Bird Droppings February 3, 2022
Hearing an owl and thinking about happiness
“If you observe a really happy man, you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator.” W. Beran Wolfe
We want to feel as if we are pursuing happiness in this life. Many people think that this aspect, happiness, of who we are is illusionary, and so many times as I look at various students, former students, and friends and associates, it may be. Is it the peer pressure, perhaps, the group psyche coming into play and molding what we see and what we perceive others seeing into a common thread or weave though it may be purely in our minds?
For me, however, happiness is an individual entity; it is something from within, not a transitory effort to have or to be like everyone else. I have become a fan of a few television shows but have mainly watched random Netflix shows and occasionally found my way back to NCIS and Gibbs. The main character always builds a boat in his basement by hand, even though we never know how he gets the boat out. While he is working with his hands on his boat, you generally see a smile on his face.
While reading emails and looking through other electronic mailings and postings, I read one about how the ideal guy would wear specific clothes or have particular hair color, eye color, or even physical build. Sadly, nowhere it seems do we look deeper. We seem to want the trappings, and it is this outward appearance, and back to my first paragraph, that seems to bring happiness to far too many. We want this ideal person to be who we want to be and who we want to be around.
As I do so many mornings walking out into the darkness listening to the sounds of the night and or morning as today seemed to be. About two years ago, I woke and looked out our eighth-floor window onto a lit-up bay: boats and such, each with a mast light or some such thing. I thought back to a day when I had awakened from a very vivid dream and gathered myself and let our husky out, only to encounter two owls calling across the stillness, and it was still chilly from the night. It was not raining, although a front could be felt moving in. Unfortunately, the crickets and tree frogs were silent from the chill. Perhaps the owls were on the hunt, and my oldest son often tells me of being awakened by the owls hearing them at night out here in the country. I, too, listen to them often but have never been aroused by them; however, this was my first experience hearing them so close as I went out.
The dueling owls went back and forth for several minutes in the stillness. As I sit here thinking and pondering, still trying to recover from whatever has been bothering me for several weeks, in my imagination so many myths and legends of owls. For some cultures, there is great magic in owls, and for others, they are harbingers of evil and death. But as I listened to the two back and forth mimicking calls, perhaps territory, perhaps a pair hunting, maybe the visages of spring have sparked a more sensual meaning to their calls.
For me, there was not a fear but a sense of grandeur as the sounds soon dissipated. I wondered why tonight or I should say this morning, as the crescent of the rain moved in about 4:30 AM or so. I pondered reading this simple quote that I started with by author Wolfe and then searching further.
“One important source of unhappiness is the habit of putting off living to some fictional future date. Men and women are constantly making themselves unhappy because in deferring their lives to the future, they lose sight of the present and its golden opportunities for rich living.” W. Beran Wolfe
Perhaps the owls were a reminder of things needing to be done or stopping the procrastinating. For there is joy in life for each of us now, it is not a distant event to be reached when the right clothes, job or thing is finished or bought. Happiness, true happiness, is now with us if we choose. It is in the contentment of knowing you have succeeded and you are where you need to be right this minute, this second. It is that all you have done in your life has been to get you here to this point. Wisdom is about accepting what and where you have been and are learning from this now. Happiness, true happiness is being content, and it is about being alive. I am sitting here writing as the water from a bamboo and fish tank provides a relaxing venue for which to ponder.
I wanted to work in the garden more this weekend, but my leg still limits me in certain physical undertakings. So, I will do some reading and writing for grad school I have put off. It always amazes people when I say some of my happiest times have been sitting on the mower going in circles, thinking, imagining, pondering, and assuredly content for that moment. Please, dear friends, keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)
“It does not require many words to speak the truth.”
Chief Joseph, Nez Perce
One response to “Hearing an owl and thinking about happiness”
One of my early memories (80 years ago!) – on my bedroom wall was a picture of an owl, with the following words:- “A wise old owl lived in an oak. The more he saw, the less he spoke. The less he spoke the more he heard – we should all copy that wise old bird.”
Thank you for your thoughts, as ever . . .