It’s the little mysteries that make me scratch my chin, as if chin scratching could potentially stimulate wisdom. I cannot understand small complexities. Such as, why is the fridge constantly bare if I’m always grocery shopping? Why is my wallet always empty if I spend so much time working? Who are these wry leprechauns leaving tiny messes all over my home? And why are they framing my poor sons, my well-mannered, wholly innocent sons who swear with both hands to heaven that they have done all their chores.
Aside from the above irritations, I can depend on a few things in life: messiness, monotony and occasional misery. But here’s what I’ve learned: A good life is not necessarily an easy, conflict-free existence. Avoiding suffering is not the goal; finding meaning and cultivating gratitude is.
That said, here’s a little poem/essay/rant that I scraped from the attic of my experiences and neatly arranged on the page. This, I imagine, is the secret to a beautiful life…
What the Birds Know
Damp leaves cling to the pavement in jagged peels of gold.
My feet sink as I walk on the soggy bits of them.
There is a fog in the air and it paints the landscape with a milky kind of mystery.
It’s cold, and the wind rakes a cruel claw across my face and through my hair.
The dog snorts at the end of her leash, her face probing the ground with a curious, wet nose.
The birds chatter and flap in feathered heaps on the branches above us.
From their tone I can tell they do not plead for sunshine as I do. They are want-less.
I doubt they even notice the grey haze that drapes the day like a dingy scarf. These birds are all business.
They do not stop, as I do, to feel the atmosphere or contemplate the meaning of life.
How foolish would that be?
The wise birds know that a beautiful life must be coaxed, not with questions or demands, but with a spirited melody.
Sweet and gracious, the sage birds chitter and flutter without ceasing.
Gratitude is their flute, the instrument of their song.
This is what the birds know.