Moments in a day are ours to interpret. Every one of us writes his or her own story.
A baby bird fell from its nest in our backyard while my husband and children played catch. My son watched it flutter-fall to the other side of our split-rail fence. The children wanted to pick it up, put it back in the nest; my husband explained that to touch it would mean the mother likely would no longer care for it. So we watched, worried about hawks from a stand of oaks across the street. The mother bird flew to a low-hanging branch, chattering at her wayward offspring. The baby bird hopped on the lawn, then in a burst, flew a brief arc toward her; he came so close. After encouraging him for several minutes, the mama drew him toward a large bush in our neighbor’s yard under which he would be safe. We waited, but they stayed quiet.
My children walked away talking of how the baby bird would soon fly, maybe within the hour. He came so close, surely with a few more attempts, he would make it to a low branch, then a middle branch, then home. He would try again, the mother would be there, he would make it.
My husband walked away with a meaningful look at me. The baby is too young. Will the mother be able to protect it and still guard any others in her nest? A lesson in Nature, her whims, that what happens is a practical matter.
I believe in my heart the baby was close to being able to fly. I hope that with some measure of determination within himself and with encouragement, he made it back.
For my children, this was an animal fable about determination and love. For my husband, a lesson postponed in the facts of nature. My first thought was of a parenting analogy, then an analogy for anyone with a dream.
Every person sees stories in the everyday world. Most people do share stories, chatting with a friend, keeping a journal. Why do writers go a step -- hundreds of steps -- beyond? Why are we compelled to take the time and energy to distill a moment's essence and recapture it within a perfect framework? Maybe it is our attempt to look beyond what is known and safe and expected. We want to experience what comes next, to see things from a new perspective, and carry it back in such a way that others can see, too.
Maybe we, as storytellers, are more acutely aware that each of us experiences our own fables of determination and love, that the facts of nature are indeed simultaneously cruel and beautiful, that we all have to leave the nest and help others to do it, as well. Maybe we are the among the lucky ones who get to show others that you cannot really live life until you are not afraid to fly.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007