Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bird Dreams

"Gathering" monotype
(see entire series at

The other night I dreamed that I suddenly remembered a small box that I had brought back with me from Mexico that contained a live wild bird. How could I have forgotten all about it? Surely that poor bird was dead from starvation by now. And if so it was my fault. I had killed it. But what if, through some miracle, it was still alive? There was only one way to know, of course. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. To find the box. To open it. Perhaps if I just imagined the miracle I could go on, guilt free, knowing the bird had survived despite my negligence. But the thing about miracles is that you can’t just imagine them, you have to believe in them. You have to have faith and know beyond a doubt that they are true. And if it wasn’t true, then it meant that I had killed that innocent bird. And so to save myself from guilt, I had to believe.

Well, this was a dream after all. Which means that the bird is me, or part of me, I suppose. And maybe what has been neglected since I returned from Mexico is my creative spirit, my connection to the magic. My writing, perhaps. A wild thing that should never be kept in a box anyway. I must keep faith, must keep it fed, above all else.
That the creative spirit survives at all in this demanding world is a miracle in itself.

We have moved back to California and are living in yet another reality. We can hear the hush and sigh of waves on the shore, the hiss of sprinklers at dawn. Swallows nesting in the attic vents that shared our bedroom wall. All night long we could hear their little cheeping sounds, all beaks and bone and hunger. Now they are gone and we remain in this new nest, padding through carpeted rooms, trying to keep our faith in miracles in these days uncertainty. Trying to keep from getting swallowed up by the demands and stresses of everyday life.

Here in Santa Cruz, there are plenty of opportunities to practice.

At a little gift shop in Capitola I overhear a customer talking with the saleswoman. I can’t see what they are looking at but I can hear the conversation.
“So what does this one mean?”
“That means Happiness.”
“And this one?”
“That says Prosperity”
“How about this one? What does this stand for?
“I think that one is Love.”
“Good. I just think it’s important that I know what they mean.
After all, if I’m going to put one on my altar and pray to it then it better stand for something I want.”