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Who is genuinely on your side?
Giantess (1947) by Leonora Carrington
Will you fight for me?
This is what the cardinals chirp to each other all day long. Naturally I have the bird ID app that tells me which birds are singing, but I also downloaded the supplemental bird translation app ($15.99 a month, kind of pricey) that tells me exactly what they’re saying to each other. It’s expensive but I really want to get to know my neighbors a little better. I’ve put it off for too long.
This morning a cardinal asked another cardinal if he would fight under his banner, which has a red cardinal on it. But honestly, that could be anyone.
That’s what the other cardinal said.
No, that’s my banner. You will fight for me under my banner.
The first cardinal responded in a series of outraged chirps:
What? What? What? What? No! You can’t, you can’t, you can’t be serious! No no no!
You will fight for me!
No no no no no no no, YOU fight for ME!
It went on like this for about an hour, and most of the words were just what and no and no no no so finally I turned the app off and wondered if my $15.99 was really such a good investment.
Later in the afternoon, I was outside putting more layers of pine straw over the beds and I heard one of my neighbors was using a sharp tone with another neighbor. So I pulled out my app. Apparently this was a blue jay speaking to a tufted titmouse, saying:
Well I know, I know, but that’s exactly what’s wrong with the world today, no one has time for anything. Everyone is always busy, working on something big, headed somewhere else. They won’t stop to talk, and they treat you like it’s weird that you’d even expect them to stop, right?
Right right right right right right, said the titmouse.
And what is the point of our lives if not to commune with each other, to connect deeply and soulfully, to honor the divinity in each other, to share in the glory of this world together, the sheer magnificence of this cool day, finally cool after so many months of wet heat, you know?
Yes, said the titmouse. Yes yes yes yes right right yes right yes yes.
But then a cardinal arrived.
No, said the cardinal.
I admire your rebellious spirit, and I always have, said the blue jay. Your courage speaks for you, even from a great distance, and when you…
When you say no, which you so often do, I can tell that you truly mean it. You are genuine, you are authentic, and that’s not a small thing.
No way. No.
But there are times when…
When something more is asked of a soldier of the sky, something bigger and brighter. And when you’re being called by this cool wind to slow down and feel the day, to notice small things, to describe them to another soul, to dare to believe that…
No no no no.
To believe that… this stranger is your brother, and that this stranger has something new to offer…
Even if it doesn’t seem new at first, to dare to allow the unfamiliar into your senses, to dare to trust your brother, your sister, to dare to trust this day and go where it leads you.
Nope. Will you fight for me?
I will. I will fight for you.
This is when a red-shouldered hawk arrived, and all it was saying was
Lunchtime lunchtime lunchtime! LUUUUUNCH. I heart lunch five ever!
But the titmouse and the blue jay and the cardinal fought off the red-shouldered hawk, thanks to their lengthy consensus-building session just seconds earlier. And when the hawk finally gave up and flew away, the three birds celebrated with some black sunflower seeds from the feeder, and they talked for hours after that, mostly about the weather and how much all three of them were looking forward to the changing leaves in the fall. The blue jay loves the bright orange leaves the best, and the titmouse does, too, but the cardinal disagrees, these are not the best leaves, but the cardinal didn’t really say which leaves were best, so it’s anyone’s guess. Maybe the cardinal likes the peachy colored leaves best. Or maybe he loves to sit in the middle of a tree with bright yellow leaves, a whirlwind of yellow, and say to himself
No no no no no.
Eventually the light faded and I needed to get back inside and figure out what to feed my guests, who would be arriving soon. The birds were involved in a long discussion of the oddities of chimney swifts and how their peculiarities were strangely seductive, even though encountering one lone chimney swift didn’t have the same effect, but I had to leave before I learned more.
Inside the house, I washed some grapes and put a triangle of brie on a platter and I made a drink with bourbon, lemon, and Aperol, and I thought about who would fight for me, who would drop everything and fight, and who would I fight for. I thought about you in your big kitchen, tasting things and telling people to try harder, and I thought about you at the climbing gym in spite of your finger injury, and I thought about you by the lake and you scrubbing in and you checking your cherry trees. I thought about you in your garden and you staring out the window at the desert and you swimming in the cold water again and you sitting outside a bar with your dog. And I thought:
Dare to trust this day and go where it leads you.
And I sent that thought to you. I sent it to you and you and you, you you you you. And when you get it, I know you will say:
Yes, yes yes. Yes right yes yes yes yes yes!