The tawny owl was tootling at the top of the food chain in a rare vintage redwood tree that had survived the Clear Cut of 1908, the Catastrophe of 1949, and the Crosscut Saw Calamity of 1961, when I arrived at the Thee Tawny Owl Institute of High Flying and Rising Consciousness in the Forest of Nisene Marks. The recently regurgitated remains of a delectable brown rat snack were fertilizing the ground nearly two hundred feet below. Mealy bugs, earthworms, night crawlers, and a smorgasbord of simple-minded parasites were frolicking in the bounty of guts and glory at ground zero. The tawny owl was hooting not fast, but quick, not big, but strong, Though he did not possess nearly the magnificent voice of his lovely wife, Thee Mrs., who could replicate every shimmering note in the hip shaking history of rhythm and blues since Clyde MacPhatter, he was still one big bad bird who knew how to blow. A big ego may require a periodic boost from a shot of supplication by a stranger or loved one, but a strong ego like his did not ever need to give no fucking shit.
I tried to be careful where I took my next step, before I said, “I’m sorry I’m late.”
“What a concept you have down there digging in the dirt.”
“You know I’d be up there if I could be.”
“I know that’s what you want to believe. You’re not the first one.”
“Anyway, I’m just saying.”
“Yeah, mon. Late for a date. As if.”
“You sound like Bob Marley today.”
“I saw him perform in Golden Gate Park back in the day before before he hit it big.”
“Ain’t no luck. I was exactly where I meant to be.”
“I know that. I’m just saying.”
“Just is precisely the right word that fits.”
“Still, it must be cool to get around so easily like that.”
Why, I thought harshly to myself, and not for the first time, do you have to be so dense? Would it be so hard to think correctly for a change? Doesn’t density drop harder and explode at the bottom? And don’t even think of trying to deny it. No salvaging pride by means of meaningless patter, either.
“That never works,” the tawny owl added helpfully.
“Okay,” I admitted. “You’re absolutely right as always. You can gather my thoughts better than I can. But, can’t we put all of that behind us? I’m ready to begin anew whenever you are.”
“How many times do I have to tell you there is no beginning?”
“Oh, yeah. My bad. No ending either.”
“Never was, never will be.”
“It’s still hard for me to get my head wrapped all the way around that.”
“Especially when your head is so light and gooey and drifts off when floating on empty.”
“You don’t have to rub it in so hard.”
“What makes you think I started yet?”
“Don’t you think this might be difficult for me? I have a hard time coping with massive rejection. I stepped out on my deck with a knife in my hand and a covey of quail freaked out. It felt awkward. I had an onion in the other hand. Wasn’t my lack of intent clear? Did I deserved to be dissed like that?”
“Quail are only smart enough to run. But, they faster than you.”
“How would you feel if the same bird shit on your head twice. I know that never happens to you. I’m just saying.”
“Not for the fist time.”
“But, pelicans are huge.”
“The war against clueless human enablers of venal cats who murder beautiful birds is going well, right? The pampered white cats with the pink skin are being kept indoors because the human enablers are terrified of the marauding scorpion wreaking his havoc in the mountains. I am taking a lot of risk as a traitor to my species. They executed Benedict Arnold by the neck, you know.”
“Enough of this meaningless you, you, you.”
“Would it be so terrible if I ever got to join in a little bit of the fun?”
“I’m always up for fun. Meet me anytime at three thousand feet and I’ll show you some fun.”
“That was a low blow.”
“Down there where you dig is low. Up here where I am is known as what’s high. You see the difference? What you want me to do about it, take a dive?”
“Okay, I get it, you’re right, same old, same old. But what if I simply can’t accept the possibility that I can’t rise above?”
“Was that an implied trifecta of negatives I heard?”
“As far as I know how to count it’s only a daily double.”
“The pelican shit must have been planted deep.”
“You don’t need me to tell you you’re right again.”
“All you have to do is tell me what to do and you know I”ll do it.”
“You’ll try. I’ll give you that much.”
In my education at the Thee Tawny Owl Institute of High Flying and Rising Consciousness I have learned that it is at, amid, or above an elevation of three thousand feet in the sky, as well at a similar depth below the surface of the ocean in which humpback whales thrive, where the necessary and sufficient information that is essential to high flying and rising consciousness has been exchanged and passed along for the last fifty million years, give or take. The multiverse may stretch, spin, dip, doodle, and turn loopy, but the continuum of high flyers keeps on keeping on.
I said, “It still gives me the willies very time.”
“Your hips remain way too stuck.”
“My tight hamstrings, too. I’m still trying hard, though.”
“You might try easy.”
“I have such a hard time with easy.”
“But that’s not why I called you here.”
“Even I know that.”
I often wonder what it would be like to know so much. I know I have a bad memory when it comes to names, faces, places, and other common nouns. Inconvenient facts, too. I would like to be able to find out, for example, where it is that I came from other than a well traveled state of denial. Some one of those same old places in Europe that’s still hanging on, I’ve heard faintly. Cossacks in the hood liked to ride around swinging with swords on horses. That was before cowboys discovered six-shooters that fit at the hip. But, that common path only led me to the same newer place festooned with gaudy pennants and banners and different names and faces.
As far as I’ve been able to figure, nothing risen has been deftly passed on to me except blood pressure. Due to the efficient processing of information that occurs up high, the tawny owl remembers nearly everything. He remembers with fondness the mighty casteroides who were so cool for two million years before before the last Ice Age. He remembers the Romanian bog of his immediate ancestors before the savages arrived with gun powder derived from firecrackers and aimed long rifles that threatened beautiful birds ever since. He remembers when human enablers first began to pamper venal white cats with pinkish skin who murder beautiful birds. He remembers the expressway clogged by cheese whiz in Philly and the cattle spilling out of cars, the night train of James Brown and the smelly caboose bringing up the rear, the humans perpetually stumbling and bumbling on their way out the crowded emergency hatches.
According to the tawny owl, even a good memory is worthless without sharp vision. I know my memory is not so good in many of those tricky areas. From a distance, improvement does not appear to be on any horizon, either. But, that might not be as bad as it might sound when the news is not so good. What if I come from a state of denial because I don’t want to know? Not as dumb as it would seem, huh? What if everything I’m supposed to know is wrong? What if not only am I not at the center of the universe but the universe is not at the center of the multiverse? What if all there is between the big bang and the big crunch is a whole lot of snap, crackling, and pop going down?
The tawny owl, reading my mind, said, “Don’t try to tell me I don’t know a trifecta when I hear that same old, same old spewing out. You got denial buried in your bones, boy.”
“But I’m not seeing much leakage from my end.”
“Take a look down at the colors in that puddle you’re standing in.”