the one and the other discuss regret

Hello, one.

Hello, other.

One, I’d like to tell you a story.

O joy! I love stories.

You might not love this one.

Hmm. Okay. Well, tell away, other.

A few days ago I was out driving…

Wait! cried the one. You don’t know how to drive, other.

That’s not important.

The one looked doubtful.

Look, I’m telling this story, one. And in the story I was driving. See?

O. Yes, I see, other.

So I was out driving. There I am in this big hunk of metal moving at 70 miles per hour. It was absurd.

O! We like the absurd, other!

Usually, yes…yes, we do, one. But this was not funny absurd. It was scary absurd. I mean, at any moment another hunk of metal could have veered into my hunk of metal and then I might have died.

O, yes, you are right, other, that is scary absurd. I would not have liked for you to die.

And the signs, the electronic signs kept shrieking at me.

What were they saying, other?

Always the same phrase, one: Nothing Super About Jail Drive Sober.

O. That is strange, other.

Anyway, after the signs stopped shrieking at me the sun began bleeding orange and yellow streaks all across the sky amid big puffs of blue and grey. It was so beautiful, one. It almost made me forget I was inside a big hunk of metal. And then, and then I saw something even more wondrous.

What was it! cried the one.

It was an enormous flock of geese, one. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, off to the side of the road in a big field. Some were the all white ones–

O! You mean Snow Geese, other!

Yes, and some were the other kind. The brown and black dingy looking ones that are everywhere now.

Canada Geese! sang the one.

Yes, yes! cried the other, excited now. And they were all swirling around, making their calls. And some were on the ground, poking around in the fields. It was quite a spectacle, one.

I bet it was, other, I bet it was.

Except now I am sad.

O no! Why are you sad, other?

Well, I didn’t stop my hunk of metal to take in the whole scene. I could have turned around and pulled over and gazed upon this sight for the precise number of minutes necessary to fully absorb a wonder of nature such as this, one. Also there may have been some unusual or rare geese in the flock, but I didn’t take the time to look for them.

O. Hmm. Yes, I can see how that might make you feel sad, other.

It’s a strange sort of sadness, one. Do you know it?

Yes, I do, other. I believe they call this special type of sadness regret.

I do not like this regret feeling, one. How do I stop it? Can I maybe stuff something down inside me? Chocolate perhaps?

I’m not sure, other, the one said gravely. I think you have to wait and hope for it to fade away. Chocolate never hurts, of course, but I’m not sure it’s strong enough to fix this.

Well, how can I avoid it in the future then? I do not want this regret feeling ever again, one, never ever.

I’m not sure you can totally avoid it, other! But you can try to take every opportunity that comes to you, and that way at least you have tried.

O, will I then not feel sad? Even if I try to take the opportunity but don’t make it? Even if I…fail?

I can’t promise you won’t feel sad, other. But your sadness will likely feel different than regret. It will be mixed in with the satisfaction of knowing you tried. So that might make it feel not so bad.

O, thank you, one! I think this was very helpful. You are so wise!

I’m glad, other! I am always happy to help.

Goodbye, one!

Goodbye, other! Until next time.


For more discussions between the one and the other, click here.

ending days

How do you end a day? Does it depend upon the day? Likely. Today is ending with Bedhead and a beer after a long day of driving and visiting with my family. The visit was good; the drive was bad. That’s all I will say about that.

Are there rituals? I read until my eyes can’t stay open any longer. Right now I’m reading Solzhenitsyn’s “We Never Make Mistakes.” Could there be a better title for a book describing Stalinist Russia? Unlikely.

How to end the day. How to tie it to the next one, trailing a tail braided of only the best moments perhaps. Or is it better to let dreamland clean the slate and start anew in morning time.

These are questions beyond me, right now and maybe always.

something was missing

At the end of the day on Friday, I felt irritable.  Typically, a Friday spent engrossed in the woods restores sharpness to eyes dulled by a week in front of a computer in the office.  However, this Friday was slightly different in that more time was spent in the car, driving around from place to place, than was spent actually walking in the woods.  I know myself pretty well at this point in my life, and every time I get behind the wheel of a car my soul takes a beating.  To mix the joy of watching birds in the field with battling moronic drivers on the road, therefore, is a bastardization of everything I hold sacred.  This was actually the first time I tried this method of visiting various places across a sprawling geographic area in order to maximize the number and diversity of birds seen.  Many people on this birding discussion list I follow use this method at least every weekend, and sometimes most of the entire week.  They are not necessarily all twitchers (birders who travel great distances to view rare birds in order to build their lists), but I think many of them are and certainly they exhibit the tendency.  I think it’s fair to say that people who travel all over the state to fill out their “county lists” may as well be called twitchers, even if the birds they are chasing are not rare, per se.

I always suspected I couldn’t be one of these people, but after Friday I now know for sure.  I can’t stand driving; everything about it is abhorrent to me.  Impatient drivers who crawl up your car’s ass particularly drive me insane.  Just being on a road in a box made of steel kills me.  I much prefer to bike to my birding locales.  What this means in practical terms is that my list(s) will grow at a much slower rate than if I were a gas-guzzling twitcher.  I’ll also end up birding most of the time in the same place (my local patch, as it’s known in birding parlance).  And that’s fine with me.  Sometimes I get impatient with seeing the same birds over and over, particularly in the winter, but when that happens I need to just stop and remind myself of why I like birding and, more importantly, why I love birds.  It’s not a competition for me; I just want to observe.  It’s fun to keep track of what I see, but it’s not the ultimate goal.  The ultimate goal is to reach that plane of existence, however tenuous and short-lived it must be, where I can untether my soul and let it roam free, as I immerse myself in the natural world around me.

Occasionally I will continue to travel farther, by car, to go birding, but I think I will restrict myself to going to just one place and staying there, instead of driving around to multiple places in one day.  And I found on Friday that birding from a car just feels wrong to me, sort of unnatural.  Walking down a country road looking for birds is one thing, but driving down it is different.  The birds are more easily frightened, for one thing, and so I see less of them (not to mention more significantly disturb their activities), but it’s also the principle behind it.  I don’t use a car to commute to work, so why should I use one for my recreational activities?  I felt like a big hypocrite on Friday driving all over creation, when I could’ve just stayed in one place.  Sure, I would’ve seen less birds, but at least my soul would’ve remained intact, and I would’ve ended the day with a more peaceful inner state.  I also don’t like myself behind the wheel of a car, because I get too easily worked up by other people’s asinine behavior on the roads.  I’d rather completely remove myself from that equation whenever possible, but especially when I am engaged in an activity that is as free and pure to me as observing nature has become.

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