The Call of the Birds
When I was young, the world exploded with miracles. Joyfully I climbed trees, dug up the earth for buried treasure and trekked across town until I found the vast, open waters of the sea. Everyday my internal compass led me back to the water. The ocean breeze carried exotic scents from far off lands and birds on high called me to new adventures. They sang out urging me to discover stones yet unturned and people yet unknown. At the age of fourteen, without struggle or strife, I left the womb of my parents’ home to travel the seas, exploring islands only imagined in my dreams.
As I grew, the voices in my head overtook the birds’ refrains. These voices implored me to be more sensible, logical and empirical. In my best efforts to conform, I found a wife and settled down as the keeper of the light and the night. On a small island near the entrance to the fjord, steep cliffs stood frosted with carpeted grasslands and a lighthouse built for two. For several years, we thrived as the only inhabitants of our small nation.
As a dependable husband, I soon became a responsible father. I built a separate home from that of the lighthouse for our growing family. Our children ran through the billowing fields and explored under every rock on the island until the birds called to them. Before I had time to blink, they in turn took flight, finding their own adventures on the horizon, leaving us to continue our watch of the water and the night.
My wife, she maintained our world. She ordered supplies from the mainland and made sure we ate a square meal every night. She loved to care for us, the lighthouse and the island. She was my routine, the gears of my clockwork. But one day, the clock stopped. The supplies ceased to arrive. I lost my routine, waking at odd hours of the day and night. Worst of all, I could no longer hear the birds.
I retreated to the lighthouse, finding solace in the tempo of the light’s revolutions. Now, as the world slept, I watched the night. The rise and fall of the tide lulled me into a trance. Questions ran through my head about my self-worth and accomplishment. “Did I make the right decisions?” and I needed to know, “Who was to blame?” The question I continued to come back around to, “Why me? Oh why me?”
I knew it sounded absurd. I thought I knew exactly who I was. I found my triumphs obscured by the fog of my parents, my children and my wife. They defined me as a person. The lamp flickered in the dark. The light reflected on the glass and the water wavered. My heart quivered in return.
From a far off distance, a faint warble interrupted my lament. My ears pricked up as the lantern’s flame composed itself. The song of a single bird grew clearer with each crashing wave on the cliffside. I appealed to the sky and the bird on high, “please, tell me who I am.” I held my breath in search of a response… any response. The water sloshed upon the shore, but the bird spoke no more.