10 January 2007

The Nature of Things

This post had been fermenting in my head for a day or so now, so look out for low flying segues. You might even be used to that feeling if you have been here before. On this occasion I have drawn inspiration from the writings of spiritual master Sri Chinmoy.

I was feeling a little down recently, when I was struck by that great idea that the spirit of thankfulness gives rise to good living, so I decided to start there: I actually felt grateful because I was not insane. OK. I was feeling fairly low. Eventually, I realised, as anyone who has ever done it can tell you, that the best cure for this condition is to, "Move it!"

I began the day by cutting down a dead tree. That's a fairly farmish occupation for the suburbs, but it was only a short one, and it had been lurking outside the kitchen window for some time. It was not my intention to be quite so precisely metaphorical in the garden of the world at the time.

A bit later, a Magpie landed on the wall and caroled mellifluously. There really is no other word for the song of this bird. It means flowing with honey and whenever I hear it, I always remember my teenage years and that period in my life when I aspired to be a shaman. This was not something I picked up at the career advisory centre exactly. I can't even remember where I picked it up anymore. I spent a lot of time trying to get to know trees amongst other things, which is not an entirely unsuitable preparation for the spiritual life.

Another manifestation of this condition was that I seriously believed I was a Magpie. It wasn't just me though, my friends all had their own birds too. In those days, I had a tendency to communicate with a recorder - with birds and people actually. Fear not, I can assure you that there were no dreadlocks involved, even if I did wear the same pair of baggy pants for a whole year.

Birds think differently to people. I remember sitting in the park near a Magpie and saying, "I have to go to the bank now." The magpie asked me, "What's a bank?" Around then I realised this whole thing wasn't quite working out. How long would it take to explain the fiscal system to an entire genera of vertebrates? Too long. So now I am known as He Who Said Goodbye To The Magpies in certain feathered circles.

Let's come back to the trees. Hugging trees is the sort of activity that is excellent for stimulating the growth of dendrites in the brain, particularly for children. This has to be the perfect school holiday activity, as I believe a tub of popcorn now costs about four times as much as a movie ticket. It's no coincidence that the word dendrite comes from the Greek word for tree...

Beauty non-pareil has blossomed
In the heart of
The subtle atom-tapestry.

Poem by Sri Chinmoy.

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