In The Name
by Laren Grey, Moments Near Moments
It fluttered past my head, leaping from the cedars to a feeder full of sunflower seeds. Earlier, a thick squirrel put on an acrobat show as he swung from his hind feet and ripped open shells with his nimble fingers. Now that the squirrel had exhausted its talents, the birds were dashing to and from the feeder.
I tried to identify the bird, but as soon as my eyes locked on it, it was gone. Then, at one interval, as if it knew, it stopped and posed for me. Seeing its black tip, I immediately knew it was a black-crested titmouse. I felt wiser for knowing its name. I felt like a master of nature because I had a mind that could identify and classify. Then I thought of a lesson from Jiddu Krishnamurti who taught that the ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence. So there I stood, wallowing in a lower form of knowing. I tried to forget the name -titmouse- but it was lodged deep in my head like a rusty nail, poisoning my brain and blood. Now my vision blurred and I was unable to see the bird as it is; unable to see past the name. The label hammered sideways through my skull left me suffering and separated the bird from everything it truly is. It's a manifestation of sky, water, elements; atoms, evolution, cosmos. As John Muir said, it's hitched to everything in the universe. Then I came along and ripped it from the universe and stuffed it into an absurd box, like an ignorant child trying to keep a frog. What is this desire to separate and keep? What is this error of calling it wise? How did the apple fall so far from the tree? With language being the highest human ability, why is it so inferior to the ineffable? Why can't I let the black-crested titmouse go?