Written on October 26 2017 somewhere over the Appalachian Mountains
I just finished reading Turtles All the Way Down by John Green… and now I’m sitting here on an airplane typing this post on a crappy little note app on my phone because I have too many thoughts and inspirations clambering to get out to hold them all in until I can get to my computer or the internet. If there’s one thing I’ve learned – when something wants to be written you write it. You don’t question its form or its function or its timing or anything else about it – you write what wants to be written. They may not be your best writings, but they are often your truest.
There is undeniable truth to the fact that our thoughts are not actions, they’re just thoughts. We control them, they don’t control us. They are not reality.
It is also just as true that our thoughts are as much reality, as much what we are composed of as beings as our physical bodies are composed of organs composed of cells composed atoms.
And our thoughts are a bird, not a train. They do not run on set tracks, forever following the path on which they first set with no chance of change in course. They are blue birds and black birds and sparrows and falcons. They dart and weave. They soar and glide. Some stay close to Earth and others spiral in circles far above solid ground. They don’t move continually – some of the time they alight on gnarled ancient oak trees and sharp peaked mountains and crisp white picket fences; still, but ever watchful and poised to launch up and out at any moment.
Most of the time my thoughts are a murder of crows – black and loud and wily and cruel – perched on twisty old branches casting dark shadows over the fields of my mind. They cry in rough and persistent voices, scaring away all the other birds. They squawk about all the mistakes I have made, about all of my failures, about the failure OF me. They caw and caw, and while I often refuse to listen to them, I cannot not hear them.
But just when I think my mind will finally be stripped clean of every seed of hope, I find my scarecrow. I stuff my human outline full of accomplishment and dignity and simple happinesses. The crows flee, and the bluebirds can come back to roost.
There are no crows to scare them away; they bask together in the sun while the flowers begin to regrow in the furrows alongside them. They fly in soft and sweeping arcs, and from time to time they set down upon the garden gate to preen, so proud of their beautiful feathers shining for the world to see. They sing – bright and joyful and unafraid of who might hear them; after all, who isn’t delighted by the sound of sweet birdsong?
But scarecrows aren’t built to last forever. The docile field mice come and take a few straws; they are not malicious but are too in need of warmth to line their own nests with. And I don’t begrudge them that – what are a few strands anyway? Then the rain comes and soaks deep in, the heavy damp collapsing everything into a concave version of it’s former self. And I don’t begrudge it – rain makes the flowers grow. And then the wind begins – warm and smelling deliciously of apples and leaves, swirling a few straws away here and there in a whirligig against the sky. And I don’t begrudge it – their free-hearted dance on the wind makes me want to dance too. But then the wind blows harder, sweeping away all the easy to get to outer edges of my defense. And then harder, pulling bits and pieces away, away, until the center cannot hold, and then there is nothing left of my once solid and real scarecrow but chafe on the wind.
So the crows return. The bluebirds go back to huddling together deep in the cavity of their tree, silent. The flowers are picked and pecked until only brown earth is left.
And the cawing…. The cawing echos on and on and on.