If birds could write, which bird would write like which author. The Osprey would clearly be Hemingway knowing the sea, but with no need for an old man. The common Gallinule might become Billy Collins, an easy laugh and always entertaining. The crows could be so many writers attending workshops, all still looking for a voice to express themselves without causing their audience to turn away. The great egret could well be Alice Munro creating beauty without need for intensity her audience content to watching her do little and the cattle egret would be David Sedaris mining that the detritus of the world for that short, ever pithy humorous twist. The Sandhill Crane, Murakami always with a strange tale, and as are all cranes, ever so Japanese.
As I age now I am aware that the tether to my earliest memories has grown thin, stretched by time until I know it will, of necessity, soon give way.
And so I spend spare moments trying to sort through my life as I recall it, selecting those moments that bear the effort of retethering so that time would be better served weakening others.
But the hidden beauty, I know, is that when a memory is gone, has fallen away, it often takes its shadow along, so there is no hint even of its prior existence, and you don’t mourn what you never had, even if you did.
How far must you wander to taste the pure essence, hear the pure note, see deeply into beauty, smell the first flower of spring, touch another heart. Will you grow tired from standing still in total silence contemplating this?
A reflection on Case 65 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (Trud Dharma Eye)
He loved walking around the small lake. He could make a circuit in just under 40 minutes. If. If he didn’t stop to marvel at or photograph some bird along the shore. The runners flashing by him gave him strange looks, likely because they didn’t see the beauty in this bird’s feathers, how the light played off that bird’s beak. He was a runner once, until his knees gave out. But he can’t remember much of the paths he ran, just moment after moment of what was on the ground in front of him.
Once the winter stars wrapped in their cloudy shroud shed frozen tears, unwilling to come out of hiding. We searched for them in vain, knowing our failure, retreating to the warmth of home, only to repeat the failed effort on so many other nights.
Now, here, the winter stars are usually fearless, some drowned by the moon, but she waxes and wanes and they reappear, the brightest never fearing the chilled sky. We stare at them in wonder having forgotten for so many years just how beautiful they can be in their glory.