Sunday, June 3, 2012
19) Of Whom and Who?
The memory is distinct. Like a big thump in one's heart. Its sound wakes me up early this June 03rd, Sunday, here in Oz. I lie in the pitch dark and listen. A burglar come to take away my things? Such an one may have everything then, but never my relived memories; one cannot take those away. Then I hear the clunk again. Yes! I was right, it must be an owl. It is a sound that precipitates a childhood memory, one that then grew into my collecting all sorts of little mementoes of owls in my 20's, until the collection was no longer necessary to add to; the ghost of the owl became enough of a living constant. Northern Rhodesia had tin roofs like Australian houses do. A colonial hangover. And in the dark of my childhood there was this owl who'd land overhead in a big heart-stopping thunk in the night, awakening the sleeping soul. Perhaps because of its persistence, or perhaps because my guardian father had had enough, it was shot. I recall awakening to the magnificent bird, gold-tipped brown-wings spread, lying very dead on the concrete of the stoep. And when it was turned over, I was surprised at the length of the talons. Yet never once did I feel afeared of it; I understood owls to be wise, to be patient, to be aware, to be beneficial. It was others that killed it. It was others who did not understand. As a 20 year-old something came over me. I began collecting them. Not real ones, not expensive ones, but small ones that could be worn or displayed, bold mementoes of the potential that was lacking in me. I wanted to be wise. I wanted to be mature. I wanted to be responsible. I wanted to be educated. I wanted to be known for my talent, for my erudition, for my presence as a purveyor of a beneficial legacy in the ongoing balance of nature; I fell in love with owls. But like most owls, to be fully aware, I first had to perch. It was 2:12 a.m. by my watch this indelible morning when I was awakened with this image of an owl. But I wrote then of elephants in the room, of dear skeletons. The ghost of the owl in Oz has only now knocked yet again at my senses. And now, at 11:00 p.m. with the indelible day over, who would've deigned to curtail this owl's potential? What Deus ex machina might find the matter too disturbing, the parramatta too confining, the lyons of Africa too reminisce of fear and insecurity such that even a landing on the roof of an old reunion's venture should be curtailed, stifled, even forbidden? And who would have, might've stopped the female's children, the potential of the future, from even being born by selfishly taking the life of such a beauty and confining it to the possibility of a relative cage, pushing around a dilapidating cod at best, instead of being free to fly? The judges and socialites and fact finders and forewarners and scoffers and jealousies of even some of the hat-doffers do not understand. Life is a complexity of biodiversity. We all need to be free to love and be loved, expecting nothing, demanding nothing, holding no grudges, and wanting only what is best, who is best, for the other. Such is the flight of the owl. Such is the repose of the owl. Such is the mythology of a meaning-making man, or am I deluding myself? Who is talking about whom? Who is the owl? Who said relived writing, reading, painting, waiting, loving, moving, and even talking would be easy, is easy. We fall or live by who. The day begins and ends in mist. And yet with inner clarity. No matter what, there is always, as long as the owl lives, a who for me. Who? No one destroys my memory.