Sunday, June 10, 2012

Flight for Freedom!

The sound of it today, Saturday 08th June, will resound eternally. Or at least as long as I am alive. I happened to be looking out over the Gorge when the dark mass of a winged starling, coming in low and straight, took but a slight swoop over the rail atop the glass-barrier of my fourth-floor balcony and headed for the closed guest bedroom window. Oh no! Ka-thunk. But instead of being knocked out, the bashed bird rallied and instantly took off again, straight back into the clear glass wall of the balcony. And there, still not knocked out, it sat and panted, mouth agape. But even over the next long while, flittering this way and that, it could not find its way out, even though there was crack enough beneath the obstruction, crack enough in the vertical of the middle join of the two large pieces of balcony-sized glass, and crack enough between glass and brick at either end too.

There is so very much that we do not see. Right in front of us is only apparent clarity. We push and struggle and persist at what should be right, what should be our regular path of flight, but are too bound up in our paradigms of expectation to truly look beyond. After all, light and air attends us. Vision keeps us from being overly blind. We are not even necessarily so restricted in our movements that we cannot go right or left at will, or even back up and try all over again. But the barrier of going forward, not overcome, still does not deter our habits; we indeed might persistently try the same solution to NOT fixing the old problem, over and over. Least ways, it sure seemed that way for the bird.

The Johari window (a four-paned construct of ourselves) has One, how we view ourselves; Two, what we and the other sees of us; Three, what the other sees, but we do not; and Four, what we nor the other sees of us. It is essentially a model of self reflection. That bird might've seen the reflection of the trees and sky and even the winged way of other birds as it headed toward my window. And it came at full tilt. Ouch! As we know, perception can be faulty. The sound of it hitting the glass, in a distinctly Dabrowskian sense of my having a goodly measure of over-exciteabilities, had my heart pounding. Why now? Why here? Must everything immediately be symbolic? A Parable?

Sympathy and empathy are distinctions between feeling sorry for and feeling sorry with or alongside; a been there, done that. You know this. Knowledge and insight tend to have the same effect. I have not been near, let alone up the Eiffel Tower. I can only feel sympathy for my dearest friend who may yet climb its summit. You? Been there? I hear it's the most romantic city in the world, Paris. Been there? For me it certainly is not. I know only what I know. I feel only what I feel. And that much, unless I am very careful, and check out my every option, can enclose, habituate, and entrap me. Or set me free.

The starling kept fluttering about, uselessly. I gave it half an hour to settle its nerves. At last I stepped out onto the balcony, tea-towel in hand, pulled back the deck chairs, pulled back the large pot-plant on its stand, and then approached with the towel spread wide. The bird ducked low as I almost touched it, found thereby the two inch horizontal slit beneath the clear glass barricade, and launched itself into the air, away! Free.

As I watched it go, I wondered. Would it do such a thing again? Do we easily learn?

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