Thursday, 15 October 2015

Two is Worth More

My mother claims that whatever she says I always do the opposite. As soon as she agrees with me, I swiftly jump to defend the other option. Champion it with a sharpened sword. Lunge with a babble of barbed words. Immediately see potential rather than danger in the object I had, an instant ago, been attempting to fend off. And yet, to my knowledge, she's never tried reverse psychology because in all honesty I think, and she knows, I would outwit her.
If she tells me what I want to hear, I wonder why she didn't tell me the other. If she supports the opposing view, I think she's criticising my judgement and I question her own. Is she saying I'm not capable or that I'm foolish to consider it? whatever that IT happens to be. But then if she reprimands me for being fault-finding I think she's delusional, clearly playing the Mother card: my daughter's the BEST. There's nothing she couldn't turn her hand to! Refusing to see or choosing to ignore what I regard as glaring flaws, or else giving me the answers she thinks I want, not need.
I dislike having choices and yet I often reject the bird I'm offered, if not in deed, then in words or thought; one not enough, I have to catch another by enticing it to a flowering or fruit-laden tree, then crossing my dry palm with mixed seed and copying its warble. will come...
A flutter of wings, a rustle as it lands in the foliage and studies me with its inquisitive bead eyes, its small perfectly-formed head tilted to one side as it returns my whistle. Its call, of course, much more beautiful and plaintive than my own. Dawn passed a few hours ago and it's well before dusk, why do I sing thus? the notes of its music convey. That much I have learned to read, but some solos have a complexity quite beyond me to which I can't reply.
A soundless language then develops; a comfortable stillness as if I were a statue on a plinth in a peopled square put there to be befriended by lonely or resting birds. The birds gradually cease to be scared, take briefly to the air in a circling flight, flitting across my line of vision to find a lofty spot to alight and settle. Tentatively they will hop from my shoulder, down the length of my extended arm to my open palm speckled with seed, and each time one dares to feed, that seemingly friendly hand closes over their winged body in a lax grip.
My intention not to harm or cause undue stress, but to feel life pulsating for its beat is stronger than mine. Beneath my curled fingers, a tiny bird appears subdued and calm, yields to my touch as if it understands my need. The eyes, like full stops, are firm and trusting, dark dots of compassion, and the heart caged within the warm feathered body has a robust, yet rapid motion. Livelifelivelifelivelifelivelivelive...goes the beat of bravery.
If I was kind, I'd release it, but the urge to collect, to keep for a short time, has a will of its own, so in it goes into a grey shoebox with a crude perforated lid. I had one, now I have two. One, a risk; two, better odds for unfocused individuals who give refuge to the obstinate belief that two is worth more, and little convinces them otherwise. What do I know...should I stay...should I go...should I say yes...should I say no...should I...should I...should I...
To weigh up, to compare, to assess, to analyse gives the impression of autonomy; I have choices I can control, I am the deciding factor. A false notion as the birds trapped are always free, regardless of their marked similarities or differences. I am not their master or their keeper. I can capture but I cannot make them stay. They will fly or fade away at some point, sometimes for good, sometimes to return when the moment is ripe. My ego might like to think I'm the Governor of my circumstances, but outside of my being there's an influence more far-reaching than I can ever hope to interpret.
And yet a hunter will always attempt to make a pair.

Picture Credit: Weaver Birds, William de Morgan