Like most writers, there are times when the words come easily. Then, out of the proverbial nowhere, they seem to hide around the corner, mocking my ineptitude. During the past week it has been the second situation in which I find myself. Words in my native language have become as indecipherable as Egyptian hieroglyphics.
It is in part; I’ve determined because of finding myself in a state of great joy while also being in a state of immense angst.
This joy comes from my recent observation of a small wonder of nature. Although I risk sounding hyperbolic with my previous words, I find them to be accurate. I am watching daily a wonder of nature. She is a small and young gray dove nested outside my bedroom window. I watched her carefully as she went about with great skill building her nest in a planter box. With expertise she began placing each twig and piece of string until she was satisfied. Now she waits with absolute calm as she sits upon the two-nut sized white eggs that will become her babies. I’ve named this mother to be, Patience. A moniker completely appropriate to this small bird. I watch her small black dot like eyes blink away the time, hour by hour, day by day. If it is possible to put a human emotion to an animal, this small creature has the absolute look of peace and contentment.
In my awkward attempts to speak about this to others, the same response occurs. The response a single word, “Instinct.” Although I in the most basic sense agree that the word is true, in a deeper way it is far too inadequate to explain what is happening. Who or perhaps What forces allow her to sit without movement for countless hours when her nature is to fly? In my seventy plus years of life, I have never witnessed such patient resolve in any human. I look into her beautiful tiny eyes and see nothing but a calm acceptance of the moment and an understanding of her role.
I not only have a lack of understanding, but also an inadequacy of words to express my awe.
And then I leave Patience for a while and turn on my TV. There is little hope or expectation that I will watch something new. And faithful to my prediction, there is little I’ve not before seen. What there is to see, to hear, is another story of death, another story of hatred. Mass shootings and the continued deaths of our brothers and sisters have become our daily diet of Dante’s Hell. The name of George Floyd and Christina Taylor-Green will not leave my mind even long after the newest report has ended. Christina, a beautiful nine-year-old child was gunned down ten years ago in Tucson. She, along with eighteen others, were shot outside a Safeway grocery store. Christina and five others died at the hand of a crazed killer.
George Floyd was tortured over nine minutes until all life was wrenched from his body nearly a decade later. Perhaps it could be dismissed as two unfortunate incidents had these two episodes been the only senseless deaths in ten years. We all know they were not. There have been so many incidents of wanton murder that we no longer remember where or when they occurred. So many hundreds of deaths that we can no longer count them. And yet the cowards, and yes, they are cowards in elected positions, sit and offer nothing more than hollow prayers for the families of the dead. Empty promises that things will change, that this is not who we are as a country. And yes, it is who we are as a country. The politicians strut away from the slaughter, smug in their words of comfort to mothers, father, brother, sisters, and children of the slain.
And like trying to unearth adequate words regarding Patience, I cannot find the words to describe my emotions about our national slaughter. Feelings of rage, sorrow, and the fearful knowledge that nothing will ever change. What else can we believe except that this country loves guns more than humans? That this country loves power more than life.
I turn off the television and return to the window and watch my beautiful little bird. She continues to sit and blink her eyes and I want to ask her, “How?” And I know it is unanswerable question.
I will continue to write; I will continue to try to find words. When I see a dove flying, I know I shall never see them as I once did. I will see Patience sitting, I will see two tiny white eggs and a mother’s love for what will become. I will also continue to walk in the Christina Taylor-Green Park and weep. As one witness testified in the George Floyd murder trial, she apologizes to George for not saving him. I too feel a need to say that I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Christina. I’m sorry, George. Yet I know those words are not enough.
Go well, David.