Dead Eye

Went for a hike with a friend who has a shit storm following him. He vows to read no sad books, see no sad movies. There's plenty enough death, disease and distress in his life as it is. Why add? Yet, he listens to my tale of woe. Sympathizes. 

I tell him I like hawks. We look for them and he finds it interesting since his father was a bird expert and he misses his father. He thinks it a coincidence. Or not.

And so we look for hawks and talk about their perspective. We talk about boundaries. He has set boundaries firmly in place and I admire that. They make sense. All very logical. Where are my boundaries? Meditation provides connections but I'm afraid it's no help at all for setting up roadblocks or caution signs or borderlines. Everything becomes connected and lines of demarcation blur then disappear altogether.

He points out a hawk flying overhead. I look and look and look, but I don't see it. 

I tell him I'll send him the Jack Gilbert poem I love best, "A Brief for the Defense." He says he won't read it if it's sad. I say it is sad, but it 's important. It's about how we must risk delight in spite of it all.

We finish our hike and I walk him to his car. He shows me a plastic hawk he's bought to thwart off the robin that's left layers of bird droppings all over the hood and bumper of his station wagon. It's a sad replica of an imperial bird. There's none of the majesty you feel when you see the enormity of the real thing, the way it makes you gasp and feel as if somehow something that is this terrible and this powerful makes something worthwhile even if you don't know what that something is.

I send him the poem even though I know he won't read it and even though his car is covered in bird shit and the plastic hawk has dead vacuous eyes forever void of delight.



Hawk Man

IMG_1722 Whenever I see a hawk, I stop and think about perspective. Somehow, I'm always in need of new perspective. Every day. I seek out hawks. Scan the sky for them. Not this time. This hawk sculpture composed of shells, coconuts husks and withered palm branches stretches just above a sand shelf alongside the ocean. He is magnificent and powerful and unexpected. I met his creator - The Hawk Man of Iowa. Hawk Man has devoted his life to studying and understanding these raptors. He was shy to disclose he has studied the language of hawks, uses their spirituality to enhance his spirituality. He composed this sculpture as a way to deal with grief.

It was my honor to have a chance to meditate soon after I came upon this hawk outline in the sand. Grief is an aerial acrobat. It soars, dives, and circles at dizzying heights. The talons of grief are strong.


Fly Away

I saw the hawk fly away from me for the second time this week. The first time, I was close enough and and he soared low enough for me to appreciate his size. If we stood next to each other, this animal would practically come up to my waist. I should say bird, not animal, but when I get close to the hawk I never think bird; I think large animal. For me, birds are trivial. They're background noise or a splash of color. The hawk is something substantial. Purposeful, intelligent, indestructible.

This morning, I only managed a glimpse before the hawk disappeared from my view over the lake across the way. I wanted to yell, Come back, but I didn't. I knew he wasn't interested in doing my bidding. Usually he's flying over my head or he may stop and perch on a weathervane or street sign and take a good long look at me. But this week, I've only seen him fly off and disappear from my sight.

The boy I tutor in the Juvenile Detention Center got to go home this week. I wonder about him and hope he will find a path to learn to read. When I think about him, it feels  much like watching the hawk fly away, hoping it would turn back and give me a clear sign about something. But the hawk doesn't roll like that. He flies low, he soars high, and I'm left to wonder what he's trying to tell me.20120530-161015.jpg

The Hawk Returns: Days One Hundred Forty Three - One Hundred Fifty-Six

I haven't seen the hawk for several weeks. Then, a couple of days ago, I heard a familiar caw caw caw caw caw. I ran outside and just caught a flutter of large wing sift along the tree tops. Yesterday he (or she, not sure) was perched on the peak of my roof. We looked at each other for a moment. "Tell me," I said, but my hawk just stared. No response. No flutter of wings, just a stare down.  We have a relationship now, my hawk and I.  I have no affinity towards birds.  Pet birds, hostages in their cages, their little beaks poking out between the bars, make me nervous.  But this hawk is a magnificent creature and the fact that it chooses to set up shop on my roof makes me wonder about his perspective on my life.    Not that I should assume he has one, but I like to think he thinks about me as much as I think about him. As far as my meditation practice goes, it has gotten a bit spotty in that I no longer meditate daily even though I consider myself to be someone who meditates on a regular basis.  I skip days here and there, but never am away from it for more than three days.  If I miss three days, I start to feel unsettled and uncentered. That implies that I have become a centered person and really that's not the case.  I'm more focused and more centered than I was before I began to meditate, but my desk is still a mess, I watch too much TV, and my reading to-do list grows in geometric proportion to the number of books I finish reading.  Oh, and my golf score is horrendous.  This list of non-accomplishments goes on and on, but for twenty minutes each day, I allow myself to not attach to the critical rampage that goes on in my head.  There's always time enough for that later.

The Hawk: Days Ninety Nine - One Hundred Two

Yesterday, I awoke from a thumping and pounding on top of my roof. I mean loud thumps and pounds, as if a guy with a hammer was up there, banging away. Then, thwoosh. Outside of the bathroom window, a gigantic set of wings, brown and black striped, rush by over and over again. Then, I see the wings glide past the high window over my bed. A hawk has taken up residence very close to my home, probably on top of it. This is a big bird, a beautiful bird, but a large animal. My first thought is that I want it gone. I have a little dog, I have a head. Every time I go outside, I see this bird and it sees me. We stare at each other and the hawk is much less perturbed than I. He knows where he belongs.