Another spring day opens gray and chilly--I know it will stay this way for the rest of the day. Thus, I found myself writing this morning about hope, that feathered thing Emily Dickinson calls it.

I've always liked her image of the tough little bird facing into the winds of change, its talons gripped tight, caught in weather that's too big for it or for anything else, yet it doesn't back down, doesn't fly away.

The Buddha says this--

Make an island of yourself, make yourself your refuge; there is no other refuge. Make truth your island, make truth your refuge; there is no other refuge.

It's hard for me to know exactly what to make of that: He seems to say that nothing else matters than the self; that to rely on anything else, to pay attention to anything else,  is to be unsafe, to be at the mercy of what is not you. So many things that the Buddha says make immediate sense to me, absolutely convincing, the most refined idealism made most concretely pragmatic. Yet, I find myself thinking...yet...not love fully? Reserve my heart ultimately for myself? I think I'm missing something here. Maybe I'm not; maybe I know exactly what's being said, but I don't have the nerve to follow that path through the woods.  Love fully but don't cling? And that tough little bird in the weather of life that won't stop singing, won't stop clinging to that shaking branch? Is it an image of the heart's toughness or the soul's fear?

                                        *************************

It is Shakespeare's 449th Birthday.

Here is what he has Duke Senior say to his fellow exiles in As You Like It:

Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,
The seasons' difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter’s wind,
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say,
“This is no flattery. These are counselors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.
"

The Duke, exiled by his brother to the forest (for always, in Shakespeare, Cain walks the stage) has come to understand "the uses of adversity": they make him feel the wind, the weather of the world the little bird unflinchingly endures.


 


Comments

Allan DiBiase
04/23/2013 9:59am

It's almost impossible not to see/read the gesture of the bluebird in the ways we read our human gestures: The bluebird seems as Whitman put it: "....to sing it in extatic songs." And for a moment---in a sounding twist of ecstasy---we might dissolve into Nature. The poets of life re-mind us to re-member these moments in the present. Hopefully we do that with the same verve as the twisting bird,. Throwing back our heads and bellowing into the ether.

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