I snuck out of the house this morning while my family slept. Laid a towel over the old chaise on the patio – the one with the torn cushion that we can no longer afford to replace. Voila – the threads barely holding it together are no longer visible. See no evil.

The birds are my steadfast companions here. High in the trees, they sing their welcome song to me.

Well, no, they simply sing.

And the fact that it has nothing to do with me is precisely what makes their song so welcoming.

They need nothing from me. Ask nothing from me. By God, what greater gift than invisibility this morning?

They simply sing just as they would were I not here.

A hot cup of coffee sits on the table next to me, content to go cold.

Content – how amusing the absurdity of assigning the word to a cup of coffee as if the porcelain or the grounds have feelings of their own. Stories maybe, but feelings? Ah, the hubris of man that we assume our emotions universal.

When I was a child I ate my cereal as quickly as I could. I was sure that Apple Jacks had families. My greatest fear was eating a mama and leaving her baby behind in the bowl, swimming alone – frantically searching the sea of sweetened milk for her brothers and sisters. In my child’s mind, there was no cruelty in the act of eating them – only in separating them.

Years ago, Katie quietly admitted thinking the same. Everything has feelings, Mama, she said. I just know it. Everything.

It’s exhausting, this. Worrying about the feelings of inanimate objects. Not just people to be wary of insulting, but every single thing in the world subject to an inadvertent slight. Everything.

I brought a book outside with me to read this morning. It sits waiting for me to crack it open, diving back into its story. (Another object personification – everywhere now that I’ve given it a voice – for books don’t wait, they simply are). It’s a murder mystery, quite macabre I’m told. Not my usual fare but I need out of my head. I need a break from deep thinking, lesson-learning, perspective twisting and turning, of old idea challenging and new thought stretching, of head-standing and world-changing. I need a break from activism and advocacy. I need a break from new words for the same old inane debates. I need a time-out from peace-making, bridge-building, connecting. I need a break from feeling like they’re all pointless wastes of energy. I need a break from Autism.

I need to just be for a while. Like the book on the table. Not waiting. Just being. I have to learn how to do that again. To not do but be.

My coffee has grown cold.

Brooke just ambled down the stairs and turned on the tv. She came to the screen door to tell me she was here, but would get no closer than to blow a kiss through it.

Blowing kisses through screen doors. God hands me yet another perfect metaphor.

I can hear Kai-Lan through the open door. I see Brooke through the window, rolling back and forth across the hard wood floor on her scooter.

She is safe. Comfortable. Fine?

I am trying to convince myself to sit for another moment. To work on this act of being. Funny, that – working on being. It’s an evolution, I suppose. I’m tired of evolving. Not really. But today.

I just watched a squirrel dart across a stone wall. I take a minute to wonder where he’s going.

The birds are getting louder – their conversation sounds urgent. I try not to assign it words.

Why is that so hard for us to do? Why does everything have to be translatable into our language, our perspective, our neurology? How little imagination we demand of ourselves when we ask that we only understand that to which we can internally relate. That is the real disability of humanity, is it not? That we are bred to believe that nothing makes sense – nothing is valid – unless we can assign it a purpose we understand in a language we speak.

Who cares where the squirrel was going. Perhaps he simply felt compelled to run.

Maybe the birds aren’t communicating at all but simply singing because they can, because they must, because it feels good or right or just because it what they were born to do. Perhaps they’re singing because it’s beautiful.

No matter the reason, it has nothing to do with me. Not the squirrel nor the birds nor the coffee growing cold. Not blown kisses through a screen door.

Brooke has come outside now. She’s pacing in tight laps around the patio as she scripts Godspell. Periodically she asks me to play my part – I contribute a word or a phrase here or there on command.

But mostly I sit.

And I watch.

And I breathe.

And I listen to her song.

And despite my best efforts, I evolve.

8 thoughts on “birdsong

  1. That squirrel comment made me smile..the other day jacob saw a squirrel run along the fence he said mama where is the squirrel going mama? I said im not sure baby maybe hes just playing..for the rest of the afternoon he must of came up with hundreds of ideas of where the squirrel was going he couldn’t let it go he couldn’t stop thinking about that squirrel.

  2. Perhaps you’re going to continue to evolve into that person who can “just be”. …evolving & just being, perhaps the best of both possible worlds.

    Love you,

  3. This was perfect for me today. My stress level hit an all time high from circumstances out of my control yesterday. I need to take this morning to recharge before I can tackle helping several family members in need. I am actually letting a sibling give up her plans and take over my parents’ care for the day. And not feeling guilty. I am off to the beach to breathe.

  4. I often think about ‘cavemen’ and what it would be like to be one of the first to evolve in thinking. To be surrounded by others who haven’t evolved to your level. Silly I know, but it’s often swirling around in my head.

  5. you really are a gifted sketch artist with words; the scenes you create are so vivid, have so much texture and feeling, it’s just very engaging to read. just always impressed with jess writing.

  6. Might I gently suggest some guided meditations, emphasis on “guided?” They help calm my own monkey mind, considerably. And I am right there with you worrying about the feelings of inanimate objects!

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