I live in North America’s central flyway. The hummers have abandoned the feeder I put out for them in July. That’s my cue that the fall bird migrations are underway. So lately I’ve been trying to set aside a little time to get out to places where I’ll see more than the odd mob of grackles.
Earlier this week I spent a good part of one morning wondering around a couple of ponds. It was wet and the land was soaking in the luscious rain. The place was an island in the midst of the steady stream of mechanical commuters.
The contrast was stark. Out on the road, a palpable weird hybrid feeling of anxiety and resignation. Grim determination. Boredom. Anger. Hurry up and get this over with. At the edge of the pond, quiet, patience, steadiness.
I had the distinct sense of having stepped through a wormhole of sorts into an alternate universe. A place where everything fits together and glides along effortlessly. A place that is always there and has always been there. A place where everything has already been resolved.
How good to linger there without the desire to be anywhere else. The simple, uncontrived rightness of it.
Later, back on the road, I was struck by the madness of so many people on their way to unwanted yet freely chosen experiences. Amazed at the power of the programming that steers us into blind alleys and interminable detours. The unreality of the trance so vivid to me after my hours at the pond.
There is another world waiting for us. It always has been.
The kingfisher rises out of the black wave
like a blue flower, in his beak
he carries a silver leaf. I think this is
the prettiest world–so long as you don’t mind
a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life
that doesn’t have its splash of happiness?
There are more fish than there are leaves
on a thousand trees, and anyway the kingfisher
wasn’t born to think about it, or anything else.
When the wave snaps shut over his blue head, the water
remains water–hunger is the only story
he has ever heard in his life that he could believe.
I don’t say he’s right. Neither
do I say he’s wrong. Religiously he swallows the silver leaf
with its broken red river, and with a rough and easy cry
I couldn’t rouse out of my thoughtful body
if my life depended on it, he swings back
over the bright sea to do the same thing, to do it
(as I long to do something, anything) perfectly.
~ Mary Oliver