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the birD

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the birD

"Look at that tiny head," thought Jimmy, staring at his pet pigeon. "It sure jerks around a lot. Huh, I guess it's got a brain, though -- probably like a bb or something."

Jimmy loved his pigeon and had raised him from a squab. His parents didn't like the bird sleeping in the bedroom, but occasionally they relented and the pigeon, named Andy, would sleep on the pillow next to his head. When they would go outside Andy would fly around and exercise his wings, but always return to Jimmy's shoulder, much to the amazement (and envy) of his friends.

The pigeon's take on all of this is anybody's guess. Probably if it had been touched with a magic wand, permitting it to communicate to Jimmy and his family and friends, it would have said something like, "I'm not what you think I am, I'm not what you think I am."

A bond was there, though, between Jimmy and Andy and Jimmy felt protective and loving toward Andy. Andy, in his turn, would indeed never fly off, or at least only briefly and from time to time, but always return, much to the agonized relief of Jimmy.

The mystery in all this is what was really happening? For Jimmy of course, everything was clear. He loved the pigeon and fed it and worried about it, but for everyone else, Andy was mostly a pain in the neck hassle indulged in because of Jimmy. But how would Jimmy have responded to Andy's magic communication of, "I'm not what you think I am, I'm not what you think I am"? Which of course was perfectly true.

For Jimmy, Andy was a miniaturized person with feathers. And then there's the love and that love was REAL, just like the love between Jimmy and his dog. The love between children and their pets isn't so easily discounted -- with or without magic wand communications from the animals.

Speaking of which, here IS a magic wand, so let's touch Andy, and see what happens:

Andy: Talking with you, communicating with you, means I'm doing it on your terms. After all, I'm using your language.

us: Yes, that's true, but perhaps you can teach us something nevertheless.

Andy: Very well. Where's Jimmy?

Jimmy: Here I am Andy, I love you.

Andy: What does that mean?

Jimmy: Oh, silly, you know what it means. It means I love you and I always want to feed you and protect you.

Andy: This is very difficult for me, Jimmy. I think I love you too -- even though you don't have feathers or a beak.

Jimmy: But Andy, that's what's so wonderful about love. You can be so very, very different and still love each other.

Andy: Explain that to your parents and all the big people in your world who make your world the way it is and who are afraid of anything that's not EXACTLY LIKE THEM.

us: . . . yes, yes, you're right, of course.

Andy: You think we're animals, don't you -- "things" with feathers or gills or fur, without credit cards or religions. All you care about is how much blood is in us before you cook us.

Jimmy: I don't think that, Andy.

Andy: No, but you will. All the big people think that.

us: Not all of us . . . please, please keep talking.

Andy: We fly around your precious cathedrals, mosques, and synagogues, but you treat us like objects. You think we're "decoration" for your pageants and brittle melodramas. You chatter about souls and God and dignity and compassion and then disappear into your delusions, but WE ARE JUST AS REAL AS YOU ARE. And please don't patronize our brains. Maybe the brain pans of pigeons don't amount to much, but neither do yours compared to whales and porpoises -- or life forms NOT from this planet. You patronize us, you thingify us, and then frequently you EAT us, BUT WE ARE NOT OBJECTS. We really are alive and participate in mysteries just as sacred as yours.

Jimmy: And you love us . . . sometimes, anyway.

Andy: Yes, Jimmy, and sometimes we love you. But when a dog saves a human child from drowning, do you ever look at that "mere dog" as a child of the universe, a child of YOUR gods -- those gods who in your holy books are always ranting about chosen people or infidels or pagans or untouchables! We spurn your gods of hate, your gods whose bellies are always bigger than their hearts. These gods who proclaim that our common Mother Earth belongs to YOU SOLELY, and that all other life forms, all other earthlings, are just decoration or food.

Jimmy: Oh, Andy, I don't know about all this stuff, but I get so afraid when you fly off that you'll never come back to me again or you'll get lost or something. I just couldn't stand it if you weren't there in the morning or when I came home from school (and Jimmy starts crying).

Andy: Little Jimmy, I won't leave you -- you've captured me, but not with that wire house in the garage your parents sometimes keep me in, but because I know you love me. I couldn't talk before, but I always flew back to you, didn't I? And don't I always ride around on your shoulder? We don't need all those dead books Jimmy, we don't even have to be the same kind of animal. You know things the big people in your world have forgotten . . . like how it feels to love us and be loved back by us. All these word/sounds we're using now never add up to love. They're just ways of talking about things bigger, oh so very much bigger, than the talking.

Jimmy: Andy, I love you so very, very much.

Andy: And my little human boy, I love you too. I won't live as long as you will, and maybe one day one of your friends is going to shoot me with a gun, they've tried you know, but we're together right now, being alive together, so we don't need any more of these word/sounds, do we . . .
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A liberal American, PhD mathematician, bipedal Earthling.
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