Wings of Possibility

The virus has offered me many new possibilities that I would otherwise not have known. Gifts, one might say. New thoughts. New practices.

I’m grateful for the endless free time I’ve had to reflect, read, write and, most of all, to sit out on my patio watching birds. I’ve always enjoyed images of birds and appreciated the very beautiful bird calendars that my friend Bill Pennell produces, but I am not at all knowledgeable.

I like Graeme Gibson’s The Bedside Book of Birds with its gorgeous illustrations and its whimsical and far-ranging writings about avian creatures. I was especially taken with the last section: Some Blessed Hope: Birds and the nostalgic human soul. Gibson quotes Thomas Hardy’s poem “The Darkling Thrush,” in which the poet wonders about the reasons for the aged thrush’s song and concludes that it is from Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew/ And I was unaware.

With much more time at home alone, I’ve taken to sitting outside.  Despite my lack of knowledge and poor vision, I’m trying to get to know the birds, to recognized the sight and sounds of them. I have a very long way to go, but some friends are attempting to educate me and have loaned me books.

There have been other virus gifts: time to organize some of my possessions, especially books, and send them off to the places where they seem to belong. Time to practice mindfulness.  Time to enjoy distanced visits with friends. More time than usual with my family, especially since they too are mostly homebound. Time to listen to younger people and get a different perspective on things.

The other day I was speaking to my granddaughter about some of the sorrow I feel about the virus. For example, I said, the sight of a young mother with two very little children all wearing masks made me sad.  My granddaughter said, “Oh, I don’t think that’s sad. People all over the world wear masks for protection at different times.”

I realize that I was reflecting nostalgically on my own carefree childhood, looking backwards and seeing the disappearance of the world I once knew. She looks forward and sees much more possibility. The world ahead appears different, depending upon the direction towards which you’re pointed. As an old person, I am bogged down with the past. I can’t imagine the future through the uncluttered view of a young person.

I can, though, learn to stay more focussed in the present. I will try to do that. Watching birds will be a start. And I’ll will read more bird books. Maybe I’ll get some binoculars.

I know it’s sentimental to see birds as symbols of hope and spirituality, but when I see a flock of little bushtits land on a nearby tree, or a towhee flashing its rufous colours and bright red eyes, or a red-headed house finch swooping past me, my heart leaps ups and I feel a sense of hope. Of possibility.

Wings of possibility, I say to myself.

 

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