.
I pause and ask if by chance he is a Buddha and he lifts his long neck and peers around in all directions.
I repeat my question, and he lifts one wing, which I know to be his way of saying, “I, like you, am imbued with Buddha nature, and I with mother nature as well, and if you doubt me ask one of the countless Bodhisattva who will arrive in hours to study the Dharma well into what will be a wet night.
It is all to often debated what sets humans apart the other species, and that will not be agreed any time soon (which a cynic would note is one such thing itself).
Freud would claim it is only our ego, our sense of self, which may explain why people are so capable of being self- ish, and I suspect he was certain he was wholly correct but I would give him only partial credit.
It is far simpler than that: record your voice, record a Sandhill crane and play them back and I assure you that you will say you sound nothing like what the recorder heard while the crane will nervously look all around for his unseen kin.