As a traitor to my species in the war against human enablers of venal cats who murder beautiful birds, I am constantly trying to improve. If I remain the same, what hope is there? None, right? That’s as tautological as it gets. Or at least that is what I continue to tell myself when no one is around to overhear.
The latest battlefield reports I have received from the tawny owl describing progress on multiple fronts in the righteous war have been encouraging. I have learned how to overlook the unsettling aspects that may appear to be less so. Wars of attrition, observation reveals, are not smooth like powdery pudding mixed in a box. I watch my back, turn my head before coughing, cover my mouth when something putrid threatens to come up. When I forget, the tawny owl reminds me to keep my head down.
“My head gets stuck, you know that.”
“If you can’t turn on a swivel, what else can’t you do?”
“I have to be mindful of breakage.”
You probably believed heretofore that back, front, left, and right were enough, right? Four corners? Even sides? But what I’m here to tell you, flat out, is: as if. No fucking way during the throes of war. How much waxing eloquent can you really do about the beauty of a square?
Honestly, the tawny owl did not have to say a word to me, though. I would have performed to my utmost anyway. The cause of righteousness just feels so right. Maybe, it’s because enabling is just so wrong. That is another tautology for fucking sure. I won’t say that it is the way I was raised or anything, but in learning from the tawny owl it is the way I have chosen to become. Choosing is important, not only among, between, and against the many inadequate sides vying for domination, none of whom are nearly necessary or sufficient, but mostly in the eternal quest to be free to be.
In addition, this is more of what I have learned in my advanced undergraduate studies with the tawny owl: To humans, context consists of more humans. Blurs will occur. Humans will chronically mistake a simple dimension for all there is, as well as current events for complicated history. It is a superficial skin condition that will not stop itching. Scratching makes it worse, while chemicals burn. In a measly fifty thousand year existence, the gene pool has had scant chance to develop very far. That only leads to more mistakes in a repetitive pattern that many myopic humans perceive as attractive. More blurs occur. And reproduce.
Also: Because humans are so thoroughly ill-adapted to all climates and terrains, they sweat, freeze, fester, and chafe a lot. Consequently, they become highly irritable and fight a lot. They get stuck a lot in mud. They slip, slide, and plunge. As gluttons, they tend to eat a lot too much of other species, and remain slow afoot and slow awit a lot. Artificial lifts provide an illusion of height that never lasts for long. All of their vaunted erections, too.
Choosing between many unavoidable sides that are wrong is never easy as we all know. Original viewpoints are rarely welcome on best seller lists. As a rule, humans like to shop around and copy what flies off the shelves. That’s why spires, minarets, steeples, and rotundas are packaged in kits with glue and instruction manuals included. I don’t get why the tawny owl scoffs at that. Growing up in a row house, I was witness to many cracks that were constantly expanding. Nor was I alone in standing up straight with my shoulders dutifully squared in my crowded small school. As if. How else do you learn in a crowd? In a hostile environment, it is smart to have a place to hide out while mulling issues and contingencies. Copycat humans learned everything they know about building skills, for example, from dexterous beavers, a compassionate species who proved to be a soft touch for a prolonged sob story, especially the magnanimous casteroids, Those gentle giants, who possessed the size of grizzly bears and the sensitivity and intelligence of humpback whales, and who ruled the Pleistocene Era prior to the latest Ice Age with such a kind and mellow evanescence, had never seen the likes of creatures who did not understand how to come in from the dark and cold. It is safe to say that humans never would have made it out of the woods without the help of the casteroids, and lots of it. They never would have learned how to build the strong walls they require to keep out the competition.
“When the largest muscle in your body is your ass,” the tawny owl has often paraphrased to me from text, “and this muscle is soft and defenseless, where else do you expect to be attacked? Where do you expect to be blocked and get stuck?”
Rationally, I responded, and not for the penultimate time, “I may still be blocked but I feel as if I’m making progress in becoming unstuck.”
Not surprisingly, the generosity of the beavers was not universally appreciated. Many relationships remain strained to this day. Assholes were exposed, and not always in a good way. You might think squirrels are cute, right? No fucking way. Just ask any enlightened beaver.
The conundrum that became compounded after humans proved able to stand was especially frustrating to the creatures who had spread out over the widest range of the land mass after coming out of the oceans, another of the four most advanced species on the planet capable of astral projection, the scorpions. They did not get it. Not when, and not why. Not with five hundred million years of experience behind them. They could smell trouble coming. For what, they argued, and for whom, a bunch of ignorant, interloping ingrates?
Alas, as we know now, rational arguments were to no avail. Many scorpions can’t resist saying I told you so to this very day, and refuse on principle to astral travel on the same path or even spectrum with a grinning beaver for very long. Who can really blame them?
Now, I am not going to stand bipedally erect and pretend that there has not been a great deal of what the tawny owl has taught me that I have failed to learn. I won’t insult any intelligence including my own in that way. I did vow, however, to do just that in one secret ceremony while standing naked in the forest late after midnight. I believed simplistically at the time that my performance was all just for show. That was not long after the war was just getting up to speed and the tawny owl was still watching over me. His lovely wife Thee Mrs. was none too happy about it, either. She refused to sing like Sharon Jones, or Etta James, or Big Mama Thornton for days, not even on the night that the perfumed white cat next door got rolled, but good. It was a cold night, no moon to speak of. But I think that was just her spite doing most of the talking. I stood under a redwood tree that appeared to be spinning, but was not. Once home, and no less naked, I reaffirmed my commitment, while the spinning continued. It’s not that I prefer being naked exclusively, but among other alternatives it often seems appropriate at the time.
The tawny owl tells me that astral traveling builds character but how am I supposed to know? To an owl, a scorpion, or a beaver, humans are a mere speck of dust blown off course. I don’t know about you but I can certainly live with that. As the fourth species capable of astral traveling from earth, however, whales observe phenomena from a deeper depth than the others, and if the humpback whale who appears to be light taupe, unless he is more accurately dark ecru on the eternal color wheel, is ever gracious enough to appear on the surface long enough to accept my sincere apology for what I don’t know, then I would like to find out more.
But the point is improvement, right. Even if it’s naked and in the dark. Get where you’re going before the going gets back at you. Even if you are stuck orbiting in mud. Even if it’s herky-jerky, like spunky Sisyphus. That’s where we started out naked and where I expect to end up. I would like to believe that all of my superiors in the righteous war that uplifts beautiful birds will continue to cut me a lot more slack in the future, which I will need. One thing we humans all know for pretty sure is there is no getting high up there without falling hard down here.