Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Flock

Sorry this has taken so darn long. My teachers all decided to conspire against me the past couple weeks, all assigning me tests and deadlines at the same time. Consequently, many of my other commitments - my journal, my piano practicing, this blog, and occasionally food and sleep - got pushed to the back burner. But now here we are, and I promise at least one post a week this month, and more if I can manage it.

Getting up for an 8am class has its downsides. It involves me waking up when it is still dark outside, usually feeling groggy and sleep deprived. It often means eating breakfast on the go, making do with the "I don't know what else to do, so we're going with a pony tail" look, and potentially forgetting things that may or may not be important because I'm either too tired or too rushed to remember. However, it also has distictive advantages. I get to walk to and attend class with my best friend, for one, but not only that - the early hour has a sort of magic in itself. The day is cool and bright, only just on the verge of begining, ad things are able to happen that remain hidden once the rest of the world comes out to chase them away.

I got to see one such just a few days ago. We had just left the apartment when I looked heavenward and saw, hovering over the field behind our building, an enormous flock of seagulls. All were different shades of white and gray, sometimes fading out of sight against the bright, dawn-touched sky. They all moved with a grace and weightlessess that comes from being borne up bythe wind - wings outstretched, hovering efforlessly in space. There must have been smaller flocks making up the whole, because every now and then a group of five or ten or sixteen would break away from the whole and move in another direction, no one lagging behind or breaking off, but all of one mind and one movement. They all wheeled and pitched annd dove and soared over the grass, sometimes together and sometimes alone, the whole of them floating there like another cloud in the firmament.

By the time we had walked halfway down the block, the flock had begun to disperse. When we reached the stoplight at the end of the sidewalk I looked back, and saw only two or three birds remaining, flying in their own graceful way. Before another minute had passed, they too had gone. The sky was empty again.

Imagine what that would feel like... that kind of freedom. The cold autumn wind carrying you upward, breathing into your face and rushing beneath your wings, bearing your weight... watching the Utah valley grow smaller and smaller, the majestic cliffs and crags of the mountains looming into view overhead... seeing the sun break free from the peaks to illumiate the world... the sky above and the earth beneath, and all the world spread out before you to be seen and known and kept...

Humans have always had a fasciation with flight because it's one of the few things we don't do naturally. Watching the gulls awakes that same sense of wonder that mankind felt for so long - the wonder of seeing magic, and asking, "How do they do that? Can I?"With the invention of the airplane, the rocket ship, the helicopter, annd other such contraptions, we humans have come to believe that we can fly. I submit that in truth, we cannot - not really. The best we can do is bend metal and glass into what we like to call wings, point them skyward, and hope for the best.

In the words of another seagull I had the honor to meet in my readings, we simply "begin with level flight" - and that is probably as close as we can get.

'Til next time...

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