I haven’t paid as much attention to birds as I have this year. I’ve always enjoyed seeing and hearing them, who hasn’t, but not on this level of seeing. And listening. And it’s not just this astonishing little winged one, but all the many many different birds all around me where I live; in every bush and every tree. And bats, kestrels and sparrow hawks too. Even an owl. One night its two successive deep notes (I’m sure they’re in minor) travelled through the dark hours and reached me through the many layers of sleep. I smiled in the dark and felt it oddly comforting.
I haven’t felt a belonging or been truly home for most of my adult life. Not since I was 12 years of age. Therefore, maybe this feeling of being home now, has made me lift my gaze further, wider, deeper. Without traveling anywhere, as I once did in the days when I was a nomad; seeking many things, but at the core of it all; home. Although I couldn’t quite place a finger on what that meant. Apart from good coffee of course. It definitely wasn’t a specific country. Nor a nationality. Or a job title. Or success. Or material goods. Or ownership of anything. I still remember when I was at that young age, a child really, where life seemed simple and you might have some awareness about certain things, but still haven’t accumulated much studied knowledge about anything and I’m asking “but why are there any borders and countries at all?” I even remember the image that was in my mind when I spoke that; this blue marble we call Earth in its totality, seen from outer space. I guess that question has never left me. Hence I would quietly rebel by replying to the often asked question of “Where are you from?” with “I live here”, “I popped out of the blue” or a counter question: “Why?”. None of them went down very well. We like boxes. Categories. Concepts. Titles. Labels. They’re comfortable. Until they aren’t. Boxes make us think we know someone or something or ourselves better. Fundamentally we don’t. Boxes also consciously or unconsciously make us position ourselves somewhere with a reference point to the other. Fundamentally we can’t.
For many years, home was solely a place within. An infinite undefinable place. And it still is. However the home within has paradoxically deepened further as I have found resonance in a home without.
I look at my friend the winged one. Cognitively I know it’s a robin. But that is just surface level of knowledge. The tip of the iceberg. Everything I don’t know about it goes so much deeper and those depths are invisible to the eye. But not the heart. When I am in the presence of the robin, I simply am. Without the ‘I’. That’s it. That’s enough. Although we are so obviously very dissimilar, there is this notion that ultimately we are of the same. Only expressed differently. Home is same. I see the blue marble without borders or countries when I look into its dark eyes. I sense the unfathomable mystery behind our very existence. And that truly is home.
Lovely avian portrait!
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Thank you, John.
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