Sunday, February 22, 2015
Substitute spirit animal
Another winter morning walk.
It was bitter and windy and the sky had that blue you usually have to go someplace wild to see. Birds, no chickens (except when they're chickens), were letting themselves be tossed about that sky like so many loose feathers. The sidewalks were coated in a freshly fallen layer of ice, but it was a rough ice, the texture of sandpaper, so one could walk on it with a mostly normal gait.
I traveled along collecting blog posts, which have surprisingly been left lying about all over my city, like the discarded wrappers from fast food or like old silver dollars from the 1800s, depending, I suppose, on how one feels about the resulting essay. A dog barked at me, and I killed it in my head. I lost track of time and distance.
And then I was near the spot along the river where I sometimes run into my spirit animal, a turkey who dispenses wisdom with such vigor that I tend to not quite catch any of it. Because I was thinking about the turkey I was also thinking it probably wouldn't show. That's how it usually works.
And indeed it did seem to go that way this time. I arrived in turkey land, the place where the local spirit turkeys hang out, to find just more path and ice and wind. But just as I felt a pang of disappointment, a great shadow swept slowly over me. I threw my head back searching the sky. For a moment there was nothing there and I was bewildered. Then, of a sudden, an enormous bald eagle, not seven feet above me, swept up and past my shoulder and, flung by the wind, rose all at once high into the sky.
It was a substitute spirit animal! My turkey had the day off!
The eagle was terribly beautiful, but it did not have a great deal of wisdom to impart. But that's how it is with substitutes: it's mostly just about them being there.