Aerodynamically speaking, the magpie is about as mis-designed a bird as they come. A beautiful bird with a ridiculously long tail. Watching them fly can often feel like watching Irishmen stumbling out of a pub. They sing their strange song, a cross between a blue jay and a crow, as if they were mockingbirds. Curiously, they don’t seem bothered one wit about their odd characteristics, nor do they merely make do. They make a rich life along lakes and streams where they build the most spectacular nests. Almost fully woven hanging baskets.
As I hiked I watched a pair collecting sticks and chattering away with one another. They have such an unusual call it is a bit hard to tell if they are bickering or lovingly calling to one another. Same could be said for many couples I know. As I watch, the thicket flashes with their white and blue wing markings as they look for debris to build with. Often in the trees and shrub all you can see is this long black group of feathers bobbing up and down. They are a very curious bird, indeed.
I can’t completely explain it but whenever I watch them fly they give me hope. We can all do more than make do with what we were given. We can build nests of rich lives with what we already possess in this moment. Whatever perceived personal flaws we think we have, we likely don’t or it was even intended for our adventure. There really aren’t design flaws. Spiritually speaking, it’s impossible.
Sharon Tate was once quoted to say, “Everything that’s realistic has some sort of ugliness to it. Even a flower is ugly when it wilts, a bird when it seeks pray, and ocean when it becomes violent.” The trick is to penetrate deeply into what lies before you. To really look at a thing or a person or a situation with your inner vision, until the beauty of it becomes apparent. We aren’t changed or made better by witnessing beauty in these moments, but rather the effort causes us to see the beauty within ourselves reflected in what we see.
So here’s to the magpie. May they fly long and far.
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