Zen & the Arts - Field Notes

From PZI Talk, an online community forum, May 19, 2015.

Two birds flew into my house last week. They were house finches. House finches are small, smaller than sparrows, but not as small as goldfinches. Males are easily identifiable by their red breast. Females are just sort of a speckled brown.

I heard some loud chirping and went to investigate. I saw the male in the kitchen banging into the window, desperate to get out. The female had already killed herself smashing into the glass window of the living room, and was lying dead on the floor.

I worked to get the male out of one of the open windows. I got close enough to see that his chest was heaving with exertion and, I assume, panic. I managed to shoo him out a window and he flew off.

I picked up the female, hoping that I had been wrong about her. That perhaps she was just knocked unconscious and was still breathing. But no. Her little tiny black eyes were open, but she was still. No breathing.

Not wanting to make it final, I laid her outside under a hedge so she could escape if I was wrong. And knowing that if I wasn’t wrong, some other creature would benefit from an easy meal.

I wondered how the little red male with heaving breast felt about losing his mate. Was he sad? Would he mourn? As humans, we like to project human emotions onto animals. It’s just what we do. It’s easy to imagine that he spent the days sadly searching for his lost mate. It’s a sad thought. But is that just my imagination?

I don’t know.

But something brought that pair together into the house. Together. Not apart. Together. Together, they came into the house and only one left. What brought them to such circumstances?

I don’t know.

But what if Together is at the bottom of it all? What if it is a feature of the landscape of being alive, like mountains, or rivers, or rocks, or trees, or house finches? What would that be like?

We come together and hang out for a time. We keep each other company and then occasionally one of us moves on. Eventually we all do.

I don’t know what the little red breasted house finch felt. But I felt sad… And blessed to have been together with them for a short time.

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