Recently I had an interview. It was a terrific interview. The two people who were asking questions asked really good questions. It was part of the process I’m going through to become a member of the team of volunteers who do crisis response work for Heart to Heart International, as a photographer and story-gatherer. Dream come true, truly. Many of the questions were ones you would expect, having to do with how I would respond to unfamiliar circumstances and challenges, but one question came out of nowhere and I found I had a lot of trouble answering it: If you could be any animal, what would you be?
I stuttered and sputtered and thought of all different kinds of animals and their appealing attributes: a snake can slither and I love the desert; a horse can run really fast; a Labrador Retriever gets petted a lot; frogs can live on land and in water; my dog, Daisy, has a really nice life … I had no answer, and those of you who know me know that I never have no answer.
Then it occurred to me … of course! I would be a bird! I almost cried when I said it: I would like to fly with wings.
I am not a bird person, not a birder, I don’t know much of anything about the different kinds of birds, but I love watching the ways they play. I love watching them teach their young to fly. I am mesmerized by birds. I love the way the barn swallows team up and make a huge configuration, then swoop like mad through the air, all together. I love it when the geese are leaving town, honking to each other to get back in formation. I friend of mine was in South Africa recently and sent me a recording of a bird there. It was so funny! And, too, it often seems that birds have a closer connection to the spirit world. Maybe we become a bird for a while, after we die. Who knows? I’ve heard lots of stories of birds showing up in curious ways just after someone has died.
A bird, yes, that’s the ticket. But, sigh, I remain glued here to the ground, bound by gravity to the earth, at least for now.
I have realized, however, that twenty-three years ago I gave birth to a kind of bird/human. Sam has been posting lots of video clips of his skiing life in Tahoe and it seems he is flying higher and farther this winter. I watch his clips over and over, enchanted and amazed by the ways he soars through the air.