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Friday, June 19, 2009

The Birds

Wednesday evening I came home late from the office - it must have been about 8:00. I parked the van on the road near the driveway (on the cul de sac). As I got out of the car some birds caught my eye, and I stopped to look. Apparently it had just rained, and the water from the pavement on the cul de sac was evaporating. I stood in the middle of the road.

Then they came - the birds that is, first a couple and then more and more. I think they may have been swifts or swallows. They would fly in very fast, then do an arc like an ice skater and be off, circling again a couple of times around trees or just in the air. Their wing beats were incredibly fast. Several flew straight away from me and their wings were just a blur surrounding their body. They would dive into the "asphalt zone" on a steep glide, turn on a dime, zig-zag, and be off again on a circle around a near by tree or just up in the air.

Watching them in front of me, above me, behind me I kept thinking of how an anti-aircraft gunner might feel with planes coming from all directions. On several occasions one or another of them would fly within feet of my head and I could hear the wings and the high pitched twittering. They acted as if I were not even there.

I assume that there were insects rising up perhaps with the humid evaporation off the asphalt, but I could not see anything. The birds zig-zaggy change of direction as they entered the "asphalt zone" suggested feeding, but I could not tell for sure.

There is something joyful and humbling about being in the presence of another creature's life and activity, especially when we are completely irrelevant to that creature. There is a sense of transcendence when we are brought out of ourselves into self forgetfulness and wonder at that which is truly "other." Our overly self conscious selves need this - but it has to come to us, as if by accident, and we have to be prepared to be caught up in it.

The birds kept on whipping in and out and around. I stood in the midst of them for maybe 10 minutes and eventually went into the house. It was the highlight of my week.

1 comment:

sherb said...

Love this...thanks. Great term..."Self forgetfulness". It's hard sometimes but a necessity when your are a true observer to the world around you. Get Eckhart Tolle's cd's, speaks to this very experience. Enjoy!