Saturday, September 25, 2010

So, birds.

Humans seek transcendence. We just do. We always want to overcome the limits and boundaries that have been placed on us. You might call it human nature.

Well, we have this particular boundary called Earth, and we're pretty good at everything that can be done inside this boundary. But we often get bored with the things we master. So we took to the sea. Water was an ancient symbol for chaos because it is always moving, often dark, sometimes dangerous. For myself, I'm still a little afraid of large bodies of water because I can't see what's in them. However, humans in general have been using water for business, fun, and war for hundreds--even thousands--of years. We had expanded our mastery to include Earth and water, but we were itching to transcend even those boundaries. So we turned our gaze upward and saw the birds.

Birds have been ahead of us for a long, long time. They use Earth, they use water, and they are very good at using the sky. We envied them. They could transcend all boundaries. In short, birds were, and are, awesome.

Now, humans eventually figured out how to enter the realm of the sky and even outer space, but there is just something so powerful about the natural way that birds inhabit the air, about their inherent symbolic qualities.

I love birds. I've been learning how to identify them by sight and by song. The chickadee has, for me, the easiest song to recognize.

Just two notes. One high, the other a few steps lower. Hree-hoo.

But one of my favorite birds of all is the only kind with sickle-shaped wings and a death-cry: the peregrine falcon.

They're also wicked fast. In fact, they're the fastest animals on the planet.

So, birds. Gotta love 'em. Wanna be one when I grow up.

And now, a testimonial from my dear friend, Emily Dickinson, on how birds can be used as awesome symbols:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

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