Perhaps it’s coincidence. Or nothing but tunnel vision that causes me to filter out what is not uppermost in my mind; when I have “X” on the brain I see “X.” And I see ‘X” everywhere. Sometimes to the exclusion of all else. No “Y.” No “Z.” No whatever else — as it flies past my line of vision.
But whether coincidence or tunnel vision, over and over I find myself thinking along a certain path — to encounter another on my blog roll further down that particular thinking trail. The connection feels important — not hokey, as with those sometimes, seemingly ‘spot-on’ sayings rising out of broken fortune cookies, that get read aloud by tables full of wisdom seekers.
Here’s one for instance — that comes out of a blog comment I wrote several days ago:
How strange to find you baptizing today’s post with the phrase “question without an answer” — on the day I should wake up realizing that unanswered questions are one of the many things to inspire me. Maybe it’s Rilke’s urging – “Live the questions now.” — to that young poet of old that causes me to find life most meaningful and real in the face of unanswered questions… [Questions like:]
Is my youngest daughter’s growth on her thyroid benign..?
What comes after death? [in thinking about my mother-in-law…]
What’s for supper?
No matter their weight, the questions themselves inspire me to live. Inch by inch. Day by day. Until I catch the glimmer of an answer…
Upon writing that list, I thought it an odd mix of questions — the first two hovering at the quick of life with the last feeling a bit frivolous and flighty. But rather than play editor, I decided to leave the questions be, keeping the list just as it came to me.
It was just as well. By the next day, I began seeing the questions as more connected than I’d first imagined. And it came about as all reinterpretations of the past happen — by looking at the same “X” through a different set of lens. In this case, it was more than one pair of lenses — for I looked at that list through the lens of a new event; and then the lens of a new experience, and finally, through the lens of one other than myself.
That the last came from a flock of birds who had just dropped in for supper — lending me their proverbial bird’s-eye view — well, this did throw me off-balance — enough to confess that even now, I can’t say whether these birds were Red-breasted Black Birds or Robins. All I know is they were ravenous and noisy and feasting on the fruit of the Cherry Laurel outside my kitchen window. It seemed every seat in my new bird cafe was filled. As fast as a ‘table’ came open, a new bird came to takes its place. No need to ask, “What’s for supper? These birds had the good fortune to find my tree, so supper became ripe black cherries.
Of course, whatever food they happened upon that day — fitting their own particular bird’s palate — could have become a fine supper: worms, birdseed or insects, perhaps. From the bird’s perspective, any answer would have been a good answer — a life-giving answer — as long as the birds themselves didn’t become another creature’s supper — like some bird-watching fat cat, per chance.
As I watched them eat, I saw that life for these birds, as it is for any creature living in the wilderness, is a meal-by-meal affair. It’s not a question of bird seed or worms. It’s birdseed. Or worms. Or fruit. Whatever they find. These live an eat or be eaten sort of existence. Everyday. From the birds perspective, living into the answer of ‘what’s for supper’ is not a light-weight question at all — why it very much belonged to that quick of life list of questions left in my blog comment.
Still, the strange thing about yesterday, one I still need to think about, is this: As I watched that bird-laden tree being picked over clean, I remember thinking how I’d never seen that tree look so alive before. It shook. And pulsed. As birds came and went. And while ravished by the wilderness, the tree lived on. Empty of fruit, the tree lives to bear again. The tree lives and the birds live. And I like how both the giver and the takers have happy endings.
And though I can’t say how — somehow, when I looked at that tree eaten yet not consumed, I imagined the tree being me. And that instead of birds feasting on my fruit, it became unanswered questions which pecked away my fruitfulness. Yes, it’s crazy, crazy, these thoughts of mine. But then, I’ve always had a wild imagination. Perhaps these loose connections I’m making are nothing but tunnel vision at play. Yes. Let’s just say that me being that tree — and my flock of questions being those birds — is nothing more than one of those odd life coincidences.