Float like a butterfly, plummet like a hawk

At some point, all animals leave home.  Either they’re booted from their twig-mud beginnings or they free fall gracefully, allowing the floor to rush up beneath them and gasping at the final seconds when flight finds them.  I’ve watched it happen. 

I’m a roller coaster girl.  Not a skydiver.  I like my dances with death to be under some sort of illusory control.  In the hands of engineers.  Of logic and math and science.

I wonder if animals get this sense that they need to be free?  If they share our human instincts to roam and explore and push at the edges of existence?  Are they susceptible to wanderlust?  Do they dream of backpacking through Europe and escaping from their roots?  Do they dream of Tanzania and meeting lions on the prowl at night in the middle of a cicada surging chorus?

If they can dream, in the simple sense, of a better place and a better time, do they think of it like a touchstone at night?  Do they remember?  Do they forget?  Do they understand loneliness?

Does the rawness in wildlife derive from their inability to comprehend better and best and to pine for things that cannot be, and perhaps never were?  Is their static-dynamic, always changing but never changing, based in their very real presence in the now?  Now is the tense of survival, afterall. 

If an animal cannot comprehend the timeline of life, can they fear the end?  Do they fear anything?  Are my observations and jealousies of free-falling ospreys baseless?  If I forget the benchmarks I want in life will I be able to skydive as they do?  Elegantly, with precision, with guile, without any sense of danger.  There is a freedom in freefall.  There’s also a freedom in making the leap – like wood ducklings who instinctively plunge twenty-feet out of their cavity nests to the ground just a few days into life. 

I think I understand now why some people see their gods in animals.  Some possess qualities I wouldn’t mind sharing.

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