The Brown Bird of Happiness

The Brown Bird of Happiness

I had one of those particularly vivid dreams where you know that ‘dreaming’ is just another facet of immensely meaningful reality, that magnificent toy of consciousness. When I woke I was all ashiver with laughing and delight.

 In my dream all the people had been looking for this wonderful blue bird who had done something heroic. I could make up a deed for you, but frankly I don’t remember what the deed was. Everyone was gossiping and ‘Have you heard-ing’ about the blue bird. “Have you seen it?” “No, but I know someone who said she saw it yesterday.” The dream was abuzz with chat and tidbits about the blue bird. We were all looking hither and looking yon for the blue bird.

 I came around a corner and there was a large bird slightly stuck in a big jar. Doing my best ‘taking a thorn from the paw of the lion’ routine, I gently unstuck this large bird from the jar. The bird had the jaunty top knot and very triangular beak of a cardinal, but he was a deep chocolate brown color instead of scarlet and was about ten times the size. As I gently cradled this big brown bird in my arms against my chest and smoothed his shiny feathers, I was struck with the sudden absurd and delicious knowledge that this was the hero bird that everyone had been searching for. His belly feathers were so soft, and ruffled in the warm breeze. He looked me mischievously in the eye. He wasn’t blue at all. He was the brown bird of happiness.

 Of course. I knew at once the breathtaking truth. Our ideas of happiness are quite rigidly conditioned. We are all searching diligently or frantically for versions of happiness, items of happiness, that are imposed upon us by the subtle tyranny of the past. Birds of happiness are blue, we are quite sure. This tyranny is distinctly insidious. It prevents what’s happening right under our noses from being happiness. Instead we have restless, inchoate longings for happinesses defined, not by our own present deft attention, but by other agents. Parents, friends, movies, books, religions, the patterns of our own past.

 The large brown bird nestled calmly in my arms. His feathers were very dry and rustled when I hugged him gently. Very gently because although he weighed quite a lot, he was startlingly light for his size.

 He had given me anew a present of the present, this brown bird of happiness. He had stirred and spurred me to dwell in a vivid immediacy. One could only stay alert because who knew? Happiness might turn out to be a brown bird, not blue. If one insisted on it being blue, one might miss happiness altogether.

 I was loath to give him up, my brown bird of happiness, but I had to let him go too. I couldn’t just trade blue for brown. This was the hardest part. He could always fly in my inner sky as a talisman, a reminder, but I couldn’t clutch on to him either.

 This morning, happiness might be the smooth white paper I’m writing on or the slightly grungy white wool socks that are keeping my feet warm. Or the whisper of my pencil lead across the paper. Perhaps the plush silver Burmese kitten, Frolic, who’s convinced that a ratty scrap of paper she found under my desk is a toy. Or the next bird of happiness I find might even be blue.



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4 thoughts on “The Brown Bird of Happiness

  1. astounding blog. the next blog of happiness is certainly pogblog.
    the hard thing i think in the coming difficult or better to say intricate times is not to panic at 3am when us cultural workers aka artistos tend to burn the 3am oil, a renewable resource.
    i expect a visit from a paisley bird of happiness or a bluebottle fly of happiness or the blink of my eyes of happiness, now that you're pointing out happinesses. to get me through the night. when you've looked at a photo of cheney and cannot believe you live in a country ruled by rat dropping people like that with holes where their hearts should be.
    my visit to pogblog has chuffed me up no end.

  2. Thanks for the very kind words, tempsroulez. It's an honor to have you stop by for the bbq.
    “Culture workers” — I like that. I remember making 5 cents an hour making these museum-quality stained glass boxes and clocks and mirrors. (Proving that the contention by capitalism that we must have competition and obscene remuneration in order to work ourselves to the bone and have extraordinary innovation is poppycok.) At least in some eras, the monster rich could be flattered or shamed into parting with a centavo or two. Any one who wants to be my patron, let me know.

  3. Thank you for visiting pogblog — & for your beautiful Blue heron. How remarkable that must have been — to hold it so near your own heart.

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