The Wandering Man: November/December 2014
Nov 17, 2014 01:00PM ● Published by Erik Dittmann
Onegaishimasu, how are you? I am watching three sparrows no more than six feet away from me, clinging to a suet cake holder, pecking at the cake it holds. When I first put the suet cake holders outside the window that is in front of my writing desk, I didn't want mere sparrows to come; I wanted to see colorful birds. Colorful birds did come, here and there, but the common sparrows seem to be in the majority in this country neighborhood. "There's a true story here," I thought. We like stories that are true because they help us believe in the trueness of our own stories, our own lives.
A squirrel taught me a life lesson on the streets of a bad neighborhood in Chicago. When I saw the squirrel meandering near downtown outside a dumpster I wondered, "What in the world compels a squirrel to forsake all the beautiful parks to come to these mean streets?" Then I saw that squirrel grab a piece of uneaten bun that lay in the street outside the dumpster and I had my ready answer, crystal clear: "Ah, easy pickings when it comes to food…" Blackbirds also seemed to know about the food that was too easily tossed aside, because those blackbirds were everywhere. It was a little amusing to note that while some of the squirrels and blackbirds would have a wary meal right where they were, even with cars, trucks, and buses going by, others would grab a morsel of food and scamper or fly off to a safe place to dine; reminiscent of "to-go" or take-out orders. This is a picture of life around us; it doesn't stay amusing when the scavengers become people; we'd like to look away then, deny we ever saw it.
We are not as idealistic as we were when we were younger; saving the world no longer seems a possible business. It was easier when we were younger; we who had been raised listening to fairy tales with all of their "happily ever after." All one needed to do was find the one soul mate, the worthy companion, and the range of life opportunity would be ‘fun’ to explore. Instead, for many of us how it happened was the 'many soul mates' theory, the 'more than one way' theory, and the 'order of disorder' theory. We called many places home and they were all temporary. The map would keep saying, "You are here," when we wanted to be somewhere else.
And what am I thinking about? I am always thinking about where my life is going to go from here. Maybe it won't go anywhere and here is where I will always be. Ready to dance? Yes, ready to dance.