Birds. They surround us. They mystify us. They fear and/or ignore us. They peck us. They patronize us. They parrot us. They make us envious of their abilities. They disgust us with some of their rituals and routines. They are such a huge part of our existence that it seems impossible to imagine our lives without them. They are beings, games, stories, songs, myths, poems, movies, and movements. How can one even write about birds without coming off as cliched?
I don’t know. I don’t have the answer, but I have MY answers and as #sncengl425 began last week reading and ultimately reflecting on “bird by bird” by Anne Lamott, I read/thought along in reference to all of my favourite bird moments/references. SO here I will share my “top 8 bird things” with you so that you can laugh at me. Or cry with me. Or be whatever it is that you will be as you read my “top 8 bird things” things that I thought about as I read through Lamott.
Although I am shortlisting, I want everyone to know that I truly love birds in pretty much all ways. Despite some horrid run ins with them, I have perhaps loved them because of how they have been represented in art and popular culture.
Instead of going on at length about this, here are my “top 8 bird things” I thought about while reading/writing over the past week+:
- Birds. Alfred Hitchcock. I was too young when I first saw this film, and it scared the bejeezus out of me, but somehow I have to watch it every once in awhile because of everything it is: perfect storytelling, editing, sound, shitty patriarchy, attempted feminism, and mostly cinematography/special effects. I mean – really. This film is textbook and I am so glad my mother didn’t think I was too young to watch it. This is more a philosophy or an optical lens to life than it is a film.
- Actual Birds. Like really. If you’ve never just taken time to try and check out the birds that fly around you no matter where you live, then I am sad for you. There are so many amazing things happening around us all the time, and they are existing on a plane we still really have no idea how to understand. #justsayin
- Birds. Permutations of their existence and the number of species that there are. And their colours. And how so many of them have disappeared and continue to disappear. If you care about these things, talk to my pal @lawrie
- “Featuring Birds”. Quasi. An amazing dystopian concept album filled with wonderful flutterings of instruments and poetic verses. If you’re going to listen to this album for the first time, seriously shut EVERYTHING else off and just dig dip. Its beautiful, sad, threatening, and rousingly bleak. Quasi is great in general, but I think this is their gold standard album. Go on a drive, or bus ride for an hour and listen only to this. It’s a commentary on so many tough things. And it’s just funny sometimes somehow too. (Also in the music category – “bird on a wire” – can’t talk about it still)
- Seagulls from “Finding Nemo.” If I need to explain this, then you’ve missed out. I am not a fan of Disney stuff in general, as I think there are a lot of cultural issues that I can’t reckon, but DAMN those seagulls. There is and ego/ID battle not happening there that is amazing. And done.
- Dead Birds. We’ve all seen them right? There is something amazing about looking at something that has so many intricate and beautiful parts after it has passed on. With all of their feathers and odd skeletons, birds make for amazing post-mortem viewing. And there’s not the attachment we have with dogs, cats, or other animals for the most point. Many times we encounter dead birds in spaces outside of our attachments and we can reshape our thoughts on passing. Or is this just me? Maybe this whole thing is weird, but I am not filtering so you know…
- Bird feces. So, in many narrative tropes, it is comical when someone gets pooped on. Do I have anyone out there, who like me, feels like they’re a target? Seriously, my lovely wife Sundi, has seen me get pooped on MANY times. It seems abnormal. So my only way to justify this is to think that the birds are targeting me because of my jealousy of their ability to fly. Perhaps they are the mystical figures who can invade and understand our dreams. And they are s**tting on me because they’re basically saying “don’t be all Icarus dude. Stay down there or else.” I dunno.
- Be less pigeon. So there’s this wonderful writer/person/activist out there (Audrey Watters) who writes about the tribulations we face as a culture because of our over-indoctrination of training and euphoria. Audrey writes all the things that matter and are well rounded and well researched that everyone needs to step into. And one of her catch phrases is “be less pigeon.” It is so far beyond me to try and capture her ideas her, but let’s just say she has made me feel so many things from so many angles about education and the metaphors it has on hand.
So yes, bird by bird. Describing each one as it comes at you. When I came to that part of Lamott’s text, I was so there. So flitting and flighting about in so many ways. And I although I feel peckish these first couple weeks, I truly feel my wingspan has opened because of some of Lamott’s ideas on writing.
She used a perfect and empowering image for me: the one inch picture frame. In an age where we can own the optics of our narratives, I think Lamott has afforded me a structure that works with my workflow – tiny flaps of limbs that may build to something else.
So, for the moment, I’m going for something long form and random and hope my peers will help me shape these things into a flock of pieces. But who knows, maybe like a parliament, things will break apart and move in other directions.
However this plays out I welcome feedback in constructively blunt forms.
I can handle it.
Sincerely yours in service,